Living with Less: How to Declutter Your Knick-Knacks Like a True Minimalist

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At one time or another, we've all received something that ended up sitting on a shelf collecting dust or was put in a box that we'd keep for later. It's common that we end up keeping things that we've either collected over the years or that reminds us of the time and place where we got it. The yellow car (pictured) was given to me on my first trip to Italy. I channeled my inner Julia Roberts when I decided to visit the country solo and tour the country. During the month spent there, I had the opportunity to be part of a photo shoot with a classic, fully restored Fiat 500. The yellow car was a gift I received after the shoot and an exact replica of the car in the photos. The car and the horn are one of about four things that Dayne and I have kept that fall into the 'knick knack category.' At the end of the day, I think you can be a minimalist AND have a few things. It's all about saving the things that actually mean something and getting rid of the rest.

Are you a collector? Or are you naturally inclined to purge what's in your living space? I've always been a purger. I remember at a young age donating my Barbie collection because I was done playing with them and wanted to package them up and clean out my room. No tears. No regrets. I was just done with them! (For years, I wondered if that was something I should've been worried about. Ha. Now I'm grateful.)

For those of you who are holding onto something or a bunch of somethings - be it a large or small collection, I've listed a few different ways to declutter your knick-knacks like a true minimalist.

  1. You'll never be able to get rid of the things that are taking up space if you haven't identified what and where they are. Did your parents gift you Beanie Babies or porcelain dolls? Maybe you're into plants and you've got dozens in pots that are overtaking the backyard? Locate what and where first to get started.
  2. Which of the items make you the happiest or in other words, which ones do you really want to keep? Pull those out and put them in a separate area. Then focus on what's left. Identify the condition of the items you're getting rid of and create a donate pile for anything that is still in good condition.
  3. Discard. When I say discard, I don't necessarily trash. I mean, find ways to actually move the items out of your home! You can create a post on Facebook (to your own friends or groups) and let others know you're selling or donating the collectibles. You'll find there are many people out there who will enjoy your items just as much if not more than you did. The idea is to donate what's in great shape and share with others. 
  4. If the items aren't in great shape then consider recycling what you can. For items that can't be recycled then you'll need to toss. If it's hard to do alone, ask someone who can help you with your purge! Moral support is key if you are having a harder time saying goodbye.

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RELATED POST: Mental Shift: Focus on What You Don't Need Instead of What You Don't Have

 

 

4 Ways to Keep Your Email Organized

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I've already mentioned how inboxes can add anxiety to life. One way I've limited this anxiety (and found the process to be quite freeing) is by unsubscribing to the mass emails I receive and organizing the important emails (work or personal) into folders. Try one of these solutions if you're inbox is overloading you:

  • Practice the filing system. Create folders that are clearly labeled and that you will use often. When you get a message, send your reply and if you can't delete it then file it away. Just like that.
  • Keep up on it. Just like cleaning your room when you were a kid- doing a little each day is so much easier to maintain compared to waiting for it to spiral out of control.
  • Take time to unsubscribe (unless you've somehow been added to lists that you've never heard of and in that case, get a new email). If you do this, you will notice some decrease in the amount of messages flooding your inbox.
  • Create an email account for the spammy stuff. If you have to subscribe to get coupons or special offers to your favorite stores then create a second email address that will collect the junk mail and don't connect it to your phone. Only connect email addresses to your phone that are necessary for you to check every day. 

RELATED POST: How to Eliminate Paper Clutter

3 Ways to Reduce Paper Clutter

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In an age where products like Venmo and online banking rule and mobile wallets are all the craze it seems like paper wouldn't be a bother anymore but we all know thats not true. No matter how hard I try I end up with piles of sticky notes, junk mail and Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons up, in and around.

This year, I'm trying really hard to eliminate paper clutter and my first line of defense is avoiding the collection of it in the first place. How? I recommend a few things:

  • One-off pieces of paper. When the movie theatre clerk gives you your movie stub toss it on your way out. You don't need to save those little pieces of paper and they end up adding to the collection of garbage that accumulates in places like the bottom of your purse or the console in your car
  • Receipts. Nowadays, you don't have to take your receipts. If you don't need to return the item and you're using something like a mobile phone or plastic to make the transaction, opt out of taking the copy of your receipt and it'll help cut down on what collects at home
  • Shredder. Invest in a shredder. I'm always leery of things like identify theft and personal mail getting into the hands of the wrong people. I shred like it's going out of style to avoid those scenarios. The shredder will also help you eliminate the piles of paper that accumulate around the house. I use a Royal shredder like the one, here

Spring Cleaning

The late iconic actor and performer, Jerry Lewis, was known for his love of clothes- specifically a love for his suits. It was said that he would give suits away rather than have them cleaned.

