How To Live With Someone Else’s Clutter

Living with a non-minimalist 

Photo by Luca Laurence on Unsplash

When you minimise your own possessions and you’re the only minimalist in a household, you will inevitably start to notice other people’s stuff. You will have all sorts of ideas in your head about what should go and what should stay. 

Why does your husband insist on keeping that set of weights when he hasn’t worked out in years?  

Why does your daughter have so many shoes?

Why can’t your room mate just throw away their bulging collection of ragged t-shirts? 

Surely they can see the mess they’re living in. Why won’t they understand the benefits of being a minimalist? If only they would stop and listen to you! 

Unfortunately, nagging, preaching or removing their stuff without permission will not only cause them to hold onto more stuff in an act of defiance and security, but can end up driving a wedge between you and the people you love. 

Everyone has possessions which are important to them for a variety of different reasons. Maybe it’s for security, perhaps they grew up with nothing, maybe they grew up drowning in stuff like I did. Whatever the reason, you should never badger and pester someone to get rid of something they’re not comfy doing so. 

My husband, son and I share a house with my parents. The only minimalist in the house is me, so for the longest time I felt frustrated by what I considered to be clutter from other people. 

It seemed that no matter how much of my own stuff I got rid of, they accumulated even more. I became hyper aware of everything that was coming into the home, especially since we all share a kitchen and bathroom. 

Where was I going wrong?

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I had turned into a preacher of minimalism. I was so encouraged by my new outlook on life that I wanted everyone else to experience the joy, and I wanted to minimise even more.  Suddenly, every marketing tactic was clear to me, every needless item on a store shelf, every meaningless trinket left on my shelves. 

It’s so easy to fall into this ‘I know best’ mindset when you’re feeling so renewed and energised from such a lifestyle change. But that attitude didn’t do me any favours, and it won’t do you any. 

It’ll strain your relationships and do the opposite of simplifying your life. 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I had many disagreements with my husband and parents. Nothing I said seemed to work and I was getting fed up. But in the end, it wasn’t worth the heated arguments. 

Then I remembered that I was doing this for myself, and that pushing for results from others was stressful and counter-productive. Everyone around me had their own stories, and it wasn’t fair that I was interfering. So I stopped. And I realised how overbearing I had been and that the message of minimalism was being lost. 

To my surprise, after a few months, not only did my husband start actively supporting my new lifestyle, he identified some clothes he no longer wanted. Even my mum had a random clearout and filled several charity shop bags. 

Think about the last time you were shouted at or lectured. Were you angry? Did you feel inspired to do what the other person wanted? 

I thought not. 

But don’t worry. As human beings we’ve all been there.We want something from somebody who refuses to play ball and become desperate, convinced that we know best. Of course, all that serves to do is drive people away or cause them to rebel. 

The best way to persuade someone is to always be friendly and sympathetic, and to lead by example. Minimalism is one of those concepts that’s better observed over time. 

Once people see how much happier, lighter, and more relaxed you are, and how much more time and space you have, you’re much more likely to see a gradual change. The keyword here is gradual

If you’ve come so far in your minimalist journey, you’ll know that change doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a few months. 

It’s a learning process where decision-making skills are sharpened and mindset is improved or altered. 

You’re even more likely to persuade the ones you care about by spending that extra time doing something you love, or spending time with them.

Photo by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

Everybody wants more time in their day, and everybody wants to feel important. 

Whatever you do don’t pester someone or suggest to them what should be kept and what shouldn’t be. How can one sharpen their own decision-making skills and feel empowered if the decisions are being made for them? 

When I was a child, there were times my mum despaired at my toy and magazine accumulation, but when she screamed and shouted at me about it, I held on even tighter because I felt like my stuff was important to me. As a spoilt only child, I was defined by my stuff. 

In the end it doesn’t matter if you’re twelve, twenty-eight, or sixty; if you get spoken to badly, nagged and preached at, there will be rebellion instead of results. 

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand them, but most of all, live happily with your own values. If people like what they see, they’ll soon follow. 

Just remember, that not everybody wants to be a minimalist, and your goal shouldn’t be to convert them, but to demonstrate a simpler way of life and bring out the best in yourself and everyone you meet. 

To Summarise:

Don’t nag

Don’t shout

Don’t remove other people’s stuff

Don’t preach 

Don’t forget what minimalism is all about

Do be understanding

Do be friendly

Do be patient

Do be sympathetic

Do lead by example

Do focus on you

Do remember the true meaning of minimalism 

The meaning of minimalism? To remove excess stuff in your life so that you can enjoy an abundance of whatever is important to you

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash



Clutter Culprits: How to Remain Vigilant

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Even the most seasoned minimalists will end up overwhelmed with more clutter if they don’t regularly keep on top of what comes in and what goes out of the home. Left unchecked, it’s easy to become complacent and end up back where you started. 

Below, I’ve listed some of the clutter culprits which you should be especially vigilant of. 

Pens

These get everywhere because they often get bought in packs. Unless you work at a school or in an office, don’t buy pens in packs because you’ll never get around to using the rest before they dry up and they will make your drawers messy.

Pens are also numerous in gift shops and are the next most common keepsake along with keyrings. Don’t be afraid to discard old pens, and if there’s one you love, see if you can buy refills instead of retiring it to a drawer. 

