Ask Erin: Less Really Is More
article by Erin Sharplin Love
Let me ask you a question – What percentage of the “stuff” in your home do you actually enjoy using? Consider every piece of clothing, every shoe, every utensil, every gadget, every tchotchke and every toy. Now consider how much time, space and money that has been wasted on rarely used items. I truly believe that the more stuff you own, the more that stuff begins to own you. Therefore, living with less really does give you more– More time, more space, more joy and possibly even more money. Who doesn’t want that?
Even if you aren’t quite on board with the idea of living with less, might I suggest you pare down possessions as a test to see if you come to agree with my theory that less really is more?
To get you started on the road to minimalism, I have listed a few tips below.
1. Start with something you aren’t attached to Otherwise, you might stop before you’ve even gotten started. How about starting with kitchen gadgets? The truth is that when it comes to cooking, simple is often better. Let’s conduct an experiment – First, sit down and make your meal plan for the week. Next, walk through the kitchen and pull out everything you will need to cook and serve each meal. Then, take a quick survey of the area, and make a mental note of what is left. When was the last time you used those items? If the answer is “over two years,” then I think it is pretty safe to get rid of them.
If you are not ready to take this step, I suggest purchasing a plastic bin that can house the cookware and utensils you aren’t ready to part with. Once the bin is full, label it, and place it out of sight. If you don’t get anything out of the bin by the next time you look through it, donate the entire contents!
2. Move on to decorations and tchotchkes When it comes to little décor pieces, I suggest that you pick each piece up and study it for a minute. How does it make you feel? Does it make you feel happy? If so, set it back down. It is loved. Does it make you feel sad? If so, box it up. It is a soul sucker. Do you feel nothing? If so, box it up. It is a dust collector.
3. Tame the toys I will admit…I am the world’s worst about buying my children any and every toy I think they would enjoy. I just really like seeing a smile on their faces. This is MY issue, not theirs, and I shouldn’t force them to deal with extra clutter to make myself feel better. If you are in the same boat, I suggest really paying attention to what your children currently play with the most. Set those items aside, and box the rest up.
If they ask for something in the box, take it out and give it back to them. If they never miss it, donate the box to someone in need. To tell you the truth, my children enjoy playing outside rather than playing with toys, so I will start encouraging more of that type of imagination-spurring activity.
4. Clear the closet According to many studies, we wear 20% of our wardrobes 80% of the time. That means that our closets are full of clothes that we no longer like or that no longer fit us correctly. They are just taking up our precious space. To figure out what you wear, try the “hanger trick.” Simply switch your hangers so that the open part of the hook faces you instead of the back of the closet. (See picture) Then as you wear an item, replace the hanger the correct way. After thirty days, reassess what has been worn and what hasn’t. Now, what can you let go of? Your closet should be full of items you love, enjoy and utilize.
Minimalism is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing owns you. Less really IS more.