Showing posts from 2020

Making Ethical & Sustainable Choices

Minimalism is not only about the choice to keep fewer items in our homes, or paring down only to the things that make us happy. Making purchasing choices that are ethically and ecologically sustainable is important, too. There are a few facets of making these kinds of decisions that I want to lay out so that we can all work together to make the planet a better place. Individual action may never feel like it counts for much, but group action absolutely does. So how can we all make a difference together? First: Consider Buying Secondhand Secondhand shopping helped me stretch a very tight budget in college. Whether for clothing or for bigger items like furniture, making the choice to buy something secondhand keeps it out of the landfill until it's been truly well-used and lets an item serve its intended purpose for longer. It's also a great budget option for mixing up one's wardrobe--get something new-to-you secondhand, and donate it back when you're done with it. Secondha

Digital Decluttering Part 1: Social Media

Previously, I've written about how to declutter physical items. Minimalism and keeping tidy spaces are important to me in being happy at home and at work... and as an IT professional I think it's important to bring decluttering practices to our virtual worlds. Recently, I have embarked on a journey to reduce my digital footprint. The process of decluttering my virtual world has so far been similar to the process of decluttering my home. Some of the questions are much the same as I'd ask when discarding a physical item, like whether or not I'm happy to have it follow me into the future, or how useful it will be for me to keep it long-term. The first area I decided to tackle in my digital decluttering process was social media. I have never been big on social media sites to begin with, so I only had three sites to consider initially: Facebook, LinkedIn, and an IT community. Of each service, I asked: Do I get what my time is worth from the platform? Am I making meani

Minimalism in the Workplace

If you feel swamped by hard copies of documents, 21,000 unread emails, or just too much clutter in your office, know that you're not alone. Taking a minimalist approach in your workspace can help you reclaim your time, sanity, and satisfaction with work. It has been a while since I wrote anything for this blog. I decided in May to quit the job I had and take on a new, similar but more challenging role elsewhere. The change has been, without a doubt, the best career move I could ever have made. Having just cleared out one office to move into a new one 30 miles away, I felt it was a good time to tackle the topic of minimalism in the office and workplace. I have always been fairly good about keeping my office and desk tidy and free of clutter, even before I was a minimalist. In this post I want to share my methods with any readers who need a little help achieving a tidy desk space and "Inbox Zero". For starters, I have always treated my offices and cubicles as the design

Discarding and Regrets

As someone who strives to make minimalism accessible to everyone regardless of financial standing, living arrangement, or socioeconomic class, I feel the genuine need to be honest about the impacts of minimalism. I want to discuss regrets (and/or lack thereof) as they relate to the discarding process. In particular, I want to answer one question: Have you had any regrets about discarding a particular item? Yes and no, for one item. I have been getting back into a few hobbies lately because I have been stuck at home due to Minnesota's Stay At Home order. The item I have thought about the most since discarding and donating it is a book about one of my hobbies. I want to discuss first why I said "yes" in addition to no. Yes, I regret discarding the book because it was aesthetically pleasing. It was fun to flip through for ideas. It had some interesting recipes and projects in it that I wanted to adopt and adapt for my craft. And what made me regret discarding it the

The Last Few Days of My No-Spend Month

I chose March for a no-spend month simply because it seemed like the right time for me. It ties into minimalism because during a no-spend month, the focus is on bringing in only essential items. By cutting out nonessential items, I could focus on what I already had on-hand for fun and entertainment. One of my overarching goals is to make minimalism (and other habits that tie into it) more accessible. Here's how the last few days have gone. Catch up here: Week One of My No-Spend Month Week Two of My No-Spend Month Week Three of My No-Spend Month Week Four of My No-Spend Month March 29-31 I was determined to end the no-spend month strong. I think I did okay! Day 29: It was a lazy day mostly spent playing Stardew Valley and watching some TV. I didn't have a whole lot going on during the day, save for working on a character for an online Dungeons & Dragons group that my best friend is leading. I spent a little bit of time on a sketch for my character's portrait

Week Four of My No-Spend Month

It's my goal as a minimalist to make all aspects of minimalism feel more accessible. It's certainly not a lifestyle for everyone and that's perfectly fine. However, I love the benefit minimalist living has on my finances, and I wanted to keep sharing how my No-Spend month is going, week-by-week. Here's week four. Week of March 22-28 Reading over last week's recap, I noticed how depressed I've started to feel since social distancing measures started. I decided to commit to making week four better as much as I could. I did okay some days, but others I definitely failed. Not spending a lot of money this month has been fairly easy, but there are some things I've missed out on and a couple of things I couldn't pass up this week. Day 22: I had a good start to the day with homemade peanut butter cookies and fruit for breakfast, then watching TV over coffee with the husband. After lunch, I decided to put a sweatshirt on and take a walk around the lake. I s

