stevemedcroft.com
5Dec/180

The Physical and Emotional Challenge of Decluttering

Decluttering your life is not as simple as throwing away things. Not only do you need an efficient process to sort and classify the value of objects in your life, you also need to be prepared to deal with the mental and emotional challenges that will arise.

My wife and I are in the process of decluttering our lives. To start, we've gone room by room at our house, decluttering our closets, bathroom, bedroom, and living room. We've moved on to the kitchen. The only physical space we'll have left after that is the garage (where everything we've removed from the other rooms is piled up waiting to be picked over by our kids or donated to Goodwill).

I already feel lighter. Everything that remains is essential to us, useful, productive, and makes me happy to own. Gone are the random piles of things we didn't really know what to do with. Gone are the numerous decisions about what to wear (I pared my wardrobe down to multiple versions of my favorite jeans, tee shirts, underwear, shoes, with a few long shirts and a jacket). Gone is the head slap from tripping over things we bought but never used (with every possible movie and music album on streaming, why we held on to three copies of Old School on DVD makes no sense to me). And gone is the messy, cluttered evidence of the harder choices we neglected to make (we had 100 frames photos piled in a heap inside a coffee table purely because we were overwhelmed at removing the pictures from the frames and setting them up in proper, long-term photo storage).

We have a ways to go. Our home is not completely decluttered yet. Then we have our company office. Then things like cars and bikes. Then we plan to declutter our finances. And, finally, we'll attack the real reason why we're doing all this - to have the freedom to redefine our daily/working lives so we're living the best possible version of our lives.

So the process is worth the end goal, but is not easy. You don't just throw a bunch of stuff away and live happily ever after. It's a process. It requires work. By taking our time and processing through our home one decision at a time, we've learned that decluttering is both a physical and a mental process. Each part of the process needs to be approached differently. Here's what we learned about how to navigate decluttering your home.

The physical challenge - decluttering requires efficiency

Now that we have the experience of decluttering most of our home, we've refined the physical side of the job into a working system. It breaks down like this:

  1. Target - We first identify a category or area of possession that we want to declutter (Closet, Garage, Laundry room, TV cabinet, etc.). It may be that we're just attacking a single cupboard (the spice cupboard was a hot mess, as what our kitchen junk drawer)
  2. Remove - We then pull everything we own in that category or place out so we can see it all at one time. We brought one of those gray hard-plastic folding tables from Home Depot into the house to use as our sorting table. It makes things very easy and efficient.
  3. Analyze - We try to understand what led us to each of the choices in that pile. Which items bring us joy? What about them works for us? What about them gave us challenges? We get clear in my mind what the ideal thing(s) are in that category. Using the junk drawer as an example, we used it to house our spare keys to everything in one place. That's an essential function. As was keeping a pen and a pair of scissors close by. But the loose change, dead batteries, paperclips, and unregarded mail were all a psychic burden.
  4. Separate - We separate everything into three piles trash, give-away, and keep.
  5. Review - More accurately, it starts out as keep for sure, throw-away for sure, and consider for a minute. Items in the consider pile may shift to the keep or throw-away piles, but ultimately, we end the culling with usually 10% of what we started with in the keep pile.
  6. Return - We place the keep items back into the space in a clean, organized way (we buy storage and organizing containers and hangers only at this stage). The end result being that everything is essential, and everything has a place where it belongs.

The mental challenge - decluttering is about confronting attachment

The psychological burden of the process of decluttering your life is that you have to confront the attachment we have to the things in our lives.

In our sorting process, we have uncovered all kinds of useless objects that contribute to the clutter, but are difficult, at first, to let go of. You unpack a cluttered closet only to find a stack of birthday, anniversary, and Christmas cards. What do you do? These are the words of your loved ones, trapped in amber and preserved as archaeological evidence of their love for you? Do you just toss them in the trash?

This is the dilemma. You don't need these things, but you have strong attachment to them. Letting them go seems live a betrayal, a violation of the relationship between you and whatever you have attached as meaning to them. But, no object has any more meaning than you assign to it. Meaning, in and of itself, is a fabrication of your mind. While decluttering the house, we've learned to handle these confrontations with our attachment in a couple of ways.

