Living More With Less

I have a new motto: live more with less.

Recently, a couple of events in my life culminated to ignite my new attitude.  A few months ago I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  The book has gained popularity like wildfire and I can understand why.  It is a game changer.  Decluttering is THE new movement.  Home decorating websites, real estate news and blogs are featuring different ways to live simply.  Simply doesn’t mean living without, it means living with exactly what you need.  You might be surprised at how little (material things) you actually, really need.

At first, I took the book for its face value: a clean, simple way to declutter your home.  The main principles are to discard and then organize, yet it is not a room-by-room project.  The method is to sort by categories – clothing, books, papers, household goods, and sentimental items.  The concept is to keep only items that spark joy and get rid of the rest.  Once you’ve completed this exercise in one (giant) fell swoop, you will have exactly the amount of room you need to organize and store your belongings.  She also introduces (what I consider to be) a revolutionary way of folding your clothes.  Game changer.  There, I said it again.

Discarding, organizing, folding.  Three cool words to motivate you to get your house in order, but after thinking about this book and practicing it for a few months, it truly became much, much more than decluttering just my home. If you read the reviews on Amazon here, you’ll find I’m not alone in my thinking.  Here are my takeaways:

  • I haven’t yet replaced anything I’ve discarded
  • I appreciate my home in a different way
  • I truly enjoy my space
  • I actually have space
  • I no longer feel overwhelmed
  • My home life is simpler

And bonus, it is SO much easier to clean up!  It used to take us hours and hours to get the house back in order.  And once it was “clean” it only took five minutes for it to become undone again and that was so frustrating.  I felt like I had put stuff away, but it never really went away.  There is a difference between clean and tidy.  With many of our things discarded, our home looks tidy most of the time.  It is such a refreshing feeling.  Even with two young children, we’re able to pick up their toys in under 30 minutes. You know the phrase, everything in its spot and a spot for everything? We are trying hard to make that a fundamental truth in our home.  No more forgetting what we have, no more random piles. Everything is where we need, when we need it.

I haven’t yet finished all of the categories Marie Kondo presented in her book.  The process takes time, especially with a family and jobs.  The progress I have made has had a tremendous impact on my life.  It’s what I needed to clear my head, and clear a lot off of my to-do list.  Not that I necessarily “did” anything on my to-do list, it’s just that I realized my to-do list itself was cluttered with unnecessary things to do!

I’ve decided to focus on the best things I have and not everything I have (had).  And I realized that to focus on the best things went beyond my material belongings.  I created space.  Space in my immediate surroundings, space in my mind and space in my heart.  I can love everything as it is and enjoy my husband, my kids and my friends without all the clutter.

It is all about living more with less.

You can try this too.  Here are a few simple ways to see how decluttering might work for you:

Pick one category.  Start with your clothes.  Empty your closet(s), drawers and storage bins putting all of your clothes in one huge pile.  Hold each piece of clothing and keep only the ones that bring you joy.  Donate the rest.  There is no time criteria here – like toss everything you haven’t worn in a year.  While that may be true, that you so end up parting with everything you haven’t worn in a year, this exercise is more about keeping and wearing items that you love and are a reflection of you & your unique style.  Be diligent.  If you want to check out Marie Kondo’s book click here to see what The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is all about.

Start small.  Choose a room that just drives you nuts.  Empty it.  Then put back only the things that you love.  Make it the space that you envision it to be.  Next you will have to confront the pile of stuff that didn’t make it back in to your room.  Donate it, sell it, toss it.  If you find that you cannot part with some of the things that didn’t make it back into your space, then go back to step one and begin picking categories to sort by.  This might be an easy way for you to identify the types of items that clutter your home – papers, books, stuff.  This is not the wisdom of Marie’ Kondo’s book, however I found this to be an effective practice in decluttering my office which always seemed to be the storage area for anything we didn’t know what to do with.  For months and months it looked more like a closet than a place where I actually work most days a week.  Talk about anxiety.  I emptied it and brought back in only what I needed to work and what I wanted to look at. Instead of a mess I see inspiration and happiness now.

Detox your mind.  Meditation, even for a couple of minutes, to create space for yourself can be so beneficial to your well-being.  You can read my beginner’s approach here whether you’re just curious, just getting started or want a gentle reminder to be mindful more consistently in your routine.

The most important end game in decluttering is to avoid rebound.  Once you have decluttered and organized, you should spend way less time on maintenance to keep it that way.  Decluttering should be functional.  If you rebound and find that you’re back to spending countless hours cleaning and organizing without staying power, you need to reassess and pare down more.  Additional storage is not your solution.

And what about the financial benefits of living more with less?  More savings, more freedom. Free up your time and mind to do what you really enjoy, and live your best life…with less stuff!

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