Maintain your clutter-free house/hold

#9/11 in my "Joy of Less" personal journey (read me second)

“The best part about minimalism living is that the rewards are immediate; every item you jettison instantly lightens your load. Do it daily. You’ll feel fantastic.  (p. 111)

Philosophical Concept: Be a good gatekeeper (Ch.6, p.39)

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”  -William Morris

In order to be a good gatekeeper you must think of your home as a sacred place, not a storage place. It’s your home.  You are under no obligation to keep anything that it’s practical, wanted and/or beautiful.  Things come into our homes two ways: 1) we buy them or 2) they are given to us. We have the power to exercise complete control over what we buy. Every time you consider buying or bring something in to your home, STOP and ask the following:

  • Do you deserve a place in our home?
  • Will you make life easier or are you going to be more trouble than your worth?
  • Do I have a space to put you?
  • Do I want to keep you forever (or at least a very long time)?
  • How difficult will it be to get rid of you?

The mindset of consistently applying a simple, polite refusal to any unwanted gifts can save you tons of decluttering down the road..Opt out of gift exchanges and freebies. If you are pressed into a gift giving, respond graciously, pass on and request practical items, exchanging services, donation or traveling (See Chapter 28).

Hint to self #12:  Apply a sacred home mentality by limiting gifts and purchases to only the needed or highly desired.

STREAMLINE: Everyday Maintenance (Chapter 20)

Becoming a minimalist is a lifestyle change.

We can’t simply purge all our possessions in a no-holds barred decluttered session, and then check it off as done…We must continue to be vigilant about what enters our home (good gatekeepers), never let our guard down or things can get easily out of control if we let them. Fortunately, the task soon becomes second nature by establishing good routines including:

  • Getting off mailing lists and subscriptions
  • Clear clutter as soon as you see it particularly in common/shared space
  • Return everything to their assigned place, their rightful owner, pass it on, or discard
  • Purge in cycles: After your initial cluttering take another look with fresh eyes in a few months: You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is; OR, urge slowly, like one item a day, 10 items a week. Make it a game: Have fun with it.

The clutter-free family/household (Ch.29)

Unless you live alone –  after applying your STREAMLINED technique, you can’t just bask in your glory –  you must transition to a clutter-free family/household to maintain your progress. Once again, Jay outlines practical approaches that aren’t that hard if you have patience!

  1. Set an example. Show rather than speak! Cleaning out your own stuff, creating serene spaces, and highlights others’ clutter. If you want them to be your partners – resist the temptation to run around with trash bags or nagging. 
  2. Set an agenda. Start small. Go slow. Communication is key! Clarify 1) What you want to accomplish – the big picture, 2) Why you want to accomplish it, and 3) Outline how using the streamline approach.
  3. Set boundaries. Give each family member (housemate) stuff for their own space to limit the scale of the clutter.  Tell them, “they have to keep their stuff in their space.”   Be sure they understand that common place is flex space: you can use your stuff in the flex space but must put it away before a defined expiration time (i.e. bed), or you will consistently put it in the XXX and it will be regifted or discarded by (time). Tough love!!
  4. Set routines/guidelines First celebrate your initial success, not matter how big or small. Then, gently lay down the “guidelines.”   Be sure to include the following ideas:
    • Daily sweep (tidy) is required, i.e. before bed, or before you leave the house in the AM, or both!
    • Everything it its place immediately after use.
    • One-in-one out, and my own two
    • Weekly cleaning;
    • Monthly maintenance before you do any big thing or have a holiday
  5. Set up an out box:  Think of this as streamlining recycling: Make it easy to discard. Identify a box, (bag or place) for things to be left when they are desired to be discarded or past on. As head declutterer, you’ll have to manage, sort and actually discard in a timely manner for this work.

Jay also outlines tips for babies, children and toddler – all using the STREAMLINE technique (pp.249-257); older adults are much harder….

Hint to self #13: No matter what “hands off their stuff: do not purge your partners possessions without their permission!

Ways to plant the decluttering seed with older adults include: Set and continue your good example, leave this book in a visible space, tap into their motivation, making it easy, working together, continuing to be appreciative and positive.

Our experience. First,  since I sadly hadn’t read this book, 25 years ago i’ve been plagued for years with the loads of cxxp, and consequently have a log history of nagging. If I had known I would have read this chapter first! I am definitely guilty of recycling never or rarely used stuff in the way of my sanity, gifting other books on tidying (which doesn’t work), heckling when his mom praises all his assistance and her place, and totally lose my patience multiple times over our 27-year marriage. The good news: I did, just today, celebrate our success, ask him to write the final post to tap into his interest in environmental conservation, oversee a few very successful garage overhauls, am clearly buying less and more positive. We’re still working on patience – my most obvious character flaw, that I’ll be working on for the rest of my life!

There is a reason why I haven’t included the discussion on the bedroom (Ch.191. Although I did upgrade our bed, streamline my stuff (the bathroom and my wardrobe),  i have compromised: his stuff is allowed in the bedroom because it’s his bedroom too. Now you know, in addition to snoring, and greater privacy, why well-off older couples have separate bedrooms!

Hint to self #14: Patience is key (as always): You must value long-term success which requires others and keep your cool!

“The Joy of Less” series is a key component of my personal quest for simplification and my annual New Year’s Resolution Plan for 2017.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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