First, we hold each item in our hand and ask: Do I need this? Does this bring value to my life? If the answer is yes, it stays. If the answer is no, it goes in the give-away pile. If you are clear and honest with yourself, the thing is an artifact of meaning you've attached to it. Asking yourself if the object holds the value, or what it represents holds the value, can you lead to redefine value. You may come to understand that what you actually valued about a thing is the underlying relationship or experience that you used to give the thing meaning in the first place. That discovery can put you on a path to a more fulfilled life, one with a shift in focus from the accumulation of things as a way to measure growth and happiness, to a life that values experiences and relationships. And when the things are all out of the way, your life becomes more open to new experiences and relationships, leaving you richer after all.

One last things on this. Going back to the cards as an example, there are a couple of final tricks to letting go of objects you have a complicated attachment to, an alternative to the just-throw-them-away approach. One trick is to have a temporary holding place in your garage, a bin where these objects can sit for a predetermined amount of time before they get donated or thrown away. We think we can't let go of that sweater our favorite aunt gave us nine years ago for Christmas, but if it sits unused in the holding bin for three months, you've learned that it is not essential to your happiness after all.

Another trick for handling objects you are struggling to let go of, is to just take a picture of them. Keep an album on your phone (and your cloud-based photo storage backup service) of these things. That way, you're free to let the physical object go, but have it saved permanently, with no clutter, to look at any time you want.

We're still on our journey to declutter our lives, but armed with a system for attacking clutter, and a mental process for dealing with the complex attachment issues related to our owning and collection of stuff, we feel great about the way our lives are evolving. What about you? Are you hemmed in by your physical possessions? Are you ready to let the stuff go? Have you found a system for dealing with a junk pile that works for you? How do you deal with the emotional hiccup that occurs when you hold something you value in your hands but know it needs to go in the throw-away pile? Comment below and let's share notes.

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1Dec/180

Decluttering your smartphone

I love technology. I always have. My first cell phone was a Motorolo 8000, the infamous 'brick' phone, large as a masonry block and just as heavy. My first personal computer the IBM AT 8800, replete with a green screen and floppy disks. I am old enough to see the evolution of most of the technology that we take for granted today, and some that used to seem futuristic; smartphones, personal computers, drones, robots, self-driving cars, etc.

Technology has improved our productivity and enhanced out lives. So many formerly analog tasks and media have been replaced by technology. But, along with all that productivity have come distractions. Apps designed to entertain us, to make us more productive, to encourage us to play and consume, gobble up an overwhelming amount of time. We are caught in a loop of self-perpetuating, addictive usage.

Like many of us, my biggest time-sucking technological device is the smartphone. Never more than an arms length away from me (even when sleeping), this powerful, candy-bar sized computer is a constant source of distraction and mindless consumption. I both love it and feel like I could not live life without it. We constantly check to see if there is a new email, text, or instant message for us to respond to. We fiddle with Facebook to get a dose of what-did-I-miss in a group of other people's lives. We scroll for fifteen minutes on Instagram at pretty images promoting other people's vision for their life. Twitter. Oh, God. Since Donald J. Trump became president, I would hover on Twitter in a constant state of anxiety expecting to read at any moment that society had collapsed. I log in to the websites of CNN and NPR and ABC News and NBC News and the New York Times and Fox News, not really sure what I'm hoping to read, but rattled nonetheless. Oh, I also YouTube and stream Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime on my phone. I'm stressed out just writing down the list of all the ways I use the smartphone mindlessly.

These uses of technology make us consumers, products of someone else's business, rather than a self-directed individuals using amazing new technology to empower our own lives. I hate myself for the addictive powerlessness I feel sometimes when I throw my precious life away on this device.

How can we get control our toxic use of technology? Should we get rid of our phones? Switch to a model with a limited display, one that only makes phone calls and maybe, if we're lucky, text messages? That's not really practical, right? Technology is not the problem. Our use of it is the problem. The manipulation of us as users by the manufacturer's and app developers is the problem. So we don't need to remove personal technology from our lives. We just need to minimize it.

Decluttering the smart phone

At its core, the smartphone is a computer that runs applications. Each application serves a specific function. Some are powerful computing tools, like email, which allow me to connect with people on my terms. Some are powerful personal tools; my banking app that allows me to oversee and manage my business and personal finances. Some are powerful information and entertainment tools; my Kindle reader that gives me access to all my reading material. Regaining control over the smartphone and turning it back into a tool for productivity is about curating apps and organizing the way you interact with device.

First, this means setting up the options on the phone to take away the things developers use to encourage overuse, like notifications, sounds, and available times. It then means sorting applications into three categories; keep, throw away, and consider.

