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Declutter Like a Minimalist: Expert Tips to Simplify Your Space

May 20, 2023 | Home Organization

Moving, downsizing, and relocating are just a few reasons to declutter your home. But what does it mean to declutter like a minimalist? It’s when decluttering isn’t brought about by a life-changing event (like moving)  but rather by a lifestyle change.

Minimalism encourages individuals to let go of their emotional attachments to some of their material possessions and prioritize experiences over things. This means valuing things like travel, adventure, and personal growth over accumulating more stuff.

We’ve gleaned some ideas and tools from minimalist thought leaders to share with you on your journey to embrace the idea that less really is more.

What is Minimalism? 

Minimalism is a design and lifestyle movement that emphasizes having fewer possessions will lead to a more fulfilling life. By decluttering like a minimalist, you’re taking steps to a more intentional life. Minimalists prioritize quality over quantity and tend to choose experiences over accumulating material possessions.  

Minimalist thought leaders all have different approaches to accomplishing what can often seem like a monumental change in our lives. The idea that less is more may seem like an oxymoron, but in this case, it truly isn’t. 

Minimalism is a win-win for the environment too. Consuming less and wasting less not only saves money but also energy and natural resources. Overall, decluttering like a minimalist is about living intentionally and having more time and energy to focus on what truly matters. 

The 30-Day Minimalist Challenge

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are best-selling authors, podcasters, and Emmy-nominated for their Netflix documentary; Less is Now. They have spoken at Harvard Business School, Apple, and Google.

They created the 30-day minimalist challenge, which turns out to be a  fun and motivating way to declutter while downsizing your possessions. First, partner with someone like a friend, family member, or coworker. On the first day of the month, you each get rid of one thing. On the second day of the month, you each get rid of two things. On the third day of the month, you each get rid of three things. You get the picture.

By the middle of the month, say on day 19, the challenge gets harder. But don’t worry; every single item in this game counts. So, for example, a broken pen, an old tape dispenser, or a crumpled take-out menu in the junk drawer all count towards your number of items for the day. 

Whoever lasts the longest wins the game, so making a bet here could be fun. But you’ll both feel even more amazing if you make it to the end of the month, by which time you will have gotten rid of about 500 items. 

The Four Box Rule

Joshua Becker is a TEDx speaker, author, and founder of the Becoming Minimalist website. He decided to make a change when he realized he was spending his free time managing and maintaining all his stuff instead of spending it with his wife and young son. 

The four-box method is one of several ways Becker recommends as an effective and clever way to downsize one’s possessions. You’ll need four large moving boxes available to purchase at your local self storage or home improvement store. Label each as follows: 

Trash: This box is for damaged and broken items that are beyond repair and not worth donating.

Give away: This box is for old items others can still use. Something belongs in this box if 1. you never use it, 2. you’ve kept it for “just in case,” and 3. duplicate items. 

Keep: These are items that you’ll replace in the same room once you’ve completed the process, allowing you to reimagine or redesign one room at a time.

Relocate: Items in this box are needed seasonally, take up too much space, or belong in another room. If you need these essentials, try to come up with a storage solution that fits into your home. Remember, one good way to clean out closets is to store out-of-season clothing.

Place all four boxes in one room at a time. Once you see a room devoid of clutter (you’ll love it!), you can replace the items you’ve chosen to keep and relocate those that no longer belong there. 

After removing unnecessary personal possessions, Becker and his wife found they had more time, more money, more energy, and less stress. It makes sense. Especially if you find yourself in a seemingly endless decluttering loop because too much stuff is making everyday tasks more stressful than they need to be. 

The Joy of Decluttering

If imagining letting go of a significant amount of what you own is freaking you out, then maybe it’s time to try another method. Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant, author, and TV personality. Since she was a young girl, Marie says she was “fascinated with tidying,” but quickly learned it’s often quite stressful to think about getting rid of things. 

She states on her website that she fainted one time due to the stress of focusing on eliminating things! If that’s you, don’t despair. In her Netflix series, The Art of Tidying Up, Kondo demonstrates what many people see as an easier way to declutter and downsize: Identify the things you own that spark joy.

In other words, instead of focusing on getting rid of or eliminating, Kondo’s method identifies the belongings that make you feel happy when you hold them. For example, if an item doesn’t spark joy, thank it and then say goodbye. Bringing intention and a sense of closure to your belongings helps lighten the feeling of loss.

Over time and with practice, the sense of loss may diminish altogether because you’re focusing on things you truly cherish. For some, this may be living a minimalist lifestyle and for others it may be living in a home curated with heirlooms, art collections, and books. 

Find Your Inner Minimalist 

Minimalism is a philosophy and lifestyle that advocates simplicity, functionality, and eliminating excess things. For some it comes naturally and for others it’s more challenging so don’t get discouraged if you fall in the latter group. 

Scientific research has repeatedly revealed that clutter causes stress, especially for women. Even so, it’s understandable that choosing to downsize your possessions is an emotional decision. But striving to live more like a minimalist can be fun, like playing the 30-day minimalist challenge game with a friend. 

Either way, remember that minimalism is about stripping away the unnecessary focus on what truly matters, such as relationships, experiences, personal growth, and creativity.

Declutter and Downsize with Metro Self Storage 

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Metro Self Storage | Class A Storage Facility in Wood-Ridge, NJ

Besides moving and downsizing, people utilize storage units for other reasons, like temporarily storing seasonal recreational gear, holiday decorations, and clothing. For example, if you discover bulky or space-consuming seasonal items you want to avoid keeping at home during your downsizing journey, choosing an off-site storage solution could be the answer. 

Since opening our first storage facility in 1973, Metro Self Storage has become one of the nation’s most respected storage providers. Our friendly and professionally trained property managers are accustomed to helping customers find storage solutions through all life transitions. 
Visit Metro Self Storage or contact us to learn more about convenient and budget-friendly storage options near you!