Decluttering Memory Lane

It’s time to take a trip down memory lane; this time to confront the emotional and sentimental objects in your life.

Sentimental objects are things which typically have memories attached or represent a happy or sad time in your past. For example, you might be keeping your old prom dress, a trophy you won back in school, or jewellery from an ex.  The hardest ones to deal with, however, are those you obtained from departed loved ones.

Before we go ahead, I would like to point out that there’s nothing wrong with keeping one or two objects of sentimental value to you, but once you own more than you can count on one hand, that’s when it starts to become emotional clutter which can keep you from moving forwards.

Most sentimental objects end up in attics, crammed to the back of drawers or line our shelves with an aura of wistfulness and guilt. Mine were mostly in the attic, hidden away in boxes which were buried under other boxes.

Last month, I started thinking about my old typewriters I kept as a kid because they reminded me of the time I first started writing. At the time they were painful to get rid of because of the words I had punched onto paper, but I’ve since realised that getting rid of my typewriters never made me any less of a writer, nor did I need an object to remind me of who and what I am.

However, I kept other piles of sentimentality stashed away.

I kept old school work because I liked to look back on positive teacher feedback to be reminded that I was a capable human. I also couldn’t bear to throw away years of work.

I kept boxes of old Christmas and birthday cards, some of which I didn’t even remember the names written in them. I even kept cards from where I was first called ‘Sister in Law’, and ‘Daughter in Law’, because it felt amazing to be accepted into my fiance’s life.

I kept objects from past relationships, even old jewellery which had long since tarnished.

I kept a Dick Turpin mug which once belonged to my uncle and which I was terrified of as a child. We made it into a constant joke as I grew up which is why I kept it – to remember the smiles and laughter we always shared.

I kept my old Woolworths uniform because I had been so sad when it shut down.

I kept my old school shirt from when I left school. It had yellowed with age and gone damp from being kept in the attic. School was not a place of happy memories for me, yet I clung to the memories with this top.

When I became minimalist and finally confronted my sentimental items, I felt so light inside that I could have floated away. For the most precious objects I ordered a beautiful ,small memory box to keep them in.

With a small memory box, I would be far less inclined to fill it with every passing moment instead of the warmest, most treasured memories.

Here’s how you too, can release the anchors of the past, and let go of the guilt:

Cards and letters

We tend to keep cards and letters because they remind us of the people we care about or once knew in our lives. Some even remind us of significant milestones in life such as moving house, having a baby, or passing exams. Others might be written by people who have passed away.

We imagine we will revisit and read them in years to come, but of course, we never do. Over the years these written treasures stack up and take up lots of space in your home and your heart.

With cards and letters the best thing you can do is to go through each one slowly. If you no longer remember the person whose name is in the card, or they’re no longer relevant in your life, recycle them.

It’s amazing how fast time passes and how our lives change so dramatically in that time, not just with circumstances but with people and feelings.

You don’t need to keep cards from milestones in your life such as passing an exam or moving house. They would’ve made you feel great at the time, but if you got rid of them, does that mean you’ll no longer have your qualifications or the roof over your head? Of course not!

If, however, a specific card or letter warms your heart, you can do what I’ve done, and keep them in a photo album alongside photos of the person or happy times. Not only will they be protected, they will present beautifully for your pleasure in the future.

You can also keep them in a memory box for those days you’re feeling especially nostalgic.

A nostalgic, yellowed pile of old letters and photos

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Objects from loved ones

Objects from loved ones can be some of the hardest things to deal with, so if you struggle, take your time to evaluate each once. Don’t rush and don’t feel as if it all has to be dealt with in one day (unless that’s how you operate and you know that leaving it would lead to procrastination).

Accepting that part of your life or that a person is no longer in it is difficult, but when you let go of the objects that are tethering you to those times, you will instantly feel as light as a passing cloud.

For the longest time I kept an old teddy bear keyring that my childhood best friend had bought me from holiday. We grew apart once we went to secondary school (which upset me a lot at the time) and I held onto that bear until I was in my late twenties.

As soon as that bear was donated to the charity shop, I found I didn’t even think about it or feel the guilt I imagined I would.

Stuff from people who have passed away will require deeper contemplation. In my previous post, I talked briefly about furniture belonging to passed away loved ones.

If it’s kept in an attic, it will eventually get warped by heat or damp and mildew, so if you don’t plan to use it, it’s better to pass it on rather than waiting for that inevitable moment you find it damaged.

Like with cards and letters, we cling onto such objects because of the memories and the people we associate with them. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a few objects like grandma’s sentimental necklace or aunty’s favourite teacup, but if you aren’t mindful you can end up with a shrines worth of stuff accumulating in your attic and other parts of your house.