Some of us are living like Lewis. Don't get me wrong, I love me a pair of some cute shoes but there has to be a line drawn somewhere to separate needs from wants from what makes sense and what doesn't.

I have a close friend who is the exact opposite. She buys only the highest quality goods and each time she purchases something new, she gets rid of something old. She is the most minimally minded individuals I have ever met. 

A rule of thumb is if you haven't worn something in 6 months, then you probably don't need it. So check your closet. Is your collection of shoes so large that you can't find all of the matching pairs or do they sit and collect dust? That's a sign. A blinking one that says you have too much.

Embrace the spring cleaning.

 

Mindful Living Is

To me, mindful living is something that has a fundamental meaning but manifests itself in various ways during different times in a month or a year. Lately, mindful living for me has been:

  • Thinking about my day before I get up in the morning
  • Eating more grains
  • Appreciating the sunshine
  • Cherishing moments with my husband and my dog, Roo
  • Indoor gardening

How and Why I Started Simplifying My Life

I've realized a few things while living in big cities working in somewhat glorified industries and living in a culture where being glued to a smartphone is standard. That one thing is that we don't take time to pause. I'm not sure my generation ever did pause. I reached my mid-twenties and was already burned out on the flood of information I got in the form of emails, tweets, Facebook posts, instant messages and texts in a single day. As things turned out, I have this flood of communication to thank for the fact that if I'm not on my iPhone I'm thinking about being on my phone for fear of missing out on some piece of content that may need my reply.

I'm already an anxious person. I worry, I think too much and I wonder about things beyond my reach and out of my control. So, taking myself away from technology is great but since I'm conditioned to always 'be on' I experience restlessness. So where does this leave me? To practice the art of leaving my phone a few feet away and reminding myself there's no rush. I'm slowly starting to do this in my professional and personal life and it's taking some time to get used to because I always want to please and I always want to be responsive. But those things are neither realistic nor healthy most of the time.

RELATED POST: Mental Shift: How to Move Past the Honeymoon Phase of Minimalism

Minimal Mindset: Living Within Our Means

Part of being a minimalist, or in my case, starting to live like one is becoming aware of comparison. I know a handful of people (and have been guilty of it myself) who compare their small houses to their neighbors' big ones. Their old, yet paid off car, to someone's new leased one. Having lived in LA I've observed people who love, love to drive fancy cars. Have you seen where many of them live? The house doesn't align with the car parked in front of it.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Hsieh a few years ago. In case you don't know he's the one who started that little brand called Zappos. After meeting him I was completely shocked and really surprised to see how humble and unassuming he is. According to reports, Hsieh is worth almost $1 billion. He lives in a normal, yet nice apartment and wears the same t-shirts as you and I. If Tony, one of the most successful businessmen and pioneers of company culture ever, can live under his means then I've got something to shoot for because it's working out for him. He's got a bigger picture in mind. He keeps what's most important as his focus and disregards what would be relatively frivolous for anyone at his level.

We may not all be business masterminds but I think we can apply his minimal approach to our own lives. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating we all drive junky cars and eat ramen. Talk to my husband about this and he'll tell you how I really want a Volvo XC 90 as our future family car. What I am saying is let's not compare our "lack" of stuff to someone else's abundance and maybe we can aim to live slightly below our means instead of spending money we don't have on stuff we don't need to impress people we don't know or shouldn't care about impressing in the first place.

The Beginning

I've created this space to document my journey as I look for ways to kick the endless pursuit of consumerism to the curb and make a path out of less instead of more. The way I see it, we've got nice stuff in front of us all the time- fine dining, clothes, fancy houses and the compelling notion that we need it all. That's made up pressure, people. We actually don't.

I'm on a journey to share what I find while living a more minimal life. I've always found joy in the essentials but now it's time I try for something more- or rather less- for myself and my family.