Declutter Your Home and Mind: A Minimalist Approach to a Calm Life
How does a more meaningful, calmer life free of physical and mental clutter sound to you? If your answer is, “Great!” then you’ll find the minimalist approach to life no doubt intriguing. Ahead, we’ll show you how minimalism techniques applied to your home can simultaneously ease your mind, and help your community as well.
A minimalist approach to home life places value on meaningful experiences over meaningless possessions. At its essence, minimalism is a practical focus on what we really value, rather than on consuming and maintaining stuff that we do not use or need. Determining what is truly valued is of course a personal endeavor, so minimalism takes on a different meaning for different people. But think of it this way: Minimalism is about finding more — more gratitude and joy, more calm, and more quality time with family and friends.
Although there are no hard and fast rules to minimalism, it pretty much starts with first recognizing the impact of clutter on your home life and emotional wellbeing. Study after study has proven that possessing more things do not make people happier, and in fact in many cases it’s just the opposite. That’s why opening overstuffed closets and drawers, or simply passing by rooms that have piles of unused items can cause anxious feelings of being out of control.
Overly cluttered living spaces can literally create barriers to the calm, peaceful and emotionally fulfilling life you are trying to achieve. If this is ringing true for you, rest assured you are not alone; many people have found clutter to be nerve-wracking, which is exactly why minimalism is becoming so popular.
Here are some great tips on how to apply a minimalism approach to your home life:
- Plan for the decision-making process you will need to undertake. A minimalist perspective requires you to evaluate your belongings based on if they serve a current purpose or if they bring value to your life. Using these two decision making criteria — purpose and value — will help you sort your clutter. So, grab a cup of coffee and a pen and paper, and jot down a list of what actually serves a purpose in your life and what you really value before you start clearing your clutter. You can list events and moments — like playing with your grandbaby on the beach, or seeing your son score his first goal — and you can also get specific about things in your home. For example, do those cowboy boots blocking the door to your closet bring a smile or a grimace to your face? Use this time to assess what causes you joy, and what causes you anxiety, and you’ll be well on your way to increasing the former and limiting the latter!
- Now it’s time to go from the abstract to action. Being prepared before you tackle your storage spaces will empower you to plow through your clutter, so gather boxes or bags for the items that you will determine do not serve a real purpose or don’t hold any meaningful value anymore.
Label a box or bag with “toss” for items like broken toys, worn-out shoes or stained clothes — the valueless things. Label additional boxes or bags with “donate” for those items that you can envision someone else using or valuing. Your “donate” boxes and bags will give you great joy, knowing that your once-treasured items will give someone else the same feeling. Donating to a community organization like the Vietnam Veterans of America will give you an amazing sense of happiness as you clear out your spaces.
- You are now ready to tackle each of your spaces. Methodically assess every item by asking yourself, “Does this item bring value to my life and does it serve a purpose?” If the answer is yes, keep the item. If the answer is no, ask yourself “Would this be of value to someone else?” If the answer to that question is “yes,” add it to a donation box or bag. If the item is too worn out to be of any value, add it to your toss box or bag. If you find yourself getting bogged down or feeling overwhelmed, simply pull out your planning guide for reference. It will remind you of what serves a purpose or what you still value.
For example, if you are clearing out the clutter in your bedroom closet, handle each shirt, dress, pants, pair of shoes, and accessories and ask yourself your decision-making questions. You will be surprised at how easy it is to get into a rhythm of quickly determining what to keep, donate, or toss. Use this same process when you move on to other rooms, like your children’s rooms, where you’ll handle their clothes, toys, books, art, and sports equipment. Feel the sense of calm and well-being creeping over you as you recall the happy moments those toys generated, and how your donation items will go on to have another life, making families and children just as happy as they made you and your child.
- Take pride in your accomplishments as you move through your home. Once you have cleared a space, return to it and take stock of what has gone. Ask yourself, “Does this space reflect my purpose, what I value, and does it give me a sense of calm?” Most likely the answer will be a resounding yes! Many people find it helpful to take a picture of their newly organized and revitalized spaces to remind themselves of their accomplishment and to serve as motivation for when the space starts to gather clutter again.
Before you know it, you’ve not only decluttered spaces in your home, you’ve also decluttered spaces in your mind…replacing anxiety and disappointment with joy and peace, the minimalist way!
We hope these ideas and steps were helpful for you and now you are ready to take on the spaces in your home that are stressing you out. A sense of happiness and calm is literally a few boxes and bags away. Minimalism can help you declutter your home and make you feel great about yourself – especially if you incorporate donating your unwanted clothes, jewelry, toys and other unwanted household items to a worthy cause like the Vietnam Veterans of America.