I’m a big fan of minimalism. A few years ago, I decided to own as little as possible. I downgraded and bought a small car. I cleaned out all the wardrobes, drawers and shelves in my home. No souvenirs, no items I don’t regularly use, no excess of clothes or anything else. All digital things were transferred to a cloud and I’ve started with asset-light living as a big part of minimalist lifestyle. No CDs, photo albums, and as little paper as possible.
It feels good as shit. It makes so much room in your life. You get new margin and space to focus on things that really matter. A lot has been written about the minimalist lifestyle and there are so many stories of how people freed themselves from material prisons; I encourage you to find those stories on the internet and give minimalism a try. It’s not about ignoring the material world or not giving a damn about money, but about setting the right priorities.
The less you own, the less owns you.
Well, one of the most important things for living a minimalist lifestyle is regular cleaning. I try to discard the things I don’t need on a daily basis as life goes along, but in spite of that, things have a tendency to accumulate and take up space. That’s why I do regular monthly cleanings and a major one every half year. After every major cleaning, I feel like I’ve also tidied up a part of my inner world; I feel refreshed and ready for new achievements.
I’ve just performed a major half-yearly cleaning and it took me an entire weekend. I usually do major half-yearly cleanings after every summer (August/September) and after every winter (March/April). Here’s what I’ve done over the past weekend. I have…
- Cleaned out my closets and donated five big bags of clothes to charity. I donated all the clothes that I don’t really wear or that have become a little worn out or that I don’t feel good wearing. I really try to own as few clothes as possible and there’s still so much to give away every year.
- Cleaned out all the drawers and threw away all the things I don’t use, like pens, notebooks, paperclips, loyalty cards and other stuff that gets stuck in drawers.
- Cleaned and tidied up my car.
- Took care of all the paperwork and administration, and threw away all the papers I don't need. I try to have as little paper as possible. You cannot totally wipe it due to tax and legal reasons, but I try to get rid of all other paper or digitalize it.
- Formatted my computer with a fresh copy of Windows 10, cleaned all the folders and files and, of course, made an archive beforehand. Now my computer is like new and everything is organized as it should be according to time management best practices.
- Took my netbook (Asus Transformer) to service because of a hardware fault. I use the netbook only for traveling and haven’t yet decided if I really need it enough. It will stay with me for the next six months and then I’ll see what to do with it.
- Cleaned my iPhone and got rid of all the apps I don't need or use frequently enough (I has four screens of apps, and now only two). I also archived and organized photos, music and other digital assets.
- Arranged my contacts, social network profiles, passwords and other digital parts of my life.
- Canceled various subscriptions to apps and magazines I don't use frequently enough. Many are good apps or reads, but if I don’t have time to use it, it’s time to lose it.
- Put some technical equipment I don't use on eBay to sell it, and threw away some cables, CDs etc. I used to prefer to throw away things (because it’s easier) rather than put them on internet markets, but now I first try to sell all the things if I can set the price for at least 15$. I’ve figured out that almost everything holds value for someone.
- Canceled some mini projects and commitments in order to make more time to focus on work and tasks with the most value added.
- Arranged RSS feeds, organized eBooks and music and some other digital stuff as part of my minimalistic and asset-light living.
- I donated around 50 business books to one of the NGOs. Five years ago I had like 1000+ books. I sold, donated and gave away most of them. Now I have the last 7 physical books, that are my favorites. I need a little bit of time to get rid of them because of an emotional connection.
- Cleaned my master task list (backlog) and deleted a few tasks I wanted to do but aren’t that important. By deleting some of the tasks, I got some instant margin in life and it felt so good.
- Much like I’ve deleted a few tasks, I’ve also deleted a few hundred articles that were in the “to read” folder, but that I haven’t touched in the past few months. Deleting them felt good with no regrets at all.
- I’ve reordered and optimized my browser bookmarks and tidied up a few other little things to have my life and the environment as clean as possible.
- Since I’ve done all that work, me and my girlfriend also had a major apartment cleaning and now everything feels new and fresh.
You can do the same with your garage, the food in your refrigerator and other places in the kitchen, the basement and all the other places where junk gets accumulated. When you get rid of all the stuff you don’t need, you simply make room for new things. You make room for new, better things you can fight for; somehow cleaning feels like an exciting experience, being in touch with your past, remembering it one more time and, in the future at the same time, thinking what new you will attract to your life.
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The purpose of this blog post is to encourage you to try a minimalist lifestyle or, if that seems like too big a step, try to make some space in your life with the purpose of attracting new, better things. You can do that with material things, but you can also clean up and reorder relationships in your life, business and personal, in pretty much the same way, all with the purpose of focusing on those that really matter.
Make minimalism a part of your life strategy. Happy cleaning.