How to stop the clutter coming back

660 words. 5 minutes to read

It took me three firm attempts at minimalism before I was successful.

The first time, I sold so many of my belongings, preparing for the sale of my home and a move to a new country.

Yet within months my garage in my new home was full to overflowing. My wardrobes and kitchen cupboards were stuffed. My new four bedroom, three bathroom, two storey home “didn’t have enough storage space”.

I had no idea what I’d done wrong. How could it happen so fast? After all, I was a minimalist now!

The second time, a few years later, was much the same. The zen-like aura I created in my home lasted only weeks. From clutter-free to hoarders paradise, I could’t understand how my temporarily House-and-Garden-worthy home had become a pigsty again in record time.

Minimalism the third time around

It took the third attempt for me to grok minimalism. My third attempt was slow, with a declutter that lasted well over a year.

I started reading blogs and books. Courtney Carver’s The Project 333 and The Minimalists were incredibly helpful to me, as was Jennifer L Scott (her book Lessons from Madame Chic was an “aha!” moment for me regarding fashion).

These people were mentors for me, teaching me through their own failures and successes, helping me to learn what minimalism is truly about.

All live very different lives, but they all have two things in common – 1) they maintain their belongings carefully, and 2) they are all able to let go of what they no longer need.

Active minimalism

Third time around, I realized that minimalism, like a healthy diet, requires maintenance and new habits.

Minimalism isn’t just a choice.
Minimalism is an active way of being. It is a learning process requiring skills, dedication, and work.
Minimalism is the art of letting go.
Not once, but over and over again, throughout our lives.


The difference between wanting and doing

The first times I tried to be a minimalist, sure, I tidied up. I threw stuff out and gave stuff away.

Then I thought I was done. I thought that was all I needed to do. That’s all the TV spots and pretty Instagram “before and after” posts ever said.

Imagine – just one long session of cleaning up and getting rid of stuff, and my whole life’s habits and mess would be fixed!


And that’s where I went wrong.

You can’t just want to be a minimalist, any more than you can want to be a virtuoso violinist.

Like any skill, minimalism takes practice, work, and dedication. It can be hard. It takes time to learn. You need support – mentors and teachers who have walked the path before you.

There’s nothing wrong with new stuff. Just remember to let go of the old

Even the strictest minimalists bring new items into their lives every week. We all need new food, new clothing, new toiletries, new electronics, new reading materials. This is something we all do – even minimalists! – and we all have to learn how to manage.

The key to successful minimalism is knowing when to let go. Knowing that, just as we all need new items, we also need to let go of old items. We need to release belongings that we no longer use, or that are worn and done with.

Minimalism is the art of letting go. Minimalism isn’t about how many items you possess. It’s about managing the flow-through of the belongings you choose to let into your life – from the moment they enter your life to the point at which you let them pass on. And the passing on is critical.

The difference between successful minimalism and failure is the ability to recognise what is not needed…and to let it go. To be observant about what is in our lives, and to be detached about what we don’t need.

March is social media free month!

456 words. 5 minutes to read.

Have you ever looked up from your phone or laptop, and realized that you’ve spent hours stuck down the rabbit hole of social media?

I have.

I quit Facebook a few years ago, and before I knew it, I was addicted to Twitter.

Then I stopped posting on Twitter so much because I was wasting so much time there, and I got addicted to Instagram.

These days, I’m on a variety of social media, and it often feels more of a burden than a pleasure.

I often feel like I have to check my feeds, even when I don’t want to.

Social media in your life

If you take stock and be honest…

– Do you ever feel worried about what you’re missing out on, if you don’t keep up with your feeds? I do.

– Do you ever ignore your kids, partner or other family members because you’re “busy” reading social media? I have. 

– Have you ever reached for your phone and read social media when you’re with friends or family, instead of communicating face-to-face with them? I have.

– Do you ever worry about how many “Likes” you’ll get, and find yourself checking a post over and over again to see who has “Liked” it? I have.

– Do you ever worry about what people will comment? I have.

– Do you ever worry about saying politically incorrect things or upsetting delicate or sensitive readers? I do.

– Do you ever feel like social media is the biggest waste of time in your life, and that you could spend that time on far more productive, positive things instead of social media if you weren’t on it? I do.

I notice that the popular people on social media say politically correct, unchallenging things, and they don’t ruffle feathers.

I’m a feather-ruffler by nature, and find the social media stifling to my free thought and free speech. Do you ever feel that way too?

Social media often feels like a race to the bottom, rather than a sharing of great ideas and actions. Does it ever feel that way to you?

Social media isn’t all bad

There’s nothing wrong with social media in itself, but it is very addictive for most of us.

