One of the joys of being a minimalist is not having to worry about de-cluttering or spring cleaning, or any sort of purging really.
I don’t like the idea of purging something that I barely used because I made a bad decision to buy it in the first place. You could say that I use a lot of forethought in buying things. Not all the time, though.
Of course there’s purging of items that were put to good use and have sat somewhere unused. The idea of owning something that has sat unused in my house, collecting dust and cobweb makes me cringe though.
First off, though, why spring of all seasons? Is it because we hibernate in the winter and get lazy to do anything–including cleaning up the mess we create from summer to fall?
I can’t imagine living in a furniture-packed house. For one, there are only 2 adults and 1 child in our family. The kid’s toys are enough to call for the space because he has a plasma car, a scooter and a push bike that he tends to use indoor. He runs around a lot at his age and likes to make use of boxes (from the big items we’ve purchased in furnishing our house) as forts or houses when he plays.
Here’s what we do to make sure we don’t stock away things for long periods of time.
- Plan for a use-by date. This is something that, as parents, we talk about when we buy something for our child. We hardly use this technique for other things because we don’t have a lot of stuff to begin with. When we bought his bike and scooter, we knew they would be put to good use until he’s 5 (he’s now 3 1/2), or until he’s just big for them. For the other items he had outgrown, I immediately put them in plastic bags or boxes, while I look for someone I know to donate them to. I give myself a maximum of 2 months to look for a recipient. I set a date in my calendar for deadline. When the time’s up and I didn’t find a recipient, I post it on Freecycle or Craigslist. If the item still has value, I put it on sale straightaway. I do this despite feeling withdrawal. Yes, I have those moments even though they are mostly toys.
- Allot a space. Most people put items in their garages. While we didn’t have a garage in our NZ house, we had an extra room. While we have a garage in the place we rent now, there’s nothing there that we own except for our bikes, which we use as you know. Make sure this space has traffic, especially from you. Attics and basements are not in my list of things to look for in a house, mainly for this reason. Also make sure they are in areas where you visually pass them. Doing so would enforce a reminder to you. Don’t hide them somewhere. That’s the mistake a lot of people make. Remember, out of sight out of mind.
- Don’t just buy for the sake of filling space. First of all, space is not scary. Secondly, not every space needs to be filled with stuff. It’s okay to have a sparse house. What I learned over the years is that the first 2 up there can require a lot of mental space and foresight, which I’m not always capable of doing. Life takes over too, you know. Essentially, this is my way of nipping it in the bud. I realized my foot traffic in any house I live in over time. I spend most of my time in the living room, in the kitchen, dining room, our bedroom, the kid’s bedroom, and the bathrooms. So why bother putting furniture in a spare bedroom or in what could be a kitchenette?
- Do not attempt to create a need. Do I covet a Kitchen Aid mixer? Yes, of course! But do I bake? No. I have a reached a point in my life where I’m comfortable about what I can’t do, about what I’m not willing to do, and about what I may be willing to do but I don’t have the time now to learn the skill. That includes baking. So I’m not going to buy a coveted mixer in hopes to kick-start the learning process because I know I can’t and I won’t. This is really about being true to myself.
I practice these at work too. I don’t have a need for cabinets or drawers. I don’t need to file anything. These days it’s all about storing things online. What this translates to is the fluidity to move around the workplace. I don’t complain when our department has to move floors or buildings. I don’t have to pack boxes of things. Why would I bother with papers unless required? It’s just a waste of trees. If it’s that important, like a contract, another department is responsible for that. I have co-workers who have stuff in their cubicles and I could even see some of them turning brown or yellow. I can’t imagine how long those things have sat there untouched.
When you take these 4 ideas in mind, you will enjoy Spring just as how you should be.