When we moved into our current house I started seriously going through our stuff and donating a lot to our local second-hand store. This decluttering and minimising still continues and I have set myself the target of 10min going through stuff each day. There is not even one specific area of the house that I feel is overcrowded, it’s just generally TOO MUCH STUFF.
Joy and decluttering
I try to loosely follow the KonMari method: Discard everything that doesn’t bring you joy. This works particularly well on clothes and shoes. I have donated stuff I had forgotten I even owned. The KonMari method, however, gets tricky when it comes to necessary items. My office, for example, has a lot of folders full of paper I got over the years where I’m simply not sure if I should keep them or not. I started scanning the ones I’m not sure about and I have one folder now with papers I think I need to keep as physical papers.
There are areas of the house that are much easier to declutter. Our bookshelf for example. My husband and I both have e-book readers so I try not to have any fiction as physical books anymore. Non-fiction books, however, are much more difficult. We have a whole lot of maps and guidebooks for places we have visited or want to visit. The same goes for language books. I feel a bit like giving up a dream when I give those away. I still hope that one day I have time to learn new languages.
When it comes to decluttering and minimising I’m not alone, thankfully. There is a growing number of people, calling themselves minimalists. I recently watched a documentary called Minimalism which highlighted the different paths people take. Some travel the world with no more than a carry-on suitcase and others live in tiny houses. Both options aren’t for me but I do share their vision: freeing our lives of unnecessary stuff in order to focus on the important things in life. This vision goes a very long way and you don’t have to be a hoarder to lose sight of the things that matter.
I’m trying to live the principle of few things and possessions with my kids as well. I try to only allow them toys that they play with regularly and that they can combine. My son loves trains and he has become very creative in using his building blocks and Duplos to build train stations and bridges along his train track. My daughter has taken an interest in a play kitchen and she uses our building blocks to ‘cook’ and ‘bake’. This may sound all very thought-through but I do have a very soft spot when it comes to second-hand stores and their toy sections. On the occasion, I have bought toys that didn’t fit into a focus-vision and they are now adding to clutter. It’s tough to resist the temptation sometimes…
Things that matter
Focusing on things that really matter and only keeping items that bring me joy is something I want to continue to pursue. It might be tough to part with some items and it might be challenging to resist the temptation but I can see the benefit: a house with less stuff allows me to breathe. For example, our bedroom is free of clutter. I can go to sleep and wake up without seeing things I should take care of. As a result, I sleep better and I can wake up without an immediate task at hand.
A decluttered house is also much easier to keep tidy. I don’t think I can be as radical as some people are and reduce my belongings to one suitcase (not with a family anyway) or live in an 8m² apartment. The good thing is that decluttering and minimising doesn’t mean that I have to do that; it’s enough to start with my closet and reconsider every individual item: does it bring me joy?