Does a clear space equal a clear mind? For me it often does. Every object has a story, brings back a memory and has meaning. When there is too much stuff in a room, there is simply too much information going to my brain, taking up thinking-space and not allowing any new ideas to grow.
But also, there is stuff that I dearly love, which I want to notice. My kid’s best drawing gets the attention it deserves when it’s displayed in the middle of a big, white, empty wall as opposed to having to share a wall with a lot of ‘okay’ pictures.
The question how to become a minimalist is thrown at me a lot, but which I don’t believe I can answer because it is such a personal journey that is different for everyone. I’ve never even called myself a minimalist because I’m still searching for my own ‘bare essentials’. When looking back I have always valued minimal aspects of life; never liked excessiveness, decadence, am obsessed with functionality and have always been concerned about the environment. It slowly started to become clearer as I got older and got to plan my own life. It wasn’t really a decision, it just felt good to live simpler. It is still an ongoing process to eliminate things and find the essentials.
There are a million advantages to having less, but for me the most important one is that it keeps me focussed and gives me more mental and physical space. If you’re like me and think that less is more, here are three practical tips to reduce your belongings.
Detach yourself from your material things. Once you get yourself to unlink emotions from objects, you can objectively assess what you need and get rid of all the rest. Of course it is okay to keep some stuff with emotional value, but keeping that ugly nail polish that you never wear just because you bought it on a great, memorable day with your best friend three years ago isn’t a good reason to keep it. Yes that was an anecdote. What I also do sometimes is keeping stuff in a different way: taking a picture of the object before getting rid of it or saving only a fragment. For example with my baby blanket; I cut off a little square piece and put it between a photo album so I wouldn’t have to keep (and store) the entire blanket.
Then there is another type of value we put on stuff; status. Companies have made us believe that we can put value on ourselves by owning certain things. And sometimes we do define ourselves by wearing certain brands or possessing certain objects. But when you become more aware of the fact that you don’t need anything at all, you will find yourself coveting less stuff, but perhaps also coveting completely different stuff; stuff that you actually like and maybe not what’s on trend, you will find yourself in the process.
Double functions. Don’t keep a million things that all have the same or similar functions. There are so many kitchen tools that do something that can also be done with a simple knife, get rid of those. Also try to minimize the amount of doubles; why would you need 10 black pens if you only have one hand two write with? If the answer is, because you lose your pens, then you probably have too much stuff for the pens to get lost in. But if the answer is, because it if functional to you, by all means keep them all; One in your bag, a couple in your working area, one next to your bed.
Forgotten stuff. I have a rule for myself; every time I come across something that I had forgotten that I had, I must get rid of it. Because I didn’t need it anyway and because it wasn’t significant enough to even think about. It was just sitting there, wherever it was taking up space and not being put to use.
*I’ve used the words ‘I’ and ‘Me’ so often in this blog post it makes me cringe. That’s because these are not facts and they might not apply for everyone, but I hope that this bit of my personal view helped someone find a bit of clarity.