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Showing posts from 2021

How to Become a Minimalist Without Decluttering ... Yet

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One of the biggest obstacles to becoming a minimalist is summoning the energy and making the time to undo what we've done for so many years. Now, I loved the process of decluttering once I did it, the lightness I gained as I finally let things go, and the feeling that the items I was keeping were only my most useful and favorite belongings.  The whole process was illuminating, and made me appreciate what I kept even more. But it did take time and effort, evenings and weekends, deciding what to keep and how to responsibly donate or discard the rest.  And the longer you've been accumulating, the more there is to remove.  Sifting through all of that clutter is a big job. But just imagine if we could snap our fingers, make the mess go away, and start over today! Unfortunately, that's not how it works.  If we want to live with less, eventually we have to do the hard work of letting go.  There's no other way. But if you are someone who is struggling to let go, we can try a di

11 Reasons to Declutter Today

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Has decluttering been on your radar for a while, but you just haven't started?  You know you need and want to do it, but you're busy.  Always busy, and decluttering takes some time.  It's pretty easy to do the "get rid of one item each day" method, but you feel like that will just take forever, and you want to see meaningful results soon.  But busyness, lack of energy, that TV show, those social media posts, and a touch of good old procrastination are getting in your way. Maybe these eleven reasons to declutter will help give you the motivation to start today. 1.  Save time. A clutter-free home makes it easier to find what you need when you need it, without fruitless searching.  Because everything has a place to belong, it's easier to see when you need to restock or replace something.  Plus, having less stuff makes your home quicker and easier to keep clean.  You can spend time on other things you like to do better. 2.  Save money. You shop less when you becom

How to Say No

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This is a chapter from my latest book, The Minimalist Tool Kit: Habits and Strategies to Help You Find Freedom and Happiness with Less (paid link). Many of us are "super busy."  We're like hamsters in a wheel, struggling to keep up.  We go for quantity, and miss quality.  We spend time recklessly, even though it is our most precious and non-renewable resource. Learning to say no is essential for our happiness. But it's not so easy to do when you were raised to be polite.  Many of us are people-pleasers, and even when something isn't right for us or we're already overloaded with tasks, we struggle to say no.  If we do manage to get the word out, we feel guilty. In part, we can blame our culture, which makes it easy to compare ourselves to others who seem to be accomplishing more than we are.  It's very easy to believe that we just aren't good enough.  So when people ask us for our time, we feel like we have to step up. We can also blame evolution.  Our

The Habits that Changed My Life

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A blessed Easter to all of you this weekend! Of course I struggle with bad habits, as we all do.  But like brushing and flossing, washing my hands, and saying "please," I have plenty of positive habits that make my daily life better.   Sometimes it's good to focus on what we're doing right, rather than continually trying to self-improve.  These are the habits I'm proud of. 1.  I read every day. This habit started in first grade and I've maintained it forever after.  I read fiction and non-fiction books, some news, and favorite blogs.  I always encounter food for thought and inspiration.  2.  I write every day. My goal is one sentence, which I can do no matter what else is going on that day, but I usually write much more.  This habit has led to letters, gratitude journals, blogging, and writing books (I've published eight so far). 3.  I pray every day. I concentrate on offering prayers of thanks, although of course I ask God for help, guidance, and forgive

Are You an Emotional Shopper?

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There's been a major shift in shopping since this time last year.  Amazon is booming.  So is e-commerce at retailers like Walmart and Target.  In fact, online spending in the U.S. increased 44% in 2020, according to digitalcommerce360.com. With Covid-19 around, many of us have stayed away from brick-and-mortar stores as much as possible.  But we're shopping more than ever, and what seems to be fueling all of the spending is frivolous purchases. Some people joke about it.  "I can't even remember what I ordered," quips one neighbor when we meet near our adjacent front doors.  I've noticed he has packages delivered almost every day. As I gather all of the trash from our most recent take-out dinner, I realize that my husband and I aren't much better.  Not a fan of cooking at the best of times, during the pandemic I've gotten into the habit of ordering take-out four or more times a week.  I joke about it too:  "Look how lazy I've gotten.  Oh well,

