Viewing entries tagged

7 Minimalism Tips for 2017

1 Comment

7 Minimalism Tips for 2017

Start 2017 right by getting on a minimal path. Here are 7 tips to get you started.
1) Know the difference between organizing and minimizing; between rearranging and reducing. It’s tempting to voice the same old New Year resolution about reducing clutter and then taking action by buying yet more stuff in the form of storage boxes, baskets, etc. There’s nothing wrong with being tidy and organized in what you do have, just don’t mistake hiding for purging. If you’re serious about minimalism, about reduction, then remove first, organize what’s left later. Most often, if you’ve done an honest ‘purge’, you need far less (if any) ‘organizing tools’.
2) Start. The first step is always the most hesitant one. That’s the case for every new journey, that’s what makes it exciting. So, if emptying all the closets and having a garage sale right off the bat makes you a bit nervous, don’t do it. Try these things instead:

  1. Choose just one room, one closet, one area of the garage only AND commit to continuing to select a section of the house each week thereafter to purge. In other words, you can ease into it by taking small bites.
  2. Can’t seem to part with ‘out’ pile? (a great opportunity to sit down quietly and examine the reasons why - what’s holding you back from the liberation of unloading?) Box it up and tape it. If you don’t have to open that box in 6 months time, you will have proved to yourself that it’s not necessary for you to own. I personally think a clean break is much more empowering, but if you need to take baby steps, that’s perfectly okay.
  3. Start living in less space within your home. The fact is we already do live in far less space than we’ve designed for ourselves. Notice how easily we manage when on vacation to function perfectly well in a hotel room: a space to sit and read or have a meal, a space sleep, a place to hang our clothes, etc. Yet our everyday living seems to require thousands rather than hundreds of square feet. (actually, it doesn’t, and that’s why the majority of the time all that space is full of stuff). Start noticing just how much space you actually take up, actually utilize, and actually require. Sit down first - it can be quite a shock.

3) Ditch plastic. Start with all those containers in the kitchen. If your household is like most, you probably have more lids than bottoms, and the ones you have don’t fit. Also, your stack of containers is likely unruly, tumbling out of drawers and cupboards, even though you purchased that nicely telescoping matching set. You’re not alone. When I switched to glass containers I was amazed to find that I am able to easily function with 5 bowls with lids rather than three thousand plastic containers. It’s one of those mysteries of the universe. So, tidy up that kitchen space, put your food into something that won't leach chemicals into it, and keep the environment a tad cleaner.
4) Take 5. Take five outfits from your closet that you wear most often and put them in a prominent place in your closet or into another space. Wear these to work next week. The following week, mix the items around to create variations and wear these same items in different ways. You get the idea. This is an awareness exercise. We have closets jammed full of clothes (well, I don’t anymore, but I once did) and we only wear a small portion of them. This exercise will show you what you prefer, what you habitually choose, what you ‘forgot’ and had to go back to the original closet for. The result is a dramatically paired down, fully functional, and preferable weekday wardrobe. We prefer certain items, we are comfortable in them (whether the item itself is comfortable or not) and these are the pieces that we choose over and over again, no matter how many other items of clothing are in the closet. So it begs the question: “Why keep all of those other items on hangers?”

5) Relax and reflect. We tend to want to immediately ‘do’ something. Thus the urge to go out and buy more stuff in the way of ‘storage solutions’. The best starting point, I think is to reflect on what your actual goal is. It’s not to have an empty garage or closet. It’s to (pick one or several): decrease financial burden, increase free time, remove anxiety, create physical and emotional ease. Nothing else compares in terms of motivation than acknowledgement of the true reason for minimizing. With a clear picture of freedom in mind, there’s little chance of backsliding.
6) Family cooperation - or not. As individuals, or a couple, the transition may be a tad smoother than it is for multiple personalities. Respect one another. What may seem inconsequential to you, might hold great sentimental value for a member of your family and it not so easily parted with. Agree as a family, if possible, to get on a minimal path together. Then allow each to walk the path at their own pace, nudging only when someone has actually stopped altogether. Offer support, not criticism. Celebrate achievement so that everyone, including you, stays motivated. The best way to do that is to spend time together enjoying each other - time that would otherwise been spent maintaining ‘stuff’, for example. Use the box technique mentioned above. Just as adults reach for the same sets of clothes, children reach for their favorite toys. The excess just takes up space. Let family members choose their favorites, their must haves (within reason) and put the rest out of sight. The result a few months down the road will be very revealing.
7) Start the year with a moratorium on spending. Designate the first quarter as a no-spend period. Obviously, if a car tire needs replacing or something of similar urgency and obvious NEED arises you’re going to use common sense and take care of that. Begin with 3 months: no new electronics, shoes, vinyl, home decor, etc. You can do it. Keep track of each time you wanted to spend on stuff. New or used - no craigslist or consignment shop either. This is another eye-opener. When you realize how much of your spending and accumulation is ‘entertainment’ rather than necessity, you never look at your consumer habits the same way again.