The 'keep' applications are those that are essential to your everyday life, that lead to productivity, are valuable, and bring you joy. The calculator function is an example of this. I use it regularly and having access to a calculator on my phone means I don't have to possess a physical calculator. Same with the phone function itself. I wouldn't want to not be able to make and take phone calls. You want your keep applications readily accessible.

The throw-away applications are apps we never use and don't need. These could be apps installed by default with the device, apps we install to get access to a certain service, games we never play, or apps installed to support memberships and rewards points programs we can access another way. Get rid of of any app that you do not use (remember, if you get rid of anything in your life you later find essential, you can always bring it back).

Consider remaining applications carefully. They maybe important to you, but lead you to consumptive behavior. Email, Social-media apps, video apps, etc. The might properly belong in the remove pile, but we each have to make our own decisions on these. For me, getting rid of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as apps was a step (I've even gone so far to delete my Twitter account). Keep the apps you want access to, but use the phone's settings to minimize their intrusion into your daily life in several key ways.

Only keep essentials on the home screen of your smartphone.

Only keep essentials on the home screen of your smartphone.

First, you can remove all notifications. Much of my smartphone use was triggered by the applications reaching out to me. I was getting a digital tap on the shoulder in the form of a ping or a pop-up or an icon on my home screen. My response to the tap was always to pick up my phone. I'd always check. Human Beings are wired to need certainty. Open a question in our minds and we are programmed to need to know the answer. It's a primal, base-level survival response. App developers know this and use it to manipulate us to use their apps. Removing notifications gets you back in control of one way the technology uses us rather than the other way around.

I also set my phone to automatically go into Do-Not-Disturb mode for specific hours every day. At 5pm, until 9am the next morning, only a programmed list of people important to me can reach me by phone or text. This small change put a giant border around my use of technology that gives me control of how the tool is used.

Another trick to get control over smartphone use is to minimize your phone screens. We decide where app icons appear on our phone, and we are able to have multiple screens. Put the essential apps, the ones you want quick access to, that don't lead to overconsumption or abuse your time, on the home screen. Bury other apps behind the home screen to add a layer layer of friction between the impulse to use the app (check email open Instagram) and the actual use of the app. This friction, the need to scroll to a second or third screen or first open a folder to gain access to an app, gives you a moment to challenge the impulse. I want to manage how often I check email, so I buried email in my phone. To get to my email app, I literally have to open my phone, scroll to the right four times, open a folder, scroll to the second page of icons, then click the email icon. That's enough effort that I question whether or not I really want to do this every time.

With my smartphone notifications silenced, do-not-disturb limiting access to me to working hours, and a screen layout that gets me quick access to the apps that I find essential, and adds friction to get to the apps I abuse, I feel like I am at peace with this technology now. How about you? Do you recognize the pervasiveness of this technology in your life? Do you feel out of balance, like you're giving too much time and energy to your smartphone that you want to redirect to more positive uses? How are you decluttering or minimizing your smartphone use?

The step-by-step to a decluttered smartphone:

  1. Scroll through your phone. Look at everything you've installed there. Create a list with three columns; keep, consider, and throw-away.
  2. Keep - list the essential apps. What do you need and use on a daily basis. Calendar? Calculator? Kindle Reader app? Phone, Text? Music, Podcast? These apps will stay, but the device will be setup to make them passive and readily accessible.
  3. Consider - decide which apps you use, but are habit-forming or you overuse mindlessly. For me, that's email and browsing the web. Those apps will stay, but will be silenced and placed behind a layer or two of friction.
  4. Throw-away - remove everything else that you can.
  5. Setup your screens. Home screen for need. Second screen with a folder full of the none-essentials. Maybe one screen per app (to force scrolling to find the one you typically use by habit and add friction).
  6. Setup a Do Not Disturb time.
  7. Establish your favorites (who will be able to penetrate the DND time).
  8. Turn off all notifications. All. Notifications. Except maybe the badges so long as they are not on the home screen. No push notifications.
  9. Charge your phone somewhere other than beside your bed.
  10. Leave your phone in your car when you go to the store or to a movie or to visit someone.
22Nov/180

Create Your Own Decluttering Process

What's in my backpack?

How many laptop bags does one person need?

Minimalism is about auditing your life and reducing it to the essentials. It's about letting go of possessions bought merely to satisfy some momentary urge or knee-jerk response to an ad. Minimalism is about curating possessions so that the ones that remain are in your life because the serve a specific purpose and bring you joy.

