The Tools and Techniques of Minimalism

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In my last post, I talked about the what‘ of minimalism.

This time, I’m going to focus on the tools and techniques of minimalism. The ‘how’ of minimalism is important if you’re going to gain the full benefit of living an intentional life but with less stuff.

This post is long and contains lots of useful links that you may wish to refer to again. Join my community to get access to a free PDF containing a durable version of this post.

So, where to begin?

Outer work

My ‘Unclutter 2017‘ series of posts back in the New Year are a good place to start.

Throughout this series, we looked at various approaches, as set out below. The links will take you through to previous posts I’ve written on these tactics if you want to find out more:

These are all practical ideas and I’d encourage you to get stuck in, if you haven’t yet discovered the benefits of decluttering, which is a key tenet of minimalism.

Help! I feel overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering!

Start with your wardrobe

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If you feel totally overwhelmed and really don’t know where to start, I always say to start with your closet. Follow my 4-Step Wardrobe Edit process and you’ll immediately appreciate the benefits of an uncluttered space.

Ask for help

It may be that you really need some support, so don’t rule out the idea of enlisting someone to help or even employing a professional declutterer/organiser.

The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) is a useful place to start if you decide to enlist the help of a professional. Some professional organisers will even do the hard of work of taking unwanted items to the charity shop, thus saving you time and effort.

What about asking a friend to help?

This summer, my daughter and I are offering a decluttering service for friends, as part of her fundraising efforts towards her 2018 expedition to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We enjoy working together and seeing the benefits of our labours and love helping others.

Get an accountability group or partner

Perhaps you need an accountability group or partner. Members of the Midlands Minimalist Community have access to my group in Better, an app developed as a way of harnessing Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework to create a better life.

Within Better, I’ve set up a Minimalism and Simple Living Group, as a way for us to interact, find mutual support, ask questions, get answers and (if we need it) get some accountability for our goals.

There’s more than the removal of practical clutter, however. There’s also ‘inner work’ to do.

Inner work

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Embracing a simpler, more meaningful way of life means not only an initial purge of stuff, but also a change of mindset.

This may seem like another hill to climb, but if you’ve already had a taste of the benefits, you may feel ready for some habit changing work!

Staying uncluttered

Courtney Carver’s post But I Love Shopping epitomizes the kind of psychological struggle we go through when throwing off old habits. There’s little point in purging a high proportion of the items you own if you’re only going to re-fill the space within a matter of weeks or months.

Remember your ‘why’

Remind yourself of why you’re interested in minimalism and simple living in the first place. It might be that you’re committed to paying down your debt to get your finances in shape. Perhaps you just want to spend less time clearing up and more time having fun?

Living an intentional life requires a good understanding of oneself. For example, if you know that you spend more money on weekends, plan your time so that you’re not placed in a situation where this can happen.

Don’t be afraid to quit

I heard a quote from Oprah Winfrey recently. She said, “There comes a time in your life when you’re no longer where you’re meant to be.” I found this quite powerful.

Sometimes, saying no or intentionally moving on can reap benefits. I wrote about that here.

Where you are will mean different things to different people, but I do believe that it’s OK to change, to quit, to relinquish that which is no longer serving you. It can be hard to move on because that can mean saying goodbye or ‘au revoir’ to people you care about. But sometimes you have to do it.

Know that your life is the sum total of what you focus on

In her book, Rapt, Winifred Gallagher says, “…. the difference between ‘passing the time’ and ‘time well spent’ depends on making smart decisions about what to attend to in matters large and small.

Courtney Carver echoes this: “Usually time is not the problem, it’s priority.”

Consider these alternative realities

If you are prioritising shopping trips over a countryside walk, both your wallet and your Vitamin D levels will be depleted.

If you are continually moving piles of stuff from one place to the next, your life becomes one of clutter management. Get on top of it once and for all and you create space to do other things; things you’ll enjoy.

If you’re on your digital device 24/7, you’re with other people, but you’re not present.

See what I mean?

An intentional approach to life

Minimalism (in whatever form you choose) is a deliberate and intentional approach. The result creates a sense of lightness and freedom. What we do with that freedom is up to us.

That’s rather exciting, don’t you think?


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P.S. Let me know if you’ve found this useful and if you’ve tried any of the tools and techniques at home by replying here. Or email me via midlandsminimalist@gmail.com, send me a Tweet (@MidsMinimalist) or connect via Instagram (@MidlandsMinimalist)

What is minimalism?

