Simplify Your Life by Learning to Live with Less

Happy Wednesday! and to all of my ladies, Happy Galentine’s Day! This year I promised myself that I would make some big changes to ensure that I was living the most positive, sustainable life possible. The end of 2018 left me in such a negative head space and instead of dwelling on the negativity in 2019 I realized that it was up to me to work towards becoming a more positive, happy person. After doing a lot of reflecting on my life and really trying to understand what I was unhappy with, it dawned on me that it was less about me being UNHAPPY and more about me being STRESSED.

SO, with that discovery I set out on a quest to try and eliminate stress (or at least get it back down to a manageable level) from my life. For me, the logical first step to eliminating stress was to simplify my life and learn to live with less. It is a fact, clutter causes stress. And while I don’t think I’m a hoarder by any means, I know I have too much STUFF. Stuff I don’t need, stuff I don’t like and stuff that was just sitting there taking up space and not providing me with any JOY.

I know the Marie Kondo method is huge right now and for a good reason. She is teaching people to look at their belongings in a different way, which I love. The question “does this spark joy?” is so simple, but it really allows you to look at the item your considering and make you realize WHY you are holding on to something (and allow you to let it go). While I do think Kondo’s method works well, I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all method to simplifying your life and I wanted to share my own method of tidying up with you today. Check out my process below and let me know what you think!

How to Simply Your Life and Live With Less

Identify the Problem Areas

While Marie Kondo focuses on tidying up the ENTIRE home, just thinking about trying to tidying up my whole house over the weekend was creating more stress (what this whole process was supposed to fix!!) and to be honest, there are certain areas (like the kitchen) that aren’t an issue for me. So, I walked through my entire home and opened every drawer, cabinet, and closet in order to identify my problem areas: clothes (including accessories, shoes, etc.) and beauty/skincare products. For the purpose of this post, I will be focusing on de-cluttering my clothes. Stay tuned for a beauty/skincare related post!

Sort by Category

Once you determine what your problem areas are, it is CRUCIAL to gather everything in that problem area and get it into one space so you can go through it all at once. Before tackling my clothes, I made sure to have all of my laundry done so there wasn’t anything lurking in the hamper. My clothes were spread out all over the house (the fun part about living in a small space) so this process took a while. Once all of the items are in one place, it was time to sort by category: dresses, shorts, jeans, work pants, work out clothes, pajamas/lounge clothes, t-shirts, dress shirts, etc. I then further tried to categorize items by color to help make the next step a little easier!

Be Ruthless

Now is the hard part: downsizing. I set up some brown paper bags and sorted items in one of three ways: keep, donate, sell. There were a lot of items I knew off the bat that I didn’t want to keep (items that were worn out, didn’t fit or had stains/holes) but some good questions to ask if you’re struggling with a clothing piece are: “When was the last time you wore this? Does this item make you feel happy when you are wearing it?” and some of my favorite: “Are you holding onto this because you don’t have anything else like it? How many do you have of this item?” A big issue for me (especially with clothes) is that I will hold onto things because that’s the only item I have like it. For example, I was holding onto a pair of ill fitting white shorts because it was my only pair of white shorts and if I had an outfit that required white shorts what would I do if I didn’t keep this pair??? Logical, I know. So instead of keeping shorts that didn’t fit well and didn’t make me feel beautiful, I opted to sell them. As well, by breaking down each category by color, I was able to clearly see that I had multiple blue button down shirts? While I love blue button downs, I definitely don’t need five so I downsized to a more respectable two.

Go Back, Again, and Again

I was watching a few Youtube videos about de-cluttering and minimalism to get in the right ~ mind set ~ and something that really rang true was the fact that minimizing is not a one-and-done process. In order to truly learn to live with less, you should constantly be reevaluating your belongings and if they deserve a place in your home. There were several items I held on to (mostly summer items like sandals and swimsuits) that I already have plans to reevaluate once the seasons change and I can get a better grasp of what pieces I’m gravitating towards.

Donate the RIGHT Way

Once you have all of your items ready to donate, it might be easiest to just run them over to the nearest Goodwill drop off, BUT before you do, please consider looking into other ways to donate your items! Women’s shelters are ALWAYS in need of business casual/business professional wear for those looking to re-enter the workforce as well as maternity wear for expectant mothers. As well, a quick google search in your area will often turn up local organizations that are hosting clothing drives for the less fortunate or even a community garage sale where the proceeds go to charity.

Don’t be Quick to Fill up the Empty Space

Once you have successfully embarked on the de-clutter process it can be tempting to fill up those empty drawers/shelves with new items. Before running to Target or the mall, I would encourage you to stop and think about how living with less makes you feel. For me, having less clothing means less time fretting over what outfit I’m wearing. I know all of the items that I kept fit great and make me feel happy when wearing them so I have found that I am spending less time trying on different outfits to *hopefully* find something acceptable to wear. I also just feel mentally less stressed – knowing where every item is and just seeing a simple space makes me feel better?

I hope this guide is helpful and encourages you to re-evaluate your space and what you own. If something is not making you happy or “sparking joy” why are you holding on to it? Let me know what your thoughts about minimalism are in the comments below!

-Melissa

 

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