With this new year, one of my goals is to minimize and simplify my life and my home. I do this in hopes that I lead a cleaner lifestyle and a more frugal one. I had no idea where to start with this undertaking, that felt huge. I love my stuff. And I have a lot of stuff. I was afraid that if I got rid of my things I’d miss them, that my home would lose its character and personality.
So, like most millennials, I took to Facebook to ask my friends if any of them had adopted the minimal lifestyle. A few responded, but one in particular was so excited about my question, she private messaged me and told me all about her home with her husband. She also suggested a book to me, which I immediately bought for my Kindle. The book is The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (here). When I started reading this book, something clicked. She talks about the way in which to go about tidying, and it made sense. All the popular magazines and websites say to do a little bit every day, so as to not get overwhelmed. Kondo claims that this will lead to a rebound without fail. She says that in order to make a major change, you need to do it in a major way. Basically, she says that you do one big declutter to end all declutters. She calls this a “special even tidying.”
Her book says to go by category, not location. So, for instance, if you start with clothes, you go through your house, pull all of your clothes into one area, lay them all out on the floor so that you see every single piece you own. Then, pick every piece up and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. If it does, keep it.
I didn’t follow to the letter what she said. I started in my dresser. I really only have one drawer, as I share with my husband, but that was easy. I threw out all the socks, underwear, and pjs I don’t love.
Then I moved onto my closet. I pulled all of my clothes, bags, scarves and shoes out and laid them on my bed. I slowly worked my way through all of it. I was shocked at how old some of my clothes were that I really hadn’t worn. I had things that I had brought with me when I got married two years ago, and not worn since unpacking them.
I started four piles: one for donations, one for keeps, one for maybes, and a heap on the floor of things that were in bad condition and going to the garbage. Our queen sized bed was covered quickly. I was shocked at how easy it was to pick what clothes went where when I actually pulled everything out and had to really look at it and decide if I would honestly ever wear it again. I wear scrubs to work, as I work at a dental office, so when I do go out, I tend to recycle the same outfits. So it really wasn’t difficult. And my ‘maybe’ pile was really quite small. A tee shirt that was one of my more recent purchases and a dress were the only two things I pulled out of that pile. I cut my full wardrobe down to probably a quarter of what it had been.
Then I moved onto all of my shoes. I had a pile of them on the floor, a 60 qt tub stashed under the bed, and several pairs in a shoe organizer hanging from the back of my door. Everything that was in the tub was donated, as I hadn’t worn any of the shoes in well over two years, but I had just thought they were so pretty, and I’d find some excuse to wear them. Except I never did. I cut back on shoes that I had bought and only worn once or twice because they were more comfortable in the store than at home (isn’t that always the case?). I was left with only the shoes that I love and wear often.
I got rid of all of my purses except the one I use currently and one other that I love, along with two small clutches that were gifts and are expensive that I use when going out.
Next, I tackled the shelf at the top of my closet. Most of the stuff up there I never touched after moving in, except to add more to the pile. I pulled all of that out and either threw it in the garbage or in the pile to be donated. By this time, our entire queen sized bed was covered. But did I stop there? Oh, no sir.
I then sat down to my vanity and pulled everything out of the drawers. If there was a counter top under that pile, I couldn’t tell you where it was.
I started by putting my irons back. I don’t have many because what little hair knowledge I have is very limited. Then I started two piles, and pulled my garbage can close. One pile would be the makeup I use often and love, the other was a pile of makeup that I’d only used once or twice and was still in good condition. That pile is all being gifted to my friend. Whatever she doesn’t want, I figure she can throw away. The rest went into the garbage. The pile for my friend grew rapidly, while the pile for myself did not. Cosmetics bags were not withheld from the purge. I had 7 cosmetics bag, one I’ve had since high school. I pared that down to just two, my one big one that I’ve had forever, and a small one for travel. The rest went into the friend pile.
I struggled with my lipstick collection. I love lipsticks. I love buying new ones and trying them out. But those did not escape my decluttering. I have a handful of favorites, and a couple that are seasonal favorites that I use mostly in the winter or around holidays and special occasions. Luckily, my girlfriend likes lippies as much as I do. She is getting a decent collection, some with pretty price tags associated with them.
Once I finished deciding what would stay and go, I put everything back and ended up with an entire drawer empty, and still some space to spare. I was shocked at how much makeup I had been hoarding. I shouldn’t have been, as I am a Platinum Rewards member at Ulta for a reason. (For you non-makeup addicts, that means that I have spent more than $450 in a calendar year. I did that early in 2016, much to my husband’s dismay.)
When I turned around and saw the mountain of clothes, accessories, makeup, shoes, and just all around junk laying on my bed, and then I looked at my closet and vanity, I felt like I could take a deep breath. Those things were not holding me anymore. I knew that everything that was put away were things that I truly love and use regularly.
I then turned my attention to our bathroom. I surprisingly filled almost another full garbage bag. I got rid of products I had bought and used a handful of times, but not regularly. None of the things I owned in the bathroom were really essential. I kept the extra bottle of shampoo and conditioner, because I am almost out, and the one charcoal face mask that I love, but the rest of it went into the garbage. And, amazingly, there was space to move all of the generic meds, aspirin, tylenol, allergy meds, into the medicine cabinet. I kept a few of the nail polishes that I love and the polish remover, but the rest of what was kept were things we use daily. That room really surprised me. (Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of what it looked like before and after.)
After the bath, I moved onto the hall closet. Surely there can’t be much in there, I just organized it a few months ago, I told myself. I used that clever trick of hanging a shoe organizer on the back of the door to store all of our junk easily. And it really works. I finished filling that garbage bag from the bathroom in the closet.
Now it is just essential cleaning products and overflow from the bathroom (soap from the bulk box that we bought and toothpaste, our swiffers and laundry things).
The pile of boxes and bags that were ready to go to the GoodWill after just one day of cleaning amazed me. And I felt such a sense of catharsis. It was amazing. I had no idea that getting rid of so much unused junk could make me feel so much peace.
I am nowhere near done. I have just gone through and downsized most of our things. Our apartment is a little bit of a wreck, ironically, as we’ve pulled everything out and some of the things we are keeping still need to be put away. So throughout the week, I am going to put the apartment back together and really get it clean. Then I will have a minute to look around at the things we still have out, all my little knick-knacks and do-dads that are still out, and decide if I really love them, or if I feel that someone else will love them more.
This will be an ongoing project this year, I think. As I go, I will update you, on Mondays every week, telling you what I’ve gotten rid of over the weekend, how I am feeling, and if it is working for me. If this is not working, then I will find new methods and share those with you as well.
I have a friend or two who I have told about my massive downsizing, and they said I almost inspired them. As I continue down this course, maybe I will inspire others. If you have tips or tricks, leave them in a comment down below. Or, if you are on this same path, let me know what you’re doing! I am so inspired to hear other people are breaking away from being owned by their things.
Talk to y’all soon.