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3 Ways Owning Less Stuff Makes My Life Easier

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It’s been over five years since I discovered minimalism, and while I can’t say I’ve mastered this lifestyle (I’m not even sure what that would look like… me and my kids living in a cave with some monks?), I continue to strive toward it, mostly because being a minimalist makes my life easier. 

Today I’d like to share 3 reasons why. Perhaps this will inspire you to live with less, too! (After all, my kids and I would like some company in that cave.)

Reason #1: I Know What I Have: “I didn’t even know I had this!” is a phrase I regularly hear from clients. Said in a surprised voice often leaning toward bewilderment, this phrase exemplifies what happens when we own lots of stuff: our brains simply can’t keep track of it all. We end up storing the excess in bins and boxes to be “discovered” later. This used to happen to me, too, but now I pretty much know what I have everywhere in my house. (Note: this does NOT apply to the bins of mystery stuff Josh keeps in the attic. My avoidance of those bins reflects my strong commitment to marital harmony… and my lack of desire to get into an argument about whether or not Star Wars toys and 1990s baseball cards are legitimate tools for financing our kids’ college educations.)

Knowing what I have means I know where to find things. For example, I used to keep multiple pairs of nail clippers all over my house. I’m not sure why I felt the need to be prepared for simultaneous hangnail emergencies in my bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, but I kept them all “just in case.” Now I have just one pair of nail clippers per bathroom. (Yes, folks… I am one wild rebel! Yee-hah!) As silly as it sounds, having one pair of nail clippers makes my life easier because everyone in my house knows exactly where they belong. If they aren’t there, we can track down the last user and make him/her responsible for putting them back. This is much easier than searching for clippers all over the house, and it also teaches everyone to put things in their “home,” as opposed to just dropping items wherever seems convenient.

Reason #2: I Know What I Don’t Have: This is the flip side of Reason #1, but just as important. It is helpful to know what you don’t have, so that you don’t waste time looking for it. For example, the other day I went to the attic in search of a collaborative book I’d written for a grad school class. Each student had contributed a page to the book, and we bound the pages together at the end. It had a picture of a cartoon beaver on the front, which I wanted use to accentuate a funny story I was telling a friend. (Note: I’m happy to tell you this story if you’d like to share a drink with me… and if you aren’t easily offended.)  I knew the only place the book could be was in my memorabilia tub, so I opened the tub, spent a minute rifling through, and realized it wasn’t there. I must have decluttered it at some point. I’ll admit, I felt a twinge of disappointment that I wouldn’t have the beaver pic for my story, but I also felt glad that I didn’t spend another hour tearing my attic apart in search of it. I knew what I didn’t have. (I was also comforted by the thought that I had kept in touch with several members of the class–who might not be minimalists!–and might have kept a copy of the book. I knew I could track down that beaver pic, if necessary, and gosh darn it, it might just be necessary.)

Reason #3: I Have More Time: I truly believe that becoming a minimalist is the next best thing to going all Back to the Future and inventing your own flux capacitor. (Well, okay… maybe that’s a stretch. After all, being a minimalist has not resulted in a sweet 1980s DeLorean–or better yet, a dreamy 1980s Michael J. Fox–showing up in my driveway. Sigh.) When I minimized my stuff, I maximized my time. How so? First of all, as you may have noticed from Reasons #1 and #2, I spend less time looking for things. I know what I have, and I know what I don’t have, so it’s easier to live my day-to-day life. Also, daily tasks like picking up toys, putting away dishes, and doing laundry just take less time. I tell clients that no room in their house should take more than five minutes to clean up, and this is true in my house. (Okay, it might take me no longer than five minutes to clean up, but if my kids are involved, well… all you parents know how that goes!)

I hope this post has given you some reasons to own less stuff. And if in all your subsequent decluttering you happen to find a picture of a cartoon beaver, please send it my way.

Rose Lounsbury is one of Dayton, Ohio’s top professional organizers and a sought-after public speaker. After blogging about her own journey toward a minimalist lifestyle, Rose was inspired to start Less LLC, a minimalist-minded professional organizing company. Rose is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and has been featured on Good Day Columbus. If you’d like Rose’s help with an organizing project at your home or office, you can contact her at [email protected] or visit her online at OrganizeWithLess.com.

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