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Showing posts from August, 2019

Habits That Keep Life Simple

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Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash We're real people.  We work, we socialize, we have hobbies and husbands and kids.  Stuff enters our homes every day, and if we don't change the way we deal with it, clutter will reappear.  So part of the minimalist lifestyle includes learning new habits that keep stuff from once again overwhelming our lives. Here are four habits that will prevent the reappearance of clutter.  Use them as minimalist mantras! 1.  Don't just put it down -- put it away. You've probably heard the old adage, "A place for everything and everything in its place."  As you declutter, make a home for everything you need, use, and love. Items often end up "homeless" because we simply have too much stuff.  If your bathroom counter is covered with bottles and potions, for example, you may just have too many.  Get rid of the duplicates, and the things you used once and didn't like, and the outdated creams and remedies.  Use

Give Gifts That Matter

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Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash I used to use gift-giving as an excuse to shop. I would feel the urge to buy something, anything really, just because it's "fun" to buy.  (Oh yes, I understand the idea of a shopping addiction, that little rush of pleasure when you acquire something new.) So, to assuage my guilt (because I knew I didn't really need anything), I'd buy something as a gift.  Maybe because one of my nieces or nephews really did have a birthday coming up, or because Mother's Day was just around the corner, or because I thought I'd save an item for Christmas.  (I often had a closet full of gifts by October that I didn't remember purchasing and that I no longer felt excited about giving.) A lot of debt is generated by gift-buying.  Back in the day, I always had a few thousand dollars in credit card debt, largely due to spur-of-the-moment buying.  I always justified it because much of it was stuff I bought for others, but I was usuall

Financial Freedom

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Courtesy of Comstock/Getty Images Here it is -- the most important financial advice you'll ever receive. Spend less than you earn. If you cut back on spending, you'll be able to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, give more generously, and start saving for college or retirement or a trip to Europe.  Spending less will reduce your stress levels and improve your sleep.  It might even improve your marriage. Spend less enables us to achieve financial freedom.  But in a country where 78% of us live paycheck to paycheck and the average American has almost $7,000 of credit card debt , the message to spend less is clearly not getting through. Minimalism is not about living with no comforts or modern conveniences.  But a minimalist does embrace the concept of intentional spending.  Once you find balance by shedding the things you don't need so you can focus on the things that really matter to you, you realize that mindless or impulsive purchases burden and dis

Embrace Empty Space

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Many people think they can't be minimalists because they don't want to live in an all-white room with a chair, a lamp, and a mattress on the floor, or with only enough possessions to fill a backpack. You know what?  The majority of aspiring minimalists don't choose that lifestyle.  I live with my husband in a small apartment, but we have a couch and a coffee table and bookshelves and a queen-size bed and a dresser and a dining table with several chairs.  My kitchen has a dishwasher and a microwave.  I have art on my walls, houseplants, and hobby supplies. But I also have something I didn't have when my home was more cluttered, and that's empty space. Before I decluttered, I didn't realize how much I would love empty space, because I'd always filled every space I had.  Every shelf, every drawer, every cupboard, closet, wall, or shed was filled with stuff I was sure I needed (or would need someday) and valued (even if I didn't use or look

Do Less

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Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash A lot of people think of "minimalism" as a huge white room with a white couch, a glass table, and some modern art. And while that is one minimalist design aesthetic, and minimalists do talk a lot about decluttering, it would be a mistake to think that purging physical items (along with all color and personality) from your home is the ultimate goal. Decluttering is a valuable tool that brings many benefits , but minimalism is a complete lifestyle that impacts much more than your physical space. Blogger Emma Scheib originally thought that minimalism was all about clearing the clutter.  She eventually realized it's about much more -- removing busyness and stress in order to focus on the things you personally value. She writes: I [used to be] quick to answer "yes" to any new request for my time, resulting in an overflowing calendar.  These "yes commitments" meant I was living under constant duress.  I

Clear the Clutter

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Imagine your dream home. Open the front door, step inside, and look around.  What do you see? You probably don't see stacks of movies on the coffee table or toys scattered over the floor.  You don't see a kitchen counter too crowded for meal prep, or a dining table so cluttered that no one can eat there.  You don't see piles of mail, laundry, dirty dishes, unfinished repairs, or things that need to be cleared away before you can sit down. You see the beautiful home you'd love to have. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get started with the difficult job of reducing the amount of stuff we've accumulated over the years.  As much as we might want to live with only the things that "spark joy," that also means we have to deal with all of the things that don't , things we don't really want or need, things that weigh us down and make us feel stressed or unhappy. But that relaxing home is not an impossible dream.  And there isn't one "rig

