If you've been interested in organization and decluttering for any length of time, odds are you've seen minimalism posts or videos all over your feed. It has definitely been a trend in recent years. However, there are a lot of reasons it might not work for you, or at least it might not work in the ways you expect. If you want to hear my take on minimalism, you can watch the video here, or keep reading!
Figure Out What Inspires you Most about Minimalism and Why.
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of minimalism. Most minimalists have a story of being overwhelmed with life (and really, aren't we all there at different points in time?!?). We can usually relate to feeling completely stressed out, energy tapped out, and just so overloaded that we are indecisive and kind of feel like we're spiraling. That feeling of overwhelm can paralyze you because you just don't know what to do next or where to focus your energy. When we feel this way, we grasp at anything that will just get us off that hamster wheel.
If you hear an inspiring story about how decluttering 90% of your stuff has given someone total relief, it's tempting to grasp onto this as something that will fix ALL the problems. This isn't usually true, though. Decluttering/minimalism will NOT solve all your problems. It will fix your clutter problem.
But if you have financial problems, marriage problems, health problems…in most cases all those will still be there after decluttering.
What Can Minimalism Actually Do for You?
So is minimalism totally worthless? I don't think so. But it's important to know what we can expect to achieve with minimalism. I often see people getting frustrated if they've made a bunch of progress on their clutter but their life problems are still hanging around. Then it feels like decluttering isn't “working.” It's easy to expect more stress relief and then feel like we're doing it wrong when we're still stressed and overwhelmed.
So here's my advice: if you are still in a place where you want to get rid of more stuff, and there's still a ton of stuff you don't need or use, then by all means keep going. But if you've made a lot of decluttering progress, and life still just isn't where you want it to be, then minimalism probably isn't going to solve your issues.
The process itself can sometimes be more important than the end result. You know– like the journey is more important than the destination. Decluttering and taking control of your life can really empower you. It can make you feel confidence that you are a person who can take control and make things happen. Sometimes this feeling is really what we need to get out of that vicious cycle of overwhelm. Feeling like we have control over our lives (and usually, we can control a lot of things!), just makes life easier to handle overall. The process can give you as much reward as having a decluttered home in the end.
Don't Wait to Live your Life.
This is said so many times about weight loss. You shouldn't wait to travel or go rock climbing or to do whatever it is you want to do. If you start living the life you want, the joy and confidence will help you toward your goals.
It's the same thing with decluttering. If your home is a total wreck, but your goal is to be more social and have friends and family over, then just do that. If you're super scared, meet at the park or go to dinner. But start there and spend time with people. Then if you can clean off a table or the couch, have people over, even if you're scared. Your home will NEVER be perfect, and probably no one expects it to be. Don't wait for your home to be perfectly decluttered to do what you want to do or chase your goals.
Even though my job is literally all about decluttering and organization, I still have my messy areas. I still have some boxes from our move several years ago that I haven't opened. I have a “junk room” where I stash, um, junk, LOL. The cabinet under my sink is a legit disaster. But other parts of my home are just as I'd want them to be, and having those hot spots doesn't stop me from inviting people over.
Our homes are always in a state of flux because we LIVE in them. And that's totally okay! We'll also go through stages of needing/wanting more or less stuff. It's okay to change your mind. It's also okay to never feel like your house has “arrived.” Mine certainly hasn't.
You Don't Have to Have the Same Goal as Everyone Else.
Even if you want to declutter, your goal doesn't have to be minimalism! It's also okay to define it differently. I'm certainly no minimalist, even though I love having a decluttered home. Sometimes a rigid definition of minimalism can create more stress than the clutter did. If you never feel successful or feel like you're not doing it “right,” then what's the point anyway?
Have your own goal and your own definition of what's “right” or decluttered TO YOU. You don't have to be like everyone else. Even if you are inspired by the super pared down and empty spaces on Pinterest, that doesn't have to be your home, and you can still have peace in your space,
What Causes You More or Less Stress?
The goal of minimalism really is to reduce life stress. Some people would say if there are four members of your family, you should have only four plates. This way you're forced to wash them and keep your kitchen tidy, and you'll spend less time doing dishes. Or they'll say you should only have five outfits per person, and then you'll do less laundry.
This isn't really true. Yes, it will force you to do dishes or laundry more often. But I'm still eating just as often and wearing clothes just as often. So….I'm still doing the same amount of work. It just means I'll never end up with Mount Washmore or a huge pile of dirty dishes in the sink.
What a lot of minimalists fail to mention, though, is that having fewer dishes or clothing takes away a lot of flexibility. For me, it causes MORE stress. If I'm really busy, and the kids are starving, but I didn't have time to wash the plates from breakfast, guess what I have to do before we can eat?
If two family members are sick, and I just want to sleep and not do laundry that week, it's not really an option if we all only have five outfits. Some people might love knowing that they will never have a mountain of dishes or laundry to do again. That might take their stress away because they want to be forced to keep up with it. But I'm different in that way, and knowing I have no flexibility would really cause me stress!
Find What Works Best for YOU.
The biggest takeaway here is that you have to find what works best for you. We are all a little different. What works for me might not work for you. Although I like some of the ideas of minimalism, I know I will never be what most would consider a minimalist, and that is never my goal. But if it works for you, or if certain parts of minimalism work for you, then that's awesome! Our goal should be more peace and less stress in our homes. We all want to spend more time doing what we love and being with people we love instead of stressing about housework. But that can happen in SO many different ways. That's part of the beauty of managing your life and your home– you get to decide how you want it and then go out and do it!
Organization that actually sticks for busy, happy lives