I was always very skeptical of minimalism. I love my things— sentimental rings my grandmother gave me, old Jonas Brothers concert t-shirts, at least 20 lipsticks even though I only wear one shade. I thought that minimalism was shaming people for having material items even if it wasn’t “proper” to keep them. Little did I know, that’s basically the opposite of minimalism at its core.
Now that I’ve found the light (I’m talking about decluttering my home here), I’ve realized just what a burden keeping all of those unwanted items truly is. Living minimally doesn’t have to mean living without— it just means living more simply and with much less stress. Here are 10 ways you can let go of some of the extra clutter in your space and gain some much needed mental clarity:
1. Count as you go
This is what motivated me to continue my decluttering journey. You’ll never realize just how much stuff you own until you count as you go. I also found that making a number goal of things to get rid of kept me going on my journey. As I went, I noticed I had even more than what I thought— I ultimately counted over 500 items that were donated, sold or thrown away. Who’d believe I own that much stuff?! (Don’t answer that, Mom).
2. Throw out your “just in case” item
Extra screws from that desk you put together months ago, old rubber bands— there’s a lot in your junk drawer you keep juuust in case one day it’ll come in handy. News flash: it probably won’t! Cleaning out the drawers that just collect those items just finally gives you the space to hold the items you need to locate.
3. Try the 20/20 rule
Once I heard this hack, it absolutely changed my decluttering game. If you can replace an item with $20 and can purchase it within 20 minutes outside your home, it’s okay to get rid of it. I was always afraid that by throwing away one of my 10 plain white tee’s or one of the five mascara’s I have open at any given time, that I’d be angry when there was a time I needed it. Turns out, it’s honestly easier (and more fun!) to buy one amazing white tee and one mascara than have copious amounts.
4. Cancel subscriptions you don’t want
Paring down your subscriptions is the easiest way to get both physical, digital, AND monetary stressors out. As much as I love beauty products, I learned I actually don’t need to be subscribed to every beauty box available. Shocker! Think long and hard about which actually bring you happiness when they arrive every month, and which you wait to open for a few days after it comes. This also applies to Spotify, Hulu, Netflix, etc.
5. Borrow, don’t buy
My public library app just might be the most used app on my iPhone. Whether it’s e-books and audiobooks, the glossy pages of your fave magazines, or you need your Gillian Flynn fix via hardback (the only way to do it, IMO), odds are, your public library branch has it. Not only do you have mega cash this way, once you finish, it’s out of your hands.
6. Pare down your kitchen appliances
As a single, twenty-something living alone, there was no reason I needed to fill my precious kitchen counters with more than the essentials. I love tea, but I opted for a Keurig rather than a tea kettle to give myself the option of making coffee when I wanted. As much as I love the beauty of a stand mixer, there was no way I’d ever bake enough to use it.
Keeping only what you use often on your countertops avoids clutter while also making sure you’re getting your money’s worth out of your appliances. Store away any items that only get used sometimes, such as your favorite cast-iron skillet.
7. Take care of digital clutter
When I have too many folders and tabs open on my computer, I feel my productivity immediately begin to dwindle. Something about the ENTJ in me just cannot handle too much on my desktop. Sorting files, deleting old photos you already have archived elsewhere, and taking care of those tabs you’ve had open forever immediately make you feel less cluttered and relieved when you open your desktop.
My favorite hacks? Create a “reading list” bookmark for whenever you see an article you want to read but don’t have time for right then. Also, go through your “screenshots” folder on your phone and delete anything that isn’t serving a purpose in your camera roll. Most people don’t actually need a running log of all the tweets they screenshot and share with their best friend, and you can easily look up that Tasty recipe for later.
8. Declutter expired items ASAP
Makeup expires, who knew!? Throw out lipsticks and lip glosses after a year of use, and foundation and powder products usually last after two years. Always check the labels on your packages, as more natural makeup products generally won’t last as long. And if you’re still unsure, do the good ‘ole smell test.
9. Sell/donate/throw away any item you haven’t touched in three months
Who isn’t guilty of keeping clothes in your closet just in case you lose or gain 10 pounds in the next six months?! Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Keep track of the items you wear, and if you cannot remember the last outfit you made with that piece, it’s gotta go. You want to feel confident in the clothes you wear, so don’t feel ashamed to get rid of pieces that make you feel otherwise.
10. Accept that sometimes, you just want to keep items
Minimalism doesn’t have to be a competition of who can own the least amount of items. If it was, I would 100% be losing. Minimalism is about living a life of only the material items that do bring you joy, so if you feel most ease having an entire collection of gel pens even though you only use one black pen always, it’s okay. The point of minimalism isn’t to make you MORE stressed!