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5 Gentle Steps Toward Minimalism

Updated on August 25, 2019

5 Steps Toward Minimalism

Let me just start with a chunk of honesty here: I’m not a minimalist. I do, however, aspire to be one. I know that a lot of people are really good at deciding to make the switch and throwing out everything right away, but I’m not one of them. I don’t think I could have done it that way even before having kids, and I can’t even imagine doing it now that I have two tiny people for whom a broken crayon might be a coveted treasure.

So if you are like me, and you want less clutter and more clarity, but you’re not ready to chuck everything just yet, let me take you on a more gentle journey in the vague direction of minimalism in 5 steps!

1. Let your household know what’s up.

Pro tip: You’ll look like a crazy person if you all of a sudden embark on this journey without explaining it to your family. Trust me.

You’ll do better to clue in your nearest and dearest on your minimalism journey. Explain that you’re not planning on getting rid of their most prized possessions. My kids are a lot more cooperative when I explain that I’m just trying to figure out what we don’t really need or use anymore so that someone else can have the good of it. I’ve also pointed out that if we have less stuff, that’s less time spent cleaning and more time spent playing.

2. Stop letting in new stuff.

No, not forever, just while you’re figuring stuff out. If you can, give yourself a specific time limit. Maybe you set a goal of one week with no new items, and use that time to take inventory of what’s already there. You might want more time, or possibly a little less, but try to cling to the sink metaphor. If you have a sink that’s overflowing, trying to mop up is useless until you’ve turned off the faucet.

3. Figure out your primary problem area.

I can almost guarantee that it’s not just one thing (or type of thing) that’s making you feel like you need to declutter, but there has to be an image that comes to mind when you think of the number one stress point in your overwhelm. Is it clothing? Toys? Kitchen gadgets? Paperwork?

Once you nail down the biggest issue, tackle that bad boy in the appropriate way. Don’t even worry about the other stuff until you knock that first one out. Getting that out of the way will not only eradicate that stress from your life, but it will also show you that you CAN do this. Use that rush to propel you onto the next biggest thing.

4. Be deliberate in what you choose to keep.

Minimalism is not about getting rid of everything indiscriminately. When left in doubt about an item, ask yourself three questions:

Is it useful?

Is it beautiful?

Is it loved?

An item doesn’t have to qualify in all three categories, and there is obviously wiggle room there. But those questions can at least lead you to more precise questions and help you get to the bottom of why you’ve kept it and if you should continue to do so.

5. Decide how to organize.

Once you’ve figured out what you need to keep, figure out a way to organize it. This step is two-fold. You organize what you’ve got, obviously, but once you’ve gotten that sorted, you will likely think a little more critically about what to allow into your space. When new things do enter your life, will they fit with your organizational scheme?

A final thought, dear reader, it’s easier to stay on top of things than to get on top of things. Make your goal to get to a point where tiny little adjustments and very light tidying are all you need to keep your space the way you like it. In the end, that’s what minimalism is, really. Having deliberate space, just the way you like it. I hope that something in this lists brings a little more peace to your mind. If you’ve got ideas to add, please leave a comment, I always love new ideas, too!

© 2019 Myra Breen

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