5 Tips for ‘Impulsive Minimalists’

Every once in a while, I start to get a little… flighty. Like, at any moment, depending upon which way the wind blows, I could either adopt 3 dogs, take up macrame, paint my janky kitchen cabinets (although Lord knows it would take a whole lot more than that to revive those dated beasts), or sell everything I own and start over from scratch. Today, for whatever reason, has me leaning toward the latter. I’m going to go ahead and call it ‘impulsive minimalism.’

It always starts with a sudden urge to rearrange, and then before I know it, I’m making ‘keep,’ ‘donate,’ ‘sell,’ and ‘trash’ piles. I’m not sure what triggers it or why, but I am sure it stems from the cycles of anxiety I struggle with. For this reason, I’ve made efforts to move toward a more minimalistic approach to the way we live and the items we bring into our home. The fewer items that come in, the fewer items to collect dust, clean, or manage in one way or another. It’s funny how lightening the physical/visual load in our homes can lighten our mental load too.

If, like me, you find yourself suddenly stricken by ‘impulsive minimalism,’ I have a few tips for helping you navigate a successful purge.

Decide ahead of time what your goal is.

If there are just a few specific things you want to get rid of, great. Stop yourself when you’ve reached that point. If you want to comb through every item you have and do a serious downsizing, that’s fine too (but be realistic about your expectations as far as your time frame goes!). If you’re not really sure what your goal is, but you’re just feeling a little anxious and like you need to get rid of some things, pump the breaks. Decluttering may help with your overall stress and anxiety long term (I’m not a mental health professional, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read about this a few times and can attest to the validity of it in my own life), but if you go at it full speed ahead with an unclear goal, you risk tossing things you shouldn’t in an emotional whirlwind. Not that I would know anything at all about that… (“No, honey, I have no idea where the rock you found 7 months ago in the grocery store parking lot is…”)

Start in one room.

Like with any task, it’s best to start small. Keep it to one contained room, so you have very clear boundaries. If, like me, you have small children at home, this is a good way to avoid getting half-way through a project before getting interrupted several times and then ultimately losing your train of thought. Or it’ll happen anyway, because, well, kids.

Focus on staying in that room until the job is done. If there are items in the room that belong elsewhere, simply set them in a pile outside the door. Don’t leave your prison cell room to put things away in another room. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT leave the room unless you’re finished in it. Or unless it’s on fire.

Make piles.

I always do 3 piles: keep, sell/donate, and toss. The key to success here is to make sure everything gets put exactly where it’s supposed to go when you’re finished in your room. That means that the bag marked “donate”? It goes straight to your chosen donation facility. It does not live in the back of your vehicle for 6 months. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does that…

Know when to stop.

Avoid the urge to go overboard. While that headboard or dresser in your spare room might not be quite what you want anymore, hang onto it until you have a replacement. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that getting rid of it before you have a replacement will force you to either buy or DIY a new one right away because (if you’re anything like me) those plans can change quickly and your room could end up missing a vital piece of furniture for a while. If you put all of your things back in the room where they belong and you feel like your room is lacking something (and you don’t have immediate, certain plans to remedy it), re-evaluate your “trash” or “donate” piles before you take them out.

A good defense is the best offense.

If you don’t want to repeat this process every 6 months, the best thing to do is be extra vigilant about the things you bring into your home moving forward. Ask yourself if it’s something that will truly add to your life in some way, or if it’s just another distraction. If you’re not sure, sleep on it. You can buy it tomorrow if you still really think you want it. You could instate a house rule that for every new item that comes in, an old one goes out, unless of course, it’s an item you collect.

How do you keep your home decluttered? I would love it if you’d share any tips on my facebook page or here in the comments!