"Sometimes you don't need to organize more, you need less stuff."
My friend said these words as I was asking her about how to be more organized. She has known me since we were kids so definitely knows I've always had too much stuff. I thought it was impossible for me to be organized and stay that way. I was always running out of room for more organization. Until the day she said those words. It was then I realized I had too much stuff. But it wasn't until years later that I fully embraced letting go of actual stuff. It's a hard shift, but knowing there's no way I could stay organized or keep a clean house with too much stuff really helped get me started.
Since I started decluttering, I learned that I can have a more organized space but not if I keep too much stuff!
Minimalism doesn't have to fit a definition.
This was freeing for me. Minimalism had a negative connotation in my mind. A place where you invite friends over to your house but you don't have anywhere for them to sit or you use the same towel all week because you only have one per person. I thought all belongings should fit in a bag in order for me to be "minimal".
As it turns out, what is minimal for me and what is minimal for you are different things. My house is small- around 1100 square feet so I can't have as much stuff as someone with a 3,000 square foot house and still feel like I had room to breathe. An 1100 square foot house filled with 3000 square feet of stuff is a problem. It's about finding a balance that works for you and your family without feeling like your "doing without". I don't want to suffer without enough stuff to make life harder, but for me, I was constantly trying to find my stuff. "I know I have that, where is it" was a common phrase in my house and it bothered me. Why have all this stuff if I just have to move it all around to be able to find what I really use.
The first thing I decluttered was shoes. I was tired of wasting my morning digging through a box of shoes I never wore just to find the one pair I normally wear. I would leave my normal shoes out in the open so I could easily find them for work, but then if I needed a pair for the weekend or occasion, I was searching through shoes I never wore just to find the one pair I always wear to occasions.
I finally tossed all the old, worn shoes and donated decent ones that I never wore. Now, I can store my every day work shoes in the closet where they should be. There's only a few pair in there and they happen to be the ones I always wear. That was just the start and I never went back because I never missed the other shoes! I enjoy the cleanliness of not having too much!
It's not about less stuff just because. It's about less stuff to care for and manage so that you can do what matters.
Before starting this process I would spend about four hours every Saturday cleaning our house. Which doesn't sound bad until one day I realized it's just me and my husband. I don't even have kids so if it's four hours now it's gonna take twice as long when I do have kids. I don't want to spend my life cleaning up stuff that I don't even use.
One of my favorite YouTubers about Minimalism The Minimal Mom says that everything in our space requires attention and mental space for us. Maybe it's a plant that needs to be watered, shelves that need to be dusted, books that need to be donated, or even shoes that need to be worn. It takes from our mental space that we could otherwise be using for more important things. When that box of shoes frustrated me each morning, I used mental energy on that frustration and would start the day already annoyed. It seems silly now but I didn't connect mental space and stuff in my space until last year when I started learning more about minimalism. Once I started letting go of more and more things, I found that I spend less time cleaning and have more time to enjoy life.
Now, I can set a timer for 1 hour and have my entire house cleaned and ready for the week. I only fold clothes that I wear, not random ones I tried on in the morning only to throw in a pile because I don't like them. My cups and dishes aren't overflowing and falling out of my cabinets and it's easier to cook in my small kitchen without overcrowded counters.
While I may be on a good path for minimalism, it is a constant process. I'm always taking into consideration that if I bring something into my home, I need to get rid of something else. Maybe I get a new baking sheet, I need to get rid of the old one. This sounds hard, but is actually a lot easier than you think. It also makes me carefully consider purchases.
Think of a baking sheet of example:
Like, do I need a new baking sheet? Because if I do, I'll already picture the old one I can get rid of. If I don't need a new one and I buy it anyway, it's just going to make it harder for me to get rid of the perfectly good one I already have. That feels wasteful so I don't buy the new one. I then go home and keep up with how often I actually use the one I already have. If I find out I don't use it much, I'll eventually get rid of it anyway!
I'm fairly new into this journey but I am already loving how much better it feels to come home to a calm and peaceful home. That's the goal for me, to create a peaceful home for my family to rest in so we can serve the world better when we're not home at all!