The work of decluttering can be a bit overwhelming when you first tackle it, but it so worth it. Reducing your possessions to the essential frees you mentally. Getting off the consumerist borrow-and-spend -to-acquire-stuff-you-don't-need treadmill frees you financially. In order to give yourself the best chance to succeed when you first start editing your possessions, have a system ready for how to make these decisions so that you end up with the best possible result.

What I mean is that it is very easy to attack the challenge of decluttering by simply throwing a whole bunch of stuff away. In fact, getting rid of things feels so good at first, you may overdo it. Three days after a purge, you might be feeling regret about some of the things that mad edit in the pile.

Or, on the flip side, some people meet resistance the moment they start purging their precious *stuff*. It's difficult to hold a gift someone gave you, no matter how useless, and let it go. Hanging on to things for sentimental or emotional reasons can leave you not much better off than when they started.

To help you avoid either of those pitfalls, it's important to prepare yourself in advance. Know what you want your final outcome to be an have a process for dealing with the task of decluttering.

We all find our own way, but this is the system that works for me:

  1. Target - I first Identify a category or area of possession that I want to declutter (Closet, Garage, Laundry room, TV cabinet, etc.).
  2. Remove - I then pull everything I own in that category or place out so I can see it all at one time.
  3. Analyze - I try to understand what led me to each of the choices in that pile. Which items bring me joy? What about them works for me? What about them gave me challenges? I get clear in my mind what the ideal thing(s) are in that category.
  4. Separate - I separate the pile into thirds - trash, give-away, and keep.
  5. Review - I review the keep pile one last time and hold each item in my hand and ask: Do I need this? Does this bring value to my life? If the answer is yes, it stays. If the answer is no, it goes in the give-away pile.
  6. Return - I place the keep items back into the space in a clean, organized way (I buy storage and organizing containers and hangers only at this stage). The end result being that everything is essential, and everything has a place where it belongs.

We used this process on our bedroom closet, which was a crowded mess of things we never wear overwhelming the ones we did. We have a six-drawer dresser in the bedroom that was the the same. When we were done running through the decluttering process, we ended up with a lean, organized, half-empty closet. And no dresser at all! And I think we can go through one more time and trim a few more things out of what we kept.

I understand that this is a first-world problem, but I am sharing this next experience, this example of how  applied the logic above to declutter one small, personal area of my life, to help someone who is looking at an area of their life they would like to streamline.

Decluttering the work bag; a post-mortem

For as long as I have been working, I have carried some kind of bag or briefcase. The essential tools of work for me are laptop, notebook, pen, and the miscellany associated with daily working life (charger cable, headphones, spare ink for the pen, maybe a file folder or two). When I drive to work, that bag sits on the passenger seat of my car. When I travel, that bag serves as my carry-on. When I (occasionally) ride a bicycle to work, it sits on my back and is filled with a change of clothes on top of my work gear. When I ride my motorcycle, locally or long distance, it carries these same essentials at high speeds, in all weather.

In the past fifteen years, I had accumulated a number of work bags. Each one arrived in my life for a different reason. Each one had strengths, but each one also had weaknesses. So I never settled on one bag. I was always searching for the next one. For fashion reasons. Because the one I used at the time was imperfect in some way. Because I saw something someone else had and Just Had To Have a New Bag! When we decide to declutter, this is one of the areas of my life I wanted to fix. Here are the bags I owned and why (and this does not take into account the ten or fifteen backpacks bought on impulse or acquired as giveaways at trade shows and events.

  • Courier bag - roomy, my Timbuk2 courier bag was my favorite. It made a great overnight bag for travel. But, it was so roomy that when I needed to carry only my laptop and a notebook, it was too big. It was also not so conformable on the bicycle as you'd expect; the weight would shift awkwardly on my back and the strap pulled into my shoulder.
  • Leather briefcase - I had a beautiful leather satchel I bought over a decade ago. At the time, I was in a phase where I thought I had to class up the way I dressed. Suits, ties, expensive shoes. This was the bag I thought fit that mold I was trying to fill. It is a really good bag, but awkward to carry on a strap (impossible to carry on a two-wheeled vehicle). It fit the basics and had room for files and notes, but wasn't suited to carry clothes for overnights.
  • Backpack - The company I work for gave me a backpack the last time I visited the factory. I love the look of it and it was currently in use at the time of the decluttering. But, it is compact and the material thin so I found myself being careful every time I set it down because the padding for the laptop compartment felt insufficient.
  • Thule laptop case - My most recent purchase was an $80, semi-hard-sided laptop clamshell bag made by Thule. I liked it for everyday work, but again, it would not take an overnigt-trip's load. Also, the configuration of the single shoulder strap was awkward and unbalanced.
  • Chrome reporter's satchel - during one of my I-must-solve-my-work-bag-problem phases (or maybe just a caught-up-in-a-desire-to-buy-a-new-bag phase), I purchased a Chrome reporter's satchel. When I whittled my workday carry to the minimum, my other bags were way too big. I wanted something slim and sleek. This bag, with a single shoulder strap and lean, canvas pouches, made it into the collection. But, yet again, I quickly realized that I valued the extra space other bags afforded and hated the sharp-edged single strap. Also, this bag had no other handle to grab, so it was awkward to carry.