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My favourite kind of ‘tiny house’ – English beach huts

In July, I celebrated a year of blogging on Midlands Minimalist. With just over 100 blog posts on the site, I have covered a range of topics, answered a number of readers’ questions and connected with some awesome people (both in person and virtually)!

The ‘what of minimalism’

This post brings together a number of insights around the ‘what’ of minimalism for anyone seeking to find out more.

I explore some of the ingredients of a minimalist lifestyle and the ways in which it can be of benefit. I discuss what minimalism is (and highlight some different types) and talk about what it isn’t. I also explain that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’, inviting you to evaluate how minimalism could be of benefit in your own life.

I’ll also point to some great resources for further reading before my next post: Tools and Techniques of Minimalism.

This is a long post so if you would like to download it as a free PDF, join my Minimalist community where you’ll have access to my resources page on which a copy of this article can be found.

So, let’s get started!

Minimalism 101

Minimalism is the intentional removal of anything that no longer adds value to your life. This can mean the elimination of ‘stuff’ (which may be physical, digital and even personal) to allow in new experiences, people, opportunities and possibilities. Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists capture it well: “it’s about “living a meaningful life with less.”

The word ‘minimalism’ was initially associated with the visual arts; it was synonymous with an art movement that originated in the middle part of the 20th Century. Stripping away the embellishments seen in some earlier art forms, minimalism offered a more simple, literal form of artistic expression.

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The minimalist design aesthetic remains popular today

As art echoes life, when you embrace minimalism, what follows is a sense of lightness and freedom and the ability to focus on the things that truly matter.

Clutter is not just stuff on the floor – it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living – Peter Walsh

Types of minimalism

Approaches to minimalism

Writing for No Sidebar, Melissa Carmara Wilkins writes beautifully about different types of minimalism. You can read the full article here, but she simply sets out some of the different approaches espoused by those who call themselves minimalists:

  • Essentialists – fewer but better; quality over quantity (less but better)
  • Experientialists – experiences over stuff (but have the stuff if you need it for the experiences)
  • Enoughists – have just what you need but no more
  • Eco-minimalists – less consumption means less impact on the environment
  • Soul-minimalists – simple-living advocates for whom mental and spiritual clutter are minimised

You may identify with one or a combination of these, but you can see that there are a number of approaches that might resonate with you.

Voluntary simplicity

Another take on minimalism is described by Juliet Schor in her book, The Overspent American: Why we Buy What we Dont’ Need. Voluntary simplicity (or simple living) is the idea of down-shifting to reduce pressure on budgets, live more clearly and straightforwardly and may involve spending time to ‘give back’ and make a contribution to the community.

Schor describes how there’s no ‘one size fits all’ with this approach. She notes that simple livers are rich in both “cultural capital” and “human capital”. That is, they are often well-educated and well-networked, which means they can tap into networks of like minded people and benefit from a strong sense of community. Perhaps you can relate to this?

Frugal Minimalism

In her own words, Cait Flanders paid off $30k of debt, tossed 75% of her belongings, and did a two-year shopping ban. Enter the frugal minimalist. Living a frugal life with less stuff and paying off her debt has led to a happier life for Cait, without the weight of personal debt or unnecessary clutter.

This approach can also extend to Tiny House living, which, again, enables advocates to live a life that is not only clutter-free, but which is also debt free. Read about Tammy Strobel’s experience in her book: You Can Buy Happiness – and It’s Cheap: How One Woman Radically Simplified her Life and How You Can Too.

The Minimalist Foodie

The problem of a full closet and overflowing fridge have the same core issue – too many options. Once you pare back to the essentials…it becomes easier to identify what you want to eat. – Brittany, Tiny Ambitions

Dana Schulz, of Minimalist Baker has the answer. With a website devoted to simple cooking, Dana’s delicious recipes require “10 ingredients or less, 1 bowl or 1 pot, or 30 minutes or less to prepare.”

Jennifer from Simply Fiercely takes a similar approach; her simple eating has brought her a number of benefits, not least reducing food waste, as well as time and effort spent on meal preparation.

Moderate Minimalism, the Midlands Minimalist way

For me, I take the middle ground. Of course I would! I’m a ‘middle Minimalist’!

Seriously, though, my approach one of moderation. Moderate minimalism, if you like.