Week Three of My No-Spend Month

It's my goal as a minimalist to make all aspects of minimalism feel more accessible. It's certainly not a lifestyle for everyone and that's perfectly fine. However, I love the benefit minimalist living has on my finances, and I wanted to keep sharing how my No-Spend month is going, week-by-week. Here's week three! Week of March 15-21 Last week was difficult but I realized a few things that I could apply to this week, the rest of the no-spend month, and to life in general. I realized that when I get to be creative, I feel good. I realized that when I make myself slow down and concentrate on everything from putting away clean laundry to chopping veggies for dinner, that I enjoy the time spent being focused and intentional. I'll be applying creativity and intentionality into as much of this week as I can. Day 15:  A third lazy Sunday eased me into the third week of the no-spend month. I watched TV and enjoyed fresh pots of tea through most of the morning and early

Less Mess, Less Stress: Minimalism for the Stressed Millennial

I was delighted to find that one of my favorite and most accessible minimalists, Marie Kondo, is a Millennial like me. Millennial women, like our Gen X or Baby Boomer mothers, have had to face the stress of balancing family life with wanting to maintain a career. But the Millennial generation in general, regardless of gender, is overall stressed out with an economy of stagnant wages, high student debt, and difficulty achieving a work-life balance that gets more complicated as we "settle down" in our late 20s to mid-30s. We might ask... How can we make time for starting a family if we don't have the finances or the space to support one? How can we make time for our social and personal priorities when life starts to feel like it's all work and chores?  How can we live our best lives if the world around us seems indifferent or unsupportive? Minimalism (and the practice of mindfulness that comes with it) can help answer those questions. Becoming a minimalist is n

Week Two of My No-Spend Month

It's my goal as a minimalist to make all aspects of minimalism feel more accessible. It's certainly not a lifestyle for everyone and that's perfectly fine. However, I love the benefit minimalist living has on my finances, and I wanted to keep sharing how my No-Spend month is going, week-by-week. Here's week two! Week of March 8-14 So far so good. Bills have been paid and lingering credit card balances I had were paid off. This week, the urge to shop hit me early on... but I got through it. Day 8:  It was another lazy Sunday. I didn't sleep in as late as I had hoped, but I had a good day overall. Over coffee, I watched cartoons with the husband. Afterwards, I lounged around and read a book for a while and decided midway through that I could enjoy the last few chapters in the bath. I treated myself to some self-care in the form of a bubble bath and a bubbling face mask while I read and recharged. The highlight of the day was cooking a simple but tasty and healthy

Week One of My No-Spend Month

It's my goal as a minimalist to make all aspects of minimalism feel more accessible. It's certainly not a lifestyle for everyone and that's perfectly fine. However, I love the benefit minimalist living has on my finances, and I'll be detailing how my No-Spend month goes, week-by-week. Week of March 1-7 The day before our no-spend month started, we made a small grocery trip to restock fresh meat and a few convenience foods we knew we'd need throughout the next month. Beyond that, we have started to rethink our grocery strategy which is normally a $300+ big haul at the start of the month plus a couple other smaller trips for convenience items. This month we'll be putting an imperfect foods delivery service to the test to see if it can meaningfully save us money on the essentials. Day 1: It was a lazy Sunday which was the best start to a no-spend month I could have asked for. I had a late night with friends over until 1:30 AM, drinking loose leaf tea and deca

Minimalism and Mental Detox

Minimalism affects more than just the amount of clutter in living spaces. It has great mental benefits as well. I have been making an effort the past couple of years to get out of my comfort zone--to sort of declutter my stock of anxieties. As an introvert, that means I've pushed myself to go to networking events, work lunches, and more friends' parties. The other night, I went to a creative writing workshop at the new local Creative Healing Space. While there I failed to talk about how I was a blogger, or what creative projects I was working on. I was a bit nervous because I was in a much larger group of people than usual when I go to networking events or hang out with friends. I knew the event would be worth it at least if for no other reason than to support my other friends in attendance. I was not expecting getting as much out of it for myself as I did. After the event concluded, one of my friends sent me a few messages about the event and things we talked about there.

Never a Dull Space: Collections and Decor in Minimalist Design

I think a common misconception with minimalist interior design is that walls are to remain bare, shelves are to have as few things as possible on them, and everything should be clean and white. None of these ideas make a space really feel like home--I certainly do not want to dwell in a sterile-white house that's been stripped of personality due to the conflation of minimalism with austerity. A search for "minimalist interior design" yielded rooms that fit the same pattern: white walls and ceiling, light grey or white furniture, no art or photos on the walls... just blank, fairly empty rooms. It's minimalism taken to the extreme where every room is clean and pretty, but incredibly dull. That, to me, is when collections and decor are necessary in minimalist design. Some might think that minimalism means you can no longer collect a kind of item that you appreciate aesthetically. I disagree. Collections of objects can bring us joy, and when put on display those item

