By Lola Salvador Akinwunmi, Regular Columnist.
I’ve always ‘tried’ (emphasis on the word ‘tried’) to live simplistically, so I got very interested and have made attempts to live as a minimalist the last two years. This is so crucial as we try to attain work life balance with so little time.
The idea has always been intriguing to me. I’ve always wanted to be able to live a much neater, less stressed, and more organized life.
I have to say, the benefit of owning fewer items has been quite the journey and getting the kids buy-in hasn’t always been easy. I do get the protests every now and again, but we’re working through this one day at a time.
I must admit getting started initially appeared daunting. Turns out, decluttering wasn’t as attractive as I thought it would be until I did the following and it no longer was a chore but a fun undertaking.
Here are the 7 steps I took to declutter my home:
Making Up My Mind
I made up my mind to get rid of the emotional ties to the ‘things’ I had accumulated. Once you can get through this, the rest of the plan becomes really easy.
I dreamed up a fantasy life where I would get an irresistible offer to go live on a beach somewhere exotic and would be ready in a matter of one day. This meant I didn’t want to have things that would require work to pack up, donate, or sell. My new reality: I now can get moved within 8 hours.
Keeping in line with Step #2, it now became easy to ‘give up’ stuff. I came up with a three phase plan. Each phase was broken down to 12 weeks. This plan included committing to filling up a minimum of three trash bags at the end of each week. Phase One was focused on items I would be donating. Phase Two was focused on items I would be selling. Phase Three was tidying up what was left. I got the kids engaged in the first two phases as we placed the bags in a central area. Phase Two was fun for them because I told them they could keep the money earned from the sale of any of their items. Yes, they were now very motivated.
Decluttering the kitchen was next. I literally got rid of pots, gadgets, and dishes I never use. Some pots just needed to be tossed. I now laugh about my hoarding tendencies. I’m still not sure why I held onto pots that no longer had a handle or the pan that burnt every meal (or was it my cooking skills)? I got rid of the Microwave (this was a huge one, and I still get protests to this day) and every other gadget that either didn’t make sense or that I hadn’t used in ages. New kitchen rules have been set: “if it doesn’t have a lid, then we don’t keep it” and “if it doesn’t fit in the shelves, out it goes”. The new house order in general has become: “If it doesn’t have a home, out it goes.”
Off to IKEA we went and got some really cute storage boxes and placed items that we would be keeping and labeled those. We do have a commitment that if we haven’t as much as looked at these in six months then out they go for donation or sale.
Change is the Only Permanent Thing in Your Office Life
Realize that this is a lifestyle change and requires some effort on your part. File letters, bills and other mail away quickly. Purchase file folders and label major bills and important documents. Labels or file folders can be inexpensively purchased at a dollar store. Invest in a paper shredder and get one of your mature kids to shred documents you no longer require either for a reward or pocket money. You do have to save financial records for a minimum of 7 years. Label those boxes with dates, so it is easy to identify. Also, invest in a rolling cart especially if you work from home in any capacity, this way you can have your office setup where you are and neatly put away items once you’re done if you do not have a dedicated home office.
There are a laundry list of items you can throw away today after reading this post, and this is regardless if you want to commit to decluttering or not.
The huge surprise and outcome of decluttering must be a well-kept secret because making an extra $1,100 that I didn’t know I had in ‘stuff’ just lying around the house came as a true shocker. Having those extra funds went a long way and made a difference on our Summer holiday spending. This was my Phase Two surprise and it was a big win and enough to keep us motivated to continue trying out this lifestyle.
Do share your ideas and any tips and surprising outcome of decluttering. I would love to hear more about this.
Till Next Time, Lola ❤
Lola Salvador Akinwunmi is a Career Strategists and mother of two who teaches professional women how to leverage their careers by tapping into their inner propreneur abilities while maintaining that crucial work life balance. She is the founder of LolaSal Inc., which connects professional women to Premium job opportunities. Get more information here.