With these steps, letting go becomes easier.
There are some belongings that are just hard to part with. Many things bring back nostalgic memories or have a special meaning to us, so instead of disposing of these items, we put them all in a box, which we then store on the top shelf of the closet or up in the attic. The result is not just an overcrowded attic, but also an internal feeling of disorder and the looming feeling of suffocation surrounded by so much stuff.
Most of us have far too much and the only way to break free from it, is by getting on with a long overdue cleanout.
Follow these steps to start down the path towards a minimalist lifestyle.
1. Set a fixed goal
Before we start randomly sorting boxes and drawers, we should think about our actual motivation. Where did this urge to organise come from and what do we hope to accomplish? Do we just want to create a clear structure so we can find things more efficiently? Do we want to throw out unnecessary items, in order to focus on the essentials in the future? Or do we want to start fresh and lay the foundations for a more conscious lifestyle away from consumerism?
2. Find the right method
Once we’ve established the reason, we should find a method that suits us. How radically we proceed is up to us. The minimalist life should make you happier in the long run, not add additional stress. Two fundamentally contradictory, but very interesting approaches are the “Konmari” – and the “Eat the Frog First” method:
Keep what makes you happy
The Konmari method developed by the lifestyle expert Marie Kondo is very simple: keep only the things that still give us pleasure. That’s the thing about things though: their purpose is to make us happy. But since not all possessions have been successful, we sort out all objects that no longer inspire positive feelings in us. Do I still enjoy wearing this shirt? If so, keep it, if not, it has to go. To keep track of the process, we start with things of less importance, such as dishes or cleaning utensils, and continue to work through garments, books and memorabilia at the very end. Sounds plausible.
The worst first
In contrast to “Konmari”, here we start with the worst – that is the most important object for us. The so-called “Eat the Frog First” method should help to overcome the inhibition threshold which prevents us from sorting out things we love but no longer use, as quickly as possible. This method helps us get rid of things we can do without in the future, despite an emotional connection. The experience may be hard, but it also opens our eyes to how little we actually use or needs supposedly significant possessions. Experience with this method makes it easier for us to create an emotional separation from certain possessions in the future- at least the theory.
3. Find the entry point into a simpler life
Even if we’re glowing with enthusiasm at the beginning, the initial euphoria is likely to wear off quickly. The aftermath of our clean out: mountains of clothing, stacks of books, half-sorted boxes all around the apartment and growing frustration. Here’s the good news first: it’s all completely normal and part of the process. As simple and uncomplicated as it would be, sadly we will not be minimalists overnight. The less good news: unfortunately, there is no secret recipe to fight through the chaos faster. Hang in there. Keep cool and don’t give up. In the meantime, take things one step at a time to keep the confusion and frustration at bay. Start with the bathroom, then move to the closet, then the desk. Keep the pace slow and steady, so that you have time and space for other activities. It’ll make it easier to stay on the ball.
4. Sort out sustainably and think of others
Most of our belongings are now sorted and tidied up, the closet closes again without a problem and it doesn’t take us half the day to find important documents. We’ve come a long way already. The next question is: what do we do with all the books, shirts and kitchen utensils we sorted out? Throwing them away would be too easy, and frankly, counterproductive if our aim is to live more consciously from now on. Selling is usually a lengthy process, but a good and uncomplicated way to get rid of things is to give them to friends, acquaintances and relatives. Just because something doesn’t bring us joy anymore, doesn’t mean it’s not useful to someone else. This approach may not benefit our wallets, but we lend a hand to others, which is ultimately worth much more.
5. Stay Minimalist
The average European owns approximately 10,000 things. One might therefore conclude that any capacity for common sense shuts down as soon as we spot a shop or mall. One reason for our societal urge to consume stems from the steadily growing range of large supply chains. We can break free of this consumer market by placing emphasis on the quality of the products we buy, rather than following every trend and simply buying what is currently in demand. You can apply this to anything, a good book, a simple jacket or a new table lamp – like our RIMA. In the end, simply invest in things that convince you of their perfection. This strategy will make it easy for you to buy deliberately based on what you need and enjoy.
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