What that means is, we spend so much time on social media, we often don’t prioritise what is truly important in our lives, and we spend hours trawling through social media instead.

So this month – this March – I’m quitting social media. Just for one month. Just for 31 days.

No Facebook.
No Twitter.
No Instagram.
No Snapchat.
No anything else.

Take a break

If you’d like to join me and experience what real life is like without social media, feel free to copy the image on this page, and post it on your own feed. Then say goodbye to your social media for 31 days.

Remove social media apps from your phone if it helps. That’s what I’ve just done.

Take a breath of fresh air.
Step outside.
Enjoy the view.
Enjoy the free time.
You don’t have to take a snap or share anything or add any filters or look for the best angle this time.
This time, just for 31 days, your life will belong to yourself again.

The Minimalists Social media podcast: Social media
Break The Twitch blog:

social media free month

March is social media free month

Throw away your yoga mat!

232 words. 3 minutes to read.

The media shouts at us:

Begin a yoga practice.
Start running.
Learn to meditate.
Learn a new language.
Learn a musical instrument.

The list goes on and on, voices telling us to add feature after feature to ourselves, like we’re some new tech toy for a bored teenager to buy.

But have you ever noticed that all of these things take our time?

They’re all work.

A regular yoga practice requires dedication, time and effort.
Running is hard work, and it hurts.
Meditation is difficult, and drains our time.
Learning a language to proficiency takes years of lessons and is often expensive.
Learning a musical instrument requires daily practice.

No wonder we’re all so tired.
No wonder we’re all so stressed.
No wonder we’re such easy pickings for the voices that tell us we need yoga, running, meditation, a new language, and a new instrument to be happy!

We work, we manage a home, we have a family and relationships and friends to care for and be with… and then we feel expected by someone somewhere to become more enriched individuals than our parents or grandparents ever were by taking on all these fashionable personal growth activities.

The one thing forgotten in all this mess is time simply to be.

Aren’t we personally grown enough yet?

So I’m saying – the minimalists are saying, don’t start something new.

Instead, get rid of all the old things cluttering up your life.

Not just stuff, but those practices that are exhausting you, filling your hours, sapping your energy. Get rid of everything that makes you feel like you’re inadequate.

You’re not.

Ignore the trendy personal growth activities we’re supposed to do, according to some expert, somewhere.

Throw away your yoga mat.
Give away the running shoes.
Stop meditating. The language you know is enough already.
Don’t learn an instrument. Instead, laugh into the wind and be thankful for who and what you already are.

And know that you are enough.

Throw away your yoga may

Throw away your yoga mat. You are enough, just as you are.

Minimalist travel – ultimate packing list

278 words. 3 minutes to read.

How often have you gone on holiday with suitcases stuffed full of belongings, and hauled them halfway around the world, only to return home having used barely any of it?

Being a minimalist when you travel can prevent stress and headaches, and make your holiday so much more enjoyable.

Here’s my ultimate minimalist packing list for those of you who want to spend your holidays NOT carrying vast amounts of stuff!


  • Prescription medicine and doctor’s letter (if required)
  • Glasses (if required), sunglasses
  • Basic pain medication, cortisone or antihistamines (if required)
  • Diva cup (if required)
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Hairbrush or comb, hairties
  • Sunscreen
  • Soap, conditioner
  • Loofah
  • Razor

Cosmetics – if required

  • BB cream with sunscreen
  • Cheek stick
  • Eyeshadow stick
  • Permanent / long-last lipstick


  • 7 x underwear
  • Slip on shoes
  • Flip flops (for communal showers and beaches)
  • Swimsuit and shorts (for workout), sunhat
  • Hooded jacket
  • 2 x tops plus 2 x bottoms OR 2 dresses (on or below the knee)
  • 2 x thermal tops (winter only)
  • Gloves, scarf and beanie (winter only)

Other items

  • Smartphone and charger
  • Beach towel
  • Sheet, pillowcase
  • Day bag
  • Water bottle
  • Wallet with drivers licence, passport and cash

All of this should easily fit into a small pack the size of a school bag, and can be brought in to a plane as carry-on, avoiding the need to checking in items, and making transfers quicker and easier.

Remember, unless you’re going to Antarctica, you can buy anything you need when you arrive, if you find you’ve missed something. Travel is supposed to be fun, not a shopping death sentence!

Next time you travel, I hope you have a great time bringing less. 🙂

Ultimate minimalist travel list

Minimalist travel packing list

5 minimalist New Year Resolutions

252 words. 3 minutes to read.

