Becoming a minimalist for, means removing those things we don’t want, to make time and place for those we do. One of the fundamental parts of minimalism for me, was reducing the amount of possessions I owned. Just reducing stuff. Below are 10 easy tips to minimise your stuff.
1) Clear your desk at the end of the day
I found that arriving to my desk in the morning, either at the office, or when working from home, there was nothing more demotivating than to have to clear the clutter from my desk before I’d even started. Make a point of clearing things from your desk when you finish at the end of your day. Bin the rubbish, re purpose or recycle the things you’ve gathered. Leave it as you expect to find it in the morning.
2) Spend 15 minutes just tidying
I try to spend at least 15 minutes every day wandering around the house, just picking up items, clearing surfaces, and washing odd dishes and cups. Throwing out or tidying away items that have appeared. There should be a place for everything and everything should be in that place.
3) Make sure you don’t increase your stuff
Follow the one in, one out rule, and avoid bringing in free stuff. Its such a temptation to keep the free things you’re given, and say to yourself, ‘I’ll throw out the old one later’ and then just forget. Make a habit of immediately finding the old worn-out or broken items as soon as you bring in their replacements.
4) Learn the path of stuff
New things arrived in my home, were unpacked, were cherished for a while, then moved from pride of place to another cupboard or drawer which then became full. The draw at bursting point was then moved to a storage box, or more likely the garage, where it took up space for years before finally ending up at the recycling centre some years later. Follow your stuff to its natural end, in my case the garage and throw it out, re-purpose or recycle it before it ever gets there in the first place.
5) Dealing with overwhelming stuff
Sometimes I just hate seeing stuff, I know it needs to be sorted, but I just can’t bring myself to do it now. At this point just put everything that’s overwhelming, safely in boxes. Put all the boxes somewhere safe, but out of the way, and out of view, the garage, cupboards, at a friends house.
When you realise you really need something in one of the boxes, take it out, but do it quickly and try not to spend time looking through other things. After 3 months, 6 months, or a year, you’ll have taken out all that’s important. Everything else in the box can be re-purposed or recycled.
6) What things are really important
The BBC have had a long running radio programme called Desert Island Discs. As part of the programme the guests are asked, what one or two items could they not do without while stranded on this imaginary desert island? Its a fascinating task to undertake yourself. Of your possessions ,what are those that are most important to you? Which one or two bring you most value. Try expanding that to five or ten items. When you think of it this way you start to realise whats important, and anything that isn’t worthy of that desert island, you probably don’t need.
7) Set a schedule to review the contents of each room
Its sounds a bit demeaning. But often the reason we gain so much stuff, is we’re not conscious of it arriving. If not us, then other family members may bring in free stuff, or grow out of old stuff, or simply still have too much stuff.
Just setting some time in your diary or to-do list to periodically go through each room in turn, and repurpose or recycle things there, will help stop the clutter from gathering, or reduce the amount there in the first place.
8 ) Unsubscribe from shop and online store newsletters
I guess the lesson here is that if you don’t know the stuff exists, then your mind can’t think up some loose reason to go and buy it. Out of sight, out of mind. E-mail newsletters from stores land once or twice a week, a new range of this, a sale on that. They are all so tempting, and that’s exactly how they are designed to be. Go through your inbox and unsubscribe, or at the very least create rules to file them in folders out of view until you really need them.
9) Find Multiple Items and group them.
Start grouping you possessions together. I know this also sounds like another obvious one, but did I need two sets of wellingtons, two umbrellas, 4 pairs of brown work shoes, 4 half empty containers of engine oil. This activity eventually led me to create the name for this blog, two less things. From, removing one thing then another when grouped, it seemed almost automatically to lead to removing yet more.
10) Do I really need this ?
This is a mindset change, and needs development. As you go through your daily activities, start to ask if you need the things you see. I used to sit and stare at my bookshelves from my desk and one by one I gradually got rid of them until the remainder are the ones I truly value. I’ve done this with music CD’s, DVD’s and gadgets. With contents from the car, and the garage as well as the home. All you need to do is keep asking yourself, do I really need this ?
I hope this has been a useful summary. All of these methods I’ve used myself, and have seen others do.
If this blog post was useful please let me know your experiences in the comments. I’d be delighted if you mentioned this on Twitter. Why not sign up for the newsletter to hear more.