Minimizing My Life

Consider this my New Year’s Resolution (I’m a month late, I KNOW). I cannot recall my previous New Year resolutions, but I think I can remember this year’s:

I want to declutter and minimize the stuff in my life.

My S.O. is a minimalist–and let’s face it, I am drawn to minimalism blogs, art, and spaces; so it’s only appropriate to incorporate the life style into my own life.

This is a feat for me because I hold a lot of sentimental value on things, a trait I learned from my mother.

But success is possible, even with New Year’s resolutions, when broken down into small manageable steps. I’m sure we’ve all heard of many task management techniques, including the aforementioned technique, and the rolling of our eyes commences with the common phrase: “It’s easier said than done.”

And then there is the issue of establishing and maintaining the routine. Too often do I find myself promising a change, accomplishing that change for one, or even two, months, only to fall back into the stasis I was before the change.

Good habits are hard to keep, bad habits are hard to end. Why is that? Why is what is good for us so difficult versus what is bad for us?

Despite my brain being full of these slightly existential philosophical questions, I needed to ignore the thoughts and push on through to my plan: Minimizing My Life.

So I scoured the Internets for tips on decluttering. Lists popped up most often; not that I have anything against lists! I love lists and lists love me!

POPSUGAR Smart Living published a short, sweet, to-the-point 8 questions to ask yourself that I have found to be quite handy for future purchases.

1. Have I used this in the last year?

If your answer is no, it’s time to toss. For reals though, this is especially effective for clothes. I went through my t-shirt drawer and jewelry and got rid of so much stuff. I will admit, I held onto a few shirts because I vowed to myself that I will now immediately change into one of those tops in order to be comfy and shed the mental and physical burdens of work off with the ceremonialesque removal of my work uniform. Worked so far, I’ve gone through several shirts and felt so much better after work too!

2. If I were shopping right now, would I buy this?

If the current you wouldn’t buy this item now, why would you even keep it? Again, super effective for clothes. But I found myself using this question for craft supplies as well. I’ve lost interest in many a project for one reason or another. I just don’t see myself sitting down and trying to do a paper-dot mandala artwork. That’s a lot of glue on my fingers and a lot of glue fingerprints on my canvas; too much work for a lot of mess. Same goes for a miniature heart-shaped topiary I was going to make for a Valentine’s themed table setting. I don’t have a table to decorate, nor a Valentine party to host, so that’s a lost cause right then and there!

3. Is the only thing that’s keeping me from disposing this item that I don’t want to waste money?

Think of it this way: you wasted money when you bought an item you don’t use. This one made me cringe; that logic has flaws. Doesn’t really help the then-and-now, but the way I see it, this statement helps you get into a more fiscally responsible mindset for the next temptation at the store.  If you want a better feeling for the now, try to find use for it within the week, give it to a friend, or donate it! You get an immediate satisfaction that your item served a purpose in the end and your money never went to waste.

4. Am I holding on to this for sentimental value?

Be strict and keep only a few of the items in a small memorabilia box. Then take a photo of items you are throwing away so you can keep them forever. Taking a photo of the items doesn’t make sense to me honestly. Just sounds like digital clutter on your phone or computer, which also drives me crazy. If you look on my computer, there are few tabs open at a time, few folders on my desktop, and every folder is organized by subject matter. Sentimental value is the hardest thing to muster past. It’s often the reason behind hording issues, and collections. But it can get to a point where it’s excessive. I have this issue with decorations. I now do not allow myself to buy any sort of decoration, I already have fully styled shelves. The only things I collect now are artwork, books, and metal souvenir pins from the places I’ve visited (I use them as push pins on my bulletin boards!).

5. Do I have a similar item that serves the same purpose?

If yes, then get rid of one of them. This is where the kitchen comes in. You know how there is a gadget for every single dish out there. Yeah. Now your kitchen cabinets are filled to the brim with mixers, pots, knives, and those crazy As Seen On TV wonder gadgets. GET RID OF THEM! You only need a few pots and pans, one mixer or blender, a good knife, and maybe a garlic press, because dammit I hate the way my fingers get all sticky and smelly after cutting up garlic. You most certainly do not need a quesadilla maker or a jerky oven. *looks at family* We have not ONCE used that quesadilla maker!!

6. Do I have a realistic plan to use this?

Remember, don’t lie to yourself about how perfect an item would be for Halloween. Make sure you have a concrete plan to use the item, and if you don’t use it within the time frame you set for yourself to use it, then toss it. You may love it, but do you have space for the item or does it even suit you now? Think hard on what to keep — your space is sacred.