Buy Less

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Want to reduce clutter permanently?  Stop buying so much. Well, duh. We all know that, right?  So why is it so hard to do? Maybe it's difficult because it sounds like taking a step backward in life.  In a culture where success is often measured in terms of material possessions, buying less sounds boring, old-fashioned, and destined for ridicule. And since we're all exposed to hundreds of ads every day, in every possible space and format, we're constantly aware of the world of products available for our consumption.  Even if we tune out most of the details, our cultural atmosphere is permeated with the message "buy, buy, buy!" I own a lot less than I used to.  I have more time and money available to me than ever before.  Because I own fewer things, I spend less energy cleaning, managing, and organizing.  I spend less time shopping.  I have more opportunity to pursue my greatest passions in life, however I decide to define them. But there are some

Attention

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Photo by David Mao on Unsplash Mindlessness wastes your life with busyness and distraction.  Find gratitude, purpose, and joy with this Twelve Step Program to increase attention: As soon as you're awake, breathe deeply, stretch, and pray or meditate. Eat healthfully, possibly outside or at least near a window.  Relish the flavor of your food; watch and listen to the wind, birds, trees, water, even the cars going by.  Notice when you have eaten enough, and realize that you feel peaceful and grateful. Take time to connect with your roommate, spouse, or kids. Work at your most important tasks first, one at a time, giving each your full attention.  Realize that if something is worth your time, it's worth doing well.  Feel less anxiety and stress because you know you're giving your best efforts to the tasks that matter. As you stand in the kitchen making your lunch or boiling the pot for tea, don't be distracted by your phone.  Look at the sunlight shining on

The ABCs of Minimalism

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Photo by element5 Digital on Unsplash In our stressful world, full of messages that tell us more is always better and that we can buy our way to happiness, our true needs are often ignored, buried under a pile of excess things and relentless busyness.  Minimalism can reduce the background noise of clutter in your home and schedule so you can gain clarity about what really matters to you. Over the next several weeks, we're going to look at some basics, the A to Z of Minimalism, that can help you start living with freedom and intention. A - pay Attention . B - Buy less. C - Clear the clutter. D - Do less. E - Embrace empty space. F - gain Financial Freedom . G - Give Gifts that matter. H - new Habits keep life simple. I - your Identity is not in your things. J - Journal your gratitude. K - cultivate Kindness . L - love Limits . M - Memories don't reside in things. N - Non-conform. O - One in, one (or more) out. P - treasure Public s

52 Ways to Clear Clutter in Five Minutes

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Think you have no time to declutter?  Do you have five minutes? Five minutes is a commercial break.  You can scramble eggs in five minutes.  Forget those cat videos -- you have five minutes! Use three bags or boxes (one for garbage, one for donations, and one for items that belong somewhere else), and declutter/edit one of these areas in five minutes or less: 1.  your purse 2.  the diaper bag 3.  the medicine cabinet 4.  the bathroom counter 5.  under the bathroom sink 6.  your makeup bag 7.  your bedside table 8.  your underwear or sock drawer 9.  the coffee table 10.  magazines 11.  the top of your desk 12.  your digital desktop 13.  smartphone apps 14.  a pile of mail 15.  the top of the refrigerator 16.  the refrigerator door 17.  small kitchen appliances 18.  the silverware drawer 19.  one shelf in the pantry 20.  one shelf in the refrigerator 21.  one shelf in the linen closet 22.  one shelf of books, toys, games, DVDs, knickknacks, whatever you

11 Decluttering Jump Starts

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When you're ready to launch into decluttering, but don't know where to start, try one of these ideas. 1.  Take a picture. To you, a room might seem "cozy" rather than cluttered, but a photo will help you see the space with fresh eyes.  Looking at a picture changes your perspective and allows you to be more detached.  It could be the perfect tool to clarify what needs to be cleared away. Be sure to take an "after" photo as well, so you can see and celebrate what you've accomplished. 2.  Pretend. What if you were moving?  Ask "Would I bother to wrap this item in bubble wrap, pack it, load it, haul it, carry it, unpack it, and find a place for it?"  If the answer is no, declutter it. 3.  Get real. If you're paying for off-site storage, why?  Unless you're taking a job overseas for a specified period of time, and plan to return afterwards to use all of your stuff, why are you renting storage space?  My guess is that

5 Things To Do When You Get Stuck Decluttering

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Photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash 1.  Don't give up just because you're low on motivation. So you ran out of steam.  Lots of things are like that -- writing this blog can be like that.  Sometimes I write for hours and lose track of time.  Sometimes I'm tweaking three or four posts at a time for future publication.  Other times I'm stuck for ideas, or nothing I write seems valuable. It would be easy in those circumstances to pay attention to thoughts like these: What was I thinking?  I'll never be a writer.  (I'll never clear all of this clutter.) Who do I think I am?  Why would anyone want to read what I write anyway?  (I've always lived with clutter, disorganization, and overwhelm, and I always will.) Why do I bother?  I knew I wouldn't be very good at this. Think of it like this.  If you had a discouraging week at work, would you decide to just quit?  If there was some tension in one of your closest relationships, or you were ha