No-Spend Month Activities

In my last post, I detailed some of my plans for making March my first No-Spend Month with my husband. We had an expensive year in 2019, primarily because we took the leap from renting an apartment to buying a house. We still paid debts off as we saved money for a down payment. Some of our debts are still around, albeit reduced, but we want to eliminate them all the same. That's where a no-spend month comes in. My previous post details the discretionary spending we're cutting out for March, so I wanted to use this post to list some of the free activities we'll be taking advantage of throughout the month. Home Improvement: No house we saw was 100% perfect for us, but the one we chose is getting close. There are no shortage of projects we'll be doing with the materials and tools we already have on-hand. Painting our guest bathroom with leftover paint colors from other rooms (going for light grey walls and funky turquoise cabinetry!) Organizing my craft room Touchin

Planning a No-Spend Month

One major benefit to minimalism is that it helps break bad spending habits. Financial budgeting seems to coincide with or closely follow the switch to a minimalist lifestyle. A particularly interesting budgeting trend in recent years has been to challenge oneself to no-spend weeks, no-spend months, or even no-spend years. The concept is fairly simple. For the duration of the "no-spend" challenge, participants can only spend money on basic necessities like utilities, groceries, and other regular bills like credit card or loan payments. Expenditures like ordering takeout, dining out, and shopping for clothes are some examples of things you'd bar yourself from spending money on during the no-spend period. I have challenged my husband to join me in a no-spend month for March 2020. Here are the usual "fun money" categories that we won't be spending money on for a month: Beverages including loose leaf tea, soda, alcohol, bottled mineral water. My husband doe

Decluttering with Limited Time and Energy

One of my goals with this blog is to make a more minimalist lifestyle accessible to other folks like me who work full-time and don't have unlimited stores of time or energy to declutter. Decluttering, while it does take a lot of time and effort to complete, generally has such a tremendous physical and mental payoff that it's worth doing. So how does one get started decluttering with limited time and energy? Here are tips that have proven to be the most useful to me: Disengage emotionally from clutter objects. This is hard at first but gets easier. We've probably all had at least a few garments in the closet that we were saving in case we lost/gained weight, or a stack of birthday cards from years gone by. Practice this emotional disengagement by asking the item "Why are you here when I can't use you?" It may seem harsh compared to the generally upbeat "Thank you for serving me in the past" connection that other methods of minimalism/decluttering

A Question on Minimalist Design

Today I'd like to answer a question from a friend who's just started to get into minimalism. I think it's a great question about minimalist design, so buckle in because my answer is going to be l o n g . Q: I see all these minimalism inspirational images online, and not only does everything look decluttered, but there seems to be a clear interior design theme as well (i.e. white/black/gray + accent color). How can I make my living space look more like those inspirational photos without spending thousands on new furniture/interior design?  A: There are a lot of budget ways to get clean and sophisticated minimalist designs. I recommend starting with a mood board to collect your ideas. Collect all of your favorite photos of minimalist designs, and arrange them on a mood board. Play with paint cards from home improvement stores, and swatches from fabric stores until you find colors and textures that make you happy. Once you have a solid vision of what you want to ach

Tenets for a Cozy Minimalist Home

Even as a minimalist, I still have no shortage of material goods that enhance my life or make me happy. Part of minimalism for me is creating spaces that make it easy to keep up the minimalist lifestyle. Here are the core tenets I try to adhere to when designing and redesigning spaces in my home: A place for everything and everything in its place. Clutter and messes happen, but they should be easy to clean up and tidy. Once a space feels too packed, it's time to reevaluate either how many items should be kept, or if they should be moved somewhere else.  Color is the foundation of a room. Different colors elicit unique responses subconsciously. Although white is a very clean color, it can seem too sterile sometimes. I use an emerald green in my library, which looks very clean in an "out in nature" way; my bedroom is a deep ocean blue which makes for a relaxing place to sleep. Colors like yellow, red, and orange can excite the appetite, so my dining room is a soothin

Mindful Consumerism and Minimalism

There has been a surge in "mindful" or "mindfulness" practices lately. I don't benefit from mindfulness meditation, but I have been happier since I started to practice mindful consumerism. For me, mindful consumerism is an introspective process that involves critically analyzing my need for consumer goods. Mindful consumerism, to me, seems like the perfect partner to modern minimalism. My mindful consumerism has been a work in progress for about the past year. I started by analyzing the products I use on a daily basis, and have worked to change my habits for the better. Mindful consumerism has not only cut down on clutter, but has helped me stick to a good financial budget as well. Below are a few of my recent helpful habits as a "mindful consumer": Purchasing bath goods in liters - In addition to saving my wallet the higher cost per unit of smaller bottles, I am also creating fewer pieces of plastic waste. Additionally, I switch out regular flip