Going Minimal

Remember the post from the start of this year where I cleared out my wardrobe (which might as well have been at gunpoint, given how stressful it was) and then placed myself on a six-month spending ban? Well, you might be shocked to hear that the clearout and ban worked - it made me think about my belongings more, realistically assess what I need and then start the process of becoming minimal.

I know, I'm just as shocked as you are that this actually did the trick, but it did. 

Being minimal is a personal thing; as what is minimal to one will not be to others. Let's be clear here - I like to have stuff on my shelves. I remember going to a party at a friends flat a few years ago which was seriously minimal and I was scared shitless. 'Where does all your junk live?' was the first line out of my mouth as I walked into her living room - there was nothing! Not a piece of mail, or a dvd, or a book - NOTHING. It freaked me out. I like to have stuff, not masses of it, not double-stacked-falling-off-my-shelves stuff, but I like to have some belongings to make a space feel like my own. Okay, it's books. I need books. Please don't take my books away from me.

Never image search 'I love books' if you get shelf envy ::seethes:: source

As I said, I already began work on my version of minimal earlier this year with the clothing clear out, in August I tackled my entertainment and in September I cleared out my hobby storage and had a storage box tidy up.

Entertainment was easy. A little too easy, but I think that's because I put myself into a good habit with these things over recent years. I have rules that I apply to my entertainment items which makes it pretty easy to manage. These are as follows: 

Books: If it's not one that I'm sentimentally attached to, a gift from the author (or signed by), or a beautiful hardback version, it goes. I never have more than a couple of stacks of paperbacks knocking around because I read and then pass on; either to a friend or a charity shop. I buy 90% of my books second hand for a couple of quid, so passing them on never feels like lost cash. Plus, who the hell doesn't like to be given a book? Best gift ever! 

DVDs: Am I going to watch this again? Really? Okay, it stays. Otherwise, it's out. I've kept a few series of boxsets and a good stack of films that I like to watch frequently, but everything else has gone to charity. I had many people tell me to box up my DVDs and send them for resale to get money back, but at an average of 15p per DVD, why bother? I can't make the money back I spent on them, so I'd rather just take them to a charity shop. It's past money anyway, it's got no current value now, so there's no point getting upset about wasting it. All my Doctor Who ones remain, of course. I'm tidy, not insane.

It's worth remembering we now live in an age of Netflix and £3 film rentals from iTunes. Why the hell do I need hundreds of DVDs? 

CDs: Unless you are by Britney Spears, Madonna or The Beatles: get out. I have Spotify, you are superfluous to my needs. 2 bin bags of CDs left my house that declutter day, it was bloody wonderful! 

Such rules mean that I tend not to have too many things overall, my shelves are never overflowing, but a good clearout does need to happen every year or so to keep the balance. 

I have a lot of pretty storage boxes. I used to love the clear boxes where I could see exactly what was in them, but now I'd rather have lots of flashes of colour instead.

Hmm, should really get some of that art out of poster tubes and framed ... 

What I often do if I'm not sure about sending certain things off to charity just yet I put them in one of these boxes and then hide it under my desk. If the box goes untouched for 6 months or so, you can get rid of the contents as you clearly don't miss them. It makes the process a little gentler and allows you some distance (yes, sometimes you have to deal with these things like a break-up, we have a habit of getting very attached to our belongings).

Why am I doing all this? I think I've just hit that point in life where I've had enough of stuff. I'd rather get rid of all the things that are superfluous (I love that word, sorry, I won't use it again in this post) to my needs and just have what I like and need. I love the idea that I could fit my life into only a few boxes and a suitcase. I could pack up and leave the country, run away to Italy and drink wine on my Florentine balcony every night (just thinking ... ). I don't like the idea of being tied to somewhere because all my stuff is there. I like knowing I'm free to go wherever I desire and I'll have minimal stuff with me when I go. I don't intend to spend my money on tat again, I've spent all my spare cash this year or doing things, going places, friends, family and meeting people, and it's been the best use of my money to date. That's a habit I will be taking with me in 2016: spending money on life, not stuff. 

Yes, your home will be tidier too, and everything will be nicer to look at, but that's just a by-product as far as I'm concerned. 

Operation: Going Minimal has been a raging success this year. I feel like I've culled my belongs down to the level they were ten years ago, which is exactly where I wanted to be.

You know what's even better? Once you do this, you want to go further. Since my February clothes clear out of four (or was it five?) bags of clothes, I've gotten rid of four more to charity, two lots have gone on eBay and the rest will be going out over Christmas. It's a little addictive and really satisfying. ALL THE STUFF BE GONE!

EXTRA CREDIT READING: Try giving The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying a go - which basically tells you that if an item doesn't bring you joy, get rid of it. I'm going to have no clothes left save for great underwear in 2016. 
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1 comment:

  1. This made me a little envious. I need to do this, but can't find the time. I'm a lot better than I used to be - my mum is a hoarder and so I grew up in an environment where things never left. Since living in my own home, I've been able to break from that mindset, but I do still have a bit too much stuff. Good for you for going minimal, it's so freeing!