Notebooks

People are suckers for brand new, fresh notebooks or journals – myself included. I have so many journals from the past that are half-filled because I got fed up and wanted a new one. The same thing happens with notebooks, but people keep the old ones ‘just in case’, and before long there is a pile of half-full notebooks.

If you use physical notebooks, avoid buying them in packs unless you work at a company or school.

You can also consider using apps and take notes electronically, but this option isn’t for everyone. I’m a pen and paper person myself as the notes stick in my mind easier and I get more creative. 

Celebration cards

Recently, I recycled piles of these after discovering boxes full in the attic, some with names of people I no longer knew.

Cards multiply very fast because we appreciate the words that people write inside them, or people pass away and we can’t bear to throw away their handwriting.

When it comes to cards, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a select few  (I keep some beautiful and thoughtful ones in a photo album), but be sure to recycle the ones that just say ‘to’ and ‘from’, or from people you no longer recognise. You can also take photos of old cards and do away with the physical copy. 

Invitations

I once kept a hoard of old invitations in my bedroom drawer. They were so pretty and I was so honoured to have been invited to events that I kept them as a reminder. Ultimately, however, all I was keeping was junk and they got in the way.

A great event will stick in your memory so there’s no reason to keep an invite. But if there’s one you simply can’t get rid of, you could always place it into a photo album or a memory box. 

Newspapers

There’s no reason at all to keep newspapers unless there’s something valuable to you inside it. Even then, you should cut such a thing out rather than keep the whole thing. Nowadays, the same information is available online so it’s highly unlikely you’ll miss out by recycling. 

Magazines

Magazines cost more money than a newspaper, are eye-catching, and over-spilling with information. It’s no wonder that we find it so hard to throw away old magazines in case there is something great inside that we’ll never be able to read again.

But do you really ever go back and read that old information? I doubt it.

That being said, you can cut out the stuff that really interests you and recycle the rest. If it’s a collectable series, however, you can buy magazine binders which will make them beautifully presentable and read like a giant book. I took the latter option for my ‘Writers’ Forum’ collection. 

Junk Mail

Unless you’re genuinely interested in an advert or service, trash it as soon as it enters your home. Be fast and ruthless. 

Receipts

These end up yellowing in drawers and wallets until they become invisible. Bin old receipts, and better yet, if a shop offers you a digital receipt, opt for that, instead. 

Bills

Out of a sense of security we keep old paperwork and old bills, but more often than not, we don’t need them and they pile up into a miniature towers. It’s so simple today to scan and digitise anything you’re unsure of, or even to go paperless with companies.So ditch any old paperwork unless it’s very important. 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Keyrings

These get bought as gifts and holiday souvenirs more than anything else. But they’re so common as gifts we can end up with a whole haul.

Just a few weeks ago, I was travelling with a mass of about six keyrings on my house key, yet didn’t even notice until my husband stopped me before leaving for work and asked “Emma, why on Earth are you carrying such a heavy mass of keyrings for one bloody key?”. I didn’t know, either. Somehow, they had become invisible to me.

Once I realised the absurdity of it, I chose two favourites and used one to identify my house key, and another to give my bag some character. I donated the rest. 

Cables

Eventually, cables end up making a mini jungle. In today’s tech heavy world we own so many devices and all the cables and spares that come with them. Sometimes, we think we lose cables so end up buying even more, only to find the old one but keeping them ‘just in case’.

Years of this will not only make specific cables or parts hard to find, but you will end up with ancient, mysterious ones which are no longer relevant to anything you own.

As a gamer and a previous gadget addict, I have been to cable hell and back, once discarding of about three large carrier bags of unknown cables and ten USB leads. I’d say it’s fine to keep one spare, but any more than that and you’ll be lost in the cable jungle before you know it. 

Photo by Nick Dietrich on Unsplash

Batteries

Batteries end up all over the house or breeding in the ‘junk drawer’, especially if you have kids. Old batteries can explode or leak battery acid if they aren’t stored correctly, and can eventually drain of their power. Not to mention, they are extremely hazardous for small children.

Only keep the batteries you need and don’t bother holding on to any mystery batteries that don’t seem to fit into any device you own.  

Toiletries

Old half-full bottles of shampoo, freebies, Lynx gift sets and other toiletries will take over your bathroom if you don’t throw the old stuff away. If you have unused gifts, consider either using them before you buy more of a similar product, regifting or donating them. 

Medicine

Seasons come and go, and with them, coughs, colds and other ailments. One thing I’ve noticed with medicine cabinets is that nobody tends to throw old medicine away, keeping them ‘just in case’. Yet more medicine gets stockpiled every month or so until we are prepared for an apocalypse.

So, whenever you acquire new medication, discard of any old ones – it’s not healthy to have old medicine anyway, and they can also lose effectiveness over time. 

Makeup

Like with medicine, new makeup gets added but the old tends to stay in the back of the drawer. Always throw away old makeup because it’s the perfect hangout for bacteria. 

Mugs

People buy new mugs yet still hold on to scratched or chipped mugs ‘just in case’. People also like to prepare for huge tea parties that never happen, so every cup is a keeper.

Cups and mugs enter the home as gifts at various times of the year, as holiday souvenirs and as classy new kitchenware, and over time they fill every cupboard and end up stacked haphazardly.

