I'M NOT A MINIMALIST BUT...

One quick look in my wardrobe (ahem, 'dressing room') you'd know I'm far from a Minimalist; but you may have noticed that in recent years minimalism is gaining real popularity. In fact if you hopped on to YouTube you might well think there's somewhat of a minimalist movement. Almost a revolt against the mass consumerism we've culturally experienced for some time. And whilst I may not have yet tackled my clothes hoarding, those self titled minimalists might just be on to something.

Some time ago I felt like I could never get my house truly tidy, even if I spent hours and hours tidying and cleaning I could never get the house to look the way I wanted. I never felt all that relaxed, like I was on edge because I felt like I needed to tidy. My old place was so much smaller and yet looked like a 'show home'. Where was I going wrong? It took me a while to work out the problem was, and once I did it was glaringly obvious....STUFF. After moving to a larger place and having more room,  I had simply kept accumulating items to fill the 'space' and I was drowning in stuff.

'sounds simple but it's amazing how habitual buying stuff becomes'

I set out to rectify this. Now the advice from some minimalist advocates can be pretty extreme - pack up all your belongings and take out only what you use in a 30 day period getting rid of the rest, only own a maximum total of 100 items, donate as much of everything as you can. That approach just wasn't right for me. Whilst I do understand its simplicity, especially if you are wanting drastic change; I like a throw blanket or two, and even though I don't use them often I like having a few nice champagne glasses around for those celebrations. Plus it seems a bit wasteful, especially as some of the things I own are perfectly usable and I like them! But I definitely didn't need everything. 

So what's a girl to do?

Firstly, I simply stopped buying stuff. All of it, cleaning products, toiletries, decor...sounds simple but it's amazing how habitual buying stuff becomes. If I was tempted to buy something new I asked myself simple questions - Do I already have one of these? Do I actually need this? And especially for decor items - Do I have a place in mind for this to live? Do I like this more than something I already have?

To help the process of massively reducing buying stuff, I started taking stock of what I actually had. This is an idea I borrowed from Marie Kondo's book 'The Magic Of Tidying Up'. I started small with consumables, after all this was a large source of my clutter. First up, cleaning products - I had at least 12 multi surface cleaners, yet I would pick up one up almost every time I went to the supermarket! Then toiletries. I knew I had a few body lotions and creams, but probably not too many....make that 3 shoe boxes full!  I would often pick a bottle up every time I was having a quiet weekend instead putting on my party shoes - pamper night anyone? These discoveries weren't flukes either. I love cute stationary, particularly notebooks. I found I had so many I could start an etsy shop!

If you do nothing else, I highly recommend taking stock of what you have. To do this you need to go through each room, cupboards, shelves and so on to get all of the same thing together in one place. I thought I only had 5 body lotions when I started with the ones in my bathroom cabinet - they were hiding everywhere. This step will potentially save you money too as this has stopped my buying in it's tracks. I haven't bought another body lotion since that day, even if it smelt amazing and promised the fountain of youth. The shoe box full I still have left to use up stays in my mind.

Leading nicely on, in order to avoid being wasteful rather than just throwing out multiples of products I recommend using up what you have first then asking yourself if you need to repurchase. Do you use it? Do you like it? Do you have something already that would do the job? For example, I used to buy all sorts of different cleaning products for different purposes, surface cleaner, glass cleaner, polish and so on. Now I use one product suitable for all, reducing cupboard space and ironically making my cleaning routine a bit quicker.

Next up, surfaces. I cleared them off completely, then only added the few things I really wanted / needed there. This worked really well for me in the bathroom and kitchen. The things I use all the time, like the kettle stays on the surface - toaster in the cupboard as it gets used once a month maximum. It makes the room look bigger somehow and much more sleek. Even better it makes cleaning so much quicker as you don't need to keep moving stuff to clean, and who wants to spend any longer than they have to cleaning?!

This tactic also worked well in the bedroom. Once again I removed most of the items and then only put back what I needed or looked pretty. This worked very well on a bookcase in the bedroom. It was once full of haphazardly stacked books and a bit of a dumping ground. Now it's a curated space, looks balanced, yet still practical storing the books I will read again and pretty storage for my watches.

Whenever I found myself with too many items for one area I asked myself questions yet again, Do I love this? Do I have any sentimental attachment to this? Would this look nice/be useful somewhere else. If not then it was considered for donation to the charity shop.

Now admittedly I am only part way on my decluttering journey, but where I have managed it I feel so much more at ease. Turns out an uncluttered environment leaves me feeling like I have an uncluttered mind.  I've always loved my home, but with all the clutter I wasn't enjoying it properly.

By starting to move towards just owning just what I need and love, I am indeed experiencing some of the benefits people talk of.

More time - Now I'm spending less time cleaning, organising and shopping, I have more time to do little things I love - like write this blog! Plus it's so much quicker to find something I need, as it's not hiding behind a mass of other things.

More money - Now I'm not buying things I don't need mindlessly, whilst I never thought to track it, I'm certain I will have saved money.

Less excuses - I would often tell myself I couldn't go out somewhere or work out as I needed to tidy up. Now its mainly tidy already, if not it takes no more than an hour and I'm out of the door.

Less stress - Now I'm not worrying about mess and in a cluttered environment I find it easier to relax, I've even found it much easier to be creative.

I'm fully intending to keep this up, decluttering, using up items and enjoying what I own, albeit a bit slower than some 'minimalists' might advise. The real challenge is yet to come....my wardrobe. I'll let you know my tips on that if I manage it! 

P.s not pictures of my actual home, but I promise the areas I have tackled are tidy!