Keep Kitchen Surfaces Clear

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Don't you love those decorator photos or model homes where the kitchen worktops are completely clear except for a beautiful plant or bowl of fruit?  Everyone does.  It's peaceful.  The kitchen looks ready for cooking or for having a friend in for coffee.  It looks clean, and easy to keep clean.  (And isn't that something you want in a kitchen?) So how do we achieve this state of bliss?  How do we clear kitchen counters and keep them that way? 3 Steps to Kitchen Clarity 1.  Clear out the cupboards so you can store things in them. The things we keep on the counter are the things we use most often, but we may be forfeiting valuable cupboard space to things we use rarely, if at all.  Do you have a pasta maker or ice cream maker shoved way in the back?  Or a stack of large serving trays?  Or maybe you have a waffle maker, even though you always serve French toast because it's easier to prepare and to clean up.  Maybe you have a cupboard overflowing with mismatched mugs, or v

The Time Machine

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This post is adapted from my new book, The Minimalist Tool Kit: Habits and Strategies to Help You Find Freedom and Happiness with Less (paid link). I just spent nine hours in front of my computer.  Again.   I took only three short breaks, and spent maybe ten minutes outside.  I even ate lunch at my desk. I know this isn't healthy, but still it happens much too often.  Maybe it does for you too.  And many of our kids are still distance learning, which also requires them to spend hours a day in front of a computer. This is not how I spent my days when I was in my 20's or 30's.  Even when I was working as a secretary/bookkeeper, I didn't spend nine hours nonstop bent over my ledgers or in front of a typewriter.  I was up and down from my desk all day long, doing other tasks.  I physically went to a file room, or to the copier, or to deliver a message or the mail.  I usually took a walk and ate my lunch outside. In my lifetime and before, technology has been celebrated as

Undecorate: The Simple Home Reset

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When the sun is shining and trees are in bud, the inside of my house can start to feel stale and uninspired.  I think that's why many of us get into the spring cleaning mode.  We want new energy in our homes as well. After a winter of adding seasonal decorations, new purchases, and holiday gifts, my home can use some attention.  So this year I'm trying a simple refresh I call "undecorating."  It takes just a little bit of time and makes it easier to thoroughly clean a room.  And it really rejuvenates the space. Undecorating lets me be more intentional with my décor.  To undecorate, I remove a layer of objects from a room so that I can see it with fresh eyes. 9 Quick and Easy Steps to Undecorate 1.  Choose the room(s) you want to revitalize. I'm going to do my entryway, living room, and bedroom, but this process works in any room of the house. 2.  Locate a few containers that can hold surface décor. This can be a couple of boxes, a laundry basket, some grocery bags

Getting Clutter-Free

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If you would like some specific guidance as you prepare to spring clean, check out my previous post on the subject. But if you're new to minimalism, or just starting to declutter (or even if you're an old pro, and just want a little tune-up), you need to understand why you're doing what you're doing, where to start, and how to maintain all of your good work.  Here are some basics to help you on your way. 9 Basic Decluttering Principles 1.  Identify your values. Minimalism highlights the things you value by removing everything else.  But it's a personal decision.  What's important to you will be different from others.  The goal isn't deprivation – it's satisfaction. So maybe you need plenty of extra seating because you entertain often, or you sew your own clothes and also make the costumes for a local theater group.  You want to make space for these activities and their tools, even though a formal dining room with fancy dishware or a dedicated sewing roo

THE MINIMALIST TOOL KIT is Here!

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Inspired by (and building on) my "Minimalist Tool Kit" posts over the past couple of years, my newest book, The Minimalist Tool Kit: Habits and Strategies to Help You Find Freedom and Happiness with Less is available now on Amazon!  Clutter and busyness don't have to crowd our homes and schedules and keep us from the life we wish we were living.  The Minimalist Tool Kit offers methods and mindsets to help us simplify.  Far from leading to a grim or meager existence, minimalism can make our days smoother, our chores fewer, our energy greater, and our outlook brighter.  (Really!) Find practical inspiration to make room for what you really want, and learn: how to make every day better how to overcome habits that keep you unhappy and dissatisfied how to maintain a new habit, even when life is hard and you're tempted to quit how to work less and get more done how to make your kitchen (and the rest of your home) more spacious how to build a versatile yet minimal wardrobe

Announcing My Latest Book

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I'm excited about this one.  Inspired by (and building on) my "Minimalist Tool Kit" posts over the past couple of years, my newest book The Minimalist Tool Kit: Habits and Strategies to Help You Find Freedom and Happiness with Less will be available by the end of the week! It seems that life keeps getting faster and more complicated, and we keep juggling home chores, work tasks, the needs of children and/or aging family members, and our own requirements for peace and fulfillment.  Retailers (of course) want us to believe we can buy our way out of every difficulty, but if we've tried to do that we've just wound up with too much clutter, debt, and the feeling that we're in a race we can't win. But clutter and busyness don't have to crowd our homes and schedules and keep us from the life we wish we were living!  The Minimalist Tool Kit offers methods and mindsets to help us simplify.  Far from leading to a grim or meager existence, minimalism can make o