Only keep the mugs you use and never keep scratched or chipped mugs because bacteria will thrive in them. 

Drinking glasses

These are another thing which enter the home as gifts, souvenirs and new kitchenware. I’ve seen families of three and four with enough glasses to host a party of a hundred, yet only a handful of them are ever used. Consider donating or recycling unused glassware. 

I’m sure I will have missed a category or two out, but as long as you keep an eye on most of the stuff mentioned above, you will have a fighting chance to keep your home calm and clutter-free.

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

Next week, watch out for ‘living with another person’s clutter’.


Creation Over Accumulation

Once you make significant headway as a minimalist, you start to value having meaningful experiences over more stuff. As your mindset changes, creating memories will take far higher value than fixating on the latest styles or gadgets.

Think about it: do you remember everything you unwrapped several celebrations ago? Or do you remember who you spent it with? Do you remember what you purchased on that big shopping spree? Or do you remember the shared laughter of the people you were with at the time?

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Yesterday, I went on a school trip with my four-year-old son to a theme park for young children and families. He was so excited to be on a bus and see all the landmarks on the way. He was delighted to see his friends who had also come along on the trip, and he couldn’t wait to try out all the rides. But something stood out to me on this trip that will always stick in my mind. 

My son loves his toys and is frequently spoilt by the people close to him. Thinking he might want to check out the gift shop before we left, I told him about it. His reply was “But I don’t want to go to the gift shop, mummy, I want to go back on the rides!”. 

He was having such a good time, just me and him, spending time together and going on the rides, that buying a new, shiny souvenir didn’t matter at all to him. He just wanted to make the most of the time we had. And for that I was proud of him and wasted not another moment. 

My son smiled for far longer on that trip than any new plastic sword would have made him. What was even more memorable was when he gave me a big hug and said “I love you, mummy”. I didn’t need to buy him another toy to make him happy, and he was still talking about his day right up until he went to bed.

Photo by Natalya Zaritskaya on Unsplash

On a similar note, I don’t remember all the stuff my parents bought me over the years, and I was a spoilt child who always wanted more. What I do remember are family walks down by the canal, picking blackberries with my dad, having my crazy nan and uncle over on Christmas, playing board games with my parents, and playing video games with my mum. 

All of those memories involve interactions and experiences with others because spending time with the people you care about is far more valuable than what’s on a store shelf or in your bank. Sometimes, we don’t even realise how significant a moment or day was until months or even years later. 

Experiences will benefit anything and anybody in your life. Yourself, your family, your friends, your pets. The best thing is, you don’t even have to spend money if you don’t want.

 A beautiful walk seeing new sights can be just a memorable as a day out to a place you have to pay to visit.  A game in the garden with your child will stick in their minds far more than a new gadget. A visit to a family member you don’t see very often would cause a bigger smile than an object sent through the post. 

The next time you’re considering a gift for somebody or treating yourself, consider the gift of your time, for there is nothing more precious.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Time over money. Experience over expenditure. Memories over stuff. 


The Glow of Gratitude

‘Gratitude’ is one of those words we see everywhere nowadays in self-help books and even in planners which have sections for listing the things you’re grateful for. Yet people don’t realise how incredibly important the concept is. It’s become like white noise in the background, yet it has the potential to turn someone’s day around, and to completely change the way you see your own life. 

Recently, I personally delivered a load of thankyou cards to the people and services who had contributed to my wedding in some way: the man who made our beautiful cake, the lovely ladies who styled my hair, the hotel staff who hosted us,the lady who did all the makeup, even the lady in the perfume department who helped me to choose the perfect scent.

And let me tell you, the radiant smiles on those people’s faces was worth a thousand times more than the glow from treating myself or buying something new. 

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

People often say to me “But you paid for that, so it’s to be expected. You don’t have to go out of your way to thank them”, which I think is really sad.  

After all, we all have a finite amount of time on Earth. Whenever somebody does something for you, they are giving up a fraction of their time on this planet. 

Taking the time to personally thank someone who has done something for you, even if it’s mundane, like serving you on a checkout, is one of the kindest and most thoughtful practices you can adopt in your everyday life. 

Expressing gratitude doesn’t even have to cost a lot of time and energy. A small, cheerful conversation, or a big smile and a thankyou, can go a long way to help someone who has had a rough day. 

When we see someone in customer service frowning and sighing, it’s so easy to think, “Huh, what a miserable attitude, they shouldn’t even be serving!”. But we’re all human and sometimes all a person needs is some compassion and gratitude. 

I’ve noticed that smiling at someone who looks fed up, complimenting them, or making a point of thanking them, can light up their eyes and turn the frown upside down! Positivity and kindness is light and uplifting, negativity is heavy and depressing.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

But what about when the light has dimmed in our own lives and we’re the ones wearing the frown? 

That’s when it can be a huge help to write a list of all the things you’re grateful for in your life. 

For me, a list didn’t quite cut it, so I chose to write about each thing I had listed, and in no time at all I was feeling as light as air and supremely grateful for everything in my life. I listed having great friends, my family, my house, my job, and everything else I felt I was fortunate to have. 