Hopefully, you get the point. I spent $1,000 trying to buy a solution to the challenge of what I needed every day to carry my working tools around with me, but every purchase fell short in some way.

Taking this declutter through the process I laid out above, I examined the pros and cons of each bag and built a profile of what I actually wanted. I wanted the lifetime quality of the courier bag with the design elegance of the leather briefcase and the Chrome reporter's satchel. I wanted a backpack configuration for carrying while riding a bicycle or motorcycle. I wanted significant protection for my laptop. I wanted room when I needed it to add more than the essentials when traveling.

Since none of these bags fit my essential needs, I let them all go. Which was tough, but I was determined to minimalize my life and this was the most glaring example of how I was holding onto things for all the wrong reasons. Then, armed with my ideal work-bag profile, I went online and opened myself up to find the right solution, determined to make no purchase until I felt completely sure I was buying my One Bag.

Based on the lifetime quality of my courier bag, I ended up on the Timbuk2 website. I picked a dozen models at first, adding anything that fit the basic criteria. Then I stared drilling into the details. I whittled the list repeatedly, making sure only bags that fit my every criteria remained in the pool of possibilities. Then I found myself with only one bag. I waited 24 hours to look at it again with fresh eyes, to again make sure it met all my criteria, and I purchased.

The bag is a backpack model Timbuk2 calls the Parker. At its core, the Parker is and everyday working bag for a commuter or bicycle couriers - weather-proof, high end rip-stop Cordura fabrics, heavy zippers and buckles; an industrial-grade product. It has reflective panels so I can be more visible when riding. It has a tight, well-padded laptop compartment. It expands so I can stuff it for overnight trips. It has multiple, organized pockets for all the small stuff I need to carry. It is, hands down, everything I needed.

So after tackling the decluttering of one small area of my life by having a system, by being thoughtful, intentional, and uncompromising, I went from a $1,000 pile of bags taking up a space in my bedroom to one, minimalist, full-time backpack that is perfect for my everyday needs.

What about you? What's the area of your life that is closest to you, where maybe you've overpurchased but have the most resistance to making tough decisions about what you truly need and what is superfluous?

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20Nov/180

Decluttering; Why Adopt a Minimalist Lifestlyle

The stuff mountain in our living room

There is a mountain of stuff in our living room. Three full black plastic bags. A tree of shoes. Two backpacks filled with electronics. Boxes of things. Boxes that are just boxes. Wrapping paper for gifts not given. Clothes. A guitar. It's all a giant, shapeless blob of possessions, all of them on their way out of our hands and into the hands of family and strangers.

We've come to that place in our lives where it's time to reevaluate our relationship with things. We are becoming minimalists.

There is a good documentary on Netxflix that maps that path of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, set out on their own path to minimalism. They talk of frustration with their pursuit of an outside vision of what the American dream should look like. Corporate success with a corresponding six-figure income. A car that announces to the world your status level. The biggest home your income can borrow against (maybe even a little bigger than that). A never-ending cycle of new clothes befitting your (ahem) station in life. Expression through possession with the goal to paint the brightest, most-promising, most successful image of yourself to the world.

The fallacy of the appearance of luxury as testament to personal greatness is the message being constantly presented to us of what this ideal life should look like. Through advertising, marketing, media, and other peer pressure, this goal of the perfect life is unattainable at modest, normal income levels. Even higher-than-average earners will likely need debt to service this lifestyle of consumption. Especially because we are encouraged to display comfort and largess from the very beginning of our working lives; told the the best way to reach this pinnacle of consumerism is the four-year college degree, which most people have to borrow money to earn.

