At first pass, it might seem scary. You get flashbacks to your dorm days, when all you had room for was a bed, a desk and five textbooks. But we have this weird thing about stuff. We spend our money to get stuff. We see the stuff our friends and neighbors get. Then we want to get the same stuff that they have.
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And then a funny thing happens. Our stuff starts to take over our lives. We have to buy bigger and bigger places because we no longer have room for all this stuff. In order to break that cycle, we've got to get started with minimalism. We'll start slow and easy, okay? There are some easy (seriously easy!) ways to get started. Here's a five-step process that will make you look at minimalism in a new way.
Step 1. Assess
Take a look at your stuff. How many cars do you have? How many square feet are in your home?
Get a general sense of how much stuff you have by seeing how much more room is in your home, for new stuff. Ask yourself, is there a lot of room? Only a little?
Step 2. Question
Without judgement, look around. Ask yourself, "how much of this is really necessary?"
In this stage, it's important to simply ask questions. Don't move anything yet, don't dive in. Just walk around asking yourself if you need everything you see.
The answer might surprise you.
Step 3. Start Small
The best way to start something like this is to make your first project so easy, you'll ask yourself, "why didn't I do this before?"
Pick one small area. Assess and Question. Do you have a "junk drawer" in the kitchen? What about an overflowing glove compartment in your car? Perhaps even a bedside table.
Step 4. Declutter
Here comes the fun part. After you've questioned whether you really need something (six staple removers?), it's time to eliminate the obvious "no" answers.Get out a reusable shopping bag, and start to fill it with items that are usable but not worthwhile for you. Also, bring out the garbage pail and the recycle bin. Get to work! If you have really cool stuff, set it aside to sell. Otherwise, set up three areas: donate/trash/recycle.
Then, stop. You'll be tempted to keep at it, but understand that this project didn't take much time, and you were able to see the bottom of your drawer/know what color the inside of your glove compartment is/find that corkscrew you misplaced eight months ago -- whatever!
Note: If you find yourself emotionally tied to anything, that's okay. Keep it.
Step 5. Repeat!
Once you get started, you'll want to keep going. I know I did. Make sure you're actually donating/recycling/throwing away the items you've decided you no longer need. Otherwise, you're simply moving clutter from one place to the next.
Since it's a cycle, you don't have to wrestle with your feelings. The first time is so easy, because you're throwing out old icky receipts. It gets progressively more difficult, but when it does, you'll be ready.
-By Kathleen O'Malley
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