Do you ever get that general feeling of unease and not know where it’s coming from? You begin to feel agitated, or for a more fun word from my Italian heritage; you become agitato.
When you’re agitato you’re not very fun to be around. General symptoms include anger, impatience, and annoyance. Being agitato means that you’d rather curl up into a ball and wallow in self-pity than do anything productive.
I get this feeling quite often. I eventually pinned it down to a cluttered home. I will generally become agitato when I’m forced to spend much longer than necessary finding an item due to a messy home. Sometimes, if it’s super messy, I delve into this state when I’m not even finding anything.
No matter how many ‘big tidy ups’ me and Mrs SavingNinja try and do, it normally doesn’t last that long. I’d like to try and minimize the agitato state as much as possible and remain in a blissful, tidy state for longer. This is where minimalism comes in.
Minimalism is the ideology of living with fewer items. This covers any and all items: clothes, electronics, cosmetics. The idea is that having more shit makes you unhappy.
Like me; you could become unhappy due to clutter. Having much more (mostly useless) items means that it’s harder to keep your home tidy. It’s also much harder to find your ‘good socks’ or realise that you have no pants left if you’ve got to wade through a load of broken or un-liked items of clothing to figure this out…
You can also become unhappy due to the fact that you’re actually-figuratively surrounding yourself in shit. Why would you want your home to be filled with stuff that you don’t really like and/or need? With stuff that won’t last you a long time and will probably break after a few uses?
Minimalism means having fewer things but it also leads to buying high-quality things that bring you joy, are multi-functional and are easy to repair. Why would you want to buy that £20 Primark coat that will break after 3 months? You could buy a £200 quality coat that will last you 15 years, it will also be much comfier/waterproof/breathable.
Having fewer things makes it much easier to keep your home decluttered. I know this first hand. The harder something is to put away, the easier it will be for your brain to tell you “Nope, I’ll leave this item here in the ‘temporary’ corner and put it away later.” Or “I’ll use this item again later/tomorrow/next week, I’ll leave it out.” You want to make something as easy to put away as possible! Your items ‘home’ should be a better solution to you than your ‘temporary shelf’ or corner of the floor. Quick and easy.
This works on the flip side too. If it’s this easy to put away, it will be just as easy to retrieve. No more rooting through piles of stuff until you find the item that you really want. Zero stress.
Ever had one of those ram packed kitchen cupboards full of Tupperware, where it’s like playing a game of Jenga trying to put something away? You fear that every time it opens, it will all come cascading out? If that cupboard was half full, it would be a lot easier to manage. A lot of these items will sit unused most of the time.
Another benefit of minimising is only keeping items that you really love. You all have that T-Shirt/dress that you think is really awesome. Imagine if all of your pieces of clothing were that awesome? It would be much better to have 10 really high quality, thick T-Shirts that don’t shrink in the wash or tear easily than loads of low-quality shirts, some that you probably haven’t worn for years.
Most people actually only wear a handful of their total clothing, meaning the rest of their clothes are just taking up space.
Better yet, you can buy clothes that are multi-functional and can be used in both hot and cold weather. Layers are the key! This goes the same way with all other items. Buy less of, but higher quality items that are multi-functional. The more functions an item has, the more worthy it is of taking a space in your home.
I’m not saying to go all Rambo and get rid of everything other than a spoon and a mess tin. I’m just preaching the benefits of reduction and quality. You can have as many things as you’d like. Just make sure you love all of them, they won’t break easily and of course; make sure that you actually have space to easily store and retrieve them.
Minimalising won’t just bring happiness and clarity into your life, it will also save you money. It’s much easier to needlessly consume when you don’t love (and know about) everything you own. This may even result in buying the same thing twice!
Do I practice what I preach?
Nope. My house is so cluttered right now, I’m agitato 50% of the time! Yeah, yeah, I know – I just spewed to you all of that stuff about how minimalism is awesome, what the hell?
I really really want to get to that blissfully minimized state where I can easily pull out any item of clothing and have it be one that I can wear today. At least half of my clothes seem to just sit there ‘just-in-case’. But, it’s really bloody hard. We’ve had so many big clean ups and reapings that I’ve lost count. Useless clutter seems to continuously build-up, it’s a never-ending uphill struggle.
This time, though, it will be different… I hope.
I’m going to methodically break down each part of my home into categories. For each category, I’ll ponder these three things:
- What would be the perfect state of this category, what’s the goal?
- What is the MVP (tech term for Minimal Viable Product[note]A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and to provide feedback for future development[/note]) of this category? Ideally, where can I get to without having to buy anything?
- What is the current state of this category. How did it get like this, and how can it be prevented from happening again in the future?
I’m going to break each category into a blog post with hopefully some successful results!
Currently, these are the categories that I’m going to tackle:
- Light clothing – T-Shirts, smart shirts, exercise clothes, trousers
- Warm clothing – Jumpers, coats
- Shoes – SO many shoes
- Cat toys – How many toys does an indoor cat really need?
- Cosmetics and cleaning products
- Electronics and paperwork – I like ethernet cables, OK?!
- Cooking/eating utensils and food
- The loft – I don’t even know what’s up there!
There’s quite a bit to get through. I’ll have to try and rope Mrs SavingNinja into some of this as we’re not going to be able to go through a full transformation unless we’re both on-board.
A lot of this reaping is going to be necessary if we ever emigrate to a different country. I’d rather have a fresh start than pay a small fortune to send a crate full of all my things across the sea. So hopefully doing all of this will pay dividends in general well-being and reduced future stress.
There’s also a lot to be said for being a minimalist in many other ways:
Your finances. Having fewer but higher quality outgoings makes your life simpler and allows you to easily keep track of your expenses.
Your relationships. Focus on building and maintaining high-quality relationships with like-minded individuals, all you need are a few really close friends for a happy life. Focus on the ones that matter.
Your hobbies. Don’t have 100 different hobbies, focus on one or two. You’ll grow and learn more and the better you get, the more fun you’ll have. You’ll also be able to dedicate more money and time into the hobbies you’re most passionate about.
No matter what you apply minimalism to, it all comes down to the same principles…
Less is more.
Choose quality over quantity.
Surround yourself in items that bring you happiness.
The end result will be a decluttered life. You’ll have much more clarity over what’s important and a lot less complexity revolving around what you should own. Each item you own will be of a much higher quality and you can be confident it will serve its purpose well and for a long time. You’ll no longer have to worry about the price tag of an item, your focus will be more on the value and need.
Minimalism ties in beautifully with the financial independence movement as it focuses a lot on what makes you truly happy. It has routes in anti-consumerism and if executed correctly, will save you a lot of money. I really believe minimalism is one of the keys for prolonged happiness. But we’ll see!
I’ll be picking up and reading this book that I’ve seen recommended quite a bit before I start the first category. If you’ve read it, please let me know if it helped you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
- What do you think of minimalism?
- Have you tried to declutter your life before? Were you successful?