Stuck at Home? Use This Time to Clear the Clutter

Quarantine. We’ve probably read this word more times in the past two weeks than in the rest of our lives combined. Everyone is being told to stay away from others and to stay home. By this point the boredom is setting in for a lot of us; the productivity itches, the desire to make some use of our time. One thing I’ve often noticed when sitting with these feelings is that things from the back of your mind can spring up and remind you of things you can do; things you may have put off at one point or another, things that have just been lying around that don’t necessarily impede your daily life but are always just there. If you’ve read some of my other posts you know I’m a minimalist. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from practicing minimalism is that clutter in your home is clutter in your mind. Think back to all of the times you’ve even cleaned your room, you’ll remember that feeling of “ahh” when you finished. That feeling of spaciousness and a greater ability to relax. When you practice the basic principles of minimalism, this feeling and your mental space get extended as far as they can go. Not only does this benefit your mental experience but it also makes your physical experience easier and less complicated. There are a few basic rules to getting started with minimalism or even simply making your life more minimal and if you start with these you’ll have a great start towards experiencing these benefits. Let’s first talk about the benefits and then get into how you can get started with the vastly rewarding process of decluttering to achieve this end.

The benefits of simply having more mental space are immense. To start, when you don’t have things bogging down your mind you start to think of things you can get done on larger levels. It seems to be a natural procedure for our minds to tend towards making order out of chaos. Human history has shown us through our genes and through observation that making order out of chaos makes our lives better. If you’ve ever listened to Jordan Peterson talk you’ll know one of his key sayings in relation to self-improvement is “clean up your room!” This is because of these exact reasons. Starting with your room sets you on a path to expand your realm of awareness to what can be made into order but without first getting your local environment cleared up there will be that fog in the way of the bigger things you can do. Productivity aside though there are also simply mental health benefits. By having things done and cleared you’re better able to be at a greater state of peace because you don’t have all of the things that are in the way or that need to get done to make life better, even if just by a little, circling around in the back of your mind. Additionally, by opening up mental space, creativity is better allowed to flourish. When you have empty space in the mind that isn’t taken up by external concerns you’re able to better reflect on yourself and your observations lending towards an increased ability to create.

In addition to mental space though, you’ve also, of course, created more physical space. By having more room in your home to simply move around in you can start to think about how you might want to intentionally use that space to make your life better. Not only have you created space though but you’ve also reduced your load. Another big thing I’ve noticed from practicing minimalism is just how easy it is to travel or move. When going on a trip, even a day trip, packing is as simple as looking around my room to everything I have and thinking about what I’ll need or want. I don’t have to worry I forgot something or rack my brain to make a list of what I’ll need before I go searching for those things. When it comes to moving, the less stuff you have the easier and quicker it is to pack, carry, and unpack. Now that you know some of the largest benefits to minimizing your possessions just how can you get started?

The way I practice minimalism falls under three rules. First, focus on things you truly need. Think about all of the things you require as a human: water and food and everything you need surrounding those things, cleaning materials, hygiene materials, a bed, some furniture, you get the picture. Next, when it comes to things you don’t need, think about your interests and hobbies and decide what you have that falls under those categories. Do you have extra of certain things? Could you maybe get rid of what you have to get one or a few really nice things to replace those? Lastly, as slightly alluded to in the last rule, get really nice multi-purpose items that can replace things that otherwise would take up more space and are less practical. After you’ve done that you’ll typically have a few categories left-over. First, trash, which is obvious what you do with it. Second, sentimental objects. While I won’t tell you to get rid of things that are sentimental I will advise that you reflect on if you ever even think about those things until you consider getting rid of them. Additionally, if the meaning it has to you is simply a fond memory, consider that the memory will still be there and that you’ll most likely never think about that object again if you get rid of it. My ultimate advice on sentimental items though is to have the goal of only keeping a few sentimental items that REALLY mean something to you. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things around that are meaningful to you until it starts to make your life harder or more cluttered without adding any true benefit. You’ve probably already started to think of the things that you definitely would keep when going through this process. The last category you’ll have left are things that are still useful or valuable in some kind of way, just not for making your current life better. I find it best to split this category up into donate or sell. On one hand, you’ll be passing that value on to someone who needs it and on the other hand you’ll be making some money as well as letting the item still get some use.

In this time when we are all stuck at home we can turn our attention and energy to taking care of those things we’ve been needing to get done for a while but haven’t had the time or energy for and to really reflect on what is making our lives better and what is just weighing them down. Practicing minimalism or even certain parts of it can help give us all more mental space in addition to physical space. Not only will this do loads for letting us relax in this time where there isn’t much to do but will also help us feel immensely lighter and have less to regret coming home to when life returns to our normal schedules. This is not only a productive way to spend the time we have right now but also a healthy way. By doing this we can experience great benefits in numerous realms of life and set ourselves up for greater future success.

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Nathaniel Allen

Political commentator, life coach, and moral philosophy fanatic. Here I talk about the perspectives, actions, and habits we can take to simply make life better.