Less is more! Well, at least when it comes to materialistic items and "junk" (items that you own that you don’t use and need). For example, less junk means more space and less materialistic items means that you have more money. It's too often that I hear people talk about how little space and money they have and in the same conversation hear them talk about their boat, guns, brand new car, or something else that is rarely used or needed. If only there was a way solve this problem... there is!
A few years back, I began researching the term "minimalists". I found out that these were people who believed in getting rid of everything they don't absolutely need. I thought it was an interesting way of life then moved on with my life. It wasn't until a friend of mine mentioned that he was a minimalist that I began to think about it differently. My friend wasn't taking the bus because he got rid of his car. He still owned 6 pairs of shoes. He even still had his golf clubs, that he only used 2-3 times a year. In his words, he was a "half assed minimalist". His idea was that by reducing a portion of the unneeded items he owned he would get some of the minimalist benefits. So, without the idea of having to get rid of nearly everything I owned, I start researching minimalism again.
The benefits from this lifestyle change seemed to be life changing. Less stuff meant less clutter which in turn meant more clarity and not only in your home but in your mind. If you go home after work and there's a mountain of dishes in the sink, papers on your desk, toys scattered all over the kids' room, and a garage full of only god know what, you're going to feel overwhelmed instantly. This feeling may lead to stress or annoyance which will affect your mood with the people you spend time with. Now imagine going home to a house with half or a third of the number of belongings. Less dishes means that they need to be cleaned sooner and have no time to build up. Less papers, by throwing them away or filing them, means no mess when you need to use your desk. Less toys means… well, less of a mess. A garage with less in it means more space for vehicles (what it’s meant for) or space to do activities. It's not easy getting to this point but when you get there, it's very easy to appreciate the newfound clarity and positive mindset.
Now, getting yourself on board for this change will be a challenge. Getting your family on board, on the other hand, will be damn-near impossible. This is why I recommend doing it in waves. The way I did it was by picking 1-3 items, in each room, to get rid of every week. The other side to this is not buying new items, which is the key to long-term success. It’s easier to part ways with items you don’t need than buying that random I love Hawaii mug at the airport while on vacation.
I first found myself first getting rid of old t-shirts and kitchen utensils, that I had multiples, of and as time went by, I began noticing a difference. There was more room in my closet, cabinets, and desk. When I needed something, it wasn't behind 20 other items. It was accessible which saved me time. This feeling was motivating which kept me going. I had snowboarding and golfing items but hadn't done either activity in years, so I sold it all. I had backup dress shoes and pants that simply weren't needed. So, I sold them too. Eventually, all I had left were items that I used every year and that's where I still am today. I may have one too many books, but they are organized and reduced to one bookcase. I may have an excessive number of hats but again I wear them all and they are reduced to one location. For me, it's about getting rid of all items I don't use or have a consistent need for.
Since making this change, my life has drastically improved just like the research promised. When I’m home, I don’t feel overwhelmed with tasks and/or chores. Everything in my home has a place and there is more than enough space for it. I feel more focused, confident, and less stressed since adopting this way of life and I can imagine it would do the same for everyone else. I am not a psychologist, so I can’t explain perfectly why this helps. I just know that it does.
It can’t hurt to give it a try. At the very least, you’ll have some extra space to fill in with new items. Good luck!
Greg is a Grand Rapids, Michigan native with a passion for personal growth.