One thing I noticed by writing such a list, was that almost none of it was about the stuff I owned. Everything I needed for happiness was already there.  You can do this exercise for loved ones who have upset you as well (depending on the situation, of course). List the things that you like about the person rather than the things that annoy you, and you’ll soon feel much lighter.

I understand that many of us struggle to think of things to be grateful for, especially if life is on a bit of a downer, so here are some things you might be grateful for that you might not even consider, and that others might not have. Please note, I realise that not everything on this list will apply to everybody, but I’m hoping that there will be something on there for everyone. 

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Shelter/home
  • Clean, plentiful food
  • Clean water 
  • Clothing
  • Healthcare
  • Good health 
  • A paying job
  • A flushing toilet 
  • An education

There’s one more thing I would like to share with you that’s too obscure to list with the above, but I feel is well worth mentioning.

Years ago, I was in a bad place with my education, my career and my health. My college placement as an ICT technician was going so terribly that my tutor paid a visit to the place and I almost got finished. Thankfully, my mother in law who worked there took me under her wing as a teaching assistant. And as a teaching assistant I thrived. 

I loved the kids, I loved the teachers, and I loved that I was (and still am) helping to make kids lives in the classroom more bearable. 

I’d never considered being a teaching assistant before, and had spent the past few years working in retail and studying the wrong thing, which for me was ICT. To discover something I loved, I had to follow what seemed like the wrong path. For that , I am now grateful. I was even able to use the skills I had learned by supporting in ICT classes. 

So, even when everything seems to be going wrong, look for the hidden meaning. And when it’s all over, you might even find something to be grateful for. 

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Gratitude will lighten your heart. Gratitude will brighten the world. 

Practice gratitude today. 




Packing Like a Minimalist – How to Travel Free and Light

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

Living a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t stop at having a minimalist home. Bags and wallets also weigh us down as we go about our daily commutes or travel to destinations.

Until recently, I would wander around town like a donkey, my bag hanging off my back like a sack of cement. And whenever I went on holiday, or even to my in law’s house, I’d pack for every conceivable scenario and emotion. Even at work, my bag was fit to burst with entertainment for break times.

Boredom was covered by my 3DS, my Gameboy Advance, my laptop, my notebook, and the latest book I was reading. I also packed snacks ‘just incase’, as if I might starve if I went half an hour without eating. Sometimes, I even packed a spare pair of shoes in case the weather changed or I changed my mind (even if we weren’t planning on going out and about) .

My wallet was the same; filled with cards I hadn’t used in years, and rammed with old receipts.

All this excess packing lead to the stress of getting home and having to unpack it all when all I wanted was to flop down with a cup of tea. It also made it difficult to find what I wanted, without rooting through my bag like a dog digging a hole in the mud.

Since those heavy days, I’ve learnt to only pack the things that I know I will need, and no more. Although, when I got married last weekend, I over-packed for my stay at the hotel and by the end of the day, the room looked as if a cyclone had spun through it and threw my clothes into every conceivable corner (less than half of it needed).

The problem was, I was packing out of fear. Fear of being bored, fear of being hungry, and fear of being unprepared. For feather-light travel, you must let go of those fears and realise that most scenarios in your mind are highly unlikely.

It’s not just your mind and your time an overloaded bag can weigh heavy on- it’s not good for our shoulders or backs, and I frequently found myself with a sore back and shoulders after a trip.

Packing lightly not only makes it effortless for you to find the things that you need, but is kinder to your body and posture, and you will experience much calmer travel.


Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

Here’s how you can transform from feeling like a pack mule, to as light as a butterfly:

Only pack what you need on any given day. For example, on days where I go out to write,  I pack my laptop, notebook and my wallet. And on days where I’m just walking around town, or going out for a drink, I take a smaller bag with just my wallet and keys. Ultimately, what you need depends on who you are and what you do.

If you’re going somewhere for a week or so, pack all-purpose clothing, and try to wear some clothes more than once. It’s surprising how full a suitcase can become when you pack for sun, rain, snow and blizzards, all for a summer holiday. Or when you pack a cocktail dress and several pairs of boots when you’re mainly going to be on the beach. Instead, pack a few tops which can be paired with a single coat, hoodie or cardigan for cooler days, and shoes which look great in both the daytime and evening.

If you’re staying at a hotel, find out what they already have in the room. Most will contain a hairdryer, and small bottles of shower gel and shampoo. If you must pack your own shampoo and conditioner, buy an all-in-1. There are even all-purpose soap bars which function as both body wash and shampoo, and take up very little space.  

Don’t wear a larger bag for casual trips. For example,if you go into the city for a browse with a bigger bag than you need, it can tempt you to splurge on stuff you don’t really need. If you don’t have the space to carry it, you’re more likely to think twice.

For wallets and purses, only carry the cards you need on the day. These days, you can even use a smartphone to pay by linking your bank card with related apps and services. Trash old receipts and scan the ones you think you’ll need. You can also reduce receipt clutter by allowing shops to email them to you, instead.

Instead of carrying boredom beaters, opt for interesting experiences. The lighter you travel, the easier it will be to move around and do what you want. Experiences are always better and more fulfilling than material stuff.

Allow yourself to sit and be ‘bored’. Too often, we carry things around to entertain us, but miss out on opportunities that are right in front of us, or pass us fleetingly. Smartphones and tablets have trained our minds to be permanently switched on, seeking dopamine hits and being constantly entertained. Slow down.