The fact that it uses Halloween as the example future occasion singles me out. Halloween is super fun with all the clever spooky decorations and the funny costumes, but it takes up a lot of space. I do have a few Halloween decorations in the attic, and I am working on clearing out the supplies I haven’t used in the last year. If I used it two years ago, out it goes. If I find myself at the store thinking, “OH! This [insert generic piece of garbage] will be a great repurposed-whatever-decoration,” I pinch myself and say, “Stop crazy lady. You are not going to sit down and make that when Halloween comes around. The only way you are doing this project is if you are making it THIS WEEK.”  So, I’ve actually done this recently, where I found a bunch of leftover orange and green burlap purchased for my boyfriend’s Halloween costume, and I thought I could use the rest to make a burlap pumpkin wreath for the future Halloween and Thanksgiving seasons. So, I did it, right then and there. In the middle of January. Yep. I made a pumpkin wreath in January. Now it’s in my closet ready for the appropriate holidays and I have less stuff in my craft storage.

8. Am I holding on to the broken item to fix in the future?

Fix it now, or if you don’t get around to fixing in the next two weeks, then toss it. My family comes to me with clothing and items that need repair, and sometimes I fix it right away, and other times (sorry, Ashley, and your adorable scalloped shorts), they get shoved into the fabric bin. I bought discount damaged canvas in the past with the hopes to patch it and paint on it, but I don’t paint on canvas much anymore, I opt for paper and watercolors instead of acrylic or oils on canvas; so that had to go. In regards to the fabric bin collecting dust… I really should fix those pants for my sister, I promised her over a year ago….

To add to the list, I have also have made mental notes of items that are off-limits. For if I purchased even a single item from this list… I would never ever stop buying them. 

Seriously, I’d never stop, I’ve gone so far as to warn friends and my S.O. to not allow me to purchase any of the off-limit items. Those items are:

Miniatures – everything and anything miniature, dollhouse furniture, tiny food, Christmas or Spooky town sets like Lemax; I am so obsessed with miniatures I watch DIY videos on how to build and make furniture, especially plants and nerdy themed sets.

Polaroid cameras –  those things are expensive. So are the accessories! Actually, especially the accessories! Film is part of the accessories and they never make enough film in a pack so you have to buy more, and more, and more. That’s how they get ya. But damn, how I love the candidness of a Polaroid picture.

Scrapbook supplies – paper, stickers, punches, the works. I will not in a million years, ever get around to scrapbooking all my pictures. I don’t even have all the pictures I like developed! The most I will allow myself now is to print my favorite family photos from big trips and put those into a legitimate photo album. I’d make some awesome artsy-fartsy scrapbook albums I’m sure, I just really, really, REALLY do not need to start for fear of my bank account overdrawing.

Canvas – I am never purchasing canvas, or sketchbooks, until I have used up the current caches. Since I was a child, I have been gifted art sets, the ones with both colored pencils, markers, sketchbook, paint, erasers, all that junk in one box set. I donated every single one of them to elementary schools because they are not of high quality and schools need drawing supplies. Teachers often have to buy supplies out of their own pockets, and they don’t get paid enough, y’all!

Jewelry/Beading supplies – Strings, crystals, wire, charms, chains, all of it. I will not allow myself to buy a single strand of beads until I have used up more of my jewelry making supplies! I’ve managed to find a neighbor who makes jewelry for a living to donate my unused jewelry stuffs, hopefully she finds them helpful. I get inspired all the time for new ideas so I write them down in detail and even sketch out the idea for later. When Mr. Motivation and the Inspiration Fairy get along, then I’ll pull an idea from the list and break out the supplies.

A few other lists that have helped me are the following:

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I particularly like this list because it is a CHALLENGE, meaning, it gives me set perimeters of commitment and provides time periods. Challenges are great for starting a new good habit!

I also appreciate that they made the format of this 30-day Minimalism Challenge minimalist style. From Anuschka Rees, this blog is all about “curating the perfect wardrobe, a wardrobe that reflects your personal style (instead of the latest trends).” I can get behind that!

With this post in mind, I too am going through my wardrobe and ridding myself of low-quality items, and replacing costume-quality jewelry and flimsy fabrics with more durable items that will last longer and feel better. She also wrote a book title “The Curated Closet.” I’m definitely checking it out.

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This list was created by Katherine Hurst from The Law of Attraction.com. The fanatic list-maker in me is bonkers over this massive list! And it’s all organized by sections!

I also love the almost-sarcasm voice emanating from the list. It’s calling me out on my habits while being completely relatable.

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Another great list, not as lengthy so it’s not as overwhelming as the other list I provided. From Monogrammed Magnolias, this list has some repeats from the other list, but also makes use of digital decluttering.

But seriously! We live in societies that promote constant purchasing. Things are just things, and they make us feel crowded. There’s never enough, so put value on the things that matter most and have the most function for your life!

You would be surprised how nice it feels after clearing out your old garbage around the house and computer! And who knows, maybe after getting rid of all the thing-junk around you, it could lead to something better for you in other aspects of your life!

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