Here are five minimalist New Year Resolution ideas for those of us whose resolutions don’t include diets, meditations, gym memberships, giving up certain foods, or yoga!

1. Resolve to start a Capsule Wardrobe.

Both The Project 333 and Unfancy have great tips on how to start. As someone who started a Capsule Wardrobe 4 years ago and never looked back, I can guarantee you won’t regret it!

2. Resolve to edit your photographs.

Don’t keep photos that make you sad, make you feel bad, or make you angry. Let them go. Keep only the pics that represent the best times of who you are and what you want life to be.

3. Resolve to get rid of your fat (or thin!) clothes.

Donate – or ditch! – anything that doesn’t fit who you are, here and now. Then, if your body should change, you’ll deserve new clothing, won’t you!

4. Resolve to mend what is broken.

All those items you have that are broken and need fixing, from windows to buttons missing from coats. Make a plan to fix them – and follow through!

Life is too short for broken things.

5. Resolve to edit your relationships.

Make sure the people around you make you happier, support you, and love you.

Get rid of the “psychic vampires” – those people who make life miserable, and seem to thrive on discord and discontent!

Remember: you are a reflection of the five closest people to you. Make sure they’re people you would choose to reflect.

5 minimalist New Year Resolutions

Waste is failure

296 words. 3 minutes to read.

“Waste is a failure of the imagination.”

I came across this quote today, and it resonated with me, as a minimalist.

When we buy stuff we don’t need, spend money we don’t need to spend, or cling to items we have no need of, we fail to use our brains and our imaginations.

If we don’t need it, why buy it? Surely the resources are better used elsewhere, on someone – or something – else.

If we don’t need to spend, why spend it? Money is time and energy, both of which are finite resources in our lives. Use money wisely, treat it well, and we’ll be happier and healthier as a result.

If we no longer need something we own, why keep it? Let it go, and feel lighter and more free.

Our society as a whole has become incredibly wasteful. We live in a time of single-use plastics, fast fashion, junk food, and planned obsolescence.

Waste is a failure of the imagination.

Waste is a failure of the imagination.

Craft, care and skill seem to be leftovers from the past. Nothing much seems built to last, or made for genuine human benefit any more.

Yet within this world of so much waste, there is a movement for change. Minimalism is a part of the change for the better.

Minimalism gives us the opportunity to use our minds, think outside the waste, and move on from throwaway culture.

I believe that happiness begins with care and respect for others, care for ourselves, and a willingness to be better than the lowest bidder in life.

It’s time to end the waste, end the trashing of this planet, and to create a fresh way of thinking that places value on our resources and our lives.

What do you think?

Five ways to begin minimalism

434 words. 4 minutes to read.

There is no one path to minimalism.

My path to minimalism began with a car. For others a new relationship, a student trip overseas to Paris, or a strong desire to get out of debt might lead to a simpler life.

Here are five ways to begin minimalism that have worked for many people. Choose one, more than one, or a completely different method.

Whatever path you take, remember to enjoy the journey.

1. Create a capsule wardrobe. When I began my path to minimalism, I also began working with a Capsule Wardrobe, via Project 333. I strongly recommend it – take a look.

A capsule wardrobe is a great way to get an addiction to clothes shopping under control. With Project 333, I’ve reduced from having over 150 items of clothing – most of which I never wore – to a capsule wardrobe of less than 30 items, all of which I wear, use and love.

2. Play a game for removing clutter. If general clutter is a problem, try the minimalist game (hashtag #minsgame).

You start by removing one item from your home the first day, two items the second day, three the third day and so on. By the end of 30 days, you’ll have removed 465 items from your home. Not a bad beginning!

3. Categorize the mess. When I began decluttering, I found the Kon Mari method of working by category, rather than by room, very useful. I found that my home had over a dozen pairs of scissors!

Working by category helps us see what we actually possess, and eliminate unnecessary duplicates. After all, how many coffee mugs and shot glasses do we really need?

4. Find a home for everything important, and let go of stuff without homes. Giving everything a home really helps. Basic strategies such as providing a dirty washing bin and a wastepaper basket for each person really help keep mess under control.

A charity bin in the hallway for outgrown or unused belongings also helps clear items that are no longer needed or wanted, yet still may have use for others.

5. Take a Stop Shopping Challenge. Stop the input. Stop buying for a set period, be it a week or a month, or a year with a Stop Shopping Challenge. Learn to find contentment with what you already have.

Begin by beginning

Thing is, it doesn’t matter what path you take. It doesn’t matter what steps you take. To begin minimalism you need simply to begin.

So take the first step. However that step looks.

Take the first step.

Take the first step. Photo of Trees in Pukarau by blog author, 2017.