If you’re an avid reader, consider an e-reader.  With an e-reader, you can have hundreds of books to hand without the extra bulk and weight of a single paperback.

The next time you pack your bag, remember: Travel light, be free.

The Many Benefits of Minimalism

I’m getting married at the weekend, dear readers, so this post is a little earlier than normal. I’ll also keep it short and simple.

This week, I am here to tell you some of the many ways that minimalism can benefit you.

Before I discovered minimalism, it wasn’t just my home that was cluttered, but my entire life. My mind, my emotions, my relationships. I only worked part time, yet somehow I was still always ‘busy’. I barely had time with my family and would come in through the door, immediately start the dinner, tidy up, wash clothes, and passively scroll through Facebook.

Then I’d start again the next day. And the next.

The next thing I knew, my son was four. Where had the time gone?

In our always-connected world, we speed through our days faster than we can take a breath. We rush past the beautiful summer flora, heads buried in our screens, brain miles ahead of our bodies as we plan to tick off the next box. We get in from work, dump our keys on the table and barely look at our partners or kids. There’s just so much to do and so little time!

There’s dinners to cook, a house to clean, clothes to wash and emails to answer, food shopping to do, homework with the kids, that birthday to remember, that favour to return…

Stop.

Breathe.

Feel.

As technology has raced ahead, so have our lives, and most of us seem to have forgotten how to do the above three things. By racing to keep up we are forgetting to live.

But there is a simple and elegant solution.

By embracing minimalism you can learn to stop and smell the flowers. You can regain lost time and reconnect with not just your family, but yourself.

As my donate pile grew and my space expanded,I started to see and experience so many benefits that I can’t even imagine going back to how life was before.

Below, is a list of the ways that minimalism has enriched my life and will endlessly benefit yours.

  • Regained floor space, shelf space and mind space. My space feels light, airy and full of potential.
  • An always tidy house. No more panicking about guests and wasting time tidying. This also helped me to pace myself and cope with chronic illness.
  • Less time spent cleaning because it is quicker and easier. Less cleaning means more time doing fun or meaningful activities. I now have far more writing time and time to just sit and chat when I get home from work.
  • Cheaper shopping days because I no longer feel the urge to buy shiny new things.
  • Being far more aware of the environment. Before minimalism, I had too much stuff to notice what else was around me and what was happening behind the scenes.
  • Being much more aware of the people around me. Once you’ve cleared the excess stuff, suddenly, people take the spotlight instead of the trinkets lining your bookcase.
  • Improved relationships . Having more time for others and being more mindful has lead to closer relationships in my life. There’s more time to talk and the important people in my life take priority.
  • Feeling more creative and inspired . Once I cut out digital distractions and regained so much space in my home, I could think much clearer. No longer did I take walks with my face glued to my screen, or sit on a bench updating my status. As a result, my notebooks are brimming with observations, ideas and insights. Some of the sights, interactions or snippets of conversation were fleeting. I would have missed them had I had my head down or been speeding along like a wind up toy.
  • A clear purpose in life . Clearing the clutter and adopting a minimalist mindset lead to me completely reevaluating my life and what was most important. Most importantly, there is now the space to achieve whatever I want.  
  • Space to grow. Minimalism has made me grow as a person and realise that I won’t ever stop growing. I can see clearly what needs improving, what I need to contribute to, and what I need to let go of.

As you can see, the benefits of minimalism are powerful and extensive, and I know that the list will only grow longer, because minimalism helps your values to grow in the same way the sun helps a flower to bloom.

Stop. Breathe. Feel. Live.

There’s Always More

Sometimes when we think about improving our lives, it’s ridiculously easy to fall into a trap of consumerism. This is because no matter what walk of life you come from, or what profession you’re in, there’s always a product out there to ‘perfect’ your life and make you into the person you’ve always dreamed of. There’s always one more thing you’re sure will make you happy this time around.

Today, there’s a never-ending choice of products to make you more sexy, more elegant, more productive. A better parent, a better partner, a better gym goer. Famous, successful, irresistible.

If you’re a new parent, you might convince yourself you need the perfect diaper bag, perfect bottle set or perfect nappy dispenser.

If you struggle to get your life in order, there’s a huge variety of attractive planners which claim they’ll make you into a master of productivity and success.

If you’re a writer, then maybe that perfect pen, notebook, laptop, or software will help you write that book that’s been on the backburner.

If you’re single and looking, there’s a perfume or cologne out there which will draw every male or female within a ten-mile radius.

Once you’re ensnared in this trap, it’s hard to get out of because there’s always just one more thing you can add that will surely make your life complete. But you and I both know, that ‘satisfied’ feeling is as fleeting as the time it took you to take the item to the checkout or click it into your basket.

It’s not long before you’re looking for the perfect desk for that perfect notebook , or the next perfect laptop, because the other one you bought didn’t help you to start that book, afterall.

The cycle continues.

And it will continue until you realise that you already have everything you need – and it isn’t fancy software and material products.

You don’t become a better writer by buying a better laptop. No fancy software, hardware, notebook or pen will get your words down for you, or make your ideas better. Only the act of writing will do that.

