“Picture your dream home. I bet it’s not filled with clutter.” —Joshua Becker
Out with the old and in with the new! At the top of my list is a home makeover—the kind that doesn’t require a credit card or a celebrity decorator, because finances are on the fresh start list too. That’s why I was excited to discover Joshua Becker’s new book, The Minimalist Home.
A makeover I can do just by getting rid of stuff? Sign me up!
If you’re considering a fresh start of your own, here’s a summary of the top seven decluttering tips I found in the book. Spoiler Alert: I loved it!
Tip 1: Identify the purpose of a room and get rid of anything that doesn’t serve that purpose. It seemed so obvious once I read it, but the idea of having a purpose or a goal for every room was an ‘aha moment’ for me. Once I’m clear on what I want each room to accomplish, I can use my goals to decide what stays and what goes. If the purpose of my bedroom is rest, does the television on the dresser promote or detract from that goal? Turns out, the television (and every other electronic gadget) detracts from my ability to rest, which means it needs to go. Having clear goals makes decisions like these so much easier! Or, as Becker says, “The purposeful leads right into the practical.”
Tip 2: Distinguish between minimizing and tidying up. Okay, this isn’t technically a decluttering tip, but it was another ‘aha’ idea. A minimized home is a home that is first of all purposeful. Just because a room is tidy doesn’t necessarily mean there’s still not too much stuff inside it. Well-organized clutter is still clutter. Joshua said it this way, “Never organize what you can discard.”
Tip 3: Simplify walls. Decluttering makes me think of overstuffed closets and junk drawers and surfaces, but walls? Yes, walls. They can be overstuffed too, full of outdated objects, shelves of dusty knickknacks, and wall hangings purchased only because they color coordinate with the couch. Simplified walls are curated spaces that display images with meaning. They communicate not just what matters to me, but what matters most to me. Less is more.
Tip 4: Start with the easier spaces and move on to harder ones. Ever heard the saying, “Eat the biggest frog first?” It’s a riff on a Mark Twain quote that basically means, if you do the hardest thing on your to-do list first, the rest of the day is easier. Unless you’re decluttering, in which case, Becker says starting with the easier spaces builds up skills and confidence to tackle the harder spaces. He took my focus off the garage and attic, and moved me to an easier place to start: the living room and bedrooms. I’m all about easier first!
Tip 5: Choose one of three options for every object: remove it, relocate it, leave it.Multiple choice is easier than essay, right? So why try to essay myself through decluttering decisions when I can do the easy-peasy with a multiple choice? Remove, relocate, or leave. No wrong answers!
Tip 6: Count the “clutter cost.” It can be hard to get rid of things I spent a lot of money on. But keeping things I no longer wear, use, or love also has a cost—every object carries a burden as well as a benefit. The burden or clutter cost is the money, time, energy, and space an object demands of me. I need to consider the benefit-to-burden ratio for everything I keep.
Tip 7: Focus on the gains, not the subtractions. A minimalist mindset is all about how owning less creates an opportunity to live more. I love this quote: “Minimalism isn’t about removing things you love. It’s about removing the things that distract you from the things you love.” Yes!
Honestly, the book is full of all kinds of practical tips for tackling every room in the house, but I think what I appreciate most about The Minimalist Home is the mind shift—it truly changed the way I think, and not just about my home and my possessions. It helped me to take stock of my values and what I really want—from my life as well as my home—in the year ahead.
Fresh start here I come!