What Minimalism Taught Me About Appreciation and Some Convincing Proof If You're On the Fence About Trying It Out

jaroslaw-ceborski-234870.jpg

A lot of people think minimalism means never buying anything again. You accept the challenge to get rid of all material possessions and then you're supposed to never look back.

I used to think that about minimalism.

I used to think I couldn't have things. 

While a piece of that is true, much of the population does indeed need things. Not a lot of things but things nevertheless.

The confusion is in how we think about those things. The frustration is in how we lack the know-how to successfully manage those things in our houses.

If we can inform ourselves and as I like to call it, update our perspective, we'll come to embrace simple living even more because it'll start to feel natural.

While I'd love to get into what things are necessary and not, this post is about something a little different. This post is about ways that you can start to see simple-living in a new light. It's about how minimalism can actually help you start to appreciate the things you have. It's about helping you update your perspective on stuff.

As we choose to limit the unnecessary and pare back on the non-essentials, we quickly start to uncover the value of QUALITY things. 

As a kid I was taught to treat people and the things in my life with respect.

I knew at a young age that I couldn't jump on the couch, or spill food in the car or color on the walls. I had to keep things looking nice so they'd last.

So now, I thank my wise parents for laying down a good foundation and I'd argue that this mentality still holds true for me as an adult. I think it's still important to take care of things to help make them last.

Below are four ways minimalism can help create a greater sense of appreciation when it comes to the things in your life. While there are many other benefits to the lifestyle, these are the results I've experienced:

  • Minimalism helps curb the desire to buy things. Instead of going on a shopping spree and buying it all, think about buying only what you need and will actually enjoy. Because of simple living, I rarely regret anything I buy now because I have a high standard for what will make it into my house and what won't.
  • Minimalism can decrease the actual quantity of things. This doesn't mean that you have to adopt a minimalist lifestyle and get rid of everything. It means living more simply will automatically help spark the desire to want to get rid of everything you no longer need or anything that doesn't serve a purpose. Interestingly enough, you may start to crave it. 
  • Minimalism manifests in quality over quantity. You've heard and seen the phrase a million times but there is so much goodness in being more conscious about where you shop, what you buy and how long you hang onto it. I'm not an expert on this just yet but being aware of how I'm consuming has made a positive difference in my outlook on stuff.
  • Minimalism means taking a closer look at your selection process. Picky is good. Picky is great actually. Picky means you no longer subscribe to what society says about having it all. You're going to be the judge of what you need and where you spend your money. 

Minimalism promotes appreciation and places an emphasis on the stuff that should matter.

According to an article from Lifehack.org, which delves into happiness research:

"around the world, consumerism is the biggest suppressant of happiness."

Interestingly enough, the article goes on to share that the most important source of happiness for kids is friends and family. The stuff money can't buy.

This is why I've been hook, line and sinker on the idea.

According to research conducted by American psychologist and author Tim Kasser, students with higher extrinsic, materialistic values tend to have lower-quality relationships, and to feel less connected to others.

"The more materialistic values are at the center of our lives, the more our quality of life is diminished."

Minimalism isn't just about appreciating and valuing fewer things. It allows you to worry less about stuff so you can focus on things like love, friendship, experiences and helping those around you. Interestingly enough, those are some of the same things that made the top 10 list of things money can't buy according to Power of Positivity

If you're like me, you've read countless articles about what the simple-living path promises for you if you give it a try. The one thing I want to emphasize today is that simple living helped me see the value of my things, which then made me want fewer, better things.

I think you'll find that it can do the same for you.

So instead of taking my word for it, muster up a little faith and try it out. You won't be able to really experience the appreciation factor until you try out simple-living for yourself. The worst that can happen is that you give it a shot and decide it's not for you.

Or, like this fuzzy feline, you'll realize it's not so bad.

tenor.gif

Millennials and Minimalism: Why My Generation Is Clinging to Less

When millennials speak, they speak LOUD.

It's mostly to do with the fact that we outnumber our baby boomer parents and make up a quarter of the US workforce. (I'm a millennial myself and up until now, I've been severely underestimating my demographic's footprint.)

One of the movements that marketers, economists and psychologists can't deny is how millennials are clinging to minimalism. And when there's a group that big flocking to something, it's hard not to notice.

Joshua Becker, founder and blogger of Becoming Minimalist, describes minimalism as an intentional way of living where a person tries to only live with what they need. His article, here, goes on to explain minimalism in more depth. 

fb_version_millennial.jpg

So, why are so many millennials interested in living with only what they need?

According to a Forbes article from last year, 

"Millennials have a unique set of values around how they choose to spend their money. They grew up during the recession, entered a struggling job market and must now pay off record amounts of student debt." 

I know plenty of people who are in this same boat. Still trying to pay off debt and working their tails off to eventually buy a house and create the life they've always imagined.

Minimalism means financial freedom.

I'm not a finance professional but I do feel strongly about it. 

Millennial minimalists like myself are thinking twice about how we make money and where we spend it. We're after jobs that we enjoy and we're buying less and choosing the items we do buy well.

Quality. Over. Quantity.

According to MillennialMoney.com, there are three main financial challenges that me and my millennial friends around the world face.