You don’t become a better parent by buying every toy in the bestsellers list, the best diaper bag or the trendiest pushchair. You do that by offering unconditional love, security, and a healthy environment for them to learn and grow.

You don’t become a better teacher by buying a bigger desk, you do that by consistently teaching quality content and connecting with individual students.

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for great writing software, beautiful planners, and fun toys for my son. But none of those things get me further ahead in life, and none of it adds to the relationship between me and my son. Only spending time can do that.

It’s my consistent actions that make me into a better person than yesterday, not stuff, and it’ll be your consistent actions that transform you into the person you want to become.

Once you understand and apply this concept to your own situations, your life satisfaction will skyrocket. And if you constantly act towards the life that you envision, you’ll see progress every single day, no matter how small.

Less stuff, more action!

The Trap of Perfection

I’m getting married in a couple of weeks. I’d just had a long day of shopping with my mum, looking for my son’s page boy shoes and preparing for perfection on the big day. I felt pretty good. I had the perfect table decor, the perfect hanging heart, and ordered the perfect shoes for my son. But, even after all that, I felt very upset after my chosen wedding hair got bad reception from family.

With just two weeks to go and feeling hopeless and ugly, I felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction, and suddenly found myself questioning all of my choices. Perhaps the cute jars I had ordered for my flowers were too small. If only I’d ordered bigger. I should have paid for welcome drinks, even though it was going to cost hundreds of pounds extra.


Photo is my own

My wedding wasn’t going to be perfect and neither was I.

That evening, as I sat downstairs with my husband-to-be, thinking about what else I could buy, and what else I could do to perfect myself on my wedding, a TED talk came up on Youtube and started playing in the background. For those of you who aren’t sure what a TED talk is, it is a inspirational talk usually done by successful people, or people who have an important story to tell others.

This TED talk re-opened my eyes to my perceived ‘problems’. It was as if it was put there for me to see, as if some other force was trying to give me a good shake and wake me up.

In it, a guy was telling his story about his battle with throat cancer, and his ailing relationship with his wife and daughter. All this guy could only think about was how awful his situation was and how his success had been jeopardised. He was angry and bitter.

One day, he met a homeless guy, who he originally hated looking at because he thought ‘how dare he, he should get a job’.This homeless guy turned out to be his mentor, or perhaps, his guardian angel in disguise, because he ended up teaching him a valuable lesson about what life is really about and how he was treating others. At the same time in his life, a little girl who was being treated with chemo in the same hospital as him, taught him about his flawed outlook on life.

After those very sad, touching and inspiring life lessons from the most unexpected sources, he was a changed man. The whole way through this TED talk, I felt a lump in my throat, and realised I had been straying far off the path that minimalism was teaching me about.

Photo by Franz Harvin Aceituna on Unsplash

Life’s not about money, fame, or perfection, but about being there for others, giving people the time of day, and not judging people on first sight.

Here I was getting upset about my wedding hair, and acting as if it was the most terrible thing in the world- and it really isn’t. It doesn’t even register on the scale of ‘problem’. It is something I will be throwing more money at to fix, for a single day,  to look perfect in front of dozens of others and my husband-to-be. Yet just doors down from where I am getting wed, and going to be eating like royalty, sleeping in crisp sheets and bathing in a hot tub, there are homeless people in filthy clothes who nobody stops to help.

The real deal in life is to help others, to have great relationships and to get over our egos. Not to be concerned with status or pursue endless material gains.

I realised, when I was listening to that man, that even though I am minimalist and talk about helping others, I had the same mindset as he did, “I will earn more than them one day and then I will give them the excess’. But what they also need is human connection and to be shown humanity. They need time from others.

We run away and aim to be as far away from that situation as possible, even though the pursuit of fame, money, and stuff is empty. At the end of the day, stuff is meaningless, and beauty comes from within, not from the most perfect hairdo or most porcelain skin.  

It’s frighteningly easy to sleepwalk through life with this blindfold on, listening to the expectations and the imaginary chatter of others, getting pulled downstream with the rest of the fish and forgetting what’s important.

Weddings can quickly become about beauty and perfection instead of the main reason for getting married in the first place, just like life can become about obtaining shinier and shinier stuff instead focusing on the people around us.  

I was forgetting that the most important thing would be waiting for me at the end of the aisle, and not on a store shelf or in bridal hair magazines. The most important thing for my wedding day will be the person I am marrying, and the journey we will share together.

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash

For those of you who are interested, here’s the link to the TED talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g72SmMdFBpk



Managing Chronic Illness With Minimalism

If you have a chronic illness I can’t stress how beneficial a simpler, minimalist lifestyle can be for you.

I was diagnosed with both Fibromyalgia and M.E in my early twenties- conditions that cause chronic pain, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms. Before I became minimalist, cleaning and tidying was a nightmare. So was making decisions. I was frequently exhausted, burnt out, and upset. I couldn’t keep on top of the housework, devote as much time to my son as I wanted, or even see friends. All of my energy was going on maintaining my stuff.

You want your higher energy days to be focused on the things which are important to you such as career, hobby, family, and self-care.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

When you have an energy-sapping condition you want to make the most of the days where you have more energy, and not waste it on all-day cleaning and tidying marathons. Neither do you want to be burnt out with your schedule or with endless decisions.

