Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Joy of Less

Back in January, I began my journey of becoming a minimalist. I had the strong desire to reduce the amount of possessions after initially hearing about The Tiny House Movement. For those that haven't heard of this social movement, let me shed some light on it for you! In a nut-shell, it revolves around people choosing to downsize the space they live in for many reasons: environmental and/or financial concerns, and also wanting more time and freedom.

Living in Seattle, it is very easy for a resident to spend 1/2-1/3 of their monthly income for an apartment (which can be considered a tiny house). One day, I looked around my apartment, and I was amazed on how many items I moved from the Midwest, and then continued to accumulate living in Seattle for 4 years. Therefore, I felt propelled to shed some weight from my apartment and simplify my life.

The first book I read was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever. The second book I read was The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify. Both were great, but the latter resonated the most with me.

Below I have included some of the context that I found profound and kept me motivated to decrease my possessions, and to sustain a mindset where I did not feel the need to continue to bring unnecessary items into my apartment.

The Joy of Less
· Chapter 1: See your stuff for what it is
o Our stuff can be divided into 3 categories
§ Useful Stuff
§ Beautiful Stuff
§ Emotional Stuff
§ Ask these questions with each of your items:
§ What are you and what do you do?
§ How did you come into my life?
§ Did I buy you, or were you given to me?
§ How often do I use you?
§ Would I replace you if you were lost or broken, or would I be relieved to be rid of you?
§ Did I ever want you in the first place?
· Chapter 2: You are not what you own
o It's not easy to be a minimalist in a mass-media world.
o We also identify with stuff from our past, and hold onto certain things to prove who we were, or what we accomplished.
      • Examples: cheerleading uniforms, sport trophies
o We are not what we own; we are what we do, what we think, and who we love.
§ By eliminating remnants of unloved pastimes, incomplete endeavors, and unrealized fantasies, we make room for new (and real) possibilities.
· Chapter 5: Detach from your stuff
o Pretend you are moving overseas for a permanent move. Survey the contents of your house and decide exactly what you would take.
· Chapter 6: Be a good gatekeeper
o All we need to do is stop and think, "Why?" before we buy.
o To be a good gatekeeper, you have to think of your house as a sacred space, not storage space.
· Chapter 7: Embrace space
o Space may be easy to lose, but it's just as easy to reclaim.
o We need space for our ideas and thoughts--a cluttered room usually leads to a cluttered mind.
· Chapter 8: Enjoy without owning
o In pursuing a minimalist lifestyle, we must resist the temptation to recreate the outside world within our abodes.
· Chapter 11: Start over
o The key to starting over is to take everything out of the designated section.
o Decluttering is infinitely easier when you think of it as deciding what to keep, rather than deciding what to throw away.
o Starting over-emptying everything out, then bringing things back one by one is so effective.
· Chapter 12: Trash, treasure, or transfer
o Trash- if it’s not good enough for Goodwill, it belongs in this pile.
o Treasure- items you'll keep and truly cherish for either their beauty or their functionality.
o Transfer- perfectly good items that are no longer good for you.
· Chapter 13: Reason for each item
o As you sort through your items, stop and question each one that is headed towards your Treasure pile.
· Chapter 14: Everything in its place
o If an item in question used daily, weekly, monthly, once a year, or less? The answer determines whether it belongs in your Inner Circle, Outer Circle, or Deep Storage.
§ Inner Circle= items frequently used: toothbrush, laptop, utensils, and socks
§ Outer Circle= backup toiletries, wrapping paper, ribbon
§ Deep Storage= spare parts, seasonal decoration.
· Chapter 15: All surfaces clear
o Horizontal surfaces are a magnet for clutter.
o Surfaces are not for storage.
o Limit yourself to 3 permanent items per surface
§ Example: alarm clock on nightstand, cookie jar on kitchen counter
o Biggest surface of all=floor
· Chapter 16: Modules
o Consolidate like items: store all similar (or related) things together.
§ Consolidating your stuff lets you see how much you have.
o Contain items: the container can be a drawer, shelf, box
· Chapter 17: Limits
o Limits can and should be applied to just about everything.
· Chapter 18: If one comes in, one goes out
o Every time a new item comes into your home, a similar item must leave, and this rule is most effective when applied to like items. New shirt comes into the closet, an old shirt goes out.