Because I am married and a mum, I have my non-minimalist family members to consider. Decluttering our home has taken a few years, but we’re pretty much there. Our shared living areas are clutter free, easy to clean and have a light and airy feel. For certain, there are some areas on which I’d like to spend more time, but there comes a point when you’ve done enough. After all, we do this to maximise the time we have.

On a day-to-day basis, I make a point of cooking from scratch; we shop only when we need something (not for recreation) and we keep a close eye on our family budget. With a teenager in the house, there’s the inevitable deluge of school books, paperwork, sports kit and uniform. But this phase will pass all too soon, when we will be empty-nesters, so I can take a pragmatic view now.

Is decluttering minimalism?

Decluttering is often associated with minimalism and rightly so; it’s an essential ingredient of a transition towards a minimalist lifestyle. By intentionally removing the excess items that have accumulated in our lives, it’s possible to cast off the clutter of the past to embrace newer and richer experiences.

I’ll touch on the ‘how’ of decluttering in my next article (Tools and Techniques of Minimalism), but (as I wrote in one of my earliest posts here), it’s only when you take a step back that you can truly see what adds value, what’s worth holding onto and what’s important.

Tiny Wardrobes

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Vestis virum facit‘ or ‘Clothes makes the man‘ said Erasmus (later echoed by eminent writers such as Shakespeare, Homer and Twain.

It’s true that dressing for the job you want, not the job you have, can make all the difference to our confidence. Psychologically, our performance may be enhanced when we’re dressing right for the occasion (see the first Reference, below).

Indeed, international charity, Dress for Success, understands that looking the part is a vital ingredient in building women’s confidence to help them secure a new job.

However, it is said that the opposite of every profound truth is also true. In this case, clothes ‘maketh the [wo]man’, but they matter less than you think.

Courtney Carver’s phenomenal success with Project 333 is proof that you need fewer clothes than you think you need. Project 333 invites you to dress with 33 items (or less) over a period of 3 months. Underwear and workout gear doesn’t count, but everything else does. If you haven’t yet tried it, I urge you to take part. It’s a wonderful way to help identify your absolute favourites and wear them every day.

Think you won’t have enough clothing combinations? One of Joshua Becker’s correspondents worked out that just 33 items could generate as many as 25,176 unique outfit combinations. With jewellery, accessories and shoes included, that might be pushing the envelope somewhat, but the point is nonetheless well-made. As Joshua writes, there are very good reasons why successful people are choosing to wear the same thing every day.

If you want to slim down your closet, then you might appreciate some help. Join my community and you’ll get access to my wardrobe edit checklist that will help provide a structured way to start your journey into minimalism. Since your wardrobe is like a ‘room within a room’, you can gain a confidence boost by starting there.

Tidying up

Marie Kondo put the magic into tidying up, but is tidying minimalism?

Well, not entirely. Tidying isn’t really minimalism unless you truly adopt the KonMari method as your preferred approach to decluttering.

I am well-known amongst friends for being tidy, but it was only when I began to unclutter with true intention that I was able to let go of clutter that I’d been holding onto for over 20 years.

Here’s the thing about tidying. Tidying is a daily activity but it’s deliberately a ‘light touch, non intrusive’ kind of domestic intervention. Tidying is putting away the items you have (and which you need, because they are beautiful or have a purpose). Tidying is about ensuring that you can go about your business with grace and ease. By keeping things tidy, you can clean your home quickly, find what you need and get on with your day-to-day life.

Decluttering is more in-depth. It’s like peeling the stubborn layers of an onion; as you remove one layer, you go deeper. You unearth artefacts from your personal history that remind you of places, people or past phases in your life. Letting go is part of the process, but, as I wrote here, we shouldn’t confuse yesterday’s relics with treasured memories.

And decluttering is just one of the ingredients in the ‘minimalism mix’ that supports the idea of ‘less being more’. Decluttering is a process, which may take many months if not years. Tidying up is what you do regularly to keep on top of daily life.

Intentional living

If you don’t have time to do what matters, stop doing things that don’t. – Courtney Carver

Often, the trigger that causes us to adopt a ‘more meaningful life with less’ is that moment where ‘enough is enough’. Overwhelm is a key facet here. Sometimes, you just wish you could make everything and everyone go away. This is where you know that you need to make some significant changes in your life.

Intentionality is key to this. If you align your everyday actions to your long-term goals, things are going to change for the positive.

