Monday, November 7, 2016

Minimalism Motivation

While running with a friend two Mondays ago, she said something very profound. (Well she says a lot of profound things but this one stuck, given my Fall Goals (and my total failure to start number 3.)) 

She said (I'm paraphrasing) "...Decluttering has the most impact on your life and free time but it is the most difficult to do..." 

The second part of her statement ("but is the most difficulty to do...") had never crossed my mind. I just thought I was being lazy by not getting to my piles of 'stuff'. But in reality that stuff has meaning to me, it represents a feeling, a sentiment, an event, a part of my life when I decided to acquire the item. The process of getting rid of items is admitting that what you thought would be useful is no longer. You have changed your mind, your viewpoint, your priorities. 

My realization is: Decluttering is an emotional process. It requires reflection, contemplation, decision making and it is a physical realization of poor decisions made in the past, or that you have outgrown your past decisions, emotions, sentiments. 

Mari Kondo says it best  "...when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.” And to be honest, that is a lot of work. Especially if you haven't been putting your affairs and past in order for a while. (Here is where I admit I have craft projects that are over 10 years old! And i'm still convinced that I will get to them. Seriously. Still convinced.)

All of this means that I have to look at 'decluttering' as more of a process, rather than a task. I've decided on a three prong approach to this process:
  1. Provide myself with end product goals - describe in detail what the benefits from this process will be, find realistic images of what I would like my living situation to look like, and express the feelings I have felt post previous decluttering sessions
  2. Research tools, tricks and skills required to most efficiently complete the decluttering
  3. Reward myself of successes, big or small
Believing that I am going to go home after work and spend 2 hours going through my piles of stuff in my basement is unrealistic. 

End Product Goals
There are two end goals for me 

  1. A beautifully simple and minimal home - so that I can relax in it, and not feel like I have to fix something, or clean, or that the walls are coming in at me
  2. A simpler, less stuffed life - This means I will have more freedom to be spontaneous, to be outdoors and sleep more

While images of these types of rooms really help....
Image result for minimal mid century house interior
When a place is removed of stuff, my eyes can float towards the outdoors.
Fabulous midcentury modern home with inviting warmth How To Give Your Home A Captivating Mid Century Modern Style
Via Decoist - I love the warmth, it's not stark but not cluttered. Everything seems like it has a purpose. Very zen. 

Image result for minimal vintage interior
I have stuff. I will always have stuff (Sorry Mari Kondo). But if it all has a place, and there is more space than items - then rooms can look like this. - Speaking of which - Mari Kondo's apartment does not have stuff.

Tool, Tricks & Skills


Before Starting
  1. Get all of my bins in a row - Donation, toss and to be organized later
    • Via
    • The ‘to be organized later’ bin is important in the Mari Kondo method where you organize items with the same purpose, rather than by where they are currently located, it will allow you to collect all of the writing / arts and craft items into one area and then clean those

  1. Clean out my car and check when your donation centers are open
    • I believe the most demoralizing part of decluttering is still having donation boxes around after a full day of decluttering. It works better for me if I finish my day with a drive to my local charity to drop off boxes - while this is not always possible, putting them in my car to be taken away the very next day also helps clear the space
  2. Get ready the week before
    • Make sure I have the bin/boxes I need to sort
    • Tidy up my house (dishes!), it is very daunting to start a big clean when a little clean hasn’t been done
    • Get other tasks out of the way – bills to pay? Need to get my car serviced? Have to return some items? Make sure that those are done because they will nag on me, and I will likely do them in advance of a large decluttering session
  3. Know my most productive time of the day
    • Making sure that I start in my most productive time of the day is important to having the decision making power required to go through the volume of items in a decluttering session
  4. Music
    • Download a CD or a few songs I currently love – Having those beats going on in the background really helps me get into my groove. Sometimes I listen to one song on repeat, belting out the lyrics and I move around the house. I also like listening to the radio, nothing like a bit of CBC Radio 1 or 2 to get you through a Saturday. Alternatively, I also have been getting into podcats. The one problem with them, is that if they require concentration, I typically stop my task and sit and listen. But they are good for doing sedentary organizing, like going through my receipt drawer. Or putting printed photos into chronological order
  5. Water & food
    • How many times I have been a few hours into cleaning or organizing or garden work (or even today) when I look up from my task and realize that I have yet to eat anything or drink any water? (a lot) This is a total energy killer
    • I also have to remember to have a good meal before starting the whole decluttering – not just a few crackers and an ice cream sandwich (what I currently have in my house) but a cooked / prepared meal
  6. Exercise
    • This may not make sense give my comments about how draining I find decluttering, but I also know that I do my best work on the mornings after I go for a pre-work run. Plus it gets me out of slow weekend mode and into go-go gadget mode. It works, well

While Decluttering
There are only a few things that I need to remember while in decluttering mode

  1. Do not turn on the TV
    • When my energy starts to wane, I usually get some food, and decide to take a little break and turn on the TV. Then three hours later I look up across my house with piles everywhere and a dinner party to get to in less than an hour
    • TV is a black hole. Never ever ever turn it on while decluttering
  2. Do not get sucked into a deep dive
    • Decluttering sessions #1 – 5 is about getting through as much stuff as possible, it's tempting to reminisce while sorting through all your high school grad photos(well not really – my sequin purple dress is something I really don’t need to see again) that can be done when you feel like overall your house is decluttered. Additionally, you may make a decision after decluttering session #2 that you want to get rid of that whole group of items, even if they are organized from least to most flattering angle of the purple sequin mess
    • Also – the way to never want to declutter again is by spending 5+ hours decluttering to see that only the back right corner of your guest room is decluttered
  3. Multi-task
    • Laundry to do? (if I did #3 of the Before Starting list, then I don’t, but haha, I always do) but this could be a good time to wash your technical sports gear in that special washing solution. Lasagna to cook? Does something need to be delivered to your house with a 12 hours arrival window? Do you have to let your craft project dry for intervals of 4 hours?
  4. Leave time
    • This is the most important and hardest for me to do – I have to learn to leave time to put away the items I’ve decided to keep, package up the items I am donating and put them in my car, and deal with all the other disasters that have come up from this whole process
    • Leave time to get to the donation center if it is still open
    • Then leave time to relax. Sit down with some wine, have a bubble bath, read a book, dance in on my new found floorspace. Whatever. But I need a few moments to sit down and chill before I head out and tell everyone about the bags of items I managed to remove from my house!
Reward Myself
I struggle with rewards - I never seem to convince myself that I will only be able to have my reward if I complete my task. It's not like I won't buy myself a pair of ski pants only if I clean my house. I'm not going to allow myself to freeze all winter! But smaller rewards do help. Like ice cream sandwiches, manicures, chocolate. 

But what about bigger house items? I know this sounds ridiculous, I've just cleaned out my house and I want to buy something else? But what happens if it is a light I don't need, but have been coveting for a specific spot for the last year? I can and definitely will just keep on using my IKEA light because I haven't been able to justify buying the coveted light. Then every time I look at that light, I'll go - man I need to do another decluttering session so I can get something as cool as this light? 

The other thing I was contemplating as a kind of reward is showing it off. Weird and narcissistic right? But on the other hand - having a clean basement storage area would likely impress everyone who has ever been in my basement. 

Lastly, what if my reward was the declutter itself? The knowledge that I will have more free time? I will smile every time I enter my house. Maybe my goal should be a nice hot cup of tea and a good book and a cozy blanket 2 nights a week?

Anyway - I'm still working on this one.

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