Since adopting a minimalist lifestyle, it has changed my life for the better and helped me to manage my condition much more easily. While minimalism isn’t a cure, I now live a slower, more peaceful life and have less bad days than before.

Below are some of the minimalist ways which helped me to conserve energy and live life at a much slower pace:

Remove your excess of trinkets, books and other miscellaneous objects. By having hardly any trinkets to dust under and cutting my books down by 85%, dusting is now a cinch and takes five minutes as opposed to half an hour cleaning under and around everything. Downsizing the amount I own has also made some furniture redundant which has given me lots of floor space and made vacuuming much simpler.

Owning less also means that rooms rarely become messy, and when they do, it’s quick and easy to go around and put things back where they belong. You’ll never need to worry about your home looking a mess for visitors, or turning people away because you’re too embarrassed.

Decorating in soft, simple colours reduced the assault on my senses, which frequently get overwhelmed. Whites, greys and soft pastel shades are far easier on the senses than bright, bold colours. When you choose more neutral colours, it’s also easy to match objects and stick to a colour scheme.

Downsizing and curating your wardrobe will decrease the amount of laundry as well as make it easy to put clothes away and see what you own. It also means less decision fatigue and spending minutes in front of the mirror unsure if to wear the blue bag or the grey, jeans or cargos, and whether red suits you afterall.

You’ll only be left with those clothes that you love, for who you are now in the present.

Consider a simpler hairstyle which will be easier to maintain. When you have a chronic illness getting washed or maintaining your hair can be difficult. You can also buy 3 in 1 shampoo and body wash to save you time, space and the number of times you reach across for different products. You’d only need to use it once, rinse and be done.

When you go out, take a very light bag with only the things you need such as keys, wallet and phone. My personal haul I need when I go out is my wallet, phone, keys and laptop (my laptop is very light and portable). As a parent, I remove my laptop when I’m with my son and put in spare clothes and wet wipes instead.

Consider the type of bag you take out. I’ve found that I’m more suited to backpacks as they distribute weight evenly and reduce the chances of a pain flare up. By getting a backpack, you don’t have to sacrifice style or look overly casual; there are loads of backpacks out there from leather, to chic, to simple and elegant.  You can even buy 2-in-1’s that change from backpack to handbag on more formal occasions.

Minimise your wallet and spend less time fumbling around at checkouts, and looking for receipts. We live in an age where an app exists for almost everything, so if possible use an app instead of a physical store or loyalty card, and throw away unneeded receipts. In fact, with the invention of services like Apple and Google Pay, you don’t always have to take your wallet and can rely on your phone, instead.

Order shopping online instead of going to the shops. This might mean you miss out on cheap and reduced foods that have minor defects or are close to the sell by date, but it will save you energy and time.

If you go shopping, make a list and stick to it. This will prevent you from wandering up and down random aisles, draining your energy and buying more than you need.

Declutter your schedule. If you’re one of those people who says ‘yes’ to everything or can’t say ‘no’ to friends, it’s time to learn how to decline. People are more understanding than we imagine, and if they aren’t, you should think about what value these people are truly bringing to your life. I’m not saying to never do anything for anybody (that would just make you selfish), but looking after yourself is paramount.

Remember, the things you do for others don’t have to be physical. Being a good listener or taking the time to call someone can make a big difference in someone’s life.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Declutter toxic people from your life. By that I mean, people who only take from you without giving back (not talking about physical objects here), people who’re never interested in your feelings or what you have to say, and people who consistently bring you down or make you feel guilty.

If you know anybody like this, I recommend evaluating your relationship with them and either reducing the time you spend with them, or phasing them out completely. This is by no means, easy. You attract the kind of people you want in your life, only when you love and respect yourself and your time.

Consider altering your job or career. I could no longer cope full time, so I made the painstaking decision to only work part time. If you’re chronically sick you may have to reduce your hours or talk to your boss to reduce the number of or sort of responsibilities you have.

The financial implications of this kind of decision are huge, even if you have a supportive partner. However, when you’re living with less and become more mindful about your buying habits, you only need worry about the true necessities such as food, rent, and other essentials.

And when you realise you don’t need stuff to make you happy, it will be much easier on your mind and soul.

Cut out social media and delete all distracting apps from your phone. I fully deleted my Facebook account and put far more value on speaking to my friends face-to-face instead of my screen. As a result, I found I no longer needed an expensive phone contract where I was paying £38 a month.  Instead, I now pay less than £5 a month- the price of a tea and a cake.

It helps when you realise you don’t need the latest model of phone to live a happy life, because we aren’t what we own. We are what we do and how we act.

Take time to sit in pure silence and read a book or just enjoy doing nothing. With the ‘always connected, always busy’ culture, too many people have lost this vital skill to take advantage of being idle and in the moment. It’s amazing how much digital noise, constant exposure to screens and constant busyness can drain your energy and wreak havoc with mental health.

Once you adopt this practice you will realise how rejuvenating it can be, but it takes practice. This is because constant exposure to stimuli such as screens and digital devices will rewire your brain for the need to be doing something at all times.

Take time to show gratitude. It’s so easy when you have a chronic illness to see all that is wrong in your life, but if you take the time to appreciate the things that you do have, you will find you feel much happier and need far less to be happy than you originally thought.

