Dec 3, 2012

Being a Minimalist Takes Work + Tips to Make it Easier

I've been working hard the last couple of weeks to declutter my house. The concept of minimalism has begun to appeal strongly to me, and while I doubt I'll ever be a true minimalist, the idea of having less stuff is very attractive.

In addition to dropping off a car-load full of items at Salvation Army last week, I've been reorganizing parts of the house to put things out of sight (for less visible clutter). And I'm realizing how much cleaning my house needs - surface cleaning as well as deep cleaning.

All that got me thinking about the Second Law of Thermodynamics and entropy. Because without constant culling and consolidating, the clutter and dirt just multiplies.

Here are some strategies I've come up with to make decluttering and cleaning easier:
  • Group things in containers. It doesn't really matter what kind of container you use. Containers just instantly make things look neater, and they're easier to move when you're cleaning.

  • Establish routines. I sound like Flylady when I sing the praises of routines, but I totally understand why she's all about them. My kitchen sink and counters stay relatively clean because of my nightly routine of washing every dirty dish and wiping off the counters. My mornings have improved since I established a new nightly routine of clearing off the dining table so it's not covered in papers and toys when we come downstairs for breakfast.
    New routines are easiest to establish when you focus on one thing at a time, and stick with it until it becomes second nature. (And this is why Flylady advocates cleaning the bathroom everyday, something I have yet to embrace doing.)

  • Establish rules. You'll have to find rules that work for you, but there are lots of ideas out there for keeping clutter to a minimum. For example, there's the "one thing in, one thing out" rule that requires you to discard something every time you bring in a new one. Another example I recently learned about is Project 333, which is about paring your wardrobe down to 33 items.

  • Ask for consumable gifts. My wish list this holiday season included fair trade cocoa powder and green tea. These gifts will actually save me money since I would have bought them for myself anyway, and they'll get used up for sure.

  • Minimize your stockpile. There are some times when it makes sense to let deals pass by and focus on using up what you have. For the last year and a half, I have had to stop myself from buying cupcake liners because two Easters ago, I bought half a dozen packs on clearance and I'm still using them up. It may be a little strange to deliver goodies in pastel liners to the bake sale in October, but I suspect I'm the only one who noticed the bunny on the bottom!
What are your best tips for decluttering and cleaning?


scrapper al said...

I like to use the one-in-one-out rule. If I bring something new into the house, something else has to leave. This works well for clothes, shoes, and books.

Chief Family Officer said...

I'm glad it works for you! I've never been able to stick with it - I do better with the "Love it or toss it" rule :)