When this happens, your home can end up becoming a portal to the past rather than a place to be present and aim for the future.

Rest assured, by letting go of the objects you’re clinging to out of guilt or fear of losing those memories; you won’t lose the memories and you aren’t dishonouring the person by passing their things on to people who could give them a second chance.  

What would be sad would be to hide it away, unused, unloved and with an aura of stress and guilt attached. Objects that mean a lot to you should be being used or displayed in some way, or stowed in a small memory box, and if they aren’t they’re serving as nothing but an anchor which others will have to deal with when you’re gone.

You can preserve memories of sentimental objects by taking photos and either putting them in an album or storing it digitally. That way you can look back on the sentimental stuff and instead of taking floor or cupboard space it takes up data.

Remember: people aren’t their stuff just like you’re not your t-shirt or your CD collection. Strip your favourite things away, and you’re still the same person you always were, with the same traits, same people you love and same values.

You wouldn’t suddenly forget your uncle because they gave away their thirty-year-old vinyl collection, so why assume you will lose memories of them if you do so? The true memories are in your heart.

Family heirlooms

Family heirlooms are similar to dealing with objects from people who have passed away. That antique mirror may have been in your family for generations, but if you don’t like it or will never use it, try asking others in your family if they would like to take ownership. If not, that’s a sure sign that it can be donated or sold on.

Don’t keep the object out of guilt, just waiting for it to be passed on to the next generation who may feel obliged to keep it and continue the cycle of guilt.

Old hobby equipment

As the years pass our hobbies and interests can change. I used to be obsessed with fossils as a child and kept a tin of them along with some pretty stones I had collected on the beach with my parents.

I no longer collect fossils, and know that if I wanted to see some, there are plenty of museums near me to satisfy that itch.

With the pretty stones, I repurposed them into an eye-catching display on the window ledge in my hobby room. It just so happened that their pastel shades matched my colour scheme perfectly, as well having joyful memories attached.

Letting go of collections for old hobbies is freeing because it allows you to let go of your old self to fully embrace the present you.

For example; I used to like working out and applied for a gym membership, but my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome meant I had to treat my body much more gently. So I eventually let go of my workout clothes and now take weekly walks, instead.

You might simply lose interest in a hobby and that’s perfectly normal. If you’ve owned the related stuff for over a year and can’t see yourself going back to it, pass it on so it can be useful to someone else with that hobby.


Photo by Justin Bashore on Unsplash

Old clothes

When I was doing a clear-out of my attic last year, I discovered bags upon bags of maternity wear and baby clothes. In a strange effort to hold onto the memories of carrying my little boy inside me, I had kept those clothes, and then kept the clothes he wore up to his first year.

The sad thing was, some of them were too damp and smelly to pass on, even when put through a wash. And it wasn’t as if I’d ever gone up to look back on them, or that either of us would be wearing those clothes again.

You might keep sentimental clothes for similar reasons, or you might keep clothes as a reminder of when you were a certain weight, or attended a memorable event.

Clothes take up a lot of space and if they aren’t stored correctly, end up getting damaged or unwearable. Not to mention, they can cause endless frustration when stowed away and mixed up with all your current wear.

The bottom line is, if you don’t wear it, donate it. Make space for the new and the current.

And if there’s a special t-shirt you simply must keep but no longer wear, why not iron it and put it in a frame? It would make a deeply personal and unique decoration in any room you desired.

On a similar note, if you’re especially creative with crafting, you could cut up and repurpose old clothes into new objects.

The purpose of this article isn’t to get you to give up everything you love, but to help make the space in your heart and your home for the things that you do.


Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

If I’ve missed anything or there’s something you would like advice on, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment. It may even end up in the next post. Next week, I will talk about sheds and garages.





Decluttering Your Attic

This week I’m taking you to a dark place in the decluttering process: the attic.

There may be several reasons you want to declutter the attic: you might want to let go of the past, you might dread going up there every time you need something, like my mum, you might feel that you’ll be too old one day to access your stuff. Or perhaps you just want the satisfaction of a nice airy space above your head.

Whatever your reasons for tackling the attic, they’re one of the most terrifying places to start the decluttering process, and not just because of the cobwebs and spiders. The attic should be the last place you declutter because, for many, it’s such a monumental task that it can drain all motivation before you even start. Just looking at years of accumulated boxes, mystery bags, and cramped walkways is enough to make most people retreat back down the ladder and vow never to look at it again.  Attics also tend to be full of emotional and sentimental objects, including those from loved ones who have passed. Items like these will need significant time to evaluate, which is another reason this room should be dealt with last.

