All You Need is LESS: Decluttering Your Life and Home
Lately, I’m becoming obsessed with LESS. Whether it’s less clutter, less body fat, or less debt, we could likely all do with a little less. To me, it often seems like our culture is obsessed with having more, more, more. It is easy to get sucked into the desire for more. However, as I learn to want less, my happiness seems to grow.
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Do you ever find yourself walking through your house, tripping over a scattering of unloved toys, having to move a pile of laundry just to sit, and then fumbling through all the junk on the coffee table, only to realize the TV remote/book/magazine/etc that you’re looking for has gone missing? Or maybe you open your closet to find an outfit but there’s so much junk in there that you give up, declaring, “I have nothing to wear!” Well then, congratulations my friend, you’re normal. We have too much stuff.
Isn’t it something to live in a country where we can be afforded the annoyance of having too much stuff? We have so much stuff that it is burdening, while so many have so little. Thinking about this always makes me feel guilty. I want to be a little more compassionate and a little less self-absorbed. While it is fine to set goals and strive for nice things, we shouldn’t let our things drain our happiness. To this end, I am really trying to reduce the amount that I consume. I am making a real effort to use what I have and only keep things that I truly love.
Living With Less
One thing that is helpful to me is learning from others. Reading up on the subject of simplicity is one of my (many) hobbies. A very helpful title in this category is the best selling book by Mari Kondo, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” – reading this book can be very therapeutic for someone like me, who grew up with a pack rat mom. The book’s main focus is KonMari’s unique method for reducing, organizing, and storing your things.
Another book that is helping me in my quest for less, is Marla Cilley (aka The FlyLady)’s book, “Sink Reflections.” Marla teaches that it is OK to get rid of excess stuff you don’t love, even if it is a wedding gift from your great-Aunt Jo, who is 102 years old. Her tips and techniques are simple and practical and help me control my stuff-related anxiety.
Reading these books inspired me to take action. So, I am on a clutter-clearing quest. As I walk through my home each day, I scrutinize every object. I ask myself, “Do I love this item?” or “Does my family use this item?” If the answer is NO, out the door it goes. However, as a busy working mom, I don’t have a lot of excess time to do a sweeping top-to-bottom event like those outlined in the books I mentioned. So, I take it slow. Here are some of my top tips for taking control of your stuff.
The first, and most important piece of advice is to be very cautious of what you bring into your home. Living in a tiny home, we really have to watch ourselves here. We save a lot of money by simply not having room for a lot of extra gadgets or clothes. As you clear stuff out, you will get better at this. What’s the point in clearing things out, if you’re only bringing in more?
The next thing I’ve been doing is taking it one space at a time. For example, this weekend, I picked a few troubling spots and focused on just those. There is a cabinet in my kitchen that became a black hole, so I focused on that. You wouldn’t believe the things I found in there! Broken gadgets, leaky sippy cups, expired foods. Yuck. Next, I decided to tackle the storage ottoman at the foot of my bed, which had become like a purgatory for clothes that were neither my favorites nor an obvious choice for discarding. Taking it slowly keeps me from feeling overwhelmed by it all.
My third (and final) tip for today is to keep your eyes open. Like I said, I’m always on the lookout for things I don’t love. That stinky candle someone you love gave you for Christmas? In the Goodwill pile it goes! It was very kind of you to think of me, Aunt Jo. Maybe this candle can bless someone else! The linen pants I bought for last year’s beach trip that turned to a scratchy, wrinkly mess the first time they got washed but were kind of expensive? Good bye! The discarded toys my son never took an interest in but I feel bad tossing? Out the door they go! Learning to let go really is an art.
Learning to Live With Less
As I come across anything that is unloved or unused, I toss it into the garbage or the donation pile. I keep a garbage bag in my laundry room of things to toss and when it fills up, I drop it off at the Goodwill. My family is also trying to consume less. It’s no secret that eating less can help you weigh less, something I certainly wouldn’t mind. Additionally, I try to go for reusable options whenever I can, like cloth napkins instead of paper towels. When I go to the grocery store, I try to stick to the list, and I am trying to back off of stockpiling groceries. We simply don’t have the room for it all!
Making these small changes has actually made a significant difference in the way we live. We are happier with less stuff and our home is much less chaotic. Our closets and cabinets are no longer bursting at the seams and my husband and I have both lost a little more belly fat! We still have problem areas in our home, of course (the baby’s toys…. omg) and a weird obsession with Sam’s Club sized things…. but we’re working on it. One of the biggest blessings brought by these changes is that that I’m not ashamed to have people in my house. Because we’ve cut a lot of the clutter, it never takes us more than 15 minutes to tidy up enough for company. Isn’t that a great feeling?
Do you embrace simplicity or are you still overwhelmed with clutter? Never fear! The books I mentioned can really help you out, no matter where you are in your personal quest for less. Do you have any tips you’d like to share with me? I’d love for you to let me know by commenting below.
As always, thanks for reading. I hope you have a beautiful and blessed day!