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Take charge of your relationships with your stuff. When your stuff no longer owns you, you can put more energy into relationships with people. With improved relationships, the people in your life might also learn to understand you more – this is even more important when you have a life-altering illness.

Realising you don’t need lots of stuff to be happy and that you don’t need to earn thousands to live a comfortable life can reduce your stress levels and in turn, reduce the number of flare ups.

Simplify meal times by buying versatile ingredients that will go with most foods, and preparing meals the evening before. Investing in a slow cooker can save you effort, as can swapping cooking days with other members of your family. Choose simple meals over complex, gourmet events and prepare meals the day before.

Be careful that you don’t get caught up in ordering takeaway meals every couple of days. Not only is it incredibly unhealthy, but a major drain on your finances.

Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

Now, be aware that the list above is not exhaustive and not everything in it will necessarily apply to your situation. Everyone is unique with individual circumstances, but I assure you that by adopting at least some of the aforementioned minimalist ways, you will start to notice a difference.

If you need to talk to me about chronic illness or have some nuggets of wisdom, please leave a comment and I will reply within 24 hours.



How To Declutter Your Shed and Garage For Good

Here in the UK, summer is fast approaching and people are merrily mowing their lawns and having spring clearouts. What a perfect time to clear our sheds and garages!

Just like with attics, sheds and garages tend to accumulate years of stuff. Sheds that once held a collection of gardening tools and a toolbox, suddenly have enough odds and ends for every possible scenario.

Cars are cast out of the garages that were meant to shelter them because objects without a home have taken up every bit of floor and wallspace.

I’ve written about garages and sheds in the same post because people treat both of these places like overspill rooms to store all the additional stuff there’s no room for anywhere else. If you don’t have a garage, you can ignore that section (unless you want to help a friend).

I remember when my nan went inside her shed shortly before she had to move out to be cared for. Incredibly, there was the old bike that my dad used to ride to work, complete with the seat I sat in as an infant. Dad used to take me up to nan’s on that bike to be babysat while he went to work. Sometimes, when it was raining, he would leave the bike in her shed.

One day, it was put in there where it rested for 25 years – a relic of the past.

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

When unused things are left in sheds and garages indefinitely, finding that drill set becomes an event. And who wants to put the screwdriver back when it’s toolbox is behind a tower of paint cans and garden chairs?

Below, I have shared some tips to reclaim the space in your shed.

  • To make a big impact, you should bring everything out and organise it into categories. For example, gardening tools together, nuts and screws in a pile, screwdrivers and other tools in another pile, and so on. By doing so, you will see exactly what you have and how many of each thing.
  • There’s nothing wrong with keeping spare screws and wall-fixings, but a handful will suffice. If any are rusty, throw them out.
  • Do you really need 3 hammers and 20 screwdrivers? Keep one of each tool, and one of each type of screwdriver.
  • Hanging gardening tools on hooks will give you back floor space.
  • Get rid of old and unused paint. Be sure to dispose of it in a responsible manner and check your local recycling.
  • If you’re keeping gardening furniture, how much of it do you really use? Could you keep it outside with a protective cover?
  • How long has it been since you used that bike? If you haven’t touched in a year, sell it on.
  • Donate or discard anything you’ve not used in a year.
  • Get rid of those things which you’re keeping for that ‘someday’ project – ‘someday’ never comes.


Photo by Eco Warrior Princess on Unsplash

And here are some tips for the garage:

  • With garages, adopt the same strategy as the shed and bring everything out of it. Garages can end up like attics with all kinds of equipment, decor and trinkets, and because they’re bigger than sheds, can be overwhelming. Ideally, you want nothing in your garage except  your car and a shelf for car maintenance.
  • If you have trinkets in your garage, think about donating them. Afterall, if they’re hidden away in boxes they’re not serving you and are likely being kept because of guilt or sentimentality.
  • For outdoor sports and play equipment, only keep the ones that you or your family use regularly. Don’t fall into the ‘someday’ trap. ‘Someday I will invite friends over for that tennis game’, ‘When I have time, I will make use of that golf set’.
  • Instead of keeping rarely used sports equipment, why not make use of your local leisure centre if you have one?
  • Some people keep all kinds of workout equipment in their garages but don’t get the use out of them. Equipment like this also tends to fall prey of the ‘someday’ mindset. If you don’t work out regularly, save the space and take long walks instead, or make use of your local gym if you have one.
  • Don’t keep stuff for hobbies you no longer take part in. It’s easy to cling to your past self ‘just in case’, but it’s calming and freeing to make space for the present ‘you’.
  • Don’t look at the garage as extra storage space. Just like buying more storage boxes gives a mere illusion of having more space, treating a room like a giant storage box simply adds to your clutter and your stress levels.

And there you have it. If you declutter your these spaces fully and stay mindful of your freshly created space, you’ll never have to declutter them again. Everything you need will always be in easy reach.

If there’s something I’ve not mentioned, do leave me a comment and I will respond in less than 24 hours.

On a side note, I aim to post every Thursday or Friday but this post was later than usual because I’ve had an incredibly busy few days with wedding prep.

I want to thank every one of you who reads my posts and hope that they help in transforming your space and your mindset.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash


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