Early on in lockdown I watched a documentary on Netflix called Minimalism, I’ve since also watched some episodes of the series ‘Tidying up with Marie Kondo’ AND ‘Get Organised with The Home Edit‘ (also on Netflix). A few nights ago I found what seems to be a follow up to Minimalism, called The Minimalists Less Is Now, so I watched that too!
These shows have given me a better understanding of what minimalism is, how to be more organised and some strategies to ditch the clutter – but most importantly have made me stop to think about what I’m buying and whether I really need SO MUCH STUFF. They have inspired me to be more conscious about what’s around me and to make positive changes in my life – and what better time to do it than while we’re all stuck at home!
A bit about me and why this matters…
I grew up in a nice family home in the suburbs however my mum has always been pretty messy and a bit of a hoarder, and my dad would start work on the house doing various DIY projects and often jobs would be left unfinished for years. I hated the mess and I hated people coming over and seeing it. I have memories of my mum manically tidying up before guests would come over to visit and grew up being rather disorganised and messy myself; falling into similar habits of building up clutter then desperately trying to hide it before people would come round. I knew I didn’t want to live this way anymore so have worked hard over the past few years to become really well organised, to have regular clear-outs of my stuff and to try to be tidy on a consistent basis so that I can enjoy my home all the time, not just when guests come over.
Small things I’ve implemented over time that have helped me be more consistently tidy include: Getting into the routine of making my bed in the morning, not allowing huge piles of clothes to build up on the bedroom floor, doing a ‘sweep’ of my flat every night before I go to bed, which involves things such as filling the dishwasher, putting my paperwork in a neat pile, that sort of thing.
The shows have taught me useful lessons too, for instance Marie Kondo talks about only keeping items that bring us joy, which frees us up to make choices about what to keep, as we all know deep down when we look at an item – or hold an item if that’s the case or not. The minimalists talk about removing items from their homes which they don’t use or forgot they owned and that’s something I’ve been doing more and more, and it feels great. Yesterday I threw away a garlic crusher because I have two and no one needs two, I threw away some chop sticks that have been in a drawer for a couple of years that I have never and will never use and a cheese grater I don’t need.
The Home Edit has encouraged me to categorise items and label boxes, and now that I have fewer items I can access the ones I have more easily, meaning I’m now using the things I have (which bring me joy) far more frequently. I have labelled containers in my bathroom for medicines, sanitary products, nail varnish etc. to keep these tidy and easy to access. I also identified that I rarely used my scarves, hats and handbags because they were previously shoved in a wardrobe and would all fall on me when I tried to get them out! I have therefore given most of them to the charity shop and the rest are now neatly in labelled containers so I can see what I have and actually use them.
I hadn’t fully appreciated how shackled our belongings often make us feel – or the need we have to keep consuming all the time and what this is doing to us. It’s bad for our wallets, our homes, our mental health, our creativity, our connection with others and our environment. It’s not sustainable for us to keep buying products at the rate we currently are and this obsession with always having more is leaving us empty. There’s a real sense of freedom in getting rid of items we no longer need, or not buying unnecessary items in the first place and instead recognising that purchasing is not the route to happiness. Not only does it physically free up space and money to cull the spending, but it frees up space in our minds to concentrate on other things; things that are meaningful in our lives. That well known line from Fight Club really is true “The things you own end up owing you” so let’s take back control.
I also learnt that minimalism doesn’t mean you have to throw away all your clothes and get rid of your TV. It means different things to different people. Some people keep functional items and get rid of all else, others just reduce their belongings down so they can keep their homes, and minds, relatively clutter-free. It’s about simplifying, but you can interpret that however you like. The key seems to be about being intentional with your choices so that you can say no to the marketeers who’s job it is to make you feel inadequate. You are fantastic just as you are regardless of whether you have the latest gadgets, the perfect mascara, the designer moisturiser or 100 pairs of immaculately displayed shoes. I’ve also observed some other benefits of simplifying. By having fewer items cleaning is much quicker and having a tidy home is easier to maintain. Sometimes less really is more. Know that you don’t have to sacrifice anything, just ask yourself what is essential and what brings you joy or brings value to your life. Anything else can go. Choose contentment.