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Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the clutter in your life, both physical and mental? I certainly have, and that’s why I decided to do my own “Year of Less Challenge” this year. Each month, I’ve challenged myself to do less of something in order to free up more time and space for the things that matter most to me. What started as a month-long decluttering challenge in April stretched into four transformative months of decluttering, reevaluating my possessions, and embracing an even more minimal-ish lifestyle.
Like many people, my journey into minimalism began in 2015 when I stumbled upon Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Little did I know that it would be the catalyst for a major life change and a decade long journey to pursuing minimalism in every area of my life and business.
Tune into this episode to learn more about my minimalist home journey, get a behind the scenes look at what it took to declutter my house from top to bottom this summer, and learn how this challenge has affected my business as a work-from-home entrepreneur!
A CULTURE OF CONSUMERISM
Did you know that the average house size in America has more than doubled since the 1950s? While this may sound like the American Dream, it’s actually turning into the American Disaster. Large houses mean buying and storing more stuff we don’t need. And family members can live in the same house without having to interact or spend time together. Right now, I’m living and working in a 1,600 square foot house, which is almost 1,000 square feet smaller than the average American household. It’s definitely challenging to make space to work and live in 1,600 square feet but when you own less things, it makes a small space feel huge.
What has been encouraging to me recently is learning that since 2015, the average house size has been slightly decreasing (now 2,469 square feet). I clearly wasn’t the only one who jumped on the minimalism trend after seeing all of the benefits that come with owning less stuff!
Before you minimize your home, you have to get your mindset right. It won’t do you any good to get rid of things if you’re just going to go out and buy more, right? There are many reasons why we feel compelled to shop – stress, status, jealousy – but more stuff just contributes to our problems. Alice Wang is a researcher at the University of Iowa who studies loneliness and its effects on decision making. She’s shown through her research that lonely people tend to shop more too – every heard of retail therapy? It’s a real thing! But sadly, it’s not a real solution – it’s a vicious cycle.
WHY I DECIDED TO PURSUE MINIMALIST LIVING
My goals for minimalist living are clear: I want a stress-free, easy-to-maintain home, a clutter-free space that boosts my focus as a work-from-home entrepreneur, and a thoughtfully curated environment that reflects my style and values. For me, less is more, and investing in quality over quantity is not only good for my budget, but for the environment too.
BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM AND OWNING LESS STUFF AS A WORK-FROM-HOME ENTREPRENEUR
Embracing minimalism has had profound effects on my life. Mainly, I live with less stress, my home facilitates a more productive and focussed workday, and I get more enjoyment out of my life because I’m not wasting extra time and money on managing my stuff.
After spending the summer decluttering, I have so many empty cabinets and drawers, and it makes me feel lighter. It also makes it way easier for me to dust and clean my home because there are less items on top of and inside furniture and storage spaces.
More Productivity + Focus
Curating my environment for the activities that I want to do in each room has helped me form better habits and remove distractions. For example, my cleared off desk allows me to focus on my computer screen and the task at hand. My clutter-free living room helps me to enjoy a book without being stressed about all the visual “to-dos” that clutter would signal to me.
Also, with fewer choices to make about what to wear or what tools to use, I save mental energy and make decisions more efficiently. This may seem like a small thing, but all those tiny decisions can add up quickly throughout the day.
Get More Life out of Your Life
Did you know that research has suggested that women spend more than eight years of their lives shopping? Yikes! I don’t know about you, but there are a million other things I’d rather be doing with my life. Our culture’s obsession with accumulating things prevents us from actually enjoying our lives.
One reason why I’m really happy to live a minimalist lifestyle is that it gives us more freedom to be open to opportunities like traveling or AirBnB-ing our house long term because we don’t have a ton of stuff that would need to be organized or stored or taken care of while we we’re gone.
Lastly, living a minimalist lifestyle has also allowed us to be more generous – not only by giving stuff away as we declutter, but freeing up time and energy for us to spend with people we care about. It also makes it easier for us to open up our home to guests without having to worry about tidying up – there’s very little stuff to tidy!
THE BEST BOOKS FOR BECOMING A MINIMALIST
I learn something new every time I read a book about minimalism, because there are so many categories of things that we own. So one person will do a deep dive into the reasons why you only need 3 knives, and another person will show you it’s possible to dress stylishly with only 30 items of clothing. Here are my best book recommendations for the minimalist curious:
- Minimalista: Your Step-by-Step Guide to a Better Home, Wardrobe, and Life
- The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
- The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store
APPLYING MINIMALIST PRINCIPLES TO YOUR BUSINESS
This is the Business Minimalist™ podcast, so I can’t close the episode without touching on how these principles apply to your business, too. The execution looks totally different, but the rules or guidelines of minimalism also apply to growing and scaling a business, which is what this podcast is all about. When you apply minimalist principles to your business, you get similar benefits: less stress, more time freedom, more productivity and focus, more inspiration, more meaning, more intention, more financial freedom, less maintenance work, less time searching for things, and the list goes on.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Episode 031: Introducing the Year of Less Challenge – Dry January
- Episode 037: Year of Less Challenge: How I Broke Up with My Phone
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