If you are familiar with minimalism, the thought of monochromatic clothing in shades of black, gray and white immediately come to mind. Or you envision someone living in a tiny house, with 3 pairs of shoes and an air mattress on a wooden floor. But is that really true? Do you really need to get rid of all of your things to have a happy simple clutter free life?
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What is Minimalism?
Contrary to the popular definition, I associate minimalism with getting rid of the negative or annoying things in your life. Instead of having 12 shirts that are just okay, have 5 shirts that are really great. If you’ve got 50 shirts and you love all of them, that’s good too.
While we all probably have more than what we need, that doesn’t mean we have to get rid of most of it! By getting rid of things that I no longer used or found cumbersome, I started to feel more relaxed and happy in my own home. I tried this with my business, and it not only created a better working environment, it also helped me be more productive.
Minimalism Is Decisiveness
Minimalism is normally described as living with intention- intentionally having the things we want and removing the distractions.
While some people work best with lots of noise and objects around them, when you are doing your most focused work, you probably work better when you don’t have tons of things on your desk.
Minimalism Gives Power Back To The Consumer
Despite being touted as anti-consumerism, my interpretation of minimalism is to buy what you want and need rather than what feels good at the moment, or what the media wants you to buy. If you feel content and don’t want to buy any more stuff, then that is fine too. The point is that you get to decide. By focusing on what is important to you, you may own less things, but you may not. You may own the same amount of things, but they may be organized more efficiently and easier to access and store.
Are Your Expectations Really Someone Else’s Expectations?
We live in a world where advertisements are constantly vying for our attention, making us feel like we are not quite enough as we are. If we buy this one thing, we will have everything we want. Instead of living a life where we have to buy stuff to get approval, we decide what is important to us, and we buy what is important to us. Not just stuff you need, but stuff that you intentionally buy for the purpose of adding value or joy to your life.
What is the Kon Mari Method?
Marie Kondo, author of the bestseller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” , is the creator of the “KonMari” method for simplifying and organizing the home in a dramatic sweep based on the following categories:
The criteria for keeping items are items you need, and items that “spark joy”. The second principle is to assign a home for everything within your home.
Kondo also advocates that you visualize having a clutter free home before you begin the process. She asks you to visualize the life you wish to live- do you want more time to paint? Host more dinner parties? Spend more time with your family? Think about the things you put aside because you are constantly organizing or stuffing closets and cabinets with clutter when company comes over.
Kondo suggests that by getting rid of the unnecessary things or things that do not spark joy, we are creating more space for the things we love.
What If I Need This Someday?
There are things that you may never get to because you don’t consider them a priority, or because life gets in the way. I used to clip recipes from magazines with the expectation that I would make them “someday”.
I accumulated a pile of clippings that could fill the trunk of my car, and none of those recipes were going to be regular staples in my meal plans. Instead of organizing them, I threw them all away. I reconstructed my meal plan and collected recipes digitally and categorized them. Now, I can find my recipes easily, and I am happy to report that I have made most of them.
My aunt had an injury 6 years ago that required a wheelchair for 3 weeks. She kept the wheelchair in her garage. It depressed her every time she saw it as she passed by the garage. I am happy to report that she healed from her injury and maintains excellent health. Surprisingly, she still kept the wheelchair. When I asked her why she still had it, she said “Maybe I will need this someday when I get older. After all, I am not getting any younger.”
That is the worst someday scenario imaginable, in my opinion. I told her that if she ever needs one, I will buy it for her. She donated it to Goodwill and experienced relief. Now, she is calm and happy when she passes by her garage. If you don’t need it now, and if you are keeping the item by planning for the worse, definitely let it go.
How are the Kon Mari Method and Minimalism Related To Each Other?
While the Kon Mari method predominantly encourages you to only keep items that are functional or spark joy, the end result is that you will end up with less stuff, and more stuff you love. The end result is that you will be more clear and focused about your priorities and things you love.
For example, I love to light rose incense before my shower. I used to have all these sub par tea light candles that I had no use for, and they cluttered my incense collection. Now that I have arranged my incense collection in a way where it is easily accessible, I don’t have to fumble through the tea light candles and all the other stuff that I don’t really want to use every time I want to light some incense.
If you want to cook more, and you have a ton of pans, and have to lift up all the pans to get to the pan you need, it will be a noisy hassle and you will be discouraged from cooking. Or you will have unpleasant associations with cooking. If you want to workout, but all your workout clothing is stuffed somewhere in your drawer or scattered throughout your bedroom or drawers, it will be a hassle to work out.
Minimalism gives you less stuff to manage so that you can live intentionally, and the KonMari method helps you maximize your space and create a life that sparks joy so that you can live intentionally.
What I Learned Through Both Minimalism and The Kon Mari Method
I had the hardest time with the clothing and paper category, so I had to break this exercise up into two days for clothing, and two days for paper. Stay strong, and stay with it. Don’t get rid of things just for the sake of getting rid of them. If you like it, keep it. If you need it, keep it.
Here are some guidelines to help you through the process:
-Take it all out of the space
-Look at each item individually (OUT of that space, this is important- don’t keep your clothes in your closet or drawer and look at them in there)
When you get to the Personal Items/Clothing category, ask yourself these questions:
-Do you need it?
-Do you like it/does it give you joy?
Once you start tackling the paper category, ask yourself these questions:
-Do I need to keep it?
-Can I scan and shred it?
What Happened Next Was Purely Magical
Once it was over, I felt absolutely relieved, and I felt lighter and happier. All of a sudden, I knew where everything was at any given time. I had a master list for my filing cabinet, which had less than half the paper we originally started with. I could find all the things I was looking for, and I could visualize where my items were stored and in what order.
It was also much easier to clean my home and get ready for company. I didn’t have to spend as much time straightening up when someone would come over. I created a routine for straightening up and putting things back where I got them.
The other side effect that will get your attention is that I wasn’t wasting money by letting food go bad in the refrigerator. I was saving money and sleeping better. Now that I have experienced the benefits, I never want to go back.
How The Kon Mari Method And Minimalism Can Help You:
If you’re not ready to commit to emptying out your closet in one sweep and folding all your clothes like Marie Kondo, that’s okay. You can still benefit from the principles of the book:
• Throw away or donate items that are either induce stress or are not useful.
• Make the most of your space.
• Even if you are not fully on board with folding all of your clothes (I went with the half folded, half hanging option) at least go through the process of taking all your clothing and putting it in one place, going through each item one by one. Even if you have to do it in sections.
• Keep paper to a minimum, out of sight, organized, and easy to access when needed.
• Keep counter tops and surfaces clear.
• Keep your desk clear.
• Have a system for folding and organizing your clothing and shoes.
• Bring more pleasure to your daily routines, experiences, and unpleasant tasks.
• Morning coffee and walk or read newspaper
• A cup of tea and a good book
• A glass of wine while you go over your financial information each week.
Minimalism is about intentionally creating the life you love and surrounding yourself with the things that serve you, whether they are functional or whether they bring you joy. The KonMari method helps support that lifestyle, and whether you consider yourself a minimalist or not, it is worth exploring these principles to improve your routine and create the life you want!