Want to get out of debt? Don’t go shopping. Take steps to pay down your debt. Ask if what you bought was worth the ‘life energy’ (work effort) devoted to get it.

Want to spend more time with your family? Resolve to eliminate the commitments, obligations and non-essential activities that are preventing you from achieving your goal.

Slow living

Slow living is – in many ways – very similar to simple living. Slow living emphasizes mindfulness and the notion of ‘being present’ in whatever we’re doing. Its connection to minimalism is that it emphasizes intentionality.

The slow movement has a number of strands, one of which is slow food. If you’re in touch with the origins of your food, the seasonality of ingredients and the pleasure of cooking from scratch, then this idea will chime with you. Other strands are slow travel, slow books and even slow cities.

Slow living is about purpose, intention and focus. It’s about awareness and being present, rather than dashing from one thing to the next at 90 miles per hour. One of its more well-known advocates is Brooke McAlary who, along with husband Ben, is host of The Slow Home Podcast and author of Destination Simple.

Conclusion

As you can see, minimalism comes in many forms and it’s a flexible concept. Advocates adopt those aspects of minimalism and simple living that appeal to them. A mix and match approach works well, depending on what adds value to your life now.

What’s meaningful when you’re a 20-something single will undoubtedly differ from that of a couple in their 30s, or a mid-life mom with family and work commitments in her 40s.

The point is that minimalism is really – actually – about maximalism: optimising the time we have on this earth to live the best life we can, sharing that with the best people we love.

I’ll take that!

Further reading

Check out quarterly new digital publication, Simplify Magazine
Also, discover a round-up of useful articles via: http://simplicityvoices.com/

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Moderate Minimalism for People who Love Stuff

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This is a guest post by Lisa Cole of www.less-stuff.co.uk

I’m not a minimalist, I never was one and I’m unlikely to become one, so it may surprise you to know I run a website about decluttering.

Decluttering doesn’t have to mean paring down your belongings to fit into one small bag. It doesn’t even mean pulling everything you own out of your wardrobe and having stressful days dealing with it all. Decluttering to me is a way of pruning and editing your things so you end up with stuff that makes you feel great about yourself.

Why do we have too much stuff?

There is no doubt we are at peak stuff. Birthdays and Christmas bring new waves of more new things from friends and family. Shopping trips can be made from your sofa, at any time of day or night. You can buy from countries all over the world without even speaking to another human being. Supermarkets have aisles full of interior decorating treats for bored shoppers. Even a cultural day out to a museum ends up in the gift shop. Buying new things can make us happy in the moment at least.

Curating your home

Think of your home as a museum of yourself with you as the curator. Spend just 5 minutes a day picking out a few things you really do not need or want.  Pretty soon you will start to see open spaces that were previously filled with clutter. Start with the small, start with the obvious. Ask yourself:

  • Is it rubbish?
  • Does it work? If not, am I ever going to fix it?
  • Does it bring up any bad memories?
  • Do I actually like it?

Daily small decluttering

You can use 5 minute decluttering sessions anywhere in your home. I like to use the dead time when I’m waiting for something to happen. I might pick through a kitchen drawer and get rid of 5 things while the kettle is boiling, or the washing machine is finishing the spin cycle. If you get rid of 5 things a day for 5 days a week that will be over a thousand bits of clutter in a year. All removed without any fuss or hassle.

I love Catherine’s idea of daily pockets of freedom and I think it is very good to reward ourselves. You could plan a little pocket of freedom after you have done a 5 minute declutter as a great way to reinforce a good habit.

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Keeping things because we ought to like them

Gifts from loved ones are tricky to say goodbye to, even if we hate the present itself. It may have been given with love but there is no reason why you should have to live with it.  Larger charity shops will send donations out of the area, if you are worried about it being spotted for resale. Kids drawings hold a similar hold over us and I find it easier to get rid of potentially sentimental items sooner, rather than later. With children’s stuff I save the best from each term in a special folder. My son will thank me when he is older for not presenting him with evidence of learning from his entire school life.

Keeping things we love but others hate

Your space, your rules. If you love it, no matter how ugly, broken, smelly or useless it is, then keep it. Your home is your museum and you can put what you want in it. If this bothers other people, just keep it hidden 🙂 If you find it difficult to part with everything and you think you are hoarding, please see your doctor. Hoarding can be a sign of depression and there is lots of help out there.