Just Eat an Apple

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In the past, when I planned how to maintain healthier choices in my diet, I always thought in terms of substitutes .  Like most people, I have favorite foods and cravings, and they prompted my search. Enter low-fat cookies, low-salt crackers, sugar-free ice cream, gluten-free pasta, soy cheese pizza, turkey bacon, and other mutants from the world of manufactured food. I spent hours researching my options and plenty of money trying to satisfy those cravings.  Almost every replacement food had one or more ingredients at least as bad as what I was trying to avoid.  Artificial flavors and sweeteners and unpronounceable chemicals abounded.  Even in the so-called "health food store," 80% of the space was given over to factory-produced products.  And more often than not, the substitute wasn't even that tasty, so I was out time and money yet still unsatisfied. The effort I put into this search was the opposite of minimalist.  I was finding complex solutions to a simple problem. 

Beauty and Minimalism

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Many of us like to go hiking or camping.  We love driving down a road that hugs the coast, with a new vista around each corner.  We flock to Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, Greek islands and the fjords of Norway.  We even take that first cup of coffee out to a porch or balcony and savor morning freshness, flowers and trees, birdsong, and playful squirrels. What is the appeal of these places and activities?  It's the beauty.   It's the cool, dewy air, the early fingers of sunlight, the incredible colors of ocean, sky, sand, ice, leaves, bark, birds, butterflies, and even rocks and the rich, loamy earth.  No granite countertop, no custom front door, no professional paint job, no high-end sofa can equal this perfectly designed beauty.  It calms us.  It refreshes.  And it energizes too.  It feeds our imaginations and our spirits.  It's the home we're made for. Beauty is important.  It makes you feel good.  It brings peace.  It makes you happier. We need the shelter that our

MINIMALIST TOOL KIT: Habits of the Minimalist Lifestyle

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Once you've gone through a major decluttering event, you may think you're done.  You've achieved minimalism!  But minimalism is not the process of decluttering; it's a lifestyle.  You need to change your habits in order to retain your newfound lightness and freedom. We're real people.  We work, we socialize, we have hobbies and husbands and kids.  Stuff enters our homes every day, and if we have no system for dealing with it, clutter will reappear.  So part of the minimalist lifestyle is learning to be a gatekeeper, to keep stuff from once again overwhelming our lives. How can we do this? 4 Simple Maintenance Tips 1.  Don't just put it down – put it away. Use the old adage "A place for everything and everything in its place."  As you declutter, you need to make a home for each item you need, use, and love. Although the two are often confused, organizing, by itself, isn't the same as decluttering.  If we simply organize stuff in boxes and bins, we m

The Secret to Maintaining a New Habit

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We all long for self improvement.  Sometimes we have a dream:  "I want to write a book."  "I want to run a marathon."  "I want to retire at 55."  Other times, something triggers a desire for change.  We eat a big holiday meal, or step on the scale after a vacation, and think, "That's it!  I'm losing 30 pounds!"  Or we babysit our grandkids or help someone downsize and move to another state, and we realize "Wow!  I'm really out of shape!  I'm going to start exercising every day!" There's no reason to doubt our motivations.  The problem with creating a new positive habit is not that we have no resolve.  We really mean it when we decide in December to start going to the gym three times a week in the new year.  Our intentions are sincere.  But gyms are pretty empty by the end of February. The problem for most of us isn't starting a new habit.  It's maintaining one. I remember learning to type (back in the "o

Comparison, the Thief of Joy

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In a world of brand names, popular culture, cliques, and the fear of missing out, the habit of comparing ourselves to others really takes hold. "Comparisons are odious," states a 15th century proverb pirated by Cervantes, Marlowe, and others, and humorously misquoted by Shakespeare as "Comparisons are odorous."  In other words, they stink. And yet we constantly make them. Either we're prone to comparing ourselves with others in a way that helps us feel superior:  "Wow, I'd never wear that !"  "I'd be a blimp if I ate what she's eating!"  "I would never deal with my kids that way!" Or we compare in ways that denigrate and belittle ourselves.  We watch a decorating show on TV and decide that our home is comparatively ugly and outdated.  We glance at a fashion magazine and decide that we're hopelessly fat, unattractive, and unchic.  We follow someone's Instagram feed and feel stupid and uncreative compared with th