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When I first sat down to write this post, I wanted to focus on the importance of minimalism and explain a bit about why I think it’s a great lifestyle to adopt. After all, it’s good for you wallet, great for the environment, and fantastic for your peace of mind. However, there are so many other resources out there now that discuss these factors in great detail. So instead, let’s get personal.
Last year, I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While I didn’t become a full convert to the KonMarie way, her words had a significant impact on the way I treated my clothes. For some context, when I moved up to NYC, I was moving into an already furnished apartment. I’m talking furniture, decorations, kitchen supplies, anything you can think of – there was nothing I really needed to bring with me but myself. I ended up packing all my clothes into a dresser and driving it up in a van along with a few other belongings. Essentially, the vast majority of my current belongings are clothes.
Of course, now that I’ve been here over a year, I’ve acquired more things along the way. And in that time, the apartment hasn’t gotten any bigger. My boyfriend and I have gone through a few small belongings purges, getting rid of old appliances and items that are no longer worn or used. It’s not enough.
How am I supposed to be minimalistic if I haven’t been able to deal with a simple corner of a room for months? As you can see in the photo on the right-hand side, that’s the dresser that came up with me. To its left is a small, green plastic set of drawers, filled with random papers and memorabilia that I haven’t been able to toss as of yet. It’s barely visible because it’s almost hidden by a giant pile of clothes that are not clean enough to put away but not dirty enough to be washed (essentially my “wear again” pile). The dark dresser on the left is Ian’s. They’re not pretty furniture, but they work for us. I’m most ashamed of the countertop, which just has so much random stuff that I never got around to putting away. The shelving on the wall is also being extremely under-utilized.
I decided to tackle the countertop first. My old knitting project, that VS purchase, and those other knick knacks have better places to be.
The Kate Spade bag contains new/gently used makeup products (the ones with sanitary concerns I just tossed; nothing in there has directly touched my face) that will be gone in the next few days; I’m going to donate it to a local women’s shelter. I don’t need to keep things around that I never use. The wicker basket contains my competition materials – these are items that I only use occasionally, but still need. Eventually, I’d like to find a better home for them; I believe only daily use items should be out in the open like that.
Because we have another set of shelves in our bedroom that exclusively houses Ian’s books and papers, I made him “give” me more space on these shelves. The middle shelf is still his, but now I have a place to lay out all my jewelry, which was getting rather cluttered on my wardrobe.
I still need a better system for my ‘not quite dirty but not quite clean’ clothing which tends to pile up. My current solution is to do a purge every two weeks and toss everything in the wash. I’d love any ideas on this.
In my post Living on Less, I cite book purchases as one way to reduce monthly expenses. If you’re an avid reader, that’s most definitely the case. However, the exception I would definitely have to make for this rule would be for books that can be read again and again and again. For those looking for ways to get started on living more simply, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is really a great resource that you can refer back to repeatedly. My brother gifted me recently with Spark Joy, which is the expanded version of the book complete with illustrations on folding clothes and other tips for house cleaning. Both are pretty books that look good on a shelf (but really, all books look great on a shelf).
Okay, if you’re not one for Japanese modernism, there’s a book called Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better than Your Mess which provides a direct, no-nonsense approach to house cleaning, with humor. The book also has companion apps for iOS and Android (which do cost money, unfortunately). I don’t find the apps necessary (and they’re outdated to boot), but I love the idea of it. Basically, the book guides you through a 20/10 cleaning system. That means 20 minutes of cleaning, 10 minutes of rest. All of these books are well under $20 and make great gifts. If you purchase through my links, I may also get a small commission (at no cost to you).
This started as a post on minimalism but morphed into a before and after post on house cleaning. I would definitely say that cleaning up your personal space has a huge impact on your state of mind, and therefore is a subset of living a minimalistic lifestyle. If you like these types of posts, let me know and I’ll do more of them in the future!