Do you want to know more about moderate minimalism?

www.less-stuff.co.uk is all about gentle decluttering, simple living, frugal ideas and eco-friendly life.  If you have previously gone through radical declutters and need to keep on top of things, my decluttering prompts will help. If you are new to reducing your belongings, starting small is less scary than huge purges.

Sign up for Lisa’s newsletter (which is infrequent and will not clutter up your inbox) to get a free decluttering calendar, an A-Z of leftover food ideas and a money off voucher for the less-stuff bookshop.

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Simplify your…. paper mountain

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Last weekend, there were several ‘door droppers’ in our area, each with a fistful of leaflets or pamphlets for distribution.

To our bemusement, one of these included a Labour party flyer, which was 2 days late for local elections that had already taken place the previous Thursday. Whoops!

In one of the ‘drops’, I received a ‘Look Local’ magazine (advertorial and advertisements for local services), a leaflet from a local tree surgeon (who must be making lots of money to afford to do such a lot of direct marketing) and a flyer from Domino’s Pizza…

Junk mail

Some people avoid junk mail coming through the letterbox by placing a notice on their property. I haven’t done that, but I immediately place all incoming paper in the recycling bin.

However, how do you stop more junk mail coming through the post?

The Mailing preference service (MPS) is a good place to start. Did you know that if you’re still receiving unsolicited mail for a previous occupant of your home, you can also register his/her name with the MPS? Although the MPS website looks outdated (with a 2015 date on its site), I checked in with them and they are still operating.

Royal Mail’s opt-out scheme also stops all unaddressed mail being delivered by the postman.

So far, so good.

Genuine correspondence

What about incoming paper that you have to keep or want to retain? Well, you can recycle the envelopes as soon as they arrive (no need to remove the cellophane window).

Then, for me, I have a single place where incoming mail is collected. At the moment, this is a small drawer in my study, but I have used a wicker basket (currently full to the brim with our daughter’s revision papers!). The temptation is to leave things sitting on the island in our kitchen, but I do my best to whisk things away, leaving that surface clear.

For bank statements, bills and other correspondence that I may decide to keep for a number of months, I do have a filing system. It’s a series of A-Z box files that span the top shelf of a single wardrobe. I keep on top of its contents using my 3 S’s of paperwork.

Greetings cards

Recycle or make gift tags out of them. Create new cards by re-using a cut-out portion of an original card.

Newspapers and Magazines

I don’t know anyone who still buys a daily newspaper; so much of our news is consumed in ways other than print media.

For magazines, online services such as Texture offer a one-stop shop, with the opportunity to share the subscription across as many as 5 devices, plus a number of features (including a search function) that you simply don’t get by having a physical magazine. Newspapers, of course, offer similar subscription schemes.

Notwithstanding the amount of advertising contained in magazines, when it comes to it, if you want some lightweight reading matter, there’s nothing quite like having an actual magazine to browse through. After all, you can’t take the iPad in the bath with you (well, you could, but understand the risks!)

Years ago, I used to have a subscription to Real Simple, a magazine that wasn’t available in the UK. I had picked up a copy at an airport whilst flying from the US back to the UK and really enjoyed it. The UK equivalent is The Simple Things magazine. Now, I don’t buy any publication regularly but it is a treat to receive a magazine as a very occasional gift.

The sharing economy in action

My late grandmother regularly received magazines from her next door neighbour. The latest issue would be left on the wall adjoining their gardens, kept secure under a small brick to keep it from blowing about.

At Warwick Parkway station, I noticed recently another lovely way of sharing reading material. A book share box at the ticket office exists where you can leave a book you’ve read and pick up another – for free. At work, we have a basket in the kitchen for the same purpose.

What else comes through your door?

Pieces of paper, envelopes, flyers, letters, leaflets, booklets and other forms of paper aren’t the only things that come through our door.

Bags

Consider the bags that are posted through your door for charity collections (these typically come in plastic packets – arrgghh!). Where we live, they come from local charities such as the Air Ambulance Service. I say use them! Go to your ‘goods out’ drawer, fill the bag and remember to put it outside on collection day. Note to self!

Carrier bags from online supermarket shopping deliveries can be returned (and you might get money back for them). We do hand back these carrier bags when we have excess, but we also use them to line the small kitchen bin whose contents go to landfill.

Gift bags, luxury paper shopping bags or simple brown paper bags should always be re-used. I keep mine folded flat in a large gift-bag whose sturdy structure is great for keeping all the smaller bags in good order. That’s a trick I learned from Marie Kondo: the best way to store a bag is inside another!

