I remember like yesterday, when the minimizing bug bit and I wanted to do it all! The whole house. I’m also usually very confident and energetic, so I thought I was going to sweep through the whole house in a couple of days.
Well, superwoman I am not and I had two small kids at the time and regular household chores to keep up with and a small home-based business. Needless to say, that initial purge of excess possessions took weeks rather than days.
Thankfully, I had read to start small, so its not like I had dumped all the contents of several shelves or cabinets out at once. The first thing I ever decluttered was my desk drawer. I loved it. It got me itching to do more. The whole process was rather addicting. The freed up space, the rarely used items now going out of my home. I was loving it.
Through the years, I’m so thankful for that first bit of advice to start small and I often share it with others as I teach a class. There are a few other things to take into consideration if you are just beginning as well.
Time. First of all, really think through the time that you’re going to be able to spend on the first project. And then reduce your expectations of what you can get done in that time. And maybe even reduce it again. This process takes longer than anyone ever thinks because as excited as we are, we come across old letters or have to debate which gadget really works best, and on and on. I am also a FIRM encourager of finishing this first project when you start it. So you must leave time at the end to round it all up.
Your stuff vs. Theirs. Assuming most of you live with someone else, and assuming that a lot of times its “their” things that drive you nuts, you are not going to like this: start with your stuff. If in the rare event that you are the spouse that is last to come on board with this minimizing idea, then talk with those you live with and only start on areas they are in total agreement on. Even then, its best to start with your things. My husband was begging for us to declutter and even when I did take the jump into being a minimalist, I started with MY things, not ours. It just made sense to kinda get a handle on this for myself before moving on to those common possessions.
Know yourself. One of the first things I talk about in most of my classes is just getting the mindset in place before beginning. Probably the biggest piece of that, is knowing WHY you want to simplify. In addition to knowing why, think through the benefits you’re looking forward to enjoying. Then you need to be aware of what some of the obstacles you may meet could be. Lastly, having an idea in your mind of how YOU operate is good. Are you “all or nothing” or more likely to have a work pace of “slow & steady?” That can play a part in how the whole process looks for you.
With these things in mind, start the purging. But again, start small. I started with my desk drawer. Joshua Becker of becoming minimalist started with his car and encourages others to do the same. Other good first options might be
-your night stand
-cosmetics & beauty supplies
-purse or bag that you use daily
-a medicine cabinet
-under the kitchen sink
-a junk drawer
-your sock drawer
-the guest bathroom
-the entryway or foyer.
Do NOT start with things that are emotional or sentimental to you or with collections that you have. Start with small, easy areas.
Don’t let the daunting task of all your possessions discourage you, but also know that this is going to take time. With each new space that you simplify, celebrate! Enjoy the lightness that comes with discarding excess stuff and feel the excitement for your next purging project!