  • Massive Student Loan Debt
  • Historically Low Wages
  • Future Financial Security is Not Guaranteed

Living in cities like Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area has shown me that the world is an expensive place. In order for me to enjoy it, I've come to embrace and love a life where shopping is curbed so that I can work on things like paying off debt, padding my savings account and investing in things that matter like my health, retirement and experiences.

niv-rozenberg-356666.jpg

Queue the tiny house movement!

Tiny Houses are a somewhat recent way of living that has caught the attention of broadcast networks and turned tiny-house dwellers into people of interest. It's not only a cool way of living, it's actually quite smart for those who choose to do it.

What better way to save money and focus on the things that matter most than making sure you're not anchored down by a 30-year mortgage? 

There's the curb appeal.

Many of my fellow millennials saw our parents struggle during the recession. If it wasn't our parents who were hit by the housing and job crisis, many of us were praying we'd find jobs when we graduated college.

We had to be scrappy and resourceful.

And I think many of us were.

Millennial blogger Britt from Tiny Ambitions shared with me the reasons that she's saving for a tiny house and choosing to live small. 

"Around the time when I started researching tiny houses in 2012, I realized there was no way I could ever afford to buy a regular house. Just thinking about being tied to a mortgage of $300,000 or more (the going rate in my area at the time) for my entire life made me feel ill."

When it comes to what a tiny house can do for her financially, Britt explaines that she thinks it will allow more financial freedom.

"... it's definitely a part of why I wanted to go tiny in the first place. Once my living expenses are reduced significantly, a huge chunk of my income will be free to be spend on other things, like travel or retirement. Alternatively, I wouldn't need to make the same amount of money anymore, so I could be more choosy with the kinds of projects and work I take on. I could also volunteer more in causes that are important to me, like local food and agriculture."

Not all millennials are going to live tiny but Britt represents a movement of mindful Gen Y'ers who are choosing to live more minimally so they have less financial burdens and more opportunity to enjoy whatever it is that they want to enjoy.

Freedom to live how we want is a beautiful thing.

Freedom to enjoy what we want is a a beautiful thing.

In a nutshell, minimalism means millennials get to feel more like this little guy:

giphy-1.gif

Minimalism creates flexibility and opens our lives to more opportunity.

According to an Entrepreneur.com article, 

"Millennials want to know their work is making some impact and helping to make the world a better place."

With the recession behind us, I'm seeing more friends taking risks in new ways. Many of my personal BFFs are starting businesses that are changing the way things are done. I know a handful of millennials, who have started companies that are revolutionizing their respective markets.

Many of the Gen Y entrepreneurs I know don't have time or money to worry about stuff weighing them down. If they were maximalists, they would have battled increased distraction when it came to creating products that matter and launching companies that are making a difference. 

Ben and Leslie Parfitt of Pacifica, California are an example of minimal millennial entrepreneurs. As new parents, they spent time and money looking for well-designed, practical safety products for their home but were always disappointed. They spent nearly two years creating and testing products to meet performance and material standards and in 2017, they launched Bink - their line of aesthetically beautiful baby-proofing products. The Parfitts are smart, creative minimalists. 

Leslie explained that their desire for less over more comes from both her and her husband's preference for a simpler lifestyle. She adds that her minimalist approach to living was impacted by what she saw growing up in a suburban community in Southern California.

"I grew up in Orange County, where shopping was really just what you do on the weekends. And I can just remember that feeling of never-enough-ness all the time." 

Leslie goes on to explain how they've incorporated simple living into their everyday lives.

"As a family, my husband and I don't acquire many things. I've learned to really only buy the things that I love, and I end up keeping them forever. My husband, Ben, and I have two little girls, ages 1 and 3, and we make a point to keep our home-environment really simple. With kids, its so easy for things to accumulate and feel cluttered, without meaning for it to happen. I found that I just keep a small basket of toys and a weeks worth of clothes. It helps so much with my sanity. We make a point to buy our girls that much. We spend a lot of our free time outside doing things."

And that simplicity spilled over into their business venture, too.

"Having a simple lifestyle gave us the freedom and inspiration to start a business. We put a lot of thought into the things we have in our home. We appreciate good design, and understand that truly good design is often the simplest solution. When we had our first daughter, we quickly learned that safety products were important in our home, but that there weren't any well-designed, quality products out there. It became very obvious that there was an opportunity for simple, minimal, designed products that people would actually enjoy putting in their homes." 

Ben and Leslie understand that it's less about creating stuff for the sake of creating stuff and it's more about creating products that will make a difference for people. In their case, a difference for parents. Their dedication is already paying off as they've been nominated for the Babylist Fresh Find Award, which is an award designated to new products that make parents lives easier and more beautiful.

Leslie and Ben Parfitt of Bink with their daughters, Penelope and Mae.

Leslie and Ben Parfitt of Bink with their daughters, Penelope and Mae.

Minimalism means possibilities. 

So why do millennials want less instead of more? 

We don't want houses so big that we owe a debt we can't ever pay back. We don't want heaps of clothes filling our closets. What we want is to do amazing things and change the world in amazing ways. We want to create things that matter that won't be tossed into landfills. We want to find and create solutions. We want to live minimally because it frees us up to accomplish things that go beyond ourselves.

