Before we knew our destiny of living minimally on a school bus, we were constantly “decluttering” our lives. Every week I (Ashley) would single out a room, and tackle it. I would frequently day dream about the tiny containers that would fit perfectly within my bigger containers to organize my over cluttered life. I spent more time thinking about it than actually working towards simplification. Downsizing was little more than just a pipe dream.
We had a 4 bedroom house with a pantry the size of my bus, two dining rooms and an enormous walk in master closet: all packed with my things. At one point I remember telling my husband “this house doesn’t have any storage!”. I laugh now looking back on the women I was. So concerned with properly folded decorative towels and storage bins. I still am at times a princess about somethings but I have come so far! ::::patting myself on the back::::
I get asked a lot about how to start minimizing and decluttering so here I will share my top 5 tips.
- PRIORITIZE YOUR GOALS: Why are you wanting to simplify? What are your goals? Things waste our time! How often do you spend time looking for Tupperware lids, never to find the one you were looking for? Does cleaning your kids toys take more time than they actually spend playing with them? Life isn’t suppose to be spent organizing and cleaning things. If you choose to just keep cleaning things up, rather than simplify nothing will change. My “ahh ha moment” was standing at my kitchen sink while I was washing dishes and my child asked me to go swing with them. I responded with “no, honey I need to finish the dishes”….WHAT?! Why are dishes more important than actually spending time with my kid? (Obviously I still wash dishes, and still have responsibilities around the bus, but they pale in comparison to what they used to). I was spending hours a day loading and unloading dish after dish from my dishwasher because I kept buying more and more dishes. I bought more clothes to satisfy my materialistic desires to be trendy rather than because I needed them. Which lead to more laundry, more folding, more stress and more mental over head. The fewer things you own the more your able to live the life you want.
- MAKE LISTS: I am a list maker. I find satisfaction in making long lists and checking off tasks as they are completed. It also clears my mind to actually focus on the task at hand. If you have too many things floating around in your brain nothing actually gets done. A large house full of organizing and decluttering sounds overwhelming which leads to failure. Get out your pen and paper and start writing down the rooms, closets, dressers, junk drawers, cabinets etc. that are cluttering up your mind and your life. Figure out what is a reasonable timeline for yourself and aim for 1 room, drawer, cabinet whatever, per week. Start checking off those tasks and watch your list get completed!
- DONT QUIT: Decluttering isn’t fun. Its incredibly tedious at times. I fought my boredom with audio books (mostly zombie fiction). I would start a book and not want to stop listening; it would keep me going for hours. The Girl With All The Gifts got me through my entire master bedroom, bathroom and closet! If you’re not into listening to books, 90’s hip hop is pretty motivating also. If you don’t know now you know! (RIP Biggie)
- NO MORE “JUST IN CASE”: Most of the clutter in our lives are the “just in case items”. We hang on to cords just in case, we keep those jeans just in case we lose 20 lbs, we keep that crystal pitchers just in case we throw a party. How often is the item actually used? Have you used it in the past year? If not get rid of it. If you can replace the item quickly and for under $20 its not worth cluttering your home with it. Not quite ready to ditch it? Put the item in a box in the garage and if you use it within the next three months than keep it, if not wave goodbye!
- START….YEP GET STARTED: No more excuses, no more procrastination, no more “Im too busy”. I hate that excuse BTW because what you’re really saying is “its not a priority”. Everyone makes time for the things that are a priority in their lives.
So if you don’t have time…MAKE TIME.