The Five Simple Steps to Get the Most Out of Minimalism

by: Alison Chan, Scrap-it! Intern

Today, we are constantly bombarded with messages about spending and shopping. This ranges from Facebook’s dozens of targeted ads to billboards that try to persuade us to buy the newest iPhone. If you work hard and succeed, you’re told that you should reward yourself by spending even if you spend on things you don’t even need or have space for.

Clutter and overcollection can impact our daily lives in many negative ways. We use more time looking for basic things, create a more unhealthy and tight living space, and spent more money buying junk. It’s no wonder that with the negative effects of clutter, there is a growing number of people turning to minimalism.

Minimalism blew up, in part, as a result of a Netflix series created by Marie Kondo, a professional organizing consultant. Kondo uses her signature “Konmari” method to help guide families on the path to tidiness. Her methods have not only changed the lives of millions of individuals and families but have also attracted many to look into the benefits of minimalism.

Benefits of Minimalism

A minimalist lifestyle is about physically living with less but mentally living with more. Minimalism entails getting rid of the things you don’t need and only filling your space with the essentials. The lifestyle is exciting because it forces you to think in creative and innovative ways. An old t-shirt doesn’t have to go into the garbage. You can cut and sew it into a shopping bag. Instead of buying dozens of plastic cups, use a mason jar to drink out of. Turn lemons into lemonade!

Minimalism results in not only an external change but an internal one as well. By freeing up your space, you limit the amount of time you need to find necessities so that you no longer have to stress about where your needs are. Although it begins with a time-consuming clean, you are rewarded in the long run. You won’t spend much time worrying about where your keys are, you can save more money on vacations and essential items, and you are being kind to the environment. 

When stumbling upon something you’re unsure of discarding, ask yourself if you can sell or reuse it and if the item is necessary for your health and happiness. In Marie Kondo’s words, “Does this spark joy?” If you’re not sure where to begin or end your minimalist journey, here are five steps to get you started:

1. Communicate with your housemates

If you live in a house occupied by more than just you, have a meeting and let your housemates in on your plan. A minimalist lifestyle change doesn’t just involve you. You live in a shared space and everyone should have a voice in household matters. It’ll be easier to move onto the next steps if you have all hands on deck. Plus, it can be a nice bonding exercise. 

2. Clean, donate, or recycle?

Once you’ve got your whole house on board, you can start the cleaning process. As you’re going through your things, consider what to keep, what to give away. Did you find something that you can resell, remodel, or give away? Is it essential to your health and happiness? If you said no to both questions, throw it away. If you can't do it on your own, consider calling Scrap-It!. It’s better to contact the professionals rather than potentially hurt yourself or damage your home. Once you’ve cleared all the clutter you can, to move onto the next phase.

3. Organize everything

Now you have your essential items. Figure out where is the best place to put everything. If you stumble across a shared item, get your housemates’ input on where it should go. Remember: 

communication is key for building a holistic and productive household.

4. Write down things you want to accomplish

All the cleaning is hard work. Hang up a paper or chart that categorizes two things: wishes and successes. Wishes can be things like "I wish there was a place in the house where we could organize all the keys" or "I wish I could organize our cords better." Share these wishes with your housemates. You can come together to brainstorm or look up ways to make them happen. When you accomplish a wish, write that wish down under success. Visualizing your wins and seeing how far you can go helps re-enforce and motivate minimalist behaviors. It’s another way to say to yourself, “This is going great!”

5. Create a routine

Set aside an hour of a specific day of the week where you and your housemates can do all these steps. Once a year, spend a whole day going through this five-step process. You'll always find things that you need to get rid of, whether it be old clothes or broken electronics. When that time comes, contact Scrap-It!

In the end, Minimalist mindset wins!, Declutter your home, declutter your life, don't crap it!, Scrap-it!.

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