As the resident minimalist-wannabes at the radio station, Jeremy, Suzanne (from afternoons on WCIC), and I were talking the other day about how living with less has brought more freedom to our lives. It was fun hearing how it's impacted each of us in some of the same ways and in different ways as well. If you've felt the need to purge the unneeded excess from your home but just don't know where to start, maybe our chat will help you with some ideas. Or, maybe you've been there/done that and have some great insights to share. Either way, here's our discussion on decluttering:
What drives you to want less stuff in your home?
Suzanne: The reason I started decluttering came from being on mission trips and seeing how much people live WELL without. And, for me it also comes back to gluttony a little, too. I mean, how many pairs of shoes or comforters do I really need?
Jill: When I was in high school, my mom and brothers and I moved probably six times in three years. Every time, I dreaded the mountains of stuff and always wondered why we kept moving it from one place to the next and yet never seemed to use a large majority of it! I love the freedom of less stuff to maintain or move.
Jeremy: I honestly just hate having lots of stuff. I hate having to take care of it. I hate having to replace it. I hate having to look at it. I'd be happy in an apartment with a milk crate with a TV on it and a bed.
How do you go about decluttering, de-owning, and deciding what you truly need?
Suzanne: We recently moved and I rushed to get the main level of our house livable and put all the "extra" in the basement to be dealt with later. Well, if we have everything we need now on the main level, what do I need all that stuff in the basement for? I've decided that I'm going to go through one box per evening to get this thing under control. Just knowing I'm committed and working on it will make me feel accomplished.
Jeremy: "Minimizing the space" has worked well for us. I think it's human nature to fill the space you have. We bought a 952 square ft condo because it's what we could afford. A by-product of that is we have fewer places for stuff!
Jill: True, but in smaller spaces it can be easier for the stuff to pile up! One area we've done well in, I think, is the kitchen. We boxed up and donated excess dishes and gadgets and bought a 4-serving Corelle set - 4 dinner plates, 4 bread plates, 4 cereal bowls, 4 dessert bowls, and 4 mugs. Perfect for this family of three! If we have more guests than dishes, we try to use my grandmother's china instead of paper plates. The china's supposed to be used, anyway!
What changes have you noticed in owning less and decluttering your home?
Suzanne: When we moved, we sold or gave away approximately 40% of our belongings and I STILL have too much. But, even by just reducing the quantity of stuff we have, I've noticed a reduction of stress. You know... there's not as much to organize or clean, etc. Leaves more time for other items in our life, for sure.
Jill: Yes, Suzanne! Owning less is FREEDOM! In fact, we specifically love the condo life because we don't own a yard = no lawn to maintain = more time to do what we want with our weekends. I know some people LOVE yard work and look forward to it, but that's not us. Also, there's something calming about walking into your kitchen or bathroom and seeing sleek, empty countertops. Maybe I'm a little strange...but I adore that! Less stuff means more time with my family and to serve others.
Jeremy: Owning less stuff is really about freeing up my brain. Here's an example (and I know not everyone can do this): Jill and I have decided to get by with one car. It's one less car to fix, fuel, and insure. Yep, it saves money, but it also saves some of my sanity. I have so much to think about already; I'm always looking for ways to think about one less thing so I can put my focus where it really needs to be.
What's the next step for you?
Jill: I love what Jeremy said about sharing a car! It reminds me of the articles that have been going around social media about CEO's who wear the same outfit everyday to avoid that decision making process so they can be more creative and focused on what matters. The one-car thing is similar. It minimizes the number of things we have to deal with so we can be present for the things and people that matter. I'd really like to try that one outfit thing - or maybe a rotation of about 10-15 pieces or so. Again, minimizing decisions as well as the sheer volume of stuff in our home!
Suzanne: Perhaps I'm not as far along in the process, because I'm not ready to give up my crazy clothes options: Stripes, polka dots, patterns, colors! But, for me, the potential freeing feeling right now is just getting rid of those boxes in the basement. I mean... they are looming there, just waiting for me to do something. So, I always feel "behind", like there are things undone. I would love to NOT have that feeling anymore. Especially for things that are extra in our lives and ultimately unimportant.
Jeremy: I'm ready to grab some boxes and garbage bags and keep digging deep. We've come a long way, but can still get rid of so much that we just don't need or use. Our plan is to target one room a month and take a couple hours each Saturday to jump in and get it done. We'll be donating a lot of things that, hopefully, other families can use.
it's your turn: How have you decluttered and simplified your life? What's worked? What hasn't? We can't wait to read your comments!