Declutter your inbox!

266 words. 4 minutes to read.

How many times have you signed up for a newsletter or email list thinking, That’s going to be so interesting!, only to never read it?

If you’re like me, you have a world of good intentions. I sign up for diet newsletters, health blogs, minimalism lists – and never read any of them.

Then I find them cluttering up my inbox, preventing me from reading the truly important emails that I really need to read.

Solutions to the clutter

Spend an hour tonight. While watching your favourite show on television, usubscribe from anything you haven’t read in the last month. Don’t worry – it’ll still be there should you wish to resubscribe at a later date.

Get a good spam filter. If your email provider doesn’t already provide a good spam filter, consider changing to a provider who does. I use gmail, and the spam filter is great.

Quit the guilt. You’re not a failure if you don’t read everything you want to read. Likewise, you’re not a nasty person if you unsubscribe from that lovely person’s blog feed – including this one! If it’s interfering with real life, it needs to go.

Real life comes first. Allocate a regular time each day for dealing with your inbox. Start at the top, work down, and only deal with each piece of information once. If you aren’t intending to reply, don’t leave it for tomorrow. In my experience, tomorrow never happens.

Start with mail from people you know in real life, plus bills and financial content. Everything else is a distant second place. This simple two-tier rule makes everything simple.

Declutter your inbox!

Why I deleted Facebook

559 words. 5 minutes to read.

I’m deleting my Facebook account this week.

Already I can feel a weight lifting.

For a long time I’ve barely used the site, yet for so long I’ve felt like I couldn’t quite let go. I wondered how I’d keep in touch with all those friends from school, from University, and from my life back in Australia that I left a decade ago. How would we keep in touch without Facebook?

I was afraid that if I let go, if I deleted my account, I’d regret it. It almost felt forbidden to consider deleting Facebook.

To delete Facebook would also be time-consuming. It would mean trawling through over two thousand images, plus probably a thousand more funnies, all in countless disorganized folders, plus my “timeline” and “mobile downloads” folders. It would take at least a day, probably longer.

Why I deleted Facebook

To be honest, the biggest difficulty was this: I knew that deleting Facebook would mean making hard decisions. Decisions I’d delayed. Deleting stuff would mean tying loose ends, finalizing parts of my life that needed to be finalized.

Facebook: Social media for electronic hoarders

Truth is, Facebook was holding my life for me, but it was a life that I didn’t particularly want to hold on to. It was controlling me, encouraging me to keep up connections and data that had no real meaning.

I called myself a minimalist, but online I was an electronic hoarder.

Taking a month off social media gave me time to consider what social media was actually about.

I learned that I used Facebook as an emotional crutch. It gave me excuses, over and over again, to not say goodbye to everything that should have left my life a long time ago.

Time to say goodbye

I desperately needed to say goodbye.

A normal human life involves letting go of the past. A healthy person becomes a hoarder when they are unable to do this, when every tiny little thing becomes important.

Instead of letting go they hold on and cling to the detritus of their lives because they’re afraid of throwing away something that might be important, maybe, possibly.

For me, Facebook enabled me to become a hoarder of friends and memories, of photographs and holiday memorabilia and people I haven’t seen for thirty years who have long since moved on to other things.

They should have left my life, but Facebook brought them back, and gave them a home in my already busy life.

I found myself having to find time not only for the friends I have here and now but for the friends I had when I was ten years old!

When I first joined Facebook, I rediscovered all these things that should have stayed in the past. Then I built pseudo-connections around them and spent time with them, to the detriment of living in the present.

I built an online hoarder’s world. And I only just realized it. I took a decade and more to realize it.

Awakening

So I’m letting Facebook go now.
I’m letting everything on Facebook go.

That doesn’t mean I’ll lose my friends, because the meaningful, current friends I connect with on Facebook will stay connected to me.

Real bonds don’t break. We’ll find each other, connect with one another, in other ways. The friends of here and now belong here and now. The important friends from the past will stay too, because they belong with me as I journey forwards. But I can say goodbye, and let others go, just as they can let me go too.

I’ve posted my details. My real friends will find me, as I will find them.

But Facebook? Yes, it’s time to say goodbye.

I hit delete.
I’m moving on. My Facebook account is toast.
I’m embracing today. And the fresh air tastes great! 🙂

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.

Minimalism

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!

Hooray!

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.

Declutter, simplify, face reality…

247 words. 3 minutes to read.

So often we keep items that no longer have relevance to who we are now.

We keep the guitar from those few lessons we tried, even though we know in our hearts we’ll never be a guitarist and we never really liked playing anyway.

