Over the course of the last few months, I have been walking through some small but effective methods of simplifying my life. Funny enough, when I was a child I was a bit of a pack-rat, and I held onto almost everything. But as I've gotten older, I have realized how much I actually hate the way that we live to consume, and the ways that things work their way into our lives and latch on to us. So I made the decision to pretty much overhaul my life and ditch the things that are unused, serve little to no purpose, or just don't really even matter. It started with getting rid of a lot of things that I realized I didn't need, then clothing that was sitting in my closet unworn, and then I moved into digitizing a good chunk of my life. Some close friends have thought this was pretty cool, and some couldn't quite believe I was able to rid myself of so much, so I thought it might be fun to share with y'all what I decided to let go of, how I got rid of those things, and why I've chosen to live with less.
The thought of less stuff was actually not hard for me, because I've moved enough in the past to know that it's so much easier and faster when you have less crap. But still, I have been living in the same house now for over two years, so it's been pretty easy for stuff to accumulate over time. Thus, I made it a point to start small, first taking a hard look at things like decoration items. I had plenty of random - albeit very pretty - decor items around the house that I realized I didn't really need, things like frames, jars, painted plates, etc. So I went through it all one by one and made very deliberate decisions as to what was necessary right now. I then moved onto my beloved books. Y'all, this was tough, but I realized that, in spite of how much I love to read, there are some books that I am probably not going to need to pick up in the future. So I purged, keeping only those that I truly believed I would want to read again (or held some serious sentimental value). Also, I have started renting e-books from the library in an attempt to keep my physical bookshelf small, and it's been a bit of a gamechanger because I still get to read the books I want to without the physical burden of massive book piles. Winning. The last things to look at were the big items, like furniture. I had a friend who was looking for a new dresser, and when describing what she wanted I realized it sounded just like the one that was sitting in my room. Now, I did technically use the dresser, but I knew that I also didn't really need it (I only had intimates, work out gear, and jammies in it, which would have been better placed in my closet anyway). BOOM, sold. So easy, guys.
I'm going to be honest here: I go through my closet on the regular, only because it's fairly small as it is and I've always been good at keeping it that way, namely because I have found that more clothing equals more time spent each morning trying to figure out what to wear (and yes, I know that I could always lay clothes out the night before, but that rarely works for me as I tend to dress based on how I feel, which easily changes overnight). But this time around, I made it a point to pull every single item of my wardrobe - including shoes, bags, and accessories - in order to assess the ones that I really wanted/needed to keep. For the things I was iffy about, I folded them and put them in the corner of my closet to see if I would reach for them over the next few weeks. And guess what? I only reached for maybe one item over the course of four weeks, which was an easy indication that I didn't really need to keep the things in that pile. I'm currently at about 15 tops, 10 dresses, 4 sweaters, 4 pair of jeans, 2 skirts, and 5 outwear pieces, all of which includes specialty items like winter coats and a fancy holiday dress or two. It's not a capsule by any means, but I've never wanted one of those anyway. I just like being able to look into my closet and actually see every piece of clothing I have, knowing that I truly love each and every one.
This area of simplifying has been interesting, mostly because it's been a fairly gradual process. It started in college, when I knew I didn't want to have a ton of paper lying around while I was studying. I took most of my class notes on my laptop, and transferred any paper notes through photos, scans, or manual transcription to my computer. Now as a post-grad adult, I have continued to try to keep things as paperless as possible. When I take webinars or go to a conference that require handwritten note-taking, I often scan those documents into PDF's and save them either right to my computer or, and most likely, put them into Evernote (a cloud-based note application that I've used since 2011 and still love). I do the same thing with book notes, which was why getting rid of some of my books was a little bit easier. Having a fairly terrible short-term memory, I have found that when I finish a book I really loved (usually non-fiction), I will go back through the book and type any highlights or notes I made in the margins into an Evernote document, which helps to ensure that I can always go back and get the information that seemed most pertinent to me when I read it. This practice has proved so valuable over the last few years. Other things I've chosen to make digital include: sermon notes, budget sheets, and pre-tax documents (like receipts). It should be noted that the one thing I will never go digital with is my journal. As an INFJ, I know that I process best through writing, and there is just something different - and much more therapeutic - about physically writing something down vs. typing it.
Okay, but how? One word: easily. I'm not one to get too attached to things, so it really was just easy for me to say goodbye to those things that I didn't need anymore (or at all to begin with). My method was as follows: gather ALL of the things, lay them on the floor, and then sort then into either a "sell," "donate," or "toss" pile, trying to make sure the latter was tiny (if not nonexistent). From there, I attempted to sell the first category of stuff over the course of a few weeks, using avenues like Buy Sell Trade groups, my work's internal forums, and Facebook. Anything that didn't sell I rolled over into my donate pile, and got those things ready to go to Goodwill. Note: if you choose to donate and care about tax deductions, be sure to make a list of all of the things you donate and log them into My Goodwill Donation (where you can access all donation history come tax season). And when it came to the "toss" items, I did my best to recycle what could be recycled before putting anything in the trash.
The "why" behind this process was also pretty easy for me: less stuff means less stress, and less stress is a real good thing. I've been attracted to the thought of a more minimal lifestyle for a long time, so when I finally made the decision to just go for it, I was really excited. And through the process I ended up realizing just how little I really cared about (or even liked) some of the things that were just taking up space in my life. Another "why" for me was that, with the season I believe God is preparing me for, less stuff is going to be a requirement (rather than a mere option). So it was almost like an act of obedience for me, and I have regretted nothing thus far. I don't even remotely miss the things I've gotten rid of, and find myself much more content with less.
I hope that this post can inspire you, even if just in the tiniest way, to consider a more simple lifestyle, especially if you're feeling at all overwhelmed by all of the stuff. It is possible to live with less, and I would dare to say it's much more fulfilling, too. If you're a reader (like me!) and want some serious inspiration and motivation, I'd recommend the following books:
Happy simplifying, friends!