11 Sept 2012

minimalism and decluttering

After finishing university and on my move back home, I realised just how much crap I had amassed in all aspects of my life. Papers that I no longer needed, pens and other stationery, clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery (all cheap stuff from high street stores such as Whistles, Topshop, ASOS, etc) and toiletries that, if stacked from top to bottom, would probably reach the moon!

I decided, there and then, that now is as good a time as any to start afresh. I've always wanted to live a minimalist life but as a person, I'm naturally a hoarder so this would be a challenge that I would relish! Who doesn't love a challenge? And what better person to prove wrong than yourself? Right? Right.

d e c l u t t e r i n g

Decluttering is the first stage in the quest for minimalism. I have tried the Thriving on Less challenge but I didn't stick to it. I think it was because the rules weren't made by me. I didn't make it a personal challenge and for that reason, I think that, if any of you want to do something like this, you need to make things personal. By all means take the stuff that sounds good from other people's ways of decluttering, but some bits of it will work better for you than other bits.

I will now run-through each aspect of my life that I decluttered:

1) my room

My desk (it needs replacing as I've had it for, believe it not, close to eleven years!) after

This was one of the hardest bits. Having collected so many things just because they were 'sentimental', I had a room full of crap. First things first: to weed out this rubbish. If I hadn't looked at something in the past year or if there was no longer a use for it, it was either binned, recycled or donated to charity. Although it is tempting to hold onto something with a view of using it in the future, unless you can most likely see yourself using it, it needs to be chucked into one of those three piles (bin, recycle, charity).

Through this, my room is now such a great place to work and sleep, I actually enjoy being in here! This just means that getting out of bed is now harder than before, but I don't see that as a problem.

The trick here is to do the decluttering in stages. Do one massive one, then do a smaller one in an area previously done. Then do another area that had also been previously done. By doing each area a multiple of times, you end up finding rubbish you had not found before. Having done this myself, I believe decluttering is a process with stages, not one that can be achieved in one go.

The key is to declutter on a regular basis.

2) online

I swear I had near on 1,000 bookmarks on my laptop. Weeding through these was a tedious process and not one that I would like to replicate. I now have about 50, if that? And I look through them once a week to see which ones have been used enough to stay and which ones need to go.

With Facebook, I had several hundred friends on there. People I hadn't spoken to in over a year, people who I would probably never speak to again, all these people were deleted. Although this seems harsh, I felt this was the best thing to do. If I ever saw them again, I'd be friendly still - just cos I've deleted you as a friend on Facebook does not mean I hate/dislike you! It just means that I want less clutter in my life and for me, having so many friends is a form of clutter. Plus, the people who are my closest friends will have my email or phone number, and for me, that's all that matters.

3) clothes, accessories and shoes

After the declutter, and also after I re-arranged it so that clothes were sorted into what type they were, how formal they were and also by sleeve length, etc!

I am a bit of a shopaholic. There, I said it. But now that I don't have a reliable source of income, I have realised that this habit just has to stop. In order to do this, I had a good look at my wardrobe. I created a database (so geeky, I know) of all my clothes, shoes, bags and accessories and well, I had more than enough. As a result of this, I have sold quite a bit of it on eBay and though some of those pieces I will miss, I hadn't worn them in over a year; or I had just forgotten about them! Not good.

4) stationery

I re-assessed just how many pens and other stationery stuff I had and well, I won't be buying any for some time I don't think. Until my stocks run low, the stationery I currently possess should be enough to last me a good year or so!

5) toiletries

Having already posted about saving money by stocking up on non-perishable items, I feel this is slightly contradictory. I have so much of it, yet it would be stupid to throw it out! I think this is the one area of life where clutter is ok. After all, we all need shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste!

Overall, though I sectioned my life into these pigeon holes, you may find that other categories work better for you. Tackle each one when you're in the right frame of mind. After uni, I found that a fresh start would be ideal and so I was in the mood for a month or so! However, it might not come so easy to you, and that's ok. Minimalism isn't going to happen overnight (in fact, I'm still adjusting to it).

m i n i m a l i s m

Some of you may realise that I already tried a Minimalism challenge. My goal was to minimalise spending for a year and I think I achieved this. My wardrobe did not grow considerably in size (one new piece a month or so, and all in sales!), my weekly food budget was cut down to £30 on average (I once spent £50 on a food shop - all healthy stuff - and the week after, I only spent £10! And the week after that - £15. I found it was okay to deviate slightly from my budget as long as the average works out.

The question now is, why be a minimalist? Well, Ikea seem to have this down to the T. They have made it look fashionable but that is not why I want to be one.

For me, I have looked far too deeply in material goods as a teenager and I wanted to appreciate other things more. Having nice clothes and wearing a beautiful handbag on your shoulder is all well and good, but I realised that my family, friends and happiness matter more to me. This attitude has saw me through the past few months where I only bought one article of clothing in four months. For me, this is a bit of a miracle and although I sound quite fickle here, this is definitely progress for me. Like I said, I'm still adjusting and learning what it means for me to be a minimalist.

