Simplifying My Simple Life

March 22, 2010

Kasy is very minimalist. This is something I’ve wanted to be for most of my life, but have always had a hard time getting started on reducing my possessions or getting over guilt for donating things that are perfectly useful even if I have never used it. I’ve trolled the internet for blogs on minimalism and simplifying one’s life. Kasy and I have had many conversations on the topic. I’ve destashed, I’ve decluttered, I’ve donated pounds and pounds of things to local thrift stores. I have far less material items than so many people I know. I have far less than average Americans.

Yet, my level of possessions still plagues me.

Kasy suggested I write about it on the blog, in case others are finding themselves in the same place.

How do you continue to further simplify an already simple life? How do you continue to reduce possessions, after you have cut out majority of the unnecessary? How do you keep focused on the minimalist goal once you reach this plateau, knowing you still have more work to do?

Here enters a new semi-regular segment to the blog:
Simplifying My Simple Life

I’d like for this to have some dialogue included so let me know if you have areas of life that you’re trying to simplify but have become stumped. Do you have any tricks that you’ve used when purging a room of the unnecessary, after you’ve purged it numerous times already? How do you continue to look at your possessions with new eyes so you can still rid yourself of more unnecessary clutter?

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11 Responses to “Simplifying My Simple Life”

  1. elizabeth Says:

    I move almost every year, so I feel like I’m constantly purging everything I own in anticipation for a move to a new apartment. At the beginning of packing everything, I always vow to not have any “random” boxes. I tell myself that everything that I pack must have a purpose or it needs to find a new home.

    And then I end up moving with at least a few boxes marked “whatever” or “I have no idea” (because moving should be humorous!).

    I’ve definitely fallen into a pattern of constantly purging. There is a pile of clothes on my floor that were ripped from their hangers and drawers as I yelled “I have nothing to wear!” And there is a bag full of things that fall under the category of “Eventually I’ll decide if I want this crap.”

    So I’m in the same boat as you. Maybe even a bigger boat. Possibly a yacht of unnecessary things. So if you figure this out, let me know.

  2. Michael Says:

    I only moved out on my own a few years back and have since been in more houses than years I’ve been on my own for. It’s funny, because I know I want and need less things, less clutter, to pare down as it were, but so much of the last few years has been spent acquiring things. Kitchen supplies, basic furniture, bike tools, other hardware. All things that I am fairly sure I do need to have a functional house and life, but it irks me every time I need to put on the big-kid pants and go buy a broom or a mop or new dishware because I just want less! I guess it’s time to rifle though all my personal effects, and see what can be done…

  3. barefootrooster Says:

    thanks for this — i feel this too. having made a few round-the-world and ‘cross-the-country moves, i feel like i have less stuff than a lot of folks…but i still have a fair amount. it is finally all in one small apartment, but i could still purge more. one of the tensions for me has to do with keeping things for their history/sentimentality versus simply their utility. (clearly, i think there is a range here, but i struggle with this when it comes time to try to get rid of a little bit more.)i think about aesthetics a little more now, and though perhaps counter-intuitive, seems to help me eliminate more — thinking in terms of the domestic space i am making helps me to be a little more ruthless than maybe i would otherwise (and still allows me to privilege certain kinds of sentimental objects). does that make sense?

  4. JennaKate Says:

    Great topic. My husband is a stuff-saver (“but what if I need it?”) and I am a minimalist (“if I find that I need it, I’ll buy another one”). We’ve both moved to the middle over time, but I still hate that “I’m drowning in my stuff” feeling. Usually, I remind myself that if I don’t absolutely adore something, then someone else will.

  5. grumperina Says:

    This is a great topic. Even those of us who aren’t gatherers by nature (me!) could use some tips and tricks to minimize what we consider “essential.” For me, I tend to stay away from “maybe” – either I need it or I don’t. And if in doubt, I don’t need it :). Good luck with this project!