Helpful Ways to Manage Your Kids' Toys Like a Minimalist

minimalismandtoys

Whether you've got a young child or multiple kids of all ages, there's a good chance toys are accumulating in your house. I hear a lot of moms talk about their frustrations with toys. How many should you have? Can someone be a minimalist and let their kids have toys? How does one go about decluttering? In a nutshell, WHAT THE HECK DO YOU DO WITH TOYS?

I have to add a disclaimer that my little boy is only 9 months old so although we haven't had to manage loads of toys at this stage they are making their way into our house. I've bought him a handful and then he's received some as gifts. I've decided to compile what I do to manage his toys as well as what I've learned from experts on the topic and roll them up into one post so it's a quick and efficient read for you. ;)

Here goes:

If you're feeling bombarded by toys in your house and you're either frustrated or confused (or both) on how to tackle your little people's stuff then read the below tips to help you manage your kids' toys like a minimalist.

- Get rid of broken toys. Whether it's missing a tiny piece or a big piece, get rid of it. Get rid of broken toys because broken toys become junk and junk accumulates. It sounds harsh, but you've got to draw the line somewhere!

- Consider a rotation system. If you still have a handful of toys for your kids, only put out what they'll actually use at a given time. Consider rotating toys weekly or monthly. In my situation, I keep Beck's toys in a small bin in his closet. I'll pull out 3-4 and hand him those when he's in his pack n play or I'll let him pick out the toys from the bin in his room (at 9 months, life is all about taking things out of bins so it's really a great activity to keep him busy at this stage in his life). I believe with older kids, you'll find you and your kids will feel like they have new toys when you put out those they haven't played with in a while. Where should you store the ones not being used? Consider putting them in the top of the closet or in the garage. 

- Create an organizational system. You don't have to spend much to get organized. You can use things like shoe boxes (any size will do) to sort toys. If you want something that's more aesthetically pleasing, I really like the Ikea drawer organizers (Amazon sells them too) and shelf storage containers. My husband is the organizer in our house and he's taught me that it's all about separating like items. So consider putting all of the balls together or all of the blankets or all of the dolls, etc. Size is another way to tackle a big pile of toys. Consider combining toys that are similar in size and then put them in the container that fits them best.

nurseryorganization

- If you've read Simplicity Parenting then you know that author Kim John Payne provides a much more thorough outline of what you should keep and discard when it comes to toys. In the book, he shares that you should really only keep toys that are going to help foster your child's imagination. Things like rope, building blocks or dolls are a few examples. The idea is to have toys that your kids will use their imagination with. According to Payne, toys to avoid would be those that are merely for entertainment and that are prone to breaking. Of course, you're the parent so it's your call but keep in mind what will last and what will help them most in the long-run.

Are you a parent struggling with toy overload or have you created a solution that would benefit us all? Leave a comment and let us know!

3 Tips to Help you Simplify Without the Overwhelm

simplify_sooosimple

You're ready and willing to simplify your home but for some reason it keeps getting put off. It's not that you don't want to streamline the nooks and crannies but it's sort of, overwhelming in a really huge way. 

If this sounds like you, you are not alone! That much I can promise. Oftentimes the biggest reason we as simple-seekers find ourselves not simplifying is because we get overwhelmed with feelings that it's too time consuming, too confusing (you just might need that one sweater for another rainy season... maybe?) and/or it's hard to face the music and actually rip off the bandaid of too much stuff.

It's important to keep in mind that just because you may feel overwhelmed (and yes, you may have stuff lying around) those things don't categorize you as messy or even a hoarder. Stuff just accumulates. It's a part of life. So cut yourself some slack and don't sweat it. Follow these 4 tips to help overcome the overwhelm when it comes to simplifying your home.

1. Start somewhere. The hardest part about doing something (doesn't matter what it is) is starting it. Once you start it you'll feel a sense of accomplishment after you make the first move. This motivation will help you get the ball rolling. For example, I hate the paper clutter that accumulates in my house (I loathe junk mail). I purge all the time, I have a paper shredder, I recycle but the paper still builds. Instead of letting overwhelm beat me, I force myself to dive in on a weekly basis. Once I start separating piles (what to file versus what to shred), I feel better and then I find the motivation to keep going until I see the piles gone.

2. Set a goal. Don't stop until you've met a goal. It doesn't have to be a lofty one. Something as simple as, I'm not going to stop cleaning the closet until I've spent at least 20 minutes doing it. Another goal could be, I'm going to keep organizing until I can easily hang clothes on the top shelf (no more cramming shirts in between shirts). If you set a goal and you achieve it, you'll feel like an organizing rockstar. Trust me.

3. Many hands make light work. According to this article in Psychology Today, a mess can cause stress for a variety of reasons and tackling it with the help of your family, roommates or whoever else lives under the same roof is a simple way to divide the load. Bottom line? Don't do it alone soldier. You weren't the only one collecting the clutter in the first place so invite everyone to help lift the burden.

And remember, living more simply takes constant practice. Similar to eating healthy, you've got to keep at it to see the results. One binge purge might feel satisfying but you'll lasting results if you make a conscious effort to work on it every week. The more you do it, the easier it will come!

