Over consumption of goods is something that we are all guilty of on some level. Whether it is food, books, music, clothes, hobbies or larger items, most people have something they overspend on or accumulate too much of.
I have always considered myself fairly minimalist except for my books and Filofax collection and even they are neatly contained. However, I have noticed that the Filofax/planners are a little bit of an obsession and wonder about clearing some out. Most of them have been given, bought with birthday money or second hand. Now don’t get me wrong I use my planners, each one has a different use (diary, addresses, financial, blog, etc) but I do have to stop myself buying unnecessarily.
Dresses, specifically second-hand dresses, are now becoming a little bit of a problem because you feel so self righteous buying a good dress for between £4 and £6 and want to buy every brilliant one you see. Luckily I am good at telling myself that I don’t need them all and that I can only wear one at a time.
I have never liked having too many things around me and the things I have must be well organised. The ideal of minimalism is something that is part of me. When I downsized from a 3 bedroom to a 1 bedroom place last year, I gave things away. The more space you have the more you seem to accumulate. I could have sold things but giving them away felt better. I actually felt physically lighter for having given things away and for owning less.
It is easy to sort out the things you own and get rid of what you don’t need. I regularly go through my books and see if there is one or two that I can get rid of. A few months ago I gave away a planner and I am always happy to put something in a charity bag when they are put through my door. Sometimes you do need to reevaluate what you own because your priorities and needs may have changed. Over a few years I managed to amass a sizeable bag of ribbon. It was only when I was getting some out recently to use on a present, that I decided that I had too much and had a clear out. It was not wasted as I passed it on to someone else but I felt better for doing it.
Sitting with a box, a drawer or a pile of belongings and sorting through them is quite therapeutic. Some things make you think and prompt you to do activities you have forgotten about and there are other things you realise you will never need again. Yes, if you dispose of something there is a chance that you may regret it, however, you can’t keep everything all the time and you need to consider the likelihood of never needing it again being far more likely.
Everyone has their Achilles heel and I have mentioned that mine are books and planners, but this does not mean you can’t be sensible. Really ladies, will you ever need all 20 black dresses? There must be some you can give to charity? Men, do you think you need 6 boxes of nuts and bolt and similar toolbox debris? The first step to a more uncluttered life is to think about what you really need. If you have a hoarder's nature then take it really slow. Maybe do the one in, one out method until you feel more comfortable with disposing of things.
My current dilemma is that I feel I have too many clothes. I can’t wear all of them due to weight gain but am in the process of losing weight so am holding off a little longer before having a clear out. I did weed out a few bits when a charity bag came through the door but I am also giving myself a clear out deadline. Just this week I put 25 items of clothing aside for the next charity bag. If I haven’t started dropping the pounds by a certain date then I have to start clearing out. Goals make de-cluttering so much easier.
I have read, with great interest, many articles about minimalism and am happy that I do a lot of the little things that come up in these articles. It’s the small things that you do daily that keep your life organised. For example, I have always dealt with my post as soon as I get it. The envelopes and anything else which I don’t need gets recycled and the post itself is dealt with, filed etc. That is one less job to do at a later date.
One very important way of having less clutter in your life is not coveting what other people have. It’s fine to see something and want it but when it gets to having things to keep up with other people, then that is destructive. You may not need the things someone else has and you may waste money that you can’t afford and still get no joy out of what you have bought. Be selective in what you buy and make considered decisions rather than buying on impulse. We have all bought something on a whim and regretted it and been mentally kicking ourselves for ages, but we should learn from that the next time.
I have rather a lot on my Amazon wish list right now. Some of the things are potential presents for up and coming birthdays and some things I want. If I still want them when I have birthday money or want to treat myself, then I will buy something. If not, it stays on the list or gets deleted. Sadly it is too easy to buy things with a few clicks of the mouse and a credit card so impulse buying is actually easier these days.
We need to consider what we are buying and the impact it will make financially, in regard to being clutter and even environmentally. If you have something you can use but still replace it for no real reason, then you could just be creating more waste. Always try to give things to charity if you don’t want them as someone else may have a use for it and it isn’t filling up the overfilled landfill sites.
Physical consumption is not a replacement for happiness, yet we hear the phrase “retail therapy” far too often. The world of advertising has taught us that if we have had a hard day then we need to treat ourselves and that the only way to be content is through owning something or having a treat. (I have done this many times with chocolate.) I am quite happy, for example, with reading a book from the library, buying it second hand or buying it new. There is often more pleasure in buying a book in a charity shop as it is more about the book and the pleasure of reading it rather than owning it. Yes, I keep some books but they are ones I will re-read.
Owning a £300 handbag is an extravagance and I would be happier knowing I had bought a bag for £5 in a second hand shop. Labels and status symbols have no effect on me. I like the Filofax planners but am happy to have one second-hand or buy a Paperchase planner. I have never seen the purpose in buying branded clothes. Yes, quality is better but it is not better because it has an expensive price tag. The quality is in how the garment is made, not that it was made by the latest designer
If you find that your home is messy and cluttered and you have far more things than you will ever need, then you probably need to start de-cluttering. You will be surprised how lighter and happier you are when you are not surrounded by too many possessions. If you own a huge amount of stuff then start small as it will be an overwhelming task. Only you can decide how much something means to you and whether you want to keep it. You may realise that you like something but know someone who would have more use for it. You will find that giving things away is very rewarding and a lot easier to do than you think.