Minimalism is a way of reducing the number of items you own to minimize clutter while enjoying the items you choose to keep. Its starting point is to assess the quantity and value of your belongings, and then determine what you are going to keep and what you will donate. This can be relatively easy when you are talking about T-shirts, books, and knick-knacks. But what do you do about the following categories of items:
• The What-Ifs: These are the items that could be useful one day – although that day has yet to come.
• The Sentimentals: These are the pictures, the keepsakes, and the mementos that are scattered throughout your home that you either forgot about or are unsure what to do with them.
• The good intentions: Remember when you wanted to take up running? Or start an herb garden? Or learn how to sew?
These types of items can be more difficult to address. The potential, the guilt, and the interest can leave you stymied as to what to do. So, you do nothing. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you comb through these items:
• Do you already own something that performs the basic function of the item you are decluttering?
• Is the item easy to replace?
• When was the last time you used the item?
• In terms of sentimental items, which ones do you truly like, and which ones do you have because of guilt? You can always take a picture of sentimental items for remembering. Photographs can be digitized.
• For hobbies, it helps to forget about the money you already put into it – that’s a sunk cost. However, can you use the items for another activity that you are doing right now? Are there people who would be thrilled to get some free gear? Think of it this way – instead of gathering dust, the items will be used – just by someone else.
There is another aspect to address – how to avoid more stuff entering your home. Here is one way to help you make more mindful decisions: if you want to buy that cute T-shirt, first you need to get rid of a T-shirt that you already own. This strategy does two things:
• First, it ensures that the number of items you own stays the same, and
• It forces you to choose. After all, the easiest decision is one where you don’t have to choose one item over the other.
There is one final point to mention – the need for patience. You don’t have to make split-second decisions, you don’t have to clean the junk room in a single weekend, and you can be indecisive every so often. As long as your decluttering moves forward – regardless of how slowly – then you can get a stronger appreciation of the value of stuff.
Minimalism is not about denying yourself the things that you want or need. But it is about identifying the things that you truly need, and differentiating between an impulse buy and a true, and affordable, want.