RELATED POST: Decluttering: How to Organize Your House One Room at a Time and Keep Your Sanity

What is Minimalism Anyway?

whatisminimalism_sooosimple

So what's the big deal about minimalism? What does it mean and how exactly can it make life noticeably sweeter? I've discovered that minimalism isn't necessarily about the bare minimum. It's definitely about streamlining and paring back but it doesn't have to be about living with nothing at all. Face it, we need things. We should be using things that are useful to us! Those things will be different for everyone. Minimalism is about choosing your material possessions wisely and simplifying your life so you have time for your loved ones and the things that are most important to you. That alone makes life sweeter! In most cases, this will mean saying no to things that you really don't have time for. This may also mean cleaning out areas of your house. It could also mean that you refrain from shopping as much and make fewer purchases consisting of higher quality items. In fact, I recommend all of those things. :)

I gave the internet's definition of minimalism my own spin because I think it's a [life]style. It's not just about one area of your life having less and being organized while the rest is bursting at the seams with stuff. It's about simplifying all aspects of your life - home, work, personal time, etc. 

Not sure where to start? I've included a brief questionnaire below to help you think about a few different areas that could be the most congested for you right now. My suggestion is to start on one that is most bothersome and then go from there. Once you take a stab at it, I think you'll come to understand and even love the power of minimalism.

  • How are you spending your time when you're not at work? Are you bombarded by the demands of others or is your schedule full of appointments? Think about what exactly is taking up your time.
  • How often do you wear the articles in your own closet? Could you take 15 min and sort out a few items to open up some space?
  • Think about the paperwork in your home. Is the mail piling up in a kitchen cubby or cabinet? Is your home office becoming a dumping ground for miscellaneous, loose paper that you can never seem to stay on top of? 
  • Open your kitchen cabinets and take inventory of what's really in them. Are they full of outdated food or ingredients that you forgot you had (make sure you look behind things and in the far back of your cabinets). Do you have appliances that you no longer use or never used at all?

These questions should help jumpstart how you start thinking about the areas of your life that can be simplified. You can get a lot more detailed and a lot more thorough but don't try to bite off more than you can chew. Like I always say, start small first. 

Looking for more minimal-inspired content? Submit your name and email below to join my free email list and you'll be sent simple living tips, insights and invites to future webinars.

RELATED POST: How to Organize Your House One Room at a Time and Keep Your Sanity

Minimalism and Motherhood: The Trick to Accumulating Less

minimalismandmotherhood

When I gave birth to my son 6 months ago my life changed in the most amazing way and now I can't imagine life without him. If you're a parent, you know exactly what I mean. Our kids ARE. OUR. WORLD. 

As part of our world, they need things (and if you're like me and millions of other parents, you want to buy them things because you love them and want the best for them). Now, since I call myself a minimalist, I tried to be as selective as possible about what I added to my registry (quality over quantity!). It was important that I felt equipped to take care of my little guy but at the same time walk that fine line of making sure I didn't have too much or too little. Naturally, I didn't want to forget the essentials. 

I was methodical about what I thought we'd actually use. I read, researched and studied. What did I find out? Just about the same stuff that everyone else was telling me and I felt like in the sea of items "that are necessary" I was coming out even more overwhelmed. You've seen the lists: minimal must-haves or the top things you need for a minimal nursery. The problem with these lists is that while they've curated beautiful, high quality baby items, they left me feeling like I needed to add a lot to my registry.

Fortunately, I'm happy to note that after all was said and done, I felt like I had crafted a very manageable registry and 6 months later I can say I've used everything except just one item (and I found a purpose for it just last month). 

So, how did I do it and what's the trick you ask? I'll tell you. It's about defining and using your best judgment to predict how much you or your child will use something. Sure, you may want to also consider things like the quality of the item and aesthetics of it but at the foundation, I suggest you try to guesstimate how much use it will get. This can be applied to apparel, toys, baby dishes, strollers and equipment, etc. To get a comparable estimate, consider how much use it will get per week.

I'll use my son's clothes as an example. If I want to buy him something because I think it's too adorable to pass up, then I'll factor in how many times he's going to wear it before I purchase. This applies to items of all price-points - be it expensive or cheap. If your child is going to wear it every week -- maybe even multiple times, then you know the item is worth it.

On the flip side, I've eyed a few "items for convenience" during the occasional trip to Buy Buy Baby and I swear like 95% of the time those things aren't necessities. So save yourself time and money by estimating your child's usage of stuff you're considering buying and I really believe you'll be better off for it in the long run.

Mental Shift: Focus on What You Don't Need Instead of What You Don't Have

minimalism_quote_sooosimple

I am re-listening to Brene Brown's Power of Vulnerability lecture on Audible. (This is my third time listening to it because she is... amazing. I soak up her data and research like water in a sponge every time I hear it.) One of the first points she makes is about how we live in a society of scarcity. We can't get enough and we never have enough. So many of us can't stop worrying about not getting enough sleep or not getting enough done in the day and the list goes on. I imagine you're thinking about what you feel scarce about right now. Am I right?

This had me thinking. We really don't need more. We shouldn't feel these feelings of scarcity even though we do. In fact, I'd argue that it would help the majority of us if we felt less burdened by what we can't seem to get enough of and instead shifted our thinking to focus on what we can do without.