  6. Kim Says:

    Great topic. I try to pare down & regularly clean out & donate items to good will. There is only so far I can go with minimalism though & have to accept that I am a collector of stuff. As long as things are tidy & not cluttered, it’s good. We have a couple rules: if one thing comes in the house, one thing has to go out of the house. Also, if it’s not broken, we don’t replace it. Our TV is old but we’re not going to replace it until it’s utterly broken. By American standards, we live in a tiny house & plan to stay in it. We really try to live simply & do not go for the more-bigger-newer mentality.

  7. Mariss Says:

    I’m glad you’re talking about this! This is something I struggle with often. At this point in my life, I try to be conscientious about what I bring into the house. I hope it’s stuff that I truly love. Mainly this is books, art and lately, plants. I like objects that have a story, or are pretty. But clotheswise, I’m always purging as much as possible. Trying every year to get rid of things that someone gave me and I feel bad for getting rid of. You know?>! Crazy!

  8. Shannon Says:

    I think a lot of people are going through this right now – I’ve seen it on blogs and in Ravelry – for a lot of different reasons. I think I saw something 12-18 months ago about how people are suddenly feeling very weighed down by possessions – especially in the US where the houses are bigger and offsite storage facilities both plentiful and cheap. I did a big move 5.5 years ago – California to England. And I purged. A lot.

    I was actually pretty disgusted with how much I accumulated over a period of 3 years. I had moved into a 2 bedroom apartment with next to nothing and managed to pack things into every room, closet, and the attached garage. I hadn’t realised how much this all weighed on me when I was surrounded by it.

    Five and a half years on and I’ve still done a fair bit of moving within England and accumulated a lot of things again (especially now that I am in a house and not a very small one bedroom apartment). It’s nowhere near where it was before except in terms of furnishings – before it was both furnishings and plain old junk. I’m trying to reduce my possessions and have had a bit of success, but I imagine when it comes to crunch time (fully expecting to move within the year and share a space again), then the real purge will begin.

    For me it boils down to utility and sentimentalism. I’m good at not holding onto things because so-and-so gave it to me, but I do buy unique little things that I can’t get rid of (they evoke good memories) and I think this is the bulk of my stuff. I’ve become ruthless with books because there are so few that I will ever read again. Outside of the stuff that means something to me, I try to let go of as much as possible, but it’s still not enough.

  9. Zaz Says:

    funny i should fall on this post as i’ve recently suscribed to simple living on ravelry.
    first thing i did is unsuscribe from many newsletters i was not reading. when i feel overwhelmed it’s time to “trash”.

    now it’s more about shrunken T-shirt material because they tend to be more expensive but of a lesser quality.
    you get angered first but now i buy a size L yet i am a size S, it works.
    books: we don’t buy we borrow, cds we don’t buy but the classics that we’ve been liking forever.
    dvds we upload then erase then upload again.
    with all this i still feel cluttered, you’re right.

  10. Becky Says:

    I try to do a good clean out of stuff (books, clothes etc) every year, sometimes every season if need be – like when I’m putting away my heavy winter stuff to make room for summery stuff. But I have trouble with knick-knacks. A lot of these have been given to me over the years but I don’t really need them. I do have an emotional/sentimental attachment to them though. I also live with a huge “must keep every little screw and bolt” kind of a man which is difficult. I try to keep my stuff to a minimum to compensate for his stuff.

  11. Ellen Says:

    I found you off of Michael’s blog – we want to see the shawl in action – but stayed for the discussion.

    I’ve been de-stashing seven things each Saturday for more than a year and find it a bit scary that there is always more. Now, I’ve got a family and 24 years of house-owning to work through but still – you’d think things would start getting thin on the ground.

    My recommendation to you is to not get rid of anything you have strong feelings about. The only things I’ve regretted getting rid of were things that were “memory makers” for me but I let other people’s opinions get the best of me.

    A special coat, some books – I still miss them.

    The other recommendation is the box test. Put something in a box and if you are still shoving that unopened box around six months later – it’s okay to get rid of. Very handy in moving!

    Otherwise, don’t worry about simplifying so much. It goes as it goes. Enjoy it if you can!


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