Enjoy these minimalist tips from contributing editor Tammy Strobel.
Simplifying my home revealed the true burden of my clutter. All of my stuff was a constant source of distraction and disappointment in my daily life, leading me to the realization that “a cluttered home is a stressful home.” (NYT)
As a result, my husband and I decided to create a minimalist home. The effects were amazing! We experienced:
- a reduction in stress,
- heightened focus,
- enthusiasm for experimenting with minimalism,
- delight in our simplified home.
Motivated by the positive changes, we have maintained a clutter-free home. We’ve also discovered that a simpler lifestyle – with fewer belongings – makes us happier.
Compelling reasons to declutter your home.
Mary Macvean—a journalist with the LA Times—said, “The average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards. U.S. children make up 3.7% of children on the planet but have 47% of all toys and children’s books.”
That’s a lot of stuff! And, I can relate to those statistics. As we simplified our home, we were dismayed by how much we’d accumulated.
However, as we let go of clutter and other household items we felt free and excited. Deciding what belongings to keep, donate, or toss continues to bring us clarity and joy.
I continue to get excited about decluttering because:
- Our stress and anxiety have decreased. For example, I don’t shop for happiness anymore. In turn, that’s good for our budget, savings accounts, and overall well-being.
- Because we spend less time cleaning, we have more free time. We use our extra time for hobbies, reading, travel, and hanging out with friends.
- With less clutter and less stuff overall, our living area feels welcoming, comfortable, and calming.
There are many compelling reasons to declutter your home, and I understand how challenging it can be. For example, I had an emotional attachment to many items like photographs, clothing, books, and outdated ideas about how I should be living. Minimalist living is less about creating a simple life and more about creating an intentional life.
How to let go of clutter
Below are a few tips that have helped me let go of clutter; especially when it’s difficult. I hope the ideas help you too!
1.) Start small.
Begin by decluttering small spaces like a junk drawer, a closet, a small stack of paper clutter or a few cabinets in your kitchen. Starting small helps me feel less overwhelmed. It also gives me momentum to keep decluttering spaces that need attention.
2.) Box it up.
If you can’t decide whether or not to give something away, box it up. Then revisit the box in 3 or 6 months. As Courtney said, “You’ll have a whole new outlook on what remains.”
3.) Ask lots of questions.
As we decluttered, we asked ourselves questions about our needs, wants, and shopping habits. My husband and I talked about these topics, and journaled about them too. Talking and writing helped us let go of clutter.
4.) Take photos.
If you’re having a hard time letting go of belongings, take a few photos. This is a great way to preserve memories that are attached to your belongings.
5.) Find support.
In my experience, decluttering is more fun with a supportive community. Ask friends or family for help and accountability. You can also simplify with less stress by joining a simplicity support program like “The Simplicity Space.”
Remember, decluttering takes time. You don’t have to rush the process. Be patient with yourself, practice mindfulness, and have fun. You can even turn decluttering into a game or do it in short bursts. By taking tiny steps each day, you can simplify your home.
10 Minimalist Tips To Simplify Your Home
Over the past 15 years, we’ve lived in a variety of homes—from a tiny house to a large apartment. In each home, we’ve strived to create a space that is clutter-free and simple.
Below are 10 tips that continue to help us simplify our home. I hope they help you too!
1. Make decluttering part of your daily or weekly routine.
I go through my belongings regularly. I donate things – like clothes and books – that are in good condition. I recycle or reuse stuff that isn’t in good condition. For instance, I had an old pair of pajama pants that had holes in them. I couldn’t donate them, so I cut up the pants into small squares. Now I use the cloth squares for cleaning.
2. Try the “one in, one out” rule.
When I started to declutter my home, I decluttered in short bursts. I also adopted the “one in, one out” rule. When I buy something new, I donate one (or two) of my belongings. For example, when I buy a new book, I donate a book to the library or give it to a friend. I apply this rule to clothing, kitchen things, and more. This rule keeps clutter at bay!
3. Simplify your furniture.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I bought a new couch. This might not sound like a minimalist tip. However, we’d been thinking about buying this particular couch for years. Our new couch is modular so it can serve multiple purposes. We can use it as a bed, or chairs, and it was designed for life. We can even machine wash the covers!
4. Keep surfaces clutter-free.
Our countertops, tables, and other surfaces – like our shared desk – can get cluttered quickly. To avoid this, we try to keep surfaces clear. To do this, all our stuff has a home. For example, we have hooks to hang our keys, a closet for bike gear, and we do our best to hang up our hats and jackets. Putting things away is an easy way to keep surfaces clutter-free, and it doesn’t take very long.
5. Simplify your wardrobe.
When friends visit, they typically don’t rifle through my closet. But, I look in my closet daily. A simple wardrobe makes my day to day life easier, and I don’t have to do frequent closet clean outs. Plus, it feels good to donate clothes that I no longer wear regularly. I recommend creating a capsule wardrobe or trying Project 333.
6. Opt for simple decor.
We continue to opt for simple decor in our home. As a result, we have a lot of open space in our apartment. It makes the space feel open and clean. Some of my favorite decorations include: our new couch, select pieces of art on the walls, and a small bookcase. For this minimalist tip, remember that less isn’t nothing. You can enjoy the things you own!
7. Choose fun colors.
You don’t have to choose neutral colors to create a minimalist home. Instead, choose colors that you love! Remember, this is your space. As you decorate, pick colors and belongings that delight you.
8. Digitize media.
Over 15 years ago, I remember sitting at my dining room table going through stacks and stacks of CDs. We decided to digitize most of our music to open up shelf space. We donated our CDs to the library because we wanted to share our music with fellow patrons. Consider digitizing music, movies, and more.
9. Let go of paper.
Like our CD collection, we have slowly let go of excess paper. We go paperless as much as possible. However, we still have a drawer full of papers at home! And, I have a lot of old journals that I need to go through. Limiting the amount of paper that comes into our lives is an ongoing process.
10. Keep it simple, have fun, and be gentle with yourself.
My goal with this minimalist tip is to continue to create a functional, cozy, and relatively clutter free home — not a perfect or spotless home. When clutter appears, I set a timer for 10 minutes and start putting stuff away. It’s amazing how much I can get done in a short burst, and when I’m gentle with myself.
Resources to help you simplify your home
Looking for more minimalist tips and resources to simplify your home? Here’s a short list to get you started:
- Explore Courtney’s archive of decluttering articles. It’s full of helpful essays that will inspire you to simplify your home. Here’s an article to get you started: “How Clutter Makes You Sick And Stressed.”
- “‘Depression Rooms’ and ‘Doom Piles’: Why Clearing the Clutter Can Feel Impossible” by Dana G. Smith
- “The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter” by Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi
- How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- Project 333 and Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver
- The Year of Less by Cait Flanders