Embracing Minimalism

by jon on March 30, 2014

I had stuff everywhere. Every shelf was full, closet was packed, furniture in every corner and I found six travel toothpastes. If there was a bit of white space on the wall, I put something up on it. In the course of a recent move, I realized I had way too much stuff and way too much clutter.

I didn’t really notice this until I was inspired after reading a fantastic blog about Minimalism. Two guys named Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus tell the story about getting rid of unneeded possessions and demoralizing jobs to free up space for a more meaningful, fulfilling life. The posts on this blog are like brain candy, and I couldn’t read enough of them.

The minimalist movement is fascinating to me with some people living with less than 100 things. Not sure I will go that far, but the concept of reducing the number of things in life that weigh us down has produced some amazing results for me.

What is kind of funny is that I moved from 700 sq ft to 880 sq ft, however I probably got rid of a 1/3-1/2 of my stuff. Here are some of the things I did to experiment:

1.  I reduced the amount of furniture in my living space to keep things more open with less clutter.

2.  I gave away over half of my clothes and shoes away to Goodwill. I only kept 10 button ups instead of 20. I realized I mainly only really wore about 5-6 pairs of pants, so I got rid of a bunch. I just have my favorite shoes and clothes now. I only keep one suit and two sport coats out and put the rest in storage to see if I really needed them. I realized that someone else could probably use a lot of the stuff I wasn’t wearing as much.

 

3.  I gave about half of my kitchen stuff away. I only kept the things out I use all the time. I realized I had four wine openers, 8 serving platters, etc. all of which I barely used. One of the concepts I love that Joshua and Ryan talk about is the 20/20 rule. Don’t hold on to anything that you don’t regularly use that you can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes.

4.  I only put my favorite things up on the walls. I resisted the urge to fill up all the space.

5.  I went from probably 50 spices in the kitchen to 11. I had spices I hadn’t used in years and it was distracting when I only really use a few of them. If I need them for a recipe, I will just go get them again.

6.  I am now almost entireless paperless with my files and use Evernote and Box for all my files. This allows my office to essentially be anywhere I sit with my laptop, so I don’t need a separate office/desk area now.

Here is what I am noticing so far about embracing my own version of minimalism:

I feel like I have more time for myself.  This is my first blog post since November.

The clean physical space creates a sense of freedom, and I feel more creative and energized when I work from home.

I am spending less money because I am not worried about buying anything that isn’t essential. Now I spend my money on things that really add value or I enjoy.

I spend less time looking for things or organizing.

I am spending more time with good friends and doing my favorite things like doing a Madabolic workout or hitting up Atherton Mill Market and Luna’s Living Kitchen.  It was actually a friend of mind at Madabolic who first posted the article on Minimalism that inspired me. I generally just feel lighter and happier.

I definitely laugh at myself more about some of what I used to hold on to. I no longer keep trinkets from conferences :) .

I have been applying these ideas to other areas of my life and plan to share those in the near future. Until then, I didn’t want to clutter up this post :) .

So as you look around at your space and the things you own, what could you let go of? What is getting in the way of more freedom, productivity and being able to spend time on the things that matter to you?

So my challenge for you this week is to see where you can embrace your own version of minimalism. Experiment with works for you and see what you notice.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter March 31, 2014 at 3:56 am

I have missed your blogs; so, selfishly I support your minimalism. I found myself performing a similar exercise with my religious beliefs a few years ago – asking hard questions around what I believe, and refining my faith to basic truths and choices.

That year, during the Catholic season of Lent I gave up feeling guilty and learned to discern when my feelings of guilt were actually warranted. Guilt has become minimal in my life and I am so much happier. Since that successful Lent I have worked to minimize negative people, thoughts, attitudes, also pretty successfully . . .

More recently I have taken the same approach to fear which is more difficult than I would have imagined, though with regular journaling I can now identify when I am acting out of fear, and the thought processes and the history behind my fears.

Thank you for this blog, John. I will be cleaning out my closets this week!! And it served to remind of part of my life’s journey, through I have happily found some successes. : )

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jon April 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Peter, this is so great to hear my friend. I love what you shared about your beliefs and where this applies to all areas of our life. Hope you are well!

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Jocelyn Courtney March 31, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Great to see you back, John! I’ve missed your blog but am glad to hear that you’re doing well. I love what you’re doing with minimalism. I just vacuumed out my car and went through my “to file” pile on my desk yesterday; it never ceases to surprise me how quickly it actually goes, not to mention it always feels great afterwards. I’d love to hear sometime how life is! Best wishes :)

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jon April 20, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Great to hear from you Jocelyn. It sure has been too long!

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