The minimalist lifestyle is a fascinating one. Although it’s become rather mainstream through documentaries & books from The Minimalists or decluttering queens like Marie Kondo, the minimalism lifestyle is so much more than that. And ever since I started my blog, I’ve received so many questions about my own journey, ways to declutter & how I don’t get bored being an outfit repeater. Today, I wanted to take this time to answer a few of your questions. And I hope this sheds some light into my simple living choices.
Questions from Simply Alex Jean
How often should you declutter a space?
I think this depends on how much clutter you feel like you have & how much seems to accumulate regularly. I tend to declutter seasonally, especially with my wardrobe. Most recently, our wedding & the time spent planning, lead to accumulating lots of items I wouldn’t usually own [ ie. gifts, bridal merch or accessories for events]. I tried to declutter as I went along, but have definitely found myself in a post wedding declutter session. I’d say, the best motto to have is to evaluate what you own every few months & ask yourself these few questions:
Have I used this in the last 6 months?
Do I plan to use it in the next 6 months?
Is it worn out or damaged?
Do I even like this item?
What are some essentials for decluttering to help as you organize?
Have a trash bag on hand! And then sit two bins or boxes on the floor in front of you for any donations & things you want to keep. You want to get rid of as many items as you can before you organize the rest. This is the one reason why I don’t like storage bins. They are the breading ground for hoarding junk. I also recommend, if this is one of your first decluttering sessions, to have someone with you to hold you accountable. One of the first times I REALLY decluttered my closet back when I still lived with my parents, my mom sat with me as I tried on EVERY piece of clothing. I was a bit of a hoarder back then, not going to lie. This moment really transformed me into the minimalist I am today.
Questions from ThePlainSimpleLife
What was your original motivation for wanting to start a minimalistic life and is it the same motivation that keeps you going today?
What really motivated me to start on my minimalistic journey was the feeling of being overwhelmed by my belongings, which in turn was causing me to feel overwhelmed in all aspects of my life. I felt like my life was being fueled by what I owned, striving to have the next best thing & believing success lies in material items. I also want through a series of losing loved ones which caused me to evaluate my perceptions of life. I realized the important things are the relationships you have, how you treat others & the experiences you choose to make. And as I’ve been following this lifestyle for a few years, I go about it in the same way. I find the less I own & the simpler my routines are, the less overwhelmed I feel. Mundane tasks, like cleaning take less time & energy. And I have more time for more important things – like making memories.
Questions from Amethyst AP
Whats your most important advice for living an intentional life?
Live in the moment & be present as much as possible. Decluttering is just the start of an intentional lifestyle. The most important thing to practice is being more present in your day to day life. For instance, I stepped away fully from social media during our honeymoon. We took tons of photos & videos throughout the trip, but I refused to share or document our adventures in real time. Instead I wanted to be sure I was giving my relationships it’s full attention. I think a lot of us can relate to being so distracted by the outside world. One of the biggest culprits being social media. I suggest taking social media breaks regularly, creating routines that work best for you, eat slower, get enough rest, & really take in your surroundings.
Is minimalism as beneficial as people make it out to be?
From my experience, I find minimalism to be very beneficial. I can’t speak for everyone, but I honestly believe minimalism changed my life for the better. Even if you simply make just a few changes, [ like declutter your closet before each season], I think you will notice the benefits. Minimalism isn’t for everyone. And it is defined in many different ways. I’d say I’m more minimalistic in some aspects of my life than I am with other parts. Intentional living has taught me to be less materialistic, helped me save money & budget accordingly. It has helped manage stress & anxiety. It has taught me to appreciate people more & create a social circle I’m proud of. It has taught me losing a pair of sunglasses in the ocean isn’t the end of the world.
Questions from Ashley Feldstein
Do you and your husband have similar views on life and clutter?
In terms of clutter, I’m definitely the more minimal one. He loves his knick knacks, photos on walls & stuff! While I would prefer nothing on our kitchen counters & less home decor. But within all relationships, there is always compromise. Now, I’ll say he’s slowly learned the benefits to decluttering some. I usually don’t mess with his side of the closet unless he strongly wants to downsize some items. Luckily, in terms of life we hold the same values of choosing experiences over material gifts [ most of the time]. Generally, we are rather simple people. He wears the same few shirts on rotation & the same few pairs of shoes. We don’t yearn for designer items, or flashy cars or even huge homes. We focus on spending quality time together & going on as many adventures as we can. I will say there have been a few moments where my husband asks where something is & I have to say, “Oh I donated that a few weeks ago, oops!”
What do you find to be the most difficult part of decluttering?
Decluttering can become as addictive as hoarding. Sometimes I feel like I don’t thoroughly declutter an area, just so I can go back a few months later & go at it again. There have been moments where I declutter a space, but leave the donation bags in our guest room for months. My advice to you & my future self is to get the donation or trash bags out of the house as soon as you can. There shouldn’t be time to second guess yourself or put anything back [ which I have done in the past]. Get rid of the clutter like you would ripping a bandaid.
Questions from Colleen of Choose Your Uni
Isn’t just getting rid of things to get rid of them more wasteful than keeping them?
I recommend you check out my blog post about “What If I Need This One Day” Type of Clutter. In that read, I talk about how holding onto items is actually more wasteful than keeping them [ especially if you haven’t used it in a while]. I always believe it’s better to donate something to someone else who will for sure use it, than have it collect dust in your home. Most items I declutter cause no regret down the road. But you have to really ask yourself, “will I use this?” And if it helps you, give yourself a deadline. If you don’t use the item within that time frame, get rid of it. Donating or selling items also takes away that feeling of being wasteful if you just simply threw it in the trash.
What if you regret getting rid of something?
You can usually always repurchase something if you miss it that badly. Think of the 20×20 rule where if you can buy something in 20 minutes for $20 or less, you shouldn’t have that regretful feeling.
Question from Tales of Belle
Where do you start with the process of decluttering? Other than the Marie Kondo method..
I think the best place to start is to ask yourself why you feel like you need to declutter? What space in your home is holding you back? Is it a junky office where productivity seems to have gone out the window? Or is it your children’s toy area that always seems to be a mess, no matter how much cleaning & tidying is done. Think of that one space that gives you the most trouble and work from there. A lot of people start with their own closets because getting dressed & ready for your day is a daily routine. And each decluttering session doesn’t need to result in 10 bags for donations. Even if it’s simply a few damaged shirts or clearing out a junk drawer, these actions are leading you down the less is more mindset. I personally find Marie Kondo’s way of decluttering a bit overwhelming for the beginner. Taking everything out of a space & seeing that pile does put things into perspective, but it can also cause people to not even start! I suggest, choosing one area at a time. Choose an area that isn’t super sentimental [ like your closet or makeup collection] & start just throwing away clearly empty products or damaged clothing pieces. The decluttering process is a journey & doesn’t always have a final result. It’s a continued cycle & routine. Even as minimal as I can be, I still find myself getting rid of tons of items seasonally.
Question from Riyah Speaks
When do you know it’s time to declutter something?
My rule of thumb is if you feel overwhelmed, lack motivation or are simply just drowning in junk – it’s time to declutter. Even if you aren’t someone who has an interest in becoming a minimalist, I think decluttering is beneficial to all. I can promise, once you’ve donated or gotten rid of just a few items you don’t use, you will feel a weight being lifted.
Thanks to everyone who sent in questions on Twitter. I received so many thought provoking & interesting questions, & would love to post a part two to this Q&A in the near future. Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in a part two & if you have any further questions. I’ll be sure to answer them in the next one!