Last year was an interesting one for me. I found myself consumed by so many things: work, bills, chores, responsibilities, etc. A huge cluster of stuff that seemed to affect my free time and diminish my energy.
Even when I found myself with no commitments and free time to do what I pleased, I was too exhausted to do anything. Instead, I would plop down in front of the TV and scroll through the menu of available programs without really paying attention to anything. It was as though I was seeking comfort from the mindless glow radiating from the tube.
I explained how I felt to a friend and she told me about a documentary she watched about simplifying one’s life and suggested that I give it a try. Later that week, I watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.
The documentary, created by The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, is about two guys on a journey to get rid of excess stuff and start living more deliberately.
This documentary captured exactly how I was feeling.
“Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of stuff, it’s about taking control of my life, stop being told what to do, and actually deciding what I want to do.” – Ryan Nicodemus
I was hooked.
I related with the The Minimalists philosophy so much that I purchased Everything That Remains: A Memoir and Essentials: Essays by the Minimalists, two books written by Joshua and Ryan about their journey to minimize and take control of their lives.
The documentary and books made me conscious about the fact that somewhere, somehow, I had allowed excess stuff to consume and exhaust me.
Everywhere I turned something was demanding my attention: housework that needed to be done, bills that had to be paid, etc. Ultimately, a whole bunch of stuff that started to take over my life.
I decided to make a change.
Change that would start by simplifying my life and getting rid of excess stuff.
Change that would result in having more free time to focus on doing the things I love.
The first thing I did was walk through every room of my house, including the garage, and opened all of the closets, cabinets, and drawers. I purposely did this to realize how much junk I have hidden behind closed doors. To clarify, I am one of those people who loves to organize and arrange things so that everything is neatly stored away in its proper place. The neat freak in me loves opening cabinets and seeing things nicely displayed. And yet, it didn’t matter how organized things were: I had so much more crap than I originally thought!
“Ultimately, organizing is nothing more than well-planned hoarding.” – The Minimalists
This is so me!
I found things stored away that I haven’t touched in YEARS. I usually preach that if you don’t use something in a year, it means that you no longer need it. I’m really good about this when it comes to clothes (I clean out my closet twice a year), but when it comes to any other possession, it’s like I completely missed my own memo!
Enough is enough (my new favorite motto, by the way).
“Minimalism is not about deprivation: it’s about finding more value in the stuff you own.” – The Minimalists
At that moment, I decided to get rid of at least twenty-five things per week (a number that didn’t seem to overwhelm me).
To help me keep track of the quantity of items I eliminated, I created this minimizing check list.
This list has been great in allowing me to focus on certain areas and get rid of things I no longer need.
Since I started eliminating, I have donated/recycled/trashed over 1,000 items!
I conditioned myself to get rid of things whenever I had a few moments to spare. In the past, if I found myself with a few free minutes, I would log-on to Instagram to catch up on the latest happenings. Now, instead of checking Instagram while I wait for water to boil, etc., I find myself going through a junk drawer or cabinet.
Take a look in your nearest junk drawer: I bet you can easily get rid of things you haven’t needed or used in forever: rubber bands, pens, old receipts, take-out menus, etc. Heck, you can even go through a pile of mail and get rid of things (I’m one of those people who stacks up mail for weeks and goes through it once the stack starts to topple over).
I promise you, getting rid of 100 things a month is easy!
The best part is that this process has helped me to not only get rid of excess things, but it has changed my outlook on storing and purchasing things. I now question whether I really need to hold on to something, if I truly need to make a new purchase, and if so, how often I anticipate using it. Most often than not, the answer is easy: I don’t need it.
“Minimalism is not the end game—it is not the result. Chucking your material possessions does not necessarily equal happiness. You could get rid of all of your stuff and still be miserable. Getting rid of the excess in your life will, however, help you discover what does makes you happy. It’s just easier to find the path toward happiness once you cleared the debris.”- The Minimalists
Getting rid of mindless material truly makes me feel lighter and happier. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by stuff and seeking comfort from the TV, I am now more energized to eliminate the excess and focus on doing things I truly love: writing, taking more adventures, spending quality time with family/friends, etc.
I challenge you to do the same.
Wishing you peace, love, and adventure,