If you’re like us at Beige Renegade, your ethos of a minimalist existence means achieving an orderly, austere haven that contains only possessions that add value to your life, and is free from those things you neither need nor want: clutter. Minimalism in practice, though – even for its most stalwart devotees – can sometimes be difficult to maintain in a consumerist culture where the accumulation of material goods is a value not only encouraged, but ingrained. We are taught that happiness means having more or everything, but in many (if not most) cases, the opposite is true.
Clutter is a subtle lurker, a thing (well, a collection of things) that amasses so slowly that before you know it, you’re overwhelmed by it. That is, until that panicked moment when you find your shelves and cupboards are stacked to the brim with things you didn’t even realize you had.
Marie Kondo’s 2015 bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has sparked a bit of a decluttering revolution. With some inspiration from a few of Kondo’s methods, like ensuring every object has a designated “home” and that you only keep only the things that “spark joy”, here’s the Beige Renegade take on some key principles for decluttering your life:
1 Realize where and how clutter is affecting you
Is it the closet, the kitchen, the office – or all of the above and more? Having a good hard look at the spaces in your home may reveal that you haven’t even noticed that they have, in fact, become cluttered and are the cause of your stress.
2 Start small and motivate yourself with small wins
Procrastination is the enemy to productivity; so as with anything in life, if you want to see change, make getting going a priority! To avoid feeling like you’re facing an insurmountable mountain of work, focus on a single aspect of your clutter rather than your entire home (or even an entire room) at once. Start with a few drawers, a closet, a piece of furniture (like your bookshelf or desk), or one category of items, like shoes or documents.
3 Know how to tell if something’s worth keeping
It’s far too easy to hold onto possessions, especially clothing, under the guise of wanting to someday use/wear them (or perhaps, to become the kind of person that uses/wears them!). “I’ll fit into this when I lose weight” or “this cost me a lot of money” aren’t affirmative or valid enough reasons to hold onto something. If you haven’t used it in recent memory, if it serves no real purpose in your daily life, or if you didn’t even realize you had it, then it’s time to get rid of it.
4 Keep only those things that make you feel good
Perhaps the hallmark of Kondo’s method is paying attention to how the items around you make you feel, and ensuring everything you own brings you joy and has only positive feelings associated with it. Purge the things that don’t give you those happy vibes. You’ll learn to appreciate your belongings and their purpose in your life a whole lot more.
5 Make your items worthwhile and showcase them
Each piece should have its own dedicated place that makes sense for it. This makes things easier, almost unconsciously so, to put back where they belong after use. Returning things to their proper spot each and every time they’re used is absolutely conducive to maintaining a clutter-free environment.
6 Appreciate negative space
Empty space is what makes objects and garments pop, just as clutter masks them. Appreciate the airy openness that comes with decluttering, and learn to covet it. We talk a little more about this in our article on how to decorate without clutter.
7 The questions you should ask yourself before buying in the future
It’s totally okay – and admirable, really – not to buy everything you’re drawn to in a store. Sticking to quality things you need, that you’re sure you will use, that will bring you happiness, and that can have their own “home” within your home will help you maintain calm, collected spaces. And, by extension, a calm, collected attitude.
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