It's all about thinking simply. Or simply thinking? Both, actually.
When I first started decluttering I figured that I'd go through each cupboard, sort the contents into piles and only put back what I really wanted to keep. In my naïveté I presumed that once I was done with each room, I would be basking in the aftermath of a job well done and get on with my day, unencumbered by all the stuff. That was all well and good until I realised that the first cull is never the last; decluttering is addictive.
Simple living, at its very core, is about habit. Some of us fall into this way of living out of necessity, others do it by choice. Regardless of the motives, simplicity requires you to embrace a new way of living and, ultimately, a new way of thinking. It is so much more than the physical act of decluttering - it requires an entirely new mindset.
Generally, habits are hard to change. In this day and age, we like a quick fix and simplifying the home is anything but a small job. I know many people who, if it was affordable, would hire someone to come in and do the hard work of sorting and culling. But there's a lot to be said for getting your hands dirty and doing it yourself; it's a practise that gets you thinking - about money, silly purchases, practicality and necessity. It can be confronting but it can also be enlightening.
Consuming, coveting and hoarding habits are hard to shift. You may be completely adept at cleaning out your wardrobe but if you then indulge in a few frivolous shopping trips you're right back where you left off. Essentially, nothing has changed. So, how do you simplify the home for good? How do you shake the old habits and cultivate new ones? A three-step strategy, if you will....
1. declutter- slowly and steadily.
In my opinion, starting is always the hardest step so make it easy for yourself: choose a kitchen drawer, set the timer on your phone and work solidly for 15 minutes without interruption. Once you have completed it (and yes, sometimes a focussed 15 minutes is all it takes) move onto the next. Instead of setting the lofty goal of an entire day, work in stages (this is particularly helpful if you're a mum with small children) and get a little bit done each day. If you start to get overwhelmed by the enormity of the job or exhausted from the repetitiveness, remind yourself why you started in the first place; come back to your intentions.
Whilst decluttering my home there were countless times when I experienced that sick feeling associated with buyers regret; my indulgence was selfish and inconsiderate and all I had as a result was overflowing cupboards. When you sort through the stuff in your home it tends to stir memories but it also conjures an emotional response. My advice? Acknowledge it, sit with it, learn from it...move on to the next cupboard with newfound awareness and enthusiasm.
2. don't replace what you culled, even if the idea of brand-new-everything is irresistible.
Empty space often begs to be filled but...ignore it! Bask in the ease of less stuff, less cleaning and subsequently, more time.
3. practise restraint and think before you buy.
Granted, this is the tricky part and for me and it's taken a good long while for my mindset to shift. My old habits of frivolous spending and buying on a whim were hard to break but once I realised how careless I had been, I was motivated to change my spending/acquiring habits for good. Consider asking yourself the following when you're about to buy:
- why do I need it
- is it affordable?
- where will it live?
- how long will it last?
- am I succumbing to a trend or buying it because it's timeless?
- do I really need it?
To think before you buy - it's nothing new but somewhere, somehow, we lost our way. In my opinion, when you buy with awareness you have more appreciation for your purchase, you're more likely to look after it and as a result, it will stand the test of time.
How has simplifying your home changed the way you spend your money?