· Chapter 19: Narrow Down
o Holy Grail of minimalist living: owning just enough to meet our needs, and nothing more.
o In addition to simply decluttering our stuff, we can also narrow down by more creative means--like choosing multifunctional items over single use ones. An example, a sleeper sofa eliminates the need for a separate guest bed.
§ Goal: to accomplish the greatest number of tasks with the least number of items
o We can also narrow-down our possessions by digitalizing them.
· Chapter 20: Everyday Maintenance
o Keep decluttering: recommend purging in cycles, after your initial decluttering, take another look around after a few weeks or months.
· Chapter 21: Living or Family Room
o Purging just one piece of unnecessary (or unloved) furniture can make a dramatic impact. If you target a major item you'd like to toss-but still feel a little hesitant-move it out of the room for a few days.
o Use creative strategies to meet your entertainment needs--like borrowing items from friends or the library instead of owning them.
· Chapter 22: Bedroom
o Should be the most uncluttered room in your house.
o Main function of our bedroom is to provide space for sleeping and clothes storage.
o You don't have to own certain pieces of furniture simply because it's expected. Just because a bedroom set has 6 matching pieces, doesn't mean you have to buy/keep them.
· Chapter 23: Wardrobe
o To start over: take everything out of your closet, dressers and armoire, and lay it out on your bed.
o Declutter: try everything on.
§ The #1 reason to keep an article of clothing is that you wear it.
§ Don't save something simply because you paid good money for it.
o Minimalist wardrobe=capsule wardrobe= a small set of essential pieces that can be mixed and matched into a variety of outfits.
o Contain: keep all clothes in a closet/dresser/armoire or shelving unit (don't let shoes lounge in your living room).
o Maintain: keep your closet tidy. As soon as you take out an article of clothing, hang it, fold it or toss it in a hamper.
o Avoid temptation, and don't set foot in a store or retailers website until you absolutely need something.
· Chapter 24: Home office
o Declutter- first get rid of all junk mail that's accumulated.
o Truly minimalist office: narrow down your supplies to the bare essentials. Don't devote valuable space to storing backup.
· Chapter 25: Kitchen and Dining room
o To start over- empty every drawer, cabinet, cupboard, and shelf. The idea is not to choose the things we will get rid of, but to choose the things we will keep.
o Declutter: trash expired food, chipped plates, cracked glasses, bent or managed silverware.
§ Choose multifunctional items over single use one.
o The kitchen is such a hub of activity, it requires not only everyday maintenance, but all day maintenance.
· Chapter 26: Bathroom
o Declutter: Trash cosmetics you don't wear regularly. While makeup doesn't have an expiration date, they do have a limited shelf life.
§ Liquids and creams is 3-6 months
§ Powered foundations/blush/lipstick are 1 year
o Clear surfaces are not only more attractive, they are more hygienic.
§ Tub ledges should be clear; therefore, install a shower caddy.
· Chapter 27: Storage Spaces
o Example: attic, basement, garage, and storage locker
o To avoid clutter buildup, keep your storage spaces streamlined as your living space
§ Can you list the contents of your storage unit from memory? If not, do you really need things you don't even know you have?
o Declutter: stick to the following rule: if you haven't used an item in over a year, out it goes.
§ Be a borrower: rent from stores or borrow from neighbors.
§ When something comes in, something goes out--and not out to the garage.
· Chapter 28: Gifts, heirlooms, and sentimental items
o Gifts
§ Challenge is two-fold- to purge unwanted gifts we already have and to avoid receiving new ones.
§ Avoid gift exchange situations.
§ For individuals who insists on bestowing you with gifts, express your preference:
§ for consumables: coffee beans, plants, flowers
§ for experiences: theater tickets, membership to museum
§ for services: car washes, computer assistance, baby-sitting
§ Propose spending time together in lieu of gifts
o Heirlooms
§ We keep them out of sense of guilt, sentiment, and responsibility to preserve or family "heritage"
§ Our obligation is not necessarily to keep the items we inherit, but to find the best use for them.
§ If valuable or historically significant lend/donate to museum or historical society.
§ Don't hold on to item because it MIGHT be worth something.
§ Make decluttering part of your estate planning-pare down your possessions while you are still here, and don't pass down clutter to the next generation.
o Sentimental Items
§ Choose a handful of pieces for preservation, or reduce your collection to one container.

If you want to learn more from the author of this book, visit her blog:

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