Have you ever decluttered a storage closet? It's like taking an eraser to the marks of chaos. It's not that the world sees these places (many are hidden by doors) but you know when they're neat and tidy. You know the feeling you get when everything has a place. If it's been a while since you've had this feeling (or maybe you've never felt this feeling) I encourage you to start trimming. Bit by bit you'll see what you really don't need.

Most of the time, we really don't need the new clothes, shoes, endless toys for the kids in our lives, [insert whatever it is that you buy here]. Now, you might be saying, Britnee it's easy for you to write about it rather than do it. You haven't seen my house. It's crazy! It'll never be where I want it. To that I say, it takes time and patience and practice. I'm still practicing it. That's another reason I started this blog! To chat about what works for me as I practice simple living.

If you're willing, then you can tackle it. 

Let's talk about some of the pitfalls - the things that deter us from this idea of having less and not needing it all. Once we identify those, we'll be more equipped to properly handle them and say BYEE to the excess. 

Pitfall #1: Shopping. Whether it's online or in-person, shopping is fun. For some people, it's so fun it's become an addiction. Bored? Go shopping. Happy? Go shopping. Reunited with family for an afternoon? Go shopping. This is a very real pitfall that's working against you. Good news is, it doesn't have to win! 

Pitfall #2: Significant other who may not see eye-to-eye with you on your simple vision. I've heard it more than once. Many people wish to do away with the excess but their significant others aren't on board. This can be a toughy. In those cases, I recommend taking it SLOW. Start a real conversation about why you want to trim and let them know why you want to do it. You might consider sharing a Pinterest or Houzz board of what you want your house to ultimately look like. Sharing examples can show someone with hesitation what exactly your end goal is. Show them that it doesn't have to be scary and the end-goal will be well worth it.

Pitfall #3: Feeling overwhelmed. I think we can all agree that this type of feeling is a natural response when we see a pile of anything staring back at us. My suggestion is to start small. You don't need to organize your entire garage this weekend. Think about cleaning out a few shelves first. The idea is for you to experience a few small wins to help motivate you to continue on to the big stuff. And once you have a few small wins under your belt, you won't want to stop because it really does feel good.

How cool would it be to simplify our homes and focus solely on streamlining them? Make them more peaceful. Make them more aligned with a feeling of calm instead of worrying about buying or accumulating whatever we thought we needed before. For me, that's living. 

If we're honest with ourselves, we know that there is so much that we really don't need. My challenge for you is to consider what you can do without this week when you're at the store debating that impulse buy. You went to Target for sunscreen and a card for your mom but you're debating whether or not to snag the mini-chalkboard easel, the blouse that screams spring and a few other non-essentials. 

If nothing else, have a little internal convo with yourself. You'll recognize your real needs if you know that 1) you're going to use those additional items and/or 2) you really won't and your impulse purchase is really just a whim to satisfy a fleeting craving.

RELATED POST: Decluttering: How to Organize Your House One Room at a Time & Keep Your Sanity

Top Ways to Simplify Your Closet & Get it Looking Cleaner in Minutes

closet_organization_sooosimple.jpg

Dayne and I bought our mid-century home one year ago. With it came his-and-her closets (small and sweet in size). Mine is pictured above and below. (Fun Fact: In 1973 the average size of an American home was 1,660 square feet. In 2010, the average was 2,392 square feet.) Where did they put all of the extra square footage? Most definitely in the master closets. And a bunch of other places but for the sake of this blog post, I'll stick to talking about closets.

closet_organization_sooosimple.JPG

Aside from maternity clothes, which are boxed up nicely in the garage, what you see is all I got! I have a few drawers for items like t-shirts, PJs, swimsuits and the delicates but in front of you is my main wardrobe. 

I know what you're thinking -- how can you say you're a minimalist and have THAT many shoes? To that I say, I believe minimalism is about using the things you have. If you have an actual use for it - then great! I recommend going through your closets frequently and either donating or recycling anything that you don't wear. I do wear those clothes and I do wear those shoes. Minimalism doesn't have to be about seeing how sparse you can make your closet but encourages the use of what you have inside of it.

Back to my example pictured above. You can see that I don't have a lot of space, so making use of it as best I can is key. Most of this is attributed to the fact that I frequently get rid of the items I don't wear or that have worn out. This keeps the volume of items to a minimum. I also color coordinate my clothes to give my closet a cleaner, more organized look. Below I've made a list of top ways for you to streamline your closet and get it looking cleaner in minutes. 

1. Color coordinate. If you color coordinate the items in your closet it will instantly look "cleaner" and more organized. This can be applied to any apparel - blouses, shoes, pants, dresses. 

2. Be consistent about purging. I go through my stuff often. Do you buy items once per year? Most likely, no. Going through your clothes on a regular basis will help you rid your closet and drawers of the things you no longer wear or need on a regular basis. Remember, the idea is to keep only what you actually use!

3. One in, one out. Along with step 2, consider getting rid of an item every time you buy something new. I'm not advocating waste or getting rid of perfectly good clothes here. I am saying don't buy things you don't need, get rid of anything that you don't wear. 

Let me know how your closets clean up in the comments section!