We keep old, moth eaten stuffed toys from our childhood, even though we’ve grown up and become adults.

We keep items from a crafting project that failed, with the excuse that we might pick it up again, even though we know that we won’t.

We keep cheap souvenirs from a holiday that we’ve long since forgotten.

We keep clothes that don’t fit and are out of date, cosmetics that never worked for us, old computers and smartphones that barely work any more and that have long since been replaced.

These might have beens and once weres drag us down, holding us back from where we are now.

They stop us from seeing ourselves as we are, and prevent us from moving forward with our lives.

Become the person you are meant to be

Life is not static. None of us are the same person we were ten years ago, or even last week.

We all grow and change, and our interests and tastes grow and change too.

Accepting that life is change is necessary to achieve our full potential.

When we declutter, we demonstrate a willingness to leave the past behind, and to accept reality as it is, as we are now.

Declutter, simplify…and face reality. Don’t live in the past.

Decluttering: A willlingness to leave the past behind.

Decluttering: A willingness to leave the past behind.

Video

The meaning of life…

270 words, 2 minutes to read.

When I was a teenager, I helped my boyfriend clear out his grandmother’s house after she died.

She was a hoarder. It took twenty of us six weekends to do the job.

At first, the family members and I trod carefully. Everything we picked up was debated, questioned, argued over.

There were cupboards full of china knick-knacks (could be precious!), and shoe boxes stuffed full of stamps still stuck to torn-open envelopes (could be valuable!).

There were suitcases of unlabelled photographs that nobody could identify and – I remember quite clearly – a huge pickle jar full of baby teeth from the seven children and numerous grandchildren she’d cared for over her life.

There were clothes from the forties, fifties, sixties and beyond, all gradually falling into disrepair. All a feast for moths now, all shabby, stained, and musty. Three garden sheds and a double garage full of tools, wires, plugs that didn’t fit anything. Oddments of twisted wire and bent nails.

At first the twenty of us trod carefully. But soon we grew tired. Soon the treasures just became junk.

Leftovers of a life that had gone.

In the end, the family members took very few items. I was offered items, but I took nothing. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted.

The rest of the belongings were either given to charity or sent to landfill.

We all took a deep, thankful communal breath when the job was finally done.

The lesson I learned from those weekends sorting through a dead woman’s life?

It still lives with me, thirty years later:

That stuff we buy in shops? It’s all just junk in the end. Life is more important than that.

Don’t waste your life on stuff.
Don’t let your possessions become a burden, for yourself or those you love.

Your stuff will never love you back.

Stuff is just junk in the end

That stuff we buy in shops? It’s all just junk in the end. Life is more important than that.

Let it go

Declutter everything – with 5 easy steps!

140 words, 1 minute to read.

Ask yourself these five straightforward questions to declutter everything…

1. Is it a duplicate?
Do you have more than one of this item the same? If so, why?

2. Is it easily replaceable?
Can you borrow / obtain / rent / buy the item locally for a small cost?

3. Was it free?
If you didn’t pay for it and you don’t use it, why on earth is it still in your life?

4. Is it a gift that you dislike but feel like you have to keep anyway to please someone?
People don’t give gifts in order to burden you. Let it go.

5. You haven’t worn / used / consumed it in the last six months or more?
Don’t leave it in your life. Get rid of it!

After decluttering, what next?

250 words, 2 minutes to read.

You hear about decluttering. Maybe you’ve already done it, and everything you don’t need – everything that doesn’t “spark joy” – is gone.

Now you’re wondering, what next?

Minimalizing our possessions is the easy part.

It might seem hard at the time, but decluttering our possessions is the easy part.

The harder part of being a minimalist is understanding, at a deep level, why we are doing this, then working to become the person we feel we were truly meant to be.

True freedom doesn’t come from owning less. True freedom comes from our possessions not owning us.

Minimising our possessions brings our true inner self into stark relief.

Once we clear the clutter away, we’re more able to see ourselves as we truly are.

Once I’d decluttered my life, I realised I needed to do a lot of work on myself, as a person.

I was eating poorly, and was overweight.
I wasn’t giving as much to charity as I’d like.
My marriage was unhappy and unsatisfying, for both of us.
I had too many “Facebook friends” and not enough real relationships.
I wasn’t contributing to my community as much as I’d like.
I was spreading my interests and talents too thin, and was consequently ineffective at most things.

Minimising our possessions is a first step.
Minimising the parts of our life that are not meaningful is the second.
Take the first step, and you become ready for the second.

Second step to minimalism