Slowly Becoming Minimal

I’m 38 and I didn’t acquire any of my stuff overnight… okay well, some things I bought and they arrived the next day (thanks Amazon!). Simply declaring myself a minimalist isn’t going to cut it. As I’ve stated in other posts – I went full tilt on Marie Kondo (KonMari) as well as ‘The Minimalists’ Netflix documentary. Full Tilt in that I started to minimize a lot of things but as previously stated… I have 38 years’ worth of ‘things’.

This brought me to the realization that I won’t become a minimalist overnight and that this will be one hell of a process. I’ve hit my wardrobe and I’d say I’m probably 99.9% done with that — there might be a few things to let go soon. It’s a process and it’s not black and white, it’s grey, it’s blue, it’s red, and again it takes time. It evolves and you either end up with 2 shirts or 7 shirts, no matter what you end up with it’s important to realize that you now have less stuff, less to worry about, less to clean, less to organize. The simple act of reducing what you already have truly means that “less is more.” Not more in the literal sense but more in the, “Wow I don’t have to wash that pile of clothes I donated anymore so I have time to do more important things with more important people”!

When I got rid of most of my clothes that I never wore or were in disrepair I realized that I’m down to a single load of laundry. Each load is about 45 minutes to wash, roughly the same to dry, then around 10 minutes to put away… I just saved about an hour and a half (give or take) each week. It seems small but times 52 weeks a year and that’s 78 hours… for laundry.

My office was next and I’d roughly estimate that as being 70% minimized. There’s a set of cables I don’t want to throw out yet because I’m not sure if I need them. I’m okay with that, they have been neatly put away in a drawer. There’s a stack of papers I need to file. I’m okay with that, for now, they are also in a drawer. I got rid of nearly all my books, save for my Harry Potter series, which I intend to read again as well as share with my children. Again, I’m okay with that. I have a desk/computer cable organization plan to make it look clean and uncluttered. Of the things I got rid of, I miss exactly none of it. I know what’s in the drawers and I don’t spend any time looking for anything… everything has a home here.

That was probably 90% of my indoor items, largely accounted for an minimized. Next… is the… O.M.G.

Oh, My Garage!

This is currently a monumental task. Tools for years, screws, bolts, wood, boxes, manuals, oh my. First things first though, my wife, has a thing for holiday decorations and while I’d love it if she pared down her items… that wasn’t my call. Instead, I bought a few shelving units and some additional large totes to organize, label, and store all her decorations (this is about 95% complete) and in doing so it lent me additional floor space to move all my crap around and make a first attempt at minimizing my stuff. READ: NEVER MINIMIZE SOMEONE ELSE’S STUFF WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION AND IDEALLY, IT SHOULD BE THEIR IDEA!.

The first goal was to get rid of most of the recycling and trash (this is an ongoing battle). I did so and got a little more garage real estate back. Then I started to pile up a healthy helping of unused crap from boxes I forgot we had. Donated. More space!

The current state is I have many more hand and power tools, attachments, screws, tape, random hardware store purchases and the like to get rid of. I have yet to do this and the general plan is to put everything in related piles on the garage floor and keep only what I think I’ll use. I have a large table saw I plan to sell, a large rolling tool chest that only stays if I can’t pare down enough tools to warrant selling it.

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About Minimalism So Far

  1. It’s not a race, it’s not even a marathon… it’s life.
  2. Go at your own pace and reap the biggest rewards by minimizing the things that’ll give you back the most time
  3. Start with what’s easiest, if you have a lot of sentimental or psychological attachment to clothes… skip it. Minimize your plates and cups.
  4. You’ll have a good feeling once you’ve minimized at least one type of “thing” in your life. It’s created a snowball effect for me and I hope when I feel “100% minimized” that it’ll bleed over and the rest of my family will embrace it as well
  5. Being minimal doesn’t mean stark white/black/grey and it doesn’t mean get rid of everything you don’t use on a daily or weekly basis; it the end it ultimately means, gives your time a purpose.
  6. Being minimal also doesn’t mean you don’t buy things. It means that what you buy should serve a purpose towards the end goal of minimalism. I.E. – Most of my socks and undershirts were ratty or needed to be replaced… so I bought brand new socks, underwear, and undershirts as well as a nice tray to hold them in. Could I have worn my crappy old clothes, yes, would it make me feel good? No. Did I have to buy that tray? No. Do I know where all my socks and underwear are at all times and are they put away neatly? Yes, I do.
  7. Minimalism isn’t the end of fun. It’s the beginning.
  8. Donating things that you no longer need feels good.
  9. Giving things away to friends that have an innate interest in that type of item feels better. (i.e. I had some Dungeons and Dragons lore books that I rarely cracked open and knew a friend just got into it, so he got those books). It was a thoughtful gift and didn’t require a special occasion — they were well received.
  10. Taking time to reflect on what you’ve removed from your life is just as important as removing it in the first place. There are a lot of little nerdy Star Wars toys that ‘sparked joy’ for me but they served no other purpose. They were a holdover for when I was that little kid that coveted the rare toy that came into my life. I gave some to my son (who loves Star Wars as I do) and while they’re still in my house (on my son’s dresser on display) they are no longer mine. As I gave them to him I realized something about myself, the memories are a million times more valuable that the item and the simple act of passing that item onto my son was a new memory that makes me even happier.

Wish me luck in the future. What was difficult for you when it came to minimizing? What realizations occurred?

2 thoughts on “Slowly Becoming Minimal”

  1. Hello Mark!

    I absolutely loved this read. Your take on it is the same as mine! I’m taking my time to get it right! My family is not exactly going minimal but what I learned is that I am the one with the most junk. When we did all the laundry before fumigating, I realized that my daughter had TWO large bags of clothing… surprise, when I have FIVE. Also, the areas I cleaned with the most junk, no one had to give me permission, because it was all my junk… Now that our small apartment is starting to look more minimal, I realize I was the one who needed to detach.

    And you are ONE HUNDRED percent right. Donating has been phenomenal, space to move around my house has been glorious and the weight off my shoulders that I didn’t even know I had has felt really good! The laundry was so fast this go-round, I thought I forgot something. lol.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words. That’s kind of the goal of getting my thoughts out there on this whole process… I know other people are like me in that it’s not an exact science/prescription for minimalism. Everyone is different but I feel like the results of minimalism are very much the same for many.

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