Too many ‘bags for life’? Again, use them or pass them on.

If you ever order clothes online, these will inevitably come in a lightweight plastic bag. These are more difficult to re-use but I have done so whenever I’ve gone through a phase of eBay-ing unwanted items. Do you have any useful ways to re-use such bags?

And simply don’t buy food bags such as sandwich or freezer bags.

Maintain the habit

By implementing some of these ideas, you’ll certainly help keep the clutter – and the associated stress – down. Maintaining the habit of putting things away certainly helps when you need to retrieve something in the future and setting aside time to do your ‘family admin’ supports this goal.

How do you keep on top of your paper mountain and keep the clutter at bay? Reply to this post, below, or join our lovely Community!

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How post-bereavement decluttering offers tips for living in the present

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When my dear father-in-law passed away recently, we began the process of decluttering and tidying the home in which he and my mother-in-law have lived for over forty years. Whenever someone dies, it’s inevitable that there’ll be some personal belongings to sort through (be they numerous or few in quantity).

Access all areas

My mother-in-law is a wheelchair user, so she has not enjoyed an ‘access all areas’ experience to the family home in recent times. As a result, whatever needed sorting out was down to the man of the house. We photographed the rooms upstairs so that my husband, Andrew, could ask his mum to decide what she wanted to do with the items we uncovered.

As we went about our task, I had a number of realisations, which prompted me to think about how we can all live more minimally in the here and now.

Man drawer mayhem

Comedian Michael McIntyre wasn’t kidding when he described the many and varied contents of ‘the man drawer‘. In our own home, we have a kitchen drawer that serves the purpose of a multi-use drawer for every day bits and bobs.

In my parents-in-law’s house, the man drawer housed nails, a hammer, masking tape and similar DIY-type stuff. Yet, this drawer was seldom used and in a central location within the home.

Keep useful things close by

My sense was that this useful storage space could be better served keeping every-day items that needed to be accessed regularly.

So, think carefully about what you use daily (or weekly) and store those items in an accessible location. Place seldom used equipment elsewhere.

Things that no longer work or which are no longer needed

If you are unable to get to the local recycling centre, the likelihood of holding onto things that no longer work (or which you no longer need) increases.

If you’re in this situation, ask a visitor to ‘disappear’ such items, find out if your local authority can offer a collection service or see if any local charities can help. This helps avoid stuff building up, which takes up valuable space in your home (and makes cleaning more difficult).

Have a place for ‘goods out’ 

At home, I have a dedicated drawer for ‘goods out’. When it’s full, I take the items to my local recycling centre or charity shop. We’ll do that for my mother-in-law.

Out-of-date foodstuffs

When we were students, my sister and I worked for our local supermarket. A mantra we learned whilst there was:

If it’s got a date, you must rotate!”

When you buy items with a long date (such as cans or jars), the ‘rotate’ rule still applies to these types of items just as it does to perishable goods.

In the case of my father-in-law, he wasn’t able to get into the back of his cupboards so we found some items that were up to 4 years out of date. I’m sure this is not unusual in this situation, but if you are able to do so, get into the back of those shelves from time-to-time and bring forward items you need to use imminently.

Check anything with a use-by date regularly

Pantry items such as flour and other baking products often need checking.  It’s a good idea to narrow down your list of store-cupboard staples so that you regularly use what’s there. Only invest in more unusual things if you know you’ll use them. And local friends, if you need a particular herb or spice for a special recipe, I probably have it (my weakness) so please ask before you buy!

Multiple items, dispersed throughout various locations

One of the things I noticed when decluttering was that there were various little storage boxes (plastic or cardboard) containing small items of a similar nature. We discovered duplicate (and even triplicate) versions of tiny things like paracetamol, matches and so on. Keeping such bits and pieces in one place will enable you to use up what you have before buying more and save you time and money.

Everything in its place

Whether you live alone, with a partner or in a family situation, an ‘everything in its place’ rule will help you consolidate, as you:
– see what you have in a particular category
– avoid losing things of value
– avoid waste (and save money)
– save time (as you know where to find what you need)
– maintain a sense of order and make cleaning so much easier

So, our decluttering continues and I know it won’t take long to get things sorted out. I know my mother-in-law will appreciate knowing that her home is a little less cluttered, which will help her keep it clean and tidy.

