Last year I began an awesome decluttering journey in a slow move towards minimalism. I have a family to consider so going extreme overnight wasn’t possible. The winter, however, has been difficult for motivation, and I finally feel like I’m emerging with a fresh burst of energy. Today I’m talking about simple ways to overcome the relapse and motivate your minimalism.
I’ve come a long way since my ‘Confession of a Hoarding Mom‘ and recently came across this video on YouTube… this girl is a lot younger and boho-cool than I am but I love that she gives it a go and finds out what aspects of full-blown minimalism are suited to her lifestyle:
5 Simple Ways to Motivate Your Minimalism
1 Understand Your Incentive for Decluttering
During the video, one of ‘The Minimalists‘ makes a point that has been ringing in my ears:
“Get really clear on WHY you’re doing it… I think we all understand the how-to.” (Joshua Fields Millburn)
There are three really clear reasons why I have been moving towards a minimalist lifestyle:
- I NEED my house to be easier to clean.
- I want the freedom to move house more easily.
- I find a clutter-free environment therapeutic.
The past few months have not been good on the decluttering front… the initial euphoria of the bulk off-loading surpassed and the holiday brought with it all sorts of mess and general carnage. Reminding myself of why I want to continue has been a great help this week, and I’ve been busy overhauling our living room and kitchen.
2 make choices Easier
Minimalism is about decluttering the mind as much as clearing possessions. When you’re in a rush in the morning… or afternoon… or always… you don’t need futile decisions to make. I can’t even face choosing a TV channel by the end of the day. Life is exhausting when you’re bombarded with choices. Keep it simple and eliminate unnecessary choices.
Most of the time, bad decisions are made, not because we are lacking certain information and intelligence to make a good judgment, it’s simply that we don’t have the energy and willpower required to process the problem we’re facing at that moment. (Dean Yeoung, Decision Minimalism)
- Reduce your closet selection. Steve Jobs famously only appeared in a black polo-neck and a pair of jeans because he claims it increased his productivity.
- Meal plan. When I don’t meal plan I waste so much… so much… time wondering what to cook. Take a load off and know exactly what you’re going to cook at the end of the day.
- Use a planner or calendar. I am totally guilty of wasting time working out a mental schedule for my week. It doesn’t work because it runs on repeat… nothing is consolidated and it ends up as a constant distraction. Take the time to plan your day/week/month and you will feel so much more in control.
If we want to save time (creating more time for decluttering, hooray), we need to reduce the wasted grappling over decisions.
3 make it easy to succeed
When things are a mess it can be overwhelming to get started. Even my clutter relapse has felt like a lot to take on. A couple of days ago I challenged myself to clear the fireplace mantle. Over the past few months, it has collated an impressive amount of surface junk and I figured it would only take me a few minutes. I set myself one small task… I made it easy to succeed.
Within minutes I felt great! I had achieved my little task for the day like a total champion. Once the mantle was clear I couldn’t stop… I was totally in the decluttering zone! After the mantle I:
- Sorted through the small downstairs toy box. It was 50% total junk.
- Emptied the TV stand cupboards (the twins are always pulling out cables and video gaming paraphernalia!)
- Moved all the furniture to find missing puzzle pieces, marbles and a whole load of disgusting stuff to vacuum.
- Cleaned the blinds. This job has been hanging over me for months!
- Wiped down every nook and cranny on the furniture.
Yes, this meant other stuff I wanted to get done that day had to slide but wow did it feel amazing to sit down in a clean room at the end of the day. Plan small, achievable tasks… you will be more motivated to get the little jobs done and you may even find succeeding gives you a boost to go further.
4 challenge yourself to clear one room
Similarly to motivating through small tasks, you can motivate your minimalism by finding an easy room to tackle and going all out. Go as extreme minimalist on it as you can bring yourself to do. What I loved about the video I shared above is, she is able to fully submerse herself in minimalism and give it a test run because she lives in a studio apartment.
Those of us living in family homes filled with decades of clutter can find it difficult to envisage what minimalism might look like for them. It’s not as easy as packing a few boxes and hiding them in the cupboard to give it a test run. We can however, focus on one single room and sample a piece of minimalist clarity.
In the peak of my decluttering last year I overhauled our guest room. It’s a small room and was totally manageable. The closet was filled with clutter, I had some decoration to finish (it used to be the Twins’ nursery) but overall it was an simple task.
In the moment I finished that room I knew minimalism was for me. The air of calm, the peace, the lack of chaos… wonderful. It might sound ridiculous but when I’m struggling to motivate myself to declutter I go into the room and open the closet. The empty shelves motivate me!
5 imagine you’re buying your own house
It’s generally accepted that house hunters do not like clutter. We had 80 viewings on our first home before I finally decluttered and redecorated… yes, 80. The first person that viewed it after I cleaned it bought it.
Beyond making a home feel small and crowded, buyers find it difficult to envisage their life in your home if it is filled with personal clutter. Now you may be thinking “In my own home, it’s my personal stuff… I like my stuff.” but if you’re considering a minimalist lifestyle it really is comparable to moving house.
You’re the new buyer of your new lifestyle, so sell it to yourself. Envisage a life without clutter, visualize the living room without the junk on the mantle… what would it look like if you didn’t have the bed covered in decorative pillows? Be the designer of your new life. Motivate your minimalism.