Lately I have been listening to The Minimalists Podcasts, podcasts about living a meaningful life with less stuff. I have also seen a few articles circulating Facebook about how clutter leads to higher stress levels. But I don’t even need to read those articles to know that clutter in my home stresses me out. And I don’t even need to listen to the podcasts to know that I don’t need so much junk in my life. Clutter can distract us, make it difficult to relax, make us feel guilty, and can make it difficult to find the things we need. So here are…
5 ways you can start living with less right now!
1. The One Month Challenge: This one is for those of you who feel like you have a LOT of stuff to get rid of. It can be very intimidating to take on a whole house full of stuff, so overwhelming that you don’t know where to start. So here is a fun way to do it. This is an idea that the Minimalists give in their podcast. You and your spouse each get rid of things every day of the month for as long as you can. The person that makes it farthest in the month wins. For example, on the first day of the month you get rid of one thing. On the second day, two things. On the third day, three things, and so forth until the last day of the month or someone loses.
2. A Toy Trade: The United States has 3.1 percent of the world’s children but buys 40 percent of all toys sold worldwide. That doesn’t even surprise me. Our kids have way more toys than they could need. We don’t think we buy that many but we just keep accumulating them until we have rooms full of them. One way to cut down on toy clutter is to do a regular toy trade in. How this works is every time your child is about to get new toys (Christmas, Birthday, etc.) you have them trade in some old ones first. This will keep around the same number of toys in your home and ensure your child actually plays with them. Donate to your local second-hand store or to other children in your neighborhood, friends, or family.
3. Clothing Purge: This is a difficult one for me. I have a really hard time letting go of clothes. I spent money on them and I convince myself I might just wear it again sometime. But let’s be honest with ourselves; most of us only wear half of the clothes hanging in our closets. A good way to keep our closets from getting out of hand is to go through them seasonally. Every new season, get rid of the things you do not wear and take them to the local second-hand store or sell at a garage sale. It takes a lot less time if you keep up on it and do it seasonally instead of annually or every few years.
4. Get rid of multiples: Sorry but we do not need 10 cookie sheets or 50 cups and bowls. We have things called dishwashers. A few months ago I was at my mom’s house and I threw away an entire cupboard of cups and bowls and she still had PLENTY. Just because something is in perfectly good condition doesn’t mean that we need it. Consider what you actually need/use and then get rid of the rest.
5. Use the 12 Month Rule: Pretty self-explanatory. If you haven’t used it in the past 12 months, get rid of it. Yeah yeah, there may be SOME exceptions, but for the most part if you haven’t used it in the past year chances are you won’t use it this year.
A very popular book right now is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It uses many of the above principles among others, but gets more in depth.
Hopefully these ideas have motivated you to start living with less. The less clutter we have, the less stressed we will be. The less clutter we have, the more we can enjoy the things that actually add value and meaning to our lives. I have a friend who swears that her children actually play better with fewer toys, so she periodically packs up the ones they have been playing with for a while, stores them away and pulls out old ones. We have started doing it in our house and our little ones feel like they have gotten brand new toys without having to buy anything!
What tips do YOU have about decluttering your house???