There’s nothing like moving to snap you into the reality that you’ve amassed a lottt of stuff. It happens. It seems that we tend to expand to fit the space we’re allotted. In an effort to truly embrace minimalist living, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to get through the clutter and really say goodbye to a lot of material stuff.
I heard once that simply touching things makes you feel some kind of emotional attachment. I really don’t remember where, so remind me if you know. That means that your emotions may draw you to want to keep things because they are your possessions rather than it being a truly practical decision. Keeping that in mind can help dampen the pain of donating something that you really haven’t thought of in months, yet somehow feel deeply attached to. Luckily, downsizing is addictive and gets easier as you go. Just get started and soon the euphoria of detoxing your space and living simply will take over.
Admit it, you’ve got piles of random papers–receipts, junk mail and fliers, and just random notes and miscellaneous stuff that you felt you would get back to later. It’s amazing how quickly it can accumulate, and how quickly it seems to overwhelm everything.
Here are some steps you can take to deal with it right now.
Step one, pick up big brown envelopes. If you have receipts that you need to keep, organize them by category: business expenses, tax receipts, receipts for large purchases, etc.
Step two, deal with the junk mail. Rip up or shred anything with personal information, and throw it all in the recycling. Seriously, you won’t get back to it. It’s the same with all those old notes. If there are things that you seriously haven’t even thought of in a month or more, it can go.
Step three, go paperless. If there are notes that you need, there are ways to get them organized without the clutter. Spend some time scanning and uploading to a system like Evernote. I use it myself to organize just about everything: logging any creative ideas or blog topics, keeping notes on potential destinations and itineraries, and keeping track of reservations and budget. It is free for the basic version, or using that link gets you a free month of premium (which has more features and allows easy collaboration). Then, really sit down and go through what you can switch to paperless–i.e. bills and newsletters. You just went through your old mail, so it should be pretty fresh.
Step four, keep your notes in one place. I know it’s tough. I’ve got a notebook-buying addiction and it means that things end up everywhere. As much as it’s hard, buy a nice notebook that you like and keep EVERYTHING there. I know I just said go paperless, but you’ve got to have a place to jot down ideas that come to you throughout the day. Just make sure it’s just one place. Then you can transfer it into an electronic system later.
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There’s something about buying a new book that just feels good. It’s an opportunity to devour new information, to reread as much as you want because, hey, you own it. You can even make notes in the page margins if you want–some of you may cringe at the thought, but it’s seriously one of my joys in life. But, sooner or later, that book will probably end up on a shelf or in a pile, and you will move on to the next. Here’s how to deal.
Don’t buy books that you haven’t already read (unless you really can’t find anywhere to borrow them). Seriously, check the library first. Then, if you’re in a bigger area, check the library’s online resources for ebooks and audiobooks. Then, if you reaaaally can’t find it, check somewhere like iBooks, Kindle, or Audible. Only buy the book if you’ve already read it and know for a fact that it is particularly meaningful or valuable to you.
What do you do with your old books? Keep them if if feels painful to part with them. Take a pile of your books and consider each one carefully. Make a stack of any that you feel you are finished with. You’ve got a few options now. You can donate them. You can try selling them on a site like Kijiji or at a local bookstore. Or you can try selling them online–if you think the value is enough to make it worthwhile. My go-to is to gift them. Books are always a nice gift, and you know which book would appeal to whom because you’ve read them already. Win.
The Other Stuff
You know what I mean, somehow we can end up with so much random stuff that we really have no idea where it came from or why we have it. A minimalist tip: everything has a place. If it doesn’t, something went wrong. That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of gifts or things that hold some meaning, just that they should have their own designated spot in your life. That could mean displaying them somewhere, finding appropriate storage, or donating, selling, or gifting.
The great thing about minimalist living is that, once you are past the initial purge and have truly embraced minimalism, it’s a pretty budget-friendly way to live. It also comes in handy when you are constantly on the move–I’m completely over the cost and inconvenience of shipping boxes of books around the world.
Head here for tips on downsizing and optimizing your wardrobe.
What are your tips for getting organized and embracing minimalist living? Are there any more related topics that you’d like to explore?