Overall, a simpler life with less has made me realise how 'rich' my life is without so many material goods. I feel happier, less clouded with bad thoughts and much more satisfied with everything.

That is why, this time, I feel this challenge will be a successful one.


  1. That's what we all have to do in our homes from time to time. I feel like, my home breathes again after a good amount of decluttering.

    Thanks for reminding :)

    1. Hehe I love a good old declutter. About to do one now! x

  2. That was a great post! I could say, me too! On so many of these things - I think your spot on about continuing to declutter. If it ins't part of what you do on a regular basis you'll be doing it over and over


    1. Thank you! And yep, it's so much easier to just do smaller de-clutters so that it isn't one big (demotivating) job! x

  3. This is exactly what I have started doing recently, on the last bank holiday Monday I did a huge clear out to start it, and got rid of lots, had a car boot, even gave things away for free at it, I just want to have a more minimalist life, hence the Filofax selling as well, and being off Facebook has cleared my mind and i have been so much more productive, maybe i wont go back?

    But what you have said has really helped me in the idea that i need to go over my areas and clear them out more and i need to type up the list inmy Filofax of clothing i own to work out what i don't need etc..

    As usual you are amazing :) (I sound creepy lol)

    1. I've never done a car boot sale before but I am tempted! Could get rid of a load of stuff that way. But seeing your stationery collection, can you really be a minimalist ;) (but I think I'm guilty of this too!!!). I like the idea of being off Facebook but the messaging thing is one way I keep in touch with friends all over the country and world so can't really :(

      I once did a list where I had all my items of clothing typed up and then tally-ed how often I wore them. After a few months, I could see which bits were the obvious ones to sell - I found that worked quite well for me so it might work for you if you're having trouble deciding what to sell/discard :) xxx

  4. This is so inspiring! I would love it if you could do a post on how to sell stuff on eBay - practical tips on setting up an account, figuring out postage, how to figure out price, etc. I looked at the eBay site but it's a little overwhelming. Thanks again for this post!

    1. Glad it could be of some use!

      I know that Caribbean Princess has done a series on selling on eBay if you haven't already seen?

      I can do a post too if you'd like and if you have any specific questions? :) Let me know! x

    2. Thanks! The CP post was lovely but a little too general(?) It would be nice if you had any tips on what particular problems you ran into that you would recommend avoiding?

    3. Of course I can write a few tips if you'd like :) I'll rack my brains about points most people miss and then do a post in the next fortnight or so! x

  5. I totally agree about decluttering being a recurring process -- if not constant. I'm always clearing things away and yet I still feel like there's always more to cull. (Well, this is largely due to living with someone that's both messy and sentimentally attached to many things.) I try to go through my laptop bookmarks a few times a year because I'm an optimistic skimmer but in reality a very, very slow reader. It always breaks my heart to delete bookmarks ("I might want that some day!"), so I delete the whole tbr folder without looking at the individual bookmarks.

    The one area where I'm not a minimalist is also toiletries (!), but in a different way. In most aspects of my life, I simplify the number of products and items I use, but when it comes to my complexion, I'm an absolute maximalist. I have toners, face washes, night creams, serums, eye creams, day lotions, masks and treatments for every issue and need and mood! My toiletries for hair and body/skin are simple, the same few things year-round, but I have over a dozen things I use on my face regularly (a few times a week). I've been paring down this year but it's still quite an arsenal for my one face! I can't decide if this is maximalist or just plain excessive/crazy.

    1. Yes, I feel that way too! Even after getting rid of a large bag full of stuff, I always feel I could've been more brutal with stuff. Same with selling on eBay! I clear my bookmarks out once a month and I find this enough as I don't tend to add things to my 'to be read' list as I usually read them there and then. Sounds like you're the ultimate procrastinator when it comes to bookmarks ;) x

  6. Minimalism is amazing.
    My husband and I have gotten rid of 1/2 to 3/4 of our stuff in the past two years. We aren't so low that we fit into the 100 thing category, but 3 moves--2 cross country--will do that to you=)
    My current realization, however, is that I have too much paper clutter. I, too love paper/pens/notebooks and that's the stuff that's currently holding me back.

    1. Oh wow, you definitely took minimalism seriously! Having had to move back and forth for university in the past three years, I've learnt the value of being a minimalist and am hoping to cut down further.

      And paper clutter is good clutter (provided you do use it hehe) - after all, it's what unites us ;) and we'll always need paper/pens, etc x

  7. I've said already what a delight this desk is to behold. I'm seriously jealous. I'm trying to have a similar set up, but my desk is still where wires go to die...and mugs. So many mugs. However when I move into a new flat it shall be the start of a whole new regime...x

    1. Hehe I do like a decluttered desk! Good luck with your course and let me know how your desk looks in your new flat :) x