Decluttering: How to Organize Your House One Room at a Time and Keep Your Sanity

quotesaboutminimalism

I grew up in an organized, simple house. It was a typical 4 bed, 3 bath house in a Phoenix suburb. My dad skewed toward most minimalist habits when it came to accumulating things and my mom was constantly cleaning. (I attribute the joy I get now from cleaning to her!) Overall, they were tidy when it came to stuff. Neither liked dark, contrasting colors on the walls or prints that detracted from a room. They gravitated toward neutral tones and less instead of more. Of course, I didn't realize when I was little. It wasn't until I ventured over to other peoples' houses and saw the ratio difference. Even the outside of our house was streamlined. No weeds, a manicured lawn and the cars were always parked inside the garage. A wild concept for a large population of people with garages. Am I right?

This rubbed off on me throughout the years. I think a person's upbringing and environment has a lot to do with how they end up curating and grooming their own space - be it good or bad. Having said that, it doesn't determine how your space will be. Nope, you've got the freewill and power to do it all on your own regardless of what surrounded you as a kid. 

For me, my idea of decluttering became an even more important part of my life after I got married. My husband is AMAZING at organizing. He could do it all day if you let him and he's good. So good that I'm confident he could make a living doing it. I thought I was organized until I married him. I have him to thank for the true organization of our house. 

No matter you're upbringing or current status now, I'm here to share 4 simple ways to declutter and organize your house one room at a time without feeling overwhelmed and while keeping your sanity. End goal? Create a calmer, more enjoyable living space. Here's how:

1. Start with one room at a time. Tackle your house room by room so this way, you experience small wins each time a new space has been simplified. Any kind of win is a great thing! So start with one room and take inventory of what's inside of it. Especially when you're overwhelmed and burdened with the load in front of you. So, let's say you start with your living room. What's taking up the space? Do you have a couch and love-seat and chair and ottoman? What about on the walls? Do you see a plethora of frames hanging every which way? Take a visual inventory and notice every single thing that you can see by staring at your room. 

2. Begin sifting and sorting everything in sight that doesn't serve an actual purpose. For example, if your electronics work, then they serve a purpose. If they're broke then they don't. Shelves and entertainment centers can be really bad collection zones. Try tackling those first. So let's say you have an entertainment center full of what makes sense and then layered on it and in the drawers you find books, warranty manuals, old remotes with broken parts, movies, CDs, etc. In this example, an entertainment center might best serve you if it holds your television, electronics and supporting media such as DVDs (if you still buy those), a few magazines or accessories. What's left after that? Remove any loose paper, miscellaneous toys or items that were put there but don't belong or that are broken. Keep repeating this step until you have only what makes the most sense for that given area. (You're a smart one, you'll know what makes sense after you keep after it!)

3. Pair back on the decor. I know, this one may sound a little strange and can put some people on the defense but the point is to streamline your space and limiting the amount of stuff you have out will do just that. Promise. Once you've eliminated the stuff that doesn't belong, take another pass and be honest with yourself about the amount of decor you have in that space. Ask yourself, what can I remove that should not be here? Perhaps you have one too many candles or vases. Can you see the surface of the furniture? Pair back things like the amount of books you have. You'll be amazed and what this sort of trimming does to your space. Repeat steps 1-3 until you are satisfied with your new, calmer, simplified space. Then move to the next room. Again, go through your house one space at a time so you don't get too stressed with the stuff. Decluttering can be extremely overwhelming if you bite off more than you can chew. 

4. Find your own Feng Shui. I'm not saying you need to go out and study the actual way to achieve Feng Shui but I am saying that if you want to create a calmer, simplified living environment then ask yourself if you feel a sense of calm when you're sitting, sleeping, talking, walking in your space. Will others feel this sense of calm, too? It might be necessary to make adjustments to your decor such as removing a few more decorations or toning down the visual display of clutter if there is still too much. It might be that you've organized and purged as much as possible but the space can still seem too overwhelming. If that's the case, then take a look at what items are still out (meaning they aren't in drawers or closets). If you can put the items you want to keep out-of-sight, then I'm confident you'll see major improvements in your space.

Follow these simple steps and you'll be well on your way to creating a more organized and calmer living environment. Keep me posted!

RELATED POST: Top 4 Things Creating Clutter In Your House & Why You Should Get Rid of It

Top 4 Things Creating Clutter In Your House & Why You Should Get Rid of It

There is always room to clean out the stuff that is cluttering your bedroom, living room, kitchen, closet, car, (insert any place where garbage or junk collects). There are some things, though, that try as we may never end up in the donate pile. Every time we come to that object we know we should purge but we can't because we either can't separate ourselves emotionally or we think we'll eventually use it. Here are the top four things creating clutter in your house and why you should get rid of it all:

  • Free stuff. Not all free stuff is worth keeping. Truth be told it probably wasn't worth accepting to begin with. You don't need the lanyard from the corporate sponsor. You don't need the pens. You don't need the magnet. You don't need the coffee cup. You have MORE THAN ENOUGH coffee cups.
  • Unmatched socks. We all find the floaters. I'd love to know where those long lost sock mates have gone. If you take laundry out of the dryer and you only find one sock. Wait for it to come out of the next few loads and if it never appears, don't keep the other one. Disregard and say so long to the solo sock.
  • Paperwork. Invest in a quality shredder. Then you'll have no excuse for hanging on to important papers that you don't want getting into the wrong hands after you trash them and you can keep your space spic and span.
  • Items you haven't worn in more than 6 months. I'm not talking seasonal must-haves like coats or wool socks. I'm saying that shirt that you keep looking over because it doesn't work with anything else. Or those shorts that have somehow gotten shorter over the years. Toss 'em. You'll be glad you freed up the space and you'll be even happier that you don't have to turn down those pieces anymore. Send them on their way!

