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Minimalism: Getting Started on Decluttering Your Life

Wear your favorite clothes every day. Love every space in your home. Use the best tools for your work and your hobbies. Best of all, have more time to do the things you want to do!

These are some of the things that got me hooked into minimalism. And, that last line in the first paragraph? We’ve encountered it before in other features articles. It has got to be the most overused phrase to convince people to try something new. Cliché as it may sound, it’s something I sincerely hope for anyone who gets into minimalism along with all the good things that come with this practice.

Everything good has at least one challenge that needs to be endured before you achieve it. In practicing minimalism, these challenges are found in the never-ending cycle of things coming and going into our lives. This article presents three ways we can manage this cycle and to get started on minimalism.

Decluttering

Decluttering is all about removing unnecessary items in your life and keeping only those that you truly love and need. Personally, I follow the KonMari method in going through the decluttering process of . This method was created by Marie Kondo and detailed in her book entitled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

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Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/bloom-book-botanical-cactus-403571/

What Kondo advises in her book is to declutter items per catgeory instead of tackling one room or space at a time. She takes this advice further by instructing readers to tackle categories in the following sequence:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Komono (miscellaneous items)
  5. Sentimental items

The basic idea is to place all items under a category in one pile and then go through the process of selecting which items to discard or keep. The heart of the KonMari method is in asking yourself the question, “does it spark joy?” each time you hold an object you are discerning to discard or keep.

Objects that spark joy are those that make you feel happy, accomplished, secure and/or comfortable when you use them. They can be kept and be given a proper space or storage in your home.

For items that do not spark joy, set them aside to be thrown away, sold or donated. Don’t attempt to organize your clutter by buying expensive storage boxes and containers. Finish discarding items first before storing or organizing the joy-sparking items or else run the risk of facing clutter again in the future.

Practicing the Four R’s

What many kids learn in kindergarten about caring for ourselves and our shared home, planet Earth, are the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. This simple mnemonic can be applied in minimalism especially when followed in that same order.

Practicing the three R’s starts with reducing items you bring into your home. Borrow or rent items that you rarely use or do not need to keep for a long time like formal wear for special occassions, books, tools and vehicles. Get rid of “duplicates” of things that are more than the necessary like extra kitchenware, furniture, office supplies and clothing that are not being used.

Reusing can mean that you purchase items that are sturdy and of good quality so you can reuse them over long periods of time. Some items may also still be in good condition to be reused by others. Explore Facebook buy-and-sell groups to sell your secondhand items. Donate items to charities that are specifically looking for the items you wish to give away.

When reducing and reusing cannot be done to certain items anymore, do the planet a favor and help declutter it of trash by recycling. Search for recycling plants and materials recovery facilities in your community. You can even earn some cash for the trash you turn in for recycling.

Another “R” that we can also apply in minimalism is “refuse.” Why? Nowadays, we are offered things more than we are given the choice to keep or accept them. We mindlessly take flyers, pens, fans, and other freebies from malls and events. We say “yes” to invitations and advertisements on sales. We’re also sometimes at the receiving end of hand-me-downs and pasalubong from relatives.

Most of the time, we’re moved by our emotions to accept and buy things that are not necessary to us. The force is strong in the thrill of purchasing things at discounted prices and receiving freebies, and in the fear of hurting the feelings of relatives and product promoters who give us free things. These tug at our emotions and make it difficult for us to say no to things that we do not want or need. How do we deal with these strong forces? Learning how to say “no” is the way to go.

Setting Goals 

Setting financial goals makes it easier for me to minimize my spending on things that would eventually become clutter. Whenever I feel the urge to buy things that are outside of my goals, I now think twice if they are really necessary or if they would just take away potential funds for my goals.

My goals are split into different savings accounts (ex. retirement, purchasing a home) and investments (ex. stocks, mutual funds, business). After portions of my income have been transferred to accounts for various savings and investments, I am left with a few thousands each month that I am comfortable budgeting for my personal indulgences.

Because of minimalism, my indulgences are now less on material objects. These are now mostly composed of spending time with my family and friends. The expenses for these are largely on meals because I love sharing good food with good company.

Make smarter decisions about what should belong in the comforts of your home. Spend more time with friends and family instead of spending for unnecessary objects.

Whatever goals you set, however you want to go about decluttering, and whichever “R” you want to use, get started on minimalism to minimize the non-essential and to live a truly rich life. ☺

**This is a guest post from Wowie Catabijan, co-founder of the online movement #PinoyMinimalist.

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