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These days I call myself a minimalist, but by most minimalist’s standards, I doubt I would qualify.
Minimalism as defined by the Miriam Webster dictionary is a style or technique that is characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity.
I guess I’m more of a simplist. It’s like minimalism but without the “extreme sparseness.” I like simplicity in my life, my surroundings, my financial health, and in my relationships.
Declutter to simplify your life
One of the best ways to simplify your life is to declutter. All of that extra stuff you have in your home creates more work for you. Whether its time spent cleaning that stuff, dusting it, laundering it, or time spent arranging it or putting it away.
When we were getting ready to put our little ranch house up for sale, we packed up a lot of our belongings to stage the house. We removed most of our personal items, took out a lot of the furniture, cleaned out all the closets and put the treadmill in storage. What we discovered was that we preferred living with less stuff. We were still comfortable, we hadn’t removed so much that we didn’t have things we enjoyed. We just didn’t have extra. It was easier to put things away, it was easier to maintain, and the rooms looked a whole lot bigger and more open.
Lets take a look at some simple things you can do to declutter your house today
Clean off the shower shelves
I noticed my shower shelf looking pretty cluttered the other day. Apparently I’ve become hard to buy for. Either that or I stink, I prefer to believe it’s the former! Anyway, my siblings are now regularly giving me various soaps, scrubs, and hair care items along with beauty sample boxes. I love trying new things, but I need to reign this in before it gets out of hand.
To get rid of the clutter, we need to remove duplicate items. Keep at most one of each item in your shower, one shampoo, one conditioner, one body wash, one facial scrub. Use up the half empty stuff first. Throw out all of the empty bottles and tubes. Get rid of anything you don’t really like but keep because you spent money on it. Give it away if you’re like me and hate to be wasteful
Purge in the linen closet
I don’t know where all the towels in my linen closet came from. It’s probably because I hate to throw anything away. You never know when you’ll need a pile of towels. They did come in handy last year when our laundry drain backed up and we had water running down the hall into the bathroom and closets.
There are only two of us in the house. How many towels do we really need?
We re-use our towels a couple of times between washes, and I like to wash them separately, so for us six bath towels is a good number. This also keeps laundry more manageable because we have to wash them more often, we don’t have mountains piling up until we are out of clean towels.
As far as sheets go, keep your two favorite sets for each bed. One on the bed, and one to wash. You can even get away with one if you can wash, dry and put them back on the bed in the same day, but I know that’s not always realistic, and from my post on How to be Productive at Home, you know we need to be realistic.
If you live in a cold weather climate, maybe you prefer flannel sheets in the winter, like we do. In that case, allow 2 sets of regular sheets and 2 sets of flannel sheets for each bed. Get rid of all those lonely pillowcases or stray flat sheets.
If you’re short on storage space, look for my post on creative storage solutions for a small home, coming soon.
Organize the makeup
It’s easy to accumulate makeup samples, half empty foundation bottles, and several shades of eye shadow. When you try something new, the half used old one gets pushed to the back of your drawer. Or maybe you don’t like the new face mask so it gets discarded in the back of the medicine cabinet. These extra items are a good place to declutter and simplify your routine.
Choose your favorite frequently used facial cleanser and moisturizer. Keep those in a handy place near your bathroom sink. Take a look at what’s left. Do you like them? Do you use them? If not, then throw them away, or give them to someone else to try, just don’t put them back.
Now let’s think about your makeup routine. Select your go to items that you use every day. Put those in a pretty bag in your drawer that can easily be pulled out and put away every day. That way when you’re getting ready in the morning you don’t have to dig through all that clutter to find the item you need.
I’ve been eyeing these lay flat cosmetic bags. You open them up and easily see everything and find what you need fast. When you’re done, just pull the cord and wrap it all up, throw it in the drawer and be on your way.
Have some special items that you save for a special occasion or a night on the town? Put those in a separate bag so you don’t have to deal with them every day. Then get rid of everything that’s left. It’s not being used, it’s just clutter.
Side note: I hate throwing away a perfectly good bottle of moisturizer just because I don’t like it. I found a local non-profit organization that takes donations of personal care items and distributes them to people on government assistance that aren’t covered by food stamps or housing allowances. These are things that make people feel human, like deodorant, nail polish, perfume, body lotion, and toilet paper, but that aren’t covered under the government’s food stamp program.
Toss the throw pillows and blankets
How many blankets does one person need? Apparently in my house that number has crept up to five. Last week I looked around my living room and noticed we had 10 blankets. Granted, 4 of those are for our two senior cats, but still. That’s six blankets for two people. We keep our house at 75 degrees thanks to the wood stove, and we rarely have guests.
All these blankets create visual clutter, overflowing the basket in the corner. They get used and left in a pile on the couch so it always looks messy. They have to constantly be re-folded and put away. The cats sleep on them, then they have to be washed. They create a lot of extra work.
For us, I decided three blankets was a good number for the humans. I can keep one folded for my personal use on the sofa, two spares in the basket in the corner for guests.
The same goes for all of those decorative throw pillows. Do they actually stay on the sofa, or do they end up in a pile on the floor? Do you spend more time arranging them than you do using them? If so, it’s time to pare down. Select 2 or 3 if you must, and get rid of all the rest. You won’t miss them. Trust me.
Get rid of extra pillows on the bed
When you look at all the photos of dreamy bedrooms on Pinterest those beds look so inviting with their mountains of plush fabric and decorative pillows. It makes you want to curl right up in there and take a nap.
The reality is, dealing with all of those pillows on a daily basis is a hassle. You don’t want to wake up to a puddle of drool on your dainty little silk pillows, do you? So every night when you go to bed you have to move them. Then every morning you have to put them back on the bed. Those are precious minutes you could be spending on something else.
Or you could be like me, and leave those beautiful pillows in a pile on the floor. If that’s the case, then what is the point of even having them. Save yourself the money. Save yourself the headache. Save yourself the time. Pick your favorite one and get rid of the rest.
Visual clutter creates mental clutter
When you have less, your life is less stressful. It’s easier to put things away when there’s plenty of room where you store them. It’s visually appealing to have less stuff cluttering your cabinets. When you look inside you see everything easily, so you won’t have to go out and buy another, adding even more to the clutter.
Now go! Tackle your clutter today! I bet you’ll love the feeling so much you won’t be able to stop. Just don’t throw your husband out in your frenzy!
Useful Organization Items
Here are a few useful organization items once you’ve gotten rid of the excess:
YouCopia 50100 StoraLid Food Container Lid Organizer keeps your food container lids corralled in your cabinets, making better use of the space.
Command hooks help organize everything from coats, hats and purses to pot lids, cooking utensils, jewelry and hair accessories. The list is endless.
If you’re looking for a good book to get you motivated to start clearing, cleaning and organizing, Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley is a must read. My mother gave me this book years ago, and it really helped me get a routine for cleaning and decluttering, which made it so much easier to organize my small home. I still follow her methods to this day (although some months are better than others!).