Dawn Murphy is the author of "Physical Stuff & Mental Junk: A Minimalist Path to True Abundance." Her work has been been endorsed by Dr. Will Tuttle, author of "The World Peace Diet,"  Phil Borges, Ph.D of Bridges to Understanding, and Dr. Howard Zinn. She’s currently working on her fourth book, "So Vegan Easy" available in 2017. Visit her Blog/Website: 

1 Comment




“A cluttered existence may keep us busy, but busyness doesn’t mean that we are fully engaged in what we’re doing. Usually, just the opposite, we feel busy because we are neurotically active at things that don’t matter much in the long run.”   ---- Thomas Moore, Original Self

Friends my age are beginning to think about retirement.

It’s sad to hear many of them remark that they don’t know what they’ll do with themselves without the busyness of corporate life, or that they’ll not retire because they don’t want to have too much time on their hands, or because they don’t want to experience the diminished income (i.e. they want to continue accumulating stuff). Also distressing is hearing from those who have retired from traditional work situations that they are bored. Some are filled with anxiety because of a ‘void’.

Similar feelings might be experienced when life is simplified.

But let me clarify: it’s not a void. It’s discomfort with a stranger. The stranger is you. And this is where you have the choice to become intimately acquainted or you can ignore him/her and just get busy again. I do hope that you'll choose the former and not the latter. I promise you won't be disappointed. The better you get to know that stranger, the more simple your life can become. The simpler your life becomes, the more opportunity to intimately know this stranger. This simplicity and willingness is fertile ground for a lush and deep-rooted spiritual life. It opens the opportunity for realization of how complex, how interesting, how creative you actually (we all) are.

Oh, what a journey! What an adventure! Without leaving your home you will begin to see new vistas, and in familiar friends you'll meet new people.

Don't be afraid of time, space, inactivity.

Creating stillness in the interior and physical space makes possible the visitation of inspiration. It makes possible the emergence of something new, but also allows forgotten passions and desires to surface. Simplifying your life allows the complex individual that you are to surface. You are a vibrant tapestry full of excitement and tranquility, desire and contentment. How many times have you found yourself reminded of something you love but hadn’t thought about or engaged in for some time; a place that you like to go, an activity that you enjoy? Have you ever remarked, “I loved doing that as a boy” or “I haven’t thought about that in years” or "Gee, I miss doing that"?

Most of us have had the experience of the busyness of life crowding out things that we take great pleasure in. We allow those things to fall away giving greater priority to (so-called) responsibility and achievement. When in most cases it’s just busyness that has taken the foreground. Engagement, unlike busyness, occupies your entire being; the physical, the emotional, the mental. It's making love all the time, but in different ways. I prefer living a love-filled life to a busy life, don't you?

So how do we engage with intent and stop the busyness?

If your busyness is primarily at work, take a look at how you can impact the flow. Can you better manage your time? Can you suggest a change of process (that may benefit others as well)? Are you taking on responsibilities that need not be yours? Can you prepare better for repetitive tasks that save you time and keep you better organized? Is your workspace organized in a way that helps rather than hinders you? If not, get rid of what you don't need and create a place for what you do need - and keep those things in their place. This applies to virtual files as well as to physical tools. Is your busyness related to achievement? That is, are you constantly taking on more and more in order to climb the company ladder? Is it possible to get recognition by doing something, maybe even one thing, extremely well rather than trying to do many things (and burning out)? And of course this takes us full circle to the root of wanting to achieve or earn more to get the attention and/or more stuff. This endless cycle is worth thinking deeply about.

If your busyness is at home: Are chores shared? Is the family calendar too packed with planned activities? Are you signed up for too many social obligations? Why? Maybe you don't have to be in on everything. Give one of the picnics or movies a miss. Are you too burdened with responsibilities to others (extended family)? If so adjust the frequency and/or ask for help. Is your home arranged in a manner that is conducive to play and relaxation? Do you know where the things you need are? Do you have too much stuff? If you're in the cluttered and over-stuffed category, try this exercise: For 1 month, keep track of how many times and how long it takes to locate things (like keys, backpacks, the checkbook, dog leashes, etc.) for everyone in the family. You'll be amazed how many hours your family might rack up just trying to find things among the glut.

Busyness puts us out of touch, out of alignment.

We're out of touch with our own real wants and needs. We're out of alignment with our real selves. Speaking from a spiritual perspective, if we're in alignment with what we really are - which is an extension and expression of all that there is or ever will be - what could we possibly need? Very little on this physical plane, I should think. It's said that highly enlightened masters hardly needed even food. Most of us will not reach, nor desire to reach, that state of alignment. And that's okay.

We're all here to experience and express something unique. We're more likely to discover that uniqueness and achieve that expression when the distraction of busyness is removed. Busyness is a barrier to discovery. Remove it. Simplify your daily life and discovery how truly gifted and fascinating you are. Be pleasantly surprised by how often inspiration visits now that you can hear that voice. Our inspiration and creativity  and joy is right here, all the time. We just have been busily buzzing past it and shouting over it. Slow down, let some things go. The world will continue to turn. Engage by choice. Enjoy.

Copyright 2016 Dawn Murphy

Dawn Murphy is the author of "Physical Stuff & Mental Junk: A Minimalist Path to True Abundance." Her work has been been endorsed by Dr. Will Tuttle, author of "The World Peace Diet,"  Phil Borges, Ph.D of Bridges to Understanding, and Dr. Howard Zinn. She’s currently working on her fourth book, "So Vegan Easy" available in 2017. Visit her Blog/