One word that often comes to mind when talking about minimalism is space. With space, we can direct our energy and focus on what means the most. Space is not just an empty room, but it is what surrounds us, everywhere we are. Let’s be honest. It is tough to appreciate your space in an airport or an amusement park. Why? Because you don’t have any! That being said, creating space is an art, and you can create that art anywhere if you are mindful.
This is the fourth post in a series that started with this guest post I wrote for Joshua Becker’s Blog, Becoming Minimalist: Living in the Land of Enough.
Clear out some space in your house. You don’t need to take on big purging projects during this time to make space. Simplify one room (or even just the corner of one room) and keep it as clean and clutter free as possible.
Even if the rest of your house is cluttered, this area can be a great reminder of how you might feel living with less.
That was the recommendation for a short hiatus in the Land of Enough. For a longer stay, like a lifetime, you will need to think about all the spaces that you spend your time.
Ask questions like:
- How do I feel when I am in an empty room?
- Is my work space conducive to doing good work?
- Is my bedroom set up for a peaceful night of sleep?
- Do my living areas promote stress or calmness?
- When I travel, do I protect my space?
One of the biggest benefits of living with less, is that you can quickly create space. More space will help you calm down and focus on what is important. The spaces that you spend most of your time really reflect who you are. They don’t always demonstrate who you want to be or how you want to live your life, but if you want a good indication of how things are today, look around.
How to Make Space
Closet– Start here and build momentum for uncluttering the rest of your home. Consider your closet to be anywhere you store clothes. Here is the process I recommend:
Start making piles of clothes and be ruthless.
- Pile One: I love these items. They fit me well and I wear them frequently: Keep
- Pile Two: I want to keep this but I don’t know why
- Pile Three: These items don’t fit me or my style: donate.
- Pile Four: These items aren’t in good condition: trash.
- Take Pile Four to the trash.
- Box up Pile Three and put in your car before you have time to re-think.
- Put the items from Pile One back in your closet.
- Box up all items from Pile Two and put the box in the back of your closet for 30 days.
- If you didn’t miss the box after 30 days, DO NOT OPEN IT, donate it.
After you make some progress, if you love that feeling of empty space in your closet, join hundreds of us in minimalist fashion Project 333.
Bedroom – While I don’t recommend TV in any room of the house, it should absolutely be off limits in your bedroom. Your bedroom should be for only two things: sleeping and sex. You might do other things like read, or get dressed in the morning, but create the space for the first two things I mentioned. Your bedroom is your sanctuary.
If you have piles of bills, a computer, or TV in there, the energy changes, the space changes and you change with it.
Kitchen– The kitchen is for eating and cooking, but it is often the place where your family gathers during other times of the day. I notice whenever we have guests, we always end up in the kitchen.
Store like Ikea and Target can make it almost irresistible not to fill your kitchen with matching gadgets and tools. Resist! Seriously, how many sets of measuring cups, wine glasses, mixing bowls or wooden spoons can you use at one time.
Imagine baking bread without having to move fifty things off the counter or inviting friends over to share a bottle of wine without having to spend an hour “picking up”.
Office – Regardless of where you do your work, set your space up free of distraction so you can focus on the task of hand. I know a stack of papers or a post-it note can’t literally speak to you, but we both know, they will call you away from your work. Keep your desk clear and your desktop clearer.
If your only workspace is your computer, be sensitive to all the things that can fill your space. Turn off email and other distractions and do great things.
Car – Take care of this space so all focus can be on getting safely from point a to point b. For starters, turn your phone off every time you buckle up. Put the stuff you need to travel with in the backseat or trunk. Keep a small bag in the car for trash so apple cores or water bottles aren’t rolling around while you drive.
Instead of using the time and space you have in your car to get things done, focus on driving or enjoying the ride. I know you want to make those phone calls, or take notes as you think of important things you have to do. I used to do it all the time. I stopped. Please stop too.
Travel–I wrote this post from a hotel in Denver, and know that it can be challenging to create space on a trip. Airports, airplanes, shuttle buses, hotel rooms and restaurants are all a struggle. There are ways to create space, but if you can’t, just focus on protecting your own space.
Instead of mashing up in line at the airport, sit in a less crowded section and board the plane last. Carry less, so you don’t have to worry about finding space for your stuff. Take food back to your hotel room instead of eating out and stretch out. Visit a museum or yoga studio when you travel to appreciate the open space.
Mind – You can free up space in your brain and mind by doing less. When you work and live with an overloaded mind, you don’t sleep well, you don’t think clearly and decisions are made out of frustration and fear instead of facts and inspiration. Slow down, let the unimportant go, and literally open your mind.
As you make space, remember that less is not none. Some minimalists live in empty rooms with white walls and furniture. While I appreciate that aesthetic, my walls are colorful and display simple photography and vibrant paintings. It’s a great reminder that minimalism doesn’t come in a can. It’s a lifestyle and that looks different for every life.
With a dog, two cats and a teenager, I don’t pretend to live in a museum. There aren’t a lot of “things” around, but when you walk into my home, it feels like me.
Where do you want to create more space?