This is an ideal scenario for money lenders (banks, investors, anyone who makes money by trading off others). Meaning, a bank is willing to lend you money to feed a consumerist lifestyle, so you can present a not-yet-earned image of prosperity to the rest of the world, and live a comfort you could not yet afford to provide yourself, by trading on two things. They lend you based on how likely you are to honor the debt, and how much extra money you will have available in the coming years. If you're a decent person and a decent earner, you have it made in America. If, of course, you want to live your life on a borrow-and-spend cycle that makes banks rich, lets you feel good about yourself today, but sells your potential to put the money you earn to work to create the life you really want.

Okay, I'm starting to sound a bit like a crank, so let me dial it back a bit.

Here's where some of this energy I have on the subject is coming from. I am in debt. Most of that debt is due to some short-term decision I made in the past. A short-term decision to do or buy something that, at the time, made me happy. I am fortunate in that I can afford to service my debt, but I see the income I earn leaving my hands every month to service these old decisions debts and I scream inside. I am at a place in my life where I want to focus on the things that make me truly happy, but because I need to continue to service these debts, I am unable to take some risks. I need to continue to earn at the level I am to feed the debt. I am over-committed, trying to build two lines of business at the same time while pursuing my passion for things that bring me true joy; cycling and for writing.

I need the lessons of minimalism to get control back over the direction of my life from here. Starting with how I handle my finances.

First cull: money

I am committed, damned and determined, to break up with the money lenders, the eliminate them from my life. To do it, I am paying off debt at a rapid pace. I am also not borrowing new money from anywhere. No more credit card spending. No changing my car on a loan. No school debt. No moving house or borrowing against this one. Coupled with the discipline of a fixed budget for our monthly expenses, every spare penny goes to the debt. It will take time, maybe two years, but eventually that debt will be gone. And when it's gone, and I can live on a more modest income, the way will be clear for me to re-shape how I spend my life's energy. I will be able to take some risks.

We're five months in to sorting our finances. There are tough, doubtful, tempting moments for sure, but the momentum of making progress is addictive. Every time I clear a balance and close an account, the joy of it resonate through my entire being. It feels like power. It feels like control. And that feeling is becoming more enticing to me than the short-term hits of pleasure I would get at being able to buy stuff with a card.

And once I got firmly on a path to declutter my finances and get clear of the cycle of consumerism, and out of the cycle of borrow-to-make-myself-happy-with-stuff cycle, I stared to question everything I owned. Even though I am modest person and didn't think I was that much of a consumerist, I still owned more *stuff* than I needed to be happy.

The biggest example of this was my collection of work bags. I plan to write a full post about this (and I'll link it here when it's done), but the short version is that I owned five laptop/courier bags. Each had been purchased because one of the others was imperfect in some way. By pulling together all my bags and building a profile of all the things I actually needed in a work bag, I was able to get rid of them all five and replace them with one, high-quality backpack, a singularly perfect work bag.

We are in the middle of repeating this process (pull everything we own out, evaluate what is essential and what brings us joy, and letting go of the rest) in all areas of our home. We've hit our clothes closet, the bedroom, the hallway closets and will do our living areas, kitchen, and garage next. I will declutter my office(s) next. Then my car. Streamlining my digital life will follow. When done, I hope to have a lean, manageable relationship with stuff. I will own things that are essential to my life. I will cherish the things I own because I will select for need and joy and insist on only owning quality.

The tribe of minimalism

I've been on this path for a while. We moved into our current house three years ago. When my wife and I talked about our requirements, I advocated for a smaller home with less square-footage, that would be less-expensive to run and simpler to maintain. I wanted solar power to decrease utility costs. I felt, even then, that we could purge and declutter and live in in a smaller space. She wanted more outdoor space for her horses (which were being boarded at another house at the time).

We found the perfect place, that checked both our boxes, and we and purged and purged and purged to fit the new space. We purged furniture. We cleared closets. We decluttered the garage. So the elements, the thinking, that led us to minimalism were there before now, just not taken all the way through. I just needed the help of having the philosophy organized into a system for me to grasp on to to turn it into action in my life. I found that system online in the many ways Minimalism is expressing itself; on YouTube, on Netflix, in books. There is a tribe of people pursuing minimalism as a lifestyle. They have blazed a path for the rest of us to follow. All we have to do is follow until we work out our own path.

Like I said above, we're just getting into the work of decluttering. I'll post more as we go through the process, sharing what we learn, what works and what doesn't, how we fail and, hopefully, how we succeed.

What about you? Have you ever struggled with trying to keep up with the American Dream? Do you feel like you have too much stuff? Are you burdened by your possessions? Have you tried minimalism? How did it go? Comment below or contact me.

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