(Today’s post comes to us from Karen of Dreamin’ the Life. Today, she shares her experience (ordeal?!) of attempting to become a minimalist. I suggested checking her site out as a great way to be inspired to live a better, more fulfilled life. With no further adieu, I present Attempting Minimalism)
I have an affinity for bathroom products. Anytime I have an extra hundred bucks to blow, I go to CVS or Target and imitate supermarket sweep as I blow through the beauty products isles. Unlike most girls, I’m not crazy about clothes or shoes… but new shampoo and face wash? That’s what does it for me.
There are lots of reasons why me trying to become a minimalist is laughable. I realized a few years ago that I had an irrational fear of running out of bathrooms products. Particularly, q-tips. So, I would stock up on the 500 packs, and silently squeal with glee if I found any 2 for 1 sales on them. God knows why I need a back stock of 1,000 q-tips (last time I checked I only had two ears). I can’t even remember when I haven’t had those two 500 packs under my sink.
After reading Dave’s articles here on Life Excursion about minimalism, as well as Leo’s from Zen Habits, I decided to give it a shot. I’ve never considered being a minimalist before. I liked my stuff too much. But seeing as I constantly desire to be perfectly clean and organized, I figured having less stuff would make this goal easier to achieve.
I have high ideals, and someday dreams of my home only having things that I find remarkably beautiful, or consistently useful. Everything would have it’s place, and after I used it I would place it back in it’s spot. The reality of my life is that it is much more messy. I do have certain areas that are perfectly organized and maintained, but, in general, I am pretty messy until I can’t stand it. Then my perfectionist side comes out and I scrub, clean and organize until an area is sparkling. My surroundings flop back and forth from being incredibly clean to a disaster. Maintenance and consistency are not my strong points.
So, I decided to tackle my bathroom as the first area using Dave’s criteria here and here’s how it went.
1. Write a List.
Okay, I have to admit I cheated on step one. I did step two first, and don’t recommend it. I love lists, but impatience got the best of me. I wanted to just get started. The problem with skipping this step and doing #2 first is that once everything is pulled out of the designated area, suddenly everything looks essential. Make a list so that you can refer to it once everything is in a pile out of the area.
2.Pull Everything Out of Your Section.
This was the fun part. Pulling everything out of an area is the best way to clean and organize, even if you goal is not to minimize anything. Once I pulled everything out, it was obvious that I had some serious scrubbing to do. I minimized the bacteria in the toilet, and sink with Soft Scrub. I minimized all my hair on the floor with the vacuum. I minimized the dust on the base boards with Clorox wipes. Hey, this minimizing thing is easy. Not so fast tiger….
3. Place Necessities Back in Your Section.
Since I was a bad student, and didn’t have a list, I began by taking my most important things. This is where the concept of minimalism became clear to me. Prioritizing what I placed back in made me reevaluate everything’s importance. I grabbed the things I use on a daily basis first. I grabbed my favorite products. I suppose a true minimalist only has these things. When I got to the second half of my products, I began rationalizing why I needed to keep something. The truth is, if I began to rationalize it’s necessity, then I probably didn’t need it. I made a bag for things to give away and had a big garbage bag on hand. Once I started throwing things away, there was no stopping me.
4.Now Remove One More Thing.
This was the best advice. I went back and took out a few more things. Make up I haven’t used in over a year. I checked expiration dates on everything, and was amazed at what I found. As soon as I decided not to keep any expired products or medicines, the trash bag quickly filled up. And it felt GOOD.
5. Get Rid of It.
After I was done, I took the trash bag out immediately. By doing this, I couldn’t regret anything and try to save crap that I didn’t need. My bag of give-away is going to the Goodwill on my next trip. Another area where I cheated was by moving things into another room. Some things I realized I never actually use in my bathroom, so I moved them to my room where I do use them. But, this was only for a handful of things, and they were all objects that I deemed very useful. Make sure you don’t repeat my mistake, and deal with everything you take out of the area, not just move it to another room it be dealt with later.
What I Learned
As I was working on these step, I wondered if I really wanted to become a minimalist. Do I just want to be clean and organized? What’s the difference? For me, I’ve discovered that there isn’t any. How I define being a minimalist is very different from the next person’s definition. After removing and replacing everything in my shower, I still have around 10 different shampoos and conditioners. This may seem far from minimalist standards, but it works for me. I gave away 8 other bottles of shampoo and conditioner that I don’t like and don’t use. What I have left are all products that I use and enjoy. And the reality of it is I really do like using a different one each time I wash my hair, and it’s something I do every day. You have to decide what minimalism means to you. For me, it meant taking out everything that wasn’t being used and/or don’t value.
Becoming a minimalist isn’t going to happen as soon as you go through these five steps. But, if you go through these steps multiple times (for the same area and different areas),you will be on the road to minimalism. I’ve decided to do this process in my bathroom again in a month. And if I do this process once a month, for the next three months, I am sure that my bathroom will be of minimalist standards. And I might even have used some of those damn q-tips.
Karen of Dreamin’ the Life