Once you're able to tackle these common clutter-makers you'll be well on your way to stopping them before they become a problem the next time around. Remember, you're not the only one who has clutter. We all do. Except for the select group of zero-waste folks, we all have to stay on top of the stuff that accumulates around us.

Let me know how your purge of the common offenders go. I'd love to hear!

Mental Shift: How to Move Past the Honeymoon Phase of Minimalism

Let's face it. The idea of being a minimalist oftentimes dies quickly once the actual act of being one is put into practice. It's easy to sit back and watch documentaries like Minimalism or read books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and feel a sense of overwhelming motivation to throw everything away and keep our closets and rooms and lives simple until a few months roll by and... we lose the motivation. It's just a lot easier to talk about it than to do it.

Oftentimes, the motivation isn't strong enough to withstand the pressures to buy new things. It's especially difficult to say "betah not" when faced with the excitement of new seasons, sales and styles. Those home decor isles at Target are some of the worst culprits. It's so hard to say no to that mid-century mirror but it can be done. Promise.

So what to do? How do you get past the honeymoon phase of being a minimalist and make it a life-long pursuit? Here are three tips that I've put into practice over the past year. Now, I only buy something if I REALLY want it - meaning I know I'm going to wear it out or use it out until I can't anymore.

  1. Try to keep your emotions in check when your favorite store has a sale. Ask yourself, if I buy this new swimsuit because it's a smoking deal -- will I actually wear it more than once or twice? If your answer is yes, and it seems to be made to last then consider it an investment piece. If your not going to wear it out, leave it on the rack! Chances are you're going to forget about it by the time you get home if you were purchasing on a whim.
  2. Another way to withstand retail pressures is to leave the store. Look around, try things on and then leave without buying them if you're luke-warm. If you REALLY want it then you'll go back and buy. If you didn't love it, then odds are you'll keep walking. Walking away from the so-called deal because you know it will only take up space in your closet. Truly, I believe this could be one of the most freeing things you try this year. The more you do it, the more you'll keep doing it and by the time you know it, leaving stores without buying a thing will become a habit. The only way you'll end up buying something is if it's too amazing to pass up and then that thing will become one of your favorite pieces. This works for jewelry, clothing, home decor, you-name-it. Don't go into a retail store with the same attitude anymore!
  3. When it comes to shopping online, things get a little trickier. It's hard to say no when it's available with the touch of a button. Literally, one touch or swipe once you put in your checkout credentials once. They make it TOO easy on us. So here's what you can do. Leverage step one from above. If you think you'll get use out of the product (be honest with yourself) then consider it an investment. If you find yourself ordering things because you love the feeling of receiving packages at your desk at work then you're buying stuff for the wrong reason.

I've been practicing these three tips for the past year and I've had a much easier time finding things that I love and that I wear out - completely.

Leave a comment below and let me know how you're seeking out minimalism as a life-long pursuit. I'd love to hear what's working well for you!

RELATED POST: Minimal Mindset: Living Within Our Means

4 Ways to Be More Present in a Tech-Driven World

minimaltechnology

It's been a while since I last updated my readers but since we last spoke, I became a MOM. And it is WONDERFUL. Something that I'm reminding myself of daily is that living in the present moment is more important now than ever because each day my little bundle of joy keeps getting bigger and if I don't slow down, I'll miss moments that I don't want to miss. Moments that I can't redo.

For me, living in the present moment with him means turning my phone to silent and giving my little guy undivided attention. It's not always easy but I really believe it's vital. I think the most unfortunate thing would be for me to be glued to my phone just to wake up one day and realize that he's all grown up and I missed it because I was more concerned with something like social media feeds. 

Given that I'm a new mom, I'm no expert and I certainly don't claim to know everything but I have been studying simple living and ways to improve a little more each day. So whether you have kids or not, this list of four ways to be more present in a tech-driven world still apply. Take them or leave them but I hope they help you think about being present.

  1. Give yourself a social media schedule. Yeah, it might sound elementary but give yourself allotted time(s) in your day where you allow yourself to check your social feeds. If you're addicted (like a large majority of society) then this will help you limit how much your checking feeds and will provide a healthier cadence for perusing platforms like Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. An example might be that you allow yourself 10 minutes during lunch or after your loved ones go to bed.
  2. Establish an expectation with others you're regularly in communication with. Half the battle of becoming more present is letting others (be it coworkers or friends and family) know that you're working on savoring each moment. Let others know in advance when you're going to be out-of-pocket and either unavailable or slow to respond. This way you won't blindside anyone who has an urgent message for you and on the flip side, you'll have less anxiety about getting back to your phone to respond to incoming beeps and dings.
  3. Silence is golden. When you're with your loved ones silence your phone. It's one step closer to out of sight and out of mind. Often things like work emails interrupt us (like every. single. minute. of our day) and it's important to delay their opening and remember to really BE in the moment. Silencing the phone and flipping the screen over so you can't see it helps force you to be in the moment.
  4. Out of sight, out of mind. If silence isn't enough to get you to keep your fingers off your phone then put it in a different room. If you're hanging out in the living room decompressing, keep your phone in the kitchen or laundry room. Consider a location where you won't hear it or have the urge to pick it up. Once your family time is over, then you can grab it and start back on vetting through your inbox.

