The more I organize, eliminate, donate, and toss – the more I appreciate the space these items occupied.
For the last 10 years, I’ve been on the go. While not intentionally, I’ve moved apartments every year since starting college. Every. Single. Year.
As such, I’ve never really had the opportunity to just slow down and think about my possessions. My process would go something like this:
Unpack boxes → Fill up closets, cabinets, and shelves → Let closets sit and accumulate more → Pack up everything and move again
So every year I’d pack up all of the same clothes, shoes, and home decor, + everything I’d accumulated in the last year, all without thinking about whether or not I even really need those items anymore. It’s a pretty normal cycle, I see many of my friends doing the same.
Today, now that I’ve been in the same apartment for about a year and a half, I’ve slowed down and become more deliberate in evaluating and releasing my possessions. The time in my current apartment has enabled me to turn an apartment into a home. Because of this, I’ve become more thoughtful in how I use my space and how I allow items to take up space in my home.
Changing your mindset
For so long, my possessions gave me a sense of security. That piece of art (a gift that I really never liked all that much) or a decorative serving bowl (that I haven’t used once) gave me a sense of home. When I really thought about it though, these items were not doing much for me. Actually, they were just taking space away from me. As soon as I started getting rid of these items *shocker* I survived and actually felt a weight lifted. I knew this was the right path.
The other big shift is in how I think about shopping and buying things. I’ve worked hard for a great job. And thinking back over the last few years, it’s sad how much of my hard-earned money I threw away shopping for trendy clothing and shoes. Recently though, I’ve changed my habits and now place a higher value on spending my money in meaningful ways.
Transitioning into minimalism
I, like just about everybody else I know, was enthralled with Marie Kondo and her intense level of organizing and purging. While I’d like to say that after watching her show I went and got rid of all of my possessions, it wasn’t quite that quick.
Instead, I started with baby steps, evaluating low hanging fruit in my apartment – all of those things I never used, like the unused serving dishes, old art, and a couple of rugs I no longer use.
Next, I moved on to junk and chachkies. We have a bookshelf that was jam-packed full of mix-matched baskets and boxes that were overflowing with items. I went through all of the baskets and boxes of cords, wires, pens, papers, and a bunch of other little items. Ultimately, I ended up getting rid of entire baskets of items.
This flipped a switch in my mind.
The shelf didn’t need all of those boxes and baskets.
I’d been conditioned for years to hold onto and house all of those little things, because… maybe I’ll need them at a later date. But now, I look at junk for what it is – junk.
Another switch flipped in my head. It’s ok to have blank walls, sparse shelves, and open floors in a home. For years, I’d been on the train of thought that there should be furniture on every wall, bookshelves overflowing, and lots of furniture to fill up your space.
Now, I love space.
Minimalism Baby Steps
Tackle one project at a time. When purging items, I focus on a specific goal like: cleaning out bathroom cabinets, minimizing the hall closet, or organizing the kitchen.
Declare clutter-free zones. Once I complete a project, like cleaning out my nightstand or bathroom drawers; I declare that space a clutter-free zone. A clutter-free nightstand can become a clutter-free bedroom, and so on and so on, until you have a clutter-free home.
Plan your shopping. I used to head over to Target when I was bored or over to the mall when I had some time to kill after work. This encourages useless shopping! Now, I am deliberate and thoughtful about my purchases, first doing research online, keeping the item on a list for a few days or even weeks to give me time to think about whether I truly need that item.
Clothing Specific Tips
Seasonal purging. As I near the end of a season, I evaluate my clothing and get rid of seasonal items that I didn’t wear. If I didn’t wear a specific sweater at all during winter, for example, it can find a new home.
One in one out rule. While it is pretty hard for me to get rid of clothing, it is important for me to not mindlessly accumulate more, so with any sweater I buy, I get rid of one; buying new shoes means getting rid of a pair, too. If you’re looking to take it further and reduce go with one in two out.
Keep one-time items like formal dresses stored away in a box. Rather cluttering up my closet, I keep fancy dresses, my one suit, and a handful of vacation items in a plastic bin under my bed.
Keep a donate bag close by. I keep a shopping bag in the back of my closet so I can easily toss ill-fitting, torn, or outdated clothing into it. Once the bag has a few pieces, I’ll walk it down the street to donate.
Sell your high-value items, but don’t bother with the smaller ticket items. I use Poshmark to sell designer items that I’m getting rid of – it’s a great way to extend the life of your items and make back a few dollars. Selling online doesn’t instantly unload your items though, so you’ll still end up holding onto your clothing for a few weeks to months while the item is listed online.
Alright y’all, no matter what, I keep it real. And I must admit, despite my love of minimalism, there are certain things I won’t give up. For me, clothing, crafting materials, and my plants are just as important as my space.
Clothing is important to me – I enjoy minimalist-adjacent fashion, putting together monochrome outfits, and finding the perfect nude sweaters. My style is an important piece of me, so my form of minimalism embraces this. With that, though a fairly big wardrobe, I keep it organized at all times and do make an effort to adhere to a one in – one out rule. And while I definitely value keeping a manageable wardrobe, but I don’t see myself going extreme with a tiny capsule wardrobe.
Similarly, I love crafting on the weekends, so I have a fair amount of space dedicated to holding my craft supplies – not something I’m looking to pair down.
It’s important to know your limits.
Baby steps are steps
Just remember, continue progressing with tiny steps and you’ll reach your minimalism goals. It’s a wonderful adventure to begin, embrace it!