Earlier this year, a documentary was screened, titled Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. Can the Clutter clients (and organizers) started wondering where we fit in the scope of this movement. While there are many different perspectives on minimalism, I think Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka “The Minimalists” have defined the movement and the term in a way that makes a minimalist lifestyle accessible and applicable to anyone looking to live more simply and intentionally.
To make the connection between the Minimalist Movement, and what we do as Professional Organizers, I want to highlight a few key concepts about what the Minimalists are saying about our excess stuff. Before we get to that though, understand that minimalism is not about forsaking all of your earthly possessions, abandoning all modern conveniences or completely living off the grid. (Although, if that’s your thing, carry on.)
Millburn and Nicodemus define Minimalism as “a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
Inspired by their definition, I decided to focus on a few of their “getting rid of your stuff” techniques and ideas. As I’ve said many times before, getting rid of the clutter in your life isn’t as easy as dropping off a pair of unused shoes at the local Goodwill. There are many emotional obstacles that prevent us from making the decision to let go of something.
Below, I make reference to three essays by the Minimalists. I feel the suggestions offered touch on important aspects of decluttering your space and your life. The 30 Day Minimalist Game shows how having an accountability partner can keep you on track. Throwing yourself a Packing Party forces you to make a decision about each and every object with which you will share your space, and Letting Go of Sentimental Items is a perfect depiction of how our memories are tied to our stuff and the emotional challenges we face when deciding to get rid of that stuff.
Here are my minimal details. Click the links for the full stories.
The 30 Day Minimalist Game
Basically, you get rid of one item on day one, two items on day two, three items on day three…you get it. Challenge a friend, and see who can make it through the whole month. More here.
This concept might seem a little extreme, but maybe think in terms of one room at a time, if that’s easier to envision. Read the full, (powerful and eye-opening) story here. To sum it up, basically, you pack up ALL of your belongings, as if you were about to relocate. Then over the next three weeks, only unpack the things you need, the things that add value and joy to your life.
Simple and easy are not the same. To live more simply, you often have to go through the very difficult process of letting go. Purging your home of material items doesn’t mean letting go of the memories, though. The memories are always with you. We often convince ourselves that the stuff and the memories are one in the same because the stuff triggers the memories. In Millburn’s essay, Letting Go of Sentimental Items, he does a great job walking you through his emotional process of going through his mother’s home after her passing.
Thanks to the Minimalists for sharing their stories and perspectives related to Stuff. For Can the Clutter clients, if you’re still wondering what our perspective is on minimalism, it’s simple. If it doesn’t bring joy and meaning to your life, let it go.