We all fell for it: the idea that more stuff is better than less stuff. But now, we are coming round to the idea that maybe fewer things and more experiences could be a more sustainable and healthy way to live.
For lots of people, this means going through all the junk that has built up over the years and trying to figure out what on earth to do with it now. This can be quite challenging but if you break the task up into more manageable chunks, and only do one room at a time, your new lifestyle could be nearer than you might think.
Now, just to be clear: this is not going to be a post about why we should all be minimalists. Minimalism is great for those who can travel through life lightly but for those of us who know the jelly strainer will be needed again next year, not so practical. Instead, this post is about figuring out a way of living that doesn’t burden you with junk and brings your home back to life.
How To Live Well With Less Stuff
Pick Out What You Need
When you are sorting through a room, one of the easiest ways to start is by picking out the things that you need. This way, you know that those things will stay safe while you figure out what to do with the other stuff. Sometimes, you might come across something that you need intermittently but not very often. This is fine, and when you come to put everything back, that sort of thing is ideal for those high cupboards you have to stand on a chair to reach.
If you are not sure whether you need something or not, the chances are that you probably don’t. Think back to when you last used the item and when you expect to use it again. If you can’t say for certain then just get rid of it. Should you make the wrong decision and in 5 years wonder where it went, you can always get another one.
Pick Out What You Love
The exceptions to the first rule are the things you love. We all have bits and pieces that we carry around or keep hold of because they bring us joy and there is absolutely no reason to get rid of these things as long as they continue to do so.
Photos are a good example but they are often hidden out of sight. Try creating a focal point using different sized frames and make a real feature out of them. Plus, if you have boxes and boxes that you don’t want to continue storing, you could always scan in all your photos and save them using Google photos to ensure that they aren’t lost. You don’t even have to do this yourself. This could be just the opportunity for your kids to earn some extra pocket money! And you will have less stuff.
Clear Out Regularly
Trying to go through your house all in one go will be a difficult task. It won’t just be tiring physically but could be quite emotional too. A better idea is to do regular small clear outs. Gradually you will have less stuff in your house.
You could go room by room to start with and then do whole-house clear outs every so often to stay on top of your efforts. A natural time to do this is when you are spring cleaning – just add your tasks to your list of seasonal home maintenance tips! How often you want to get rid of stuff depends on how much you have to start with and how much energy you have. Smaller sort-outs every couple of weeks might be great for some people but others may prefer to do one massive weekend a year.
As long as you stay on top of the amount of stuff you have and what you really love and need, it should get easier to keep your house clutter-free and clean.
One In One Out
Lots of people hoard things. Sometimes it is a response to not having enough as a kid. Or maybe it is a voice in the back of your mind that says ‘that’ll come in useful at some point.’ Whatever your reason is, hoarding is almost always going to cause you problems in the end as your house can no longer take the strain. Your ability to clean is reduced.
If you have bitten the bullet and had a clear out, you now need to make sure that you don’t slip back into your bad habits. A good method for this is the ‘one in one out’ rule. So, if you tend to hoard books, for example, you might decide that to buy another book, you have to donate one to charity. This way you still get something new but you don’t end up with less space.
Choose Experiences Over Things
Though spending money on stuff has been encouraged by the economy for decades, millennials are bucking the trend. Instead of choosing to buy a new car or fill their houses with stuff, they are much more prepared to buy experiences instead. Shifting the focus from stuff to memory-making is a really important idea for two reasons. Firstly, it means that there is less pressure on you to keep making more room for things you don’t need and will inevitably end up throwing out. Secondly, it makes people happier.
Learning that you don’t need things to be happy and finding ways to achieve happiness doing things instead is a great lesson. Take the time to save up for the experience you really want. You will instantly feel a difference. Planning the trip of a lifetime is almost as exciting on actually going on the trip. Looking forward to an afternoon at a spa is much more rewarding than going around the shops picking up things to throw away in a year or two.
Living well with less stuff doesn’t mean you have to be a minimalist. But it does make you think more carefully. And once you are in the swing of it, you won’t go back.