Leave a comment and let me know how you're working on being present. I'd love to hear other ideas!

RELATED POST: Send and Receive

Living with Less: How to Declutter Your Knick-Knacks Like a True Minimalist

manage-knickknacks.jpg

At one time or another, we've all received something that ended up sitting on a shelf collecting dust or was put in a box that we'd keep for later. It's common that we end up keeping things that we've either collected over the years or that reminds us of the time and place where we got it. The yellow car (pictured) was given to me on my first trip to Italy. I channeled my inner Julia Roberts when I decided to visit the country solo and tour the country. During the month spent there, I had the opportunity to be part of a photo shoot with a classic, fully restored Fiat 500. The yellow car was a gift I received after the shoot and an exact replica of the car in the photos. The car and the horn are one of about four things that Dayne and I have kept that fall into the 'knick knack category.' At the end of the day, I think you can be a minimalist AND have a few things. It's all about saving the things that actually mean something and getting rid of the rest.

Are you a collector? Or are you naturally inclined to purge what's in your living space? I've always been a purger. I remember at a young age donating my Barbie collection because I was done playing with them and wanted to package them up and clean out my room. No tears. No regrets. I was just done with them! (For years, I wondered if that was something I should've been worried about. Ha. Now I'm grateful.)

For those of you who are holding onto something or a bunch of somethings - be it a large or small collection, I've listed a few different ways to declutter your knick-knacks like a true minimalist.

  1. You'll never be able to get rid of the things that are taking up space if you haven't identified what and where they are. Did your parents gift you Beanie Babies or porcelain dolls? Maybe you're into plants and you've got dozens in pots that are overtaking the backyard? Locate what and where first to get started.
  2. Which of the items make you the happiest or in other words, which ones do you really want to keep? Pull those out and put them in a separate area. Then focus on what's left. Identify the condition of the items you're getting rid of and create a donate pile for anything that is still in good condition.
  3. Discard. When I say discard, I don't necessarily trash. I mean, find ways to actually move the items out of your home! You can create a post on Facebook (to your own friends or groups) and let others know you're selling or donating the collectibles. You'll find there are many people out there who will enjoy your items just as much if not more than you did. The idea is to donate what's in great shape and share with others. 
  4. If the items aren't in great shape then consider recycling what you can. For items that can't be recycled then you'll need to toss. If it's hard to do alone, ask someone who can help you with your purge! Moral support is key if you are having a harder time saying goodbye.

Want more minimally inspired content to help you streamline your house? Submit your name and email address below to receive free emails with insights, tips and invites to future webinars about all things simple living.

RELATED POST: Mental Shift: Focus on What You Don't Need Instead of What You Don't Have

 

 

4 Ways to Keep Your Email Organized

phone.jpg

I've already mentioned how inboxes can add anxiety to life. One way I've limited this anxiety (and found the process to be quite freeing) is by unsubscribing to the mass emails I receive and organizing the important emails (work or personal) into folders. Try one of these solutions if you're inbox is overloading you:

  • Practice the filing system. Create folders that are clearly labeled and that you will use often. When you get a message, send your reply and if you can't delete it then file it away. Just like that.
  • Keep up on it. Just like cleaning your room when you were a kid- doing a little each day is so much easier to maintain compared to waiting for it to spiral out of control.
  • Take time to unsubscribe (unless you've somehow been added to lists that you've never heard of and in that case, get a new email). If you do this, you will notice some decrease in the amount of messages flooding your inbox.
  • Create an email account for the spammy stuff. If you have to subscribe to get coupons or special offers to your favorite stores then create a second email address that will collect the junk mail and don't connect it to your phone. Only connect email addresses to your phone that are necessary for you to check every day. 

RELATED POST: How to Eliminate Paper Clutter

3 Health Benefits of Purging

I'm no doctor but I will tell you the positive results I've observed by getting rid of things I forgot I had or simply didn't need anymore.

  1. Increased clarity. I know exactly what my outfit options are and what pieces I like to wear. With the exception of my shoe collection (which I'm working on minimizing) I have found that my closet is neater and more organized when I have only the things I really need in it. It's wonderful not having a jam-packed closet. I'm not overwhelmed when I open it!
  2. Added focus. When I was younger I would tidy up my room before doing homework. If everything was in its place then I had an easier time focusing on homework and actually staying focused. Years later and I'm the same way. Cleaning up on a regular basis and not allowing clutter to build means I can focus on what actually deserves my attention.
  3. Greater sense of calm. The more organized I become and the more I work to eliminate the unnecessary things I have, the more I want to keep up on the habit. There's something that feels so good about not buying too much, not storing too much and not being attached to too much.