The First Step in Physical De-Cluttering

In one of my earlier posts, Minimalism for Beginners, I talked about minimalism being a method or practice for identifying the essential and eliminating the non-essential.  It is a choice to consume with intention and to have just enough of everything by finding balance from excess.

When I first started my path to minimalism, one of the first steps I took was to become aware of the things I no longer needed in my life. I believe this is an excellent starting point for those new to the minimalism method. I feel that opening our eyes to our surroundings and beginning to see our choices in consumption through fresh eyes is a great place to start.

Why get rid of stuff?

  • It creates more space = more calm = more happy.
  • Less stuff = less focus on having and getting more stuff = less buying more unnecessary stuff.
  • It is cathartic – it allows you to breath freely by bidding farewell to objects that no longer serve or represent you in your current season of life.
  • Less stuff = less to take care of, less to clean, less to “organise”, less to maintain.
  • Less stuff = everything has a home, less time looking for misplaced things = less stress + more time.

Getting Started on Seeing the Stuff

One way to get started in minimising your physical stuff is by setting aside some time to observe, take stock and really feel and see the space of where you live. This may include your home and any aspects of your personal environment (including your car, your workspace and any place where you spend a significant of time each day).

TIP: Be kind to yourself when doing this. It can be overwhelming at first.

Step 1: Do a walking tour.

See the space with fresh eyes. Think about how you feel in each space, each room, each area. See the things you own. All of them.

See the things you use. Sometimes you use them every day. Sometimes once per year. Sometimes you have never used these things.

See the boxes of things that you are keeping just in case.

See the things getting in the way.

See the things you haven’t used in years.

See the things you love.

See the things covered in dust.

See the things you received as gifts that you never used.

See the inherited things.

See the adored and sentimental things.

See the useful things, the decorative things, and the things you didn’t even know where there until you looked with fresh eyes.

Take stock of everything you see. Every item, every nook and cranny.

 

Step 2: As you are starting to really see your environment and everything in it, think about the value and function of items.

Some questions to get you started:-

  • What objects are useful in performing your daily activities (the essentials)?
  • How many of these objects do you need to comfortably cover your needs (the 27 mugs may be somewhat excessive – yes?)
  • Do your objects have a home? When I say a home, I mean do they have a set place that they live, that they go back to after being used? You will find a lot of excess and clutter is homeless, it floats and invades space and can often be one of the first things to spot and the first to go come The Purge.
  • Do you have things that you don’t love? Why? Are you keeping gifts, hand-me-downs, donated or inherited items that either no longer serve you or that you don’t love to begin with? It’s okay to think about letting them go. More on this later.
  • What objects don’t bring you joy and value? Which do bring joy and value?
  • What objects do you have just in case? When did you last use them?
  • What objects are well past their use or just plain unmanaged rubbish – e.g. expired beauty products, containers without lids, worn and torn clothing.

Step 3: Think hard about the above (you might even like the start making a list of how things fit into these categories, or what absolutely does not need to stay). Be calm. Be mindful. Be honest with yourself. See things for what they are and get real about why you have them and what value they contribute to your current life.

What you choose to do from here is up to you.  It may involve launching straight into The Purge (binning, donating, or selling), or it may involve having a conversation with those who share your home about what you would like to do about managing your excess moving forward. Both steps are valid and important. I would encourage you to take baby steps to keep momentum.

Where are you in your minimalist journey? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you and let’s have a conversation.

Until next time – simplify, focus, pursue and count your blessings.

Sarah x

Photo Credit: Cathryn Lavery

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The First Step in Physical De-Cluttering

  1. Ok. I will try
    My daughter introduced me to your website. I like the idea as my life is kaotic and stressful. My problem is that once i decide to get rid of it i have trouble throwing away. I always think some one could get use out of it. But i dont have time to get rid of it or know where to get rid of it or know who might want it. Its a sence of guilt of wasting things and throwing away to impact on the environment.

    1. Hi Maxine – thanks for your message! Oh my goodness I know what you mean. It is not an easy task to get started or even to keep going sometimes. I am about to post a blog on that sense of guilt you describe when giving items the boot – stay posted as I hope it may be supportive to where you are in your journey! In my experience there has been a fine line between being frugal and resourceful (and trying to upcycle or find a new use for something) and then having things just continue to occupy space and energy. Environmental impact is a huge factor for me also – which is why donating or handing down to others who may truly get value from my items is my first approach. For me, the best thing once I have parted with the clutter is to be really aware of not buying more than I need – I feel this will be the biggest benefit to both the environment and my sanity moving forward! Keep going, it sounds like you are ready 🙂

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