To live minimally in the here and now

So, to live minimally in the here and now:

  • Keep genuinely useful things close by (all in one place)
  • Have a place for ‘goods out’ (and let them go)
  • Check anything with a use-by date regularly
  • Adopt the ‘everything in its place’ rule

What can you do today to help you on your journey towards a clutter-less life?

In memory of Kenneth Gordon 1928 – 2017

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#Unclutter 2017 – The 3 S’s of paperwork

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In my last post of this #Unclutter2017 series, I tackle an area of our lives that we all have to deal with: paperwork.

Tackle your family filing

When I finally addressed the issue of our family’s paperwork, I was well into my minimalism journey. However, I can’t begin to tell you how shocked I was to find old utility bills from several years earlier – and from a house in which we no longer lived. I also had items relating to my daughter’s childcare when she was a pre-schooler. She is now almost 15…
I had ‘archives’ in the loft (or so I thought), plus ‘current’ items in my admin cupboard.

Evaluate and sort

I brought everything together and had a long, hard look. First of all, some of the items I had archived were actually current (house documentation) so should have been stored more carefully. Other items, like a water utility bill from 2008, should have been shredded a looonnnggg time ago.
So, I was ruthless. I immediately placed in the recycling anything that didn’t need to be shredded.

Follow the 3 S’s of paperwork

For the rest,  I followed the 3 S’s of paperwork:
Scan
Shred
Store

Scan

Scan information you need to keep whose paperwork you don’t need to retain. Evernote or Dropbox are great places to keep your scanned paperwork.

Shred

Shred papers containing confidential information. The shredding may feel like a nuisance; I don’t own an industrial sized shredder so this job took me a long time. If you are planning to buy one, get the best shredder you can afford.

Store

Store what you need in a logical way. The storage system is your choice, but having tried filing cabinets (graveyards for paperwork you’ll seldom look at again) and hanging files, I opted for simple office-type box files. Easy to order in alphabetical order by organisation, they are the minimalist’s best friend. Once they start getting full, you can’t keep adding to them otherwise they refuse to close. So, then you go back to the 3 S’s….

#Unclutter 2017

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short series on decluttering throughout January. If living a clutter-less life is one of your goals for 2017, then I hope that these posts will have helped you on your journey.

Coming up in February

February heralds the start of a new series entitled #FrugalFebruary. We’ll start with money-saving tips on food and groceries, but also explore aspects of eco-minimalism. If there’s anything you’d particularly like to focus on, just drop me a line.

#Unclutter2017 – Overcome inertia through a new impetus

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If you’re well into your journey into minimalism, it’s still possible that you may be holding onto at least one or two items about which you have felt unsure. As the following quotation points out, it may simply be that you have held onto stuff because you haven’t decided what to do with it.
“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions, fuelled by procrastination.”
– Christina Scalise

Finding a new cause will reinvigorate your verve for decluttering

A new fundraising venture encouraged me to strengthen my resolve, enabling me to tackle my final uncluttering tasks. Before Christmas, my daughter signed up for a school’s expedition with Camps International. In July 2018, she will participate in a 4-week expedition to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. As a part of the challenge, she is expected to undertake a variety of fundraising activities to support the costs associated with the trip. Her fundraising will also contribute to the development activities of the organisation itself.

Camps International suggests the idea of car boot sales or eBay sales to help boost funds. Ironically, this also meant bringing new things into the house as my mum started uncluttering to help provide things we could sell! You can imagine how this made me feel – I wanted it gone as soon as possible!

Over the holidays, we began listing these items and also benefited from using our local “Things for Sale” Facebook group.

Get behind a new cause

Getting behind this new cause was the catalyst for us to look around to actively find more things we could relinquish. We did identify some things and – you know what – we haven’t missed them one bit.

Is there a cause that you could get behind, which might help you part with those final items you’ve been holding onto? The ’cause’ might simply be to boost your own savings (or to help others). You might want to save for a long-term goal such as a trip or special project.

Alternatively, you might decide to support a local, national or international charity, thus ensuring the proceeds from the sale of your unwanted stuff have gone to a good cause. Even better, your stuff has gone for good (both literally and metaphorically).

Overcome inertia

So, choose a cause that might reignite the spark and one the key tenets of minimalism: decluttering. Doing good will make you feel good. Feeling good will help you do good! *

Let me know what your ‘good cause’ might be!

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*This is based on Gretchen Rubin’s ‘do good, feel good’ approach (The Happiness Project)