Accidental Minimalist

Minimalism is a word that is all over the internet these days. It’s basically its own fad. Marie Kondo’s Netflix show has “sparking joy” becoming its own verb. I have friends on my Facebook feed suddenly cleaning out their houses like they are in their own marathon race. It’s awesome! I’m sitting over here still working my way through Gray’s Anatomy in my own marathon. I’m in season ten, things are getting real over here.

There are plenty of books to read, there are documentaries on Netflix, bloggers across the internet, all with ways to become a minimalist. I don’t read any of these books or watch any of these documentaries. I follow some of these bloggers though. They’re awesome. Truth is, I was already a minimalist before there was a word for it. I’m not trying to be a hipster and say that I was doing the cool thing before it was cool. I just don’t hold onto things. I’m not sentimental either. I have 4 things I’ve kept over the years that have any sentimental value.

1) Nicky. A stuffed animal that I got when I was six. He has survived 21 years of moves and most of those moves I don’t even remember packing him. He is my miracle stuffed animal and I am not letting him go. My mom got him for me when I was home sick from school for a week. He was just sitting on a random end cap as she was waiting in line for my medicine.

2) My high school yearbooks. I feel like this is self-explanatory.

3) My mom’s high school yearbooks. I have very few pictures of my mom and will be what I get to show my son of my mom.

4) A photo album of my mom’s trip to Germany after she graduated high school. See above.

I’m not extreme. I watched about half of the documentary on Netflix and got lost when he was explaining the one chair thing. That I don’t get. I have a full-size couch, a huge dining table and plenty of chairs. I like to have people over for dinner. I like to have parties. I like to do things at my house so I will make sure I have plenty of places for people to sit. I also like pretty things so I have decor. I just don’t enjoy clutter so I am very specific in what I have. My pieces are pretty and simple. I clean out things constantly to ensure that my cabinets don’t build up or my closets don’t build up. By constantly, I mean I’m just mindful. For closets, if I notice something my son doesn’t fit in anymore, I start a little pile in his closet. For my closet, when I notice I’m not wearing something anymore, I start my own pile. When these little piles get to be not little piles, I take them to the Salvation Army. I do have a system for when I declutter. It happens about once a year. This is like going through the garage or through the hall closet. It might happen more often with Lucas’ toys but for the rest of the house, it doesn’t happen often. I usually don’t buy anything unless I know exactly where it is going to go and what purpose it will serve.

THE ASHLEIGH NO CLUTTER SYSTEM

1) When was the last time I used this? If it was 4-6 months ago-I usually toss it. That is the minimum. If I figure out it was longer then six months, adios. 

2) If for some reason, I can think of a reason I need to keep this item-the “what if I need this?” argument. “I have this use for it” argument. I evaluate the cost of the item VS the cost of the space in my house. If the item is replaceable for $10 or less, I toss/donate it. The space in my house is worth more than $10.

This was especially important in my old apartment where we had less than 1,000 SQ FT of space. Not only did I not buy anything that I couldn’t specifically say where it would go once it was home and not only did it need more than one purpose, but when it came to cleaning out things, the retail value of my space, was WAY higher than $10. Clutter can actually stress you out more. (maybe that is just me.) so cleaner and clearer spaces are a win for me. If I needed another binder, I’ll gladly pay $5 for a new one three months later after throwing one out. I had three months of the space and now I know the reason for needing it instead of the “well this is sitting here because I might need it.”

3) Now, maybe I have this item in my hand that I cannot put a numerical value on because someone made it for me. It was a gift. Can I actually get rid of it? That is when I ask myself why I am keeping it. Am I keeping it because I like it or because I feel guilty if I get rid of it? Guilt isn’t a reason to keep something. Especially if it is just going to sit in a box in your garage. What’s the point? Is that family member coming over, searching your walls for the painting they painted you or your boxes to make sure you’re at least storing it? If someone painted me something and I love it, it gets hung up. If I am keeping it because I feel guilty if I get rid of it, it goes in the donate pile. Guilt isn’t a good emotion and having things that I am only keeping to not feel guilty won’t make me happy.

4) Now, if all of that fails. If I have some obscure item that somehow doesn’t fall into any of the above categories that I can’t logic away. I go to Marie Kondo and ask myself; does this spark joy? If it does, I keep it. Joy is a good thing and joy is in short supply these days. Keep the things that bring a smile to your face, no matter how small. If it doesn’t spark joy, adios it goes.

Now, there are some things that I have other systems for, like my son’s artwork from school. Pictures from high school and all my writing. I have systems for my calendar and my to-do list. I will be posting about those systems in the future. This was just a glimpse into my ways, if you’re interested in any of my systems, drop a comment. Have a question? I would love to hear from you!

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