Because attics can be so claustrophobic, and it can be difficult to know where to start, I recommend starting with one corner and bringing the contents down to be sorted through immediately. Notice I didn’t say ‘later’ because the temptation will be to just ‘pop it into the storage room for now’. And ‘now’ becomes days, becomes weeks, becomes years, until your spare room has become a second attic. This is because dumping clutter into one spot tends to act as a magnet and attract even more clutter. Therefore, it’s imperative that you sort the attic bit by bit, just like every other room, but quick enough that it doesn’t become a pile of procrastination.  

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

So what kind of stuff do you usually find in an attic?

  • Festive Decorations
  • Photo albums
  • Old journals
  • Baby and kids toys
  • Old school work or art from yourself or your child
  • Old books
  • Bags of cables
  • Objects that never got used eg.old workout equipment
  • Old furniture
  • CD’s, DVD’s and videogame paraphernalia
  • Family heirlooms and sentimental objects
  • Unwanted gifts
  • Rolls of leftover carpet or wallpaper
  • Old clothes
  • Suitcases

First things first, lets deal with the most common stuff.

Photo albums

I could go right ahead and say that these days everything is digital, but I am a minimalist who loves to flick through a good physical album, so I’m not about to tell you to scan your photos and bin the rest (unless you feel that would be best for you).

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably got a stack of photo albums boxed up, some of them not even completely filled.

To minimise a physical photo collection, invest in a high-quality photo album which holds as many photos as possible, then sort through your collection in chronological order. To free up even more space, feel free to discard of duplicates or those which didn’t turn out very well. How many photos you have will determine the time it will take, but in the end you’ll find that you’ll be down to just one or two high-capacity albums and can donate or recycle the rest.

If you still intend to keep your photos in the attic, be sure to store them in an acid-free storage container which can withstand extreme cold, damp and heat.  

Old furniture

Furniture, especially wood or fabric, won’t keep well in attic environment and is vulnerable to mould and mildew. Dismantle and recycle old furniture which isn’t looking so great, and sell or donate pieces which are still in tip-top condition. If they’re in the attic in the first place, let’s face it, it wasn’t likely you were going to use them at any time in the near future.

But what if that dresser belonged to your dearly departed grandma? In that case, have a long, deep think about what it really means to you. Is it doing any service to you in the dark confines of the attic, never to see another sock or trinket ever again? If the answer is no, and you’re never going to use it, think: was my grandma personified by this dresser or was she a human being who lit up my world for who she was? If the answer is no, take a photo of it and donate it to someone who will love it just as much.

If, on the other hand, you have great memories attached to said dresser, it makes you smile and you can’t bear to part with it, consider replacing a piece of your own furniture with it. And if you have trouble blending it in with your current decor you could even repaint it, breathing new life into an much-loved piece.

Whatever you decide, don’t keep it up in the attic where it will be subject to the extremes in temperature and humidity. It’ll only lead to guilt and upset when you go back to find it damaged.

Festive Decorations

Festive decorations, whether it be for Christmas or some other holiday can mysteriously grow in size over the years. Before you know it, you’re bringing down bags and boxes every year with no idea which decoration is in each. Every Christmas I would just rifle through my lucky bags of tinsel, baubles and other Christmas themed trinkets, some broken and some yellowed with age.

Empty out all your decorations and only keep the ones you consistently use every year. If you add any new ones to your collection then remove an older one. By doing this you will pare down your decorations and keep them at a consistently manageable amount.

Baby and kids toys

If you don’t have children you can skip this part, but if you do have kids, it’s inevitable you will end up storing outgrown toys, books, and perhaps their cot and old baby clothes. There’s a myriad of reasons you might do this including ‘saving them for baby number 2’, or being unable to let go of their babyhood, although the latter is harder to admit.  It happens, and it’s completely normal.

The thing to remember is that children grow up and you want to enjoy them as they are in the present rather than clinging onto objects from the past. The years are fleeting and are gone before you know it, and those old baby clothes and toys will get damp in the attic when they could be serving a less fortunate family.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping one or two things from that period in their lives (I have a beautiful baby memory box with the special things in which are warming to go back to). A potential issue arises when you are keeping a hoard of their old stuff which they have no chance of returning to. Just as your value as a human being is not tied to your stuff, your child’s true essence is,ultimately, in their personality, actions and love for you.

If, however, you’re keeping the stuff for another child, you’re best not to keep these things in the attic unless they’re tightly sealed in an acid-free container which has no chance of damaging the contents.

Photo by Lauren Lulu Taylor on Unsplash

Old school work or art from yourself or your child

I used to keep every bit of my old schoolwork in several boxes. I rarely looked back on it but it was there because I was clinging to that painful part of my life. I liked to look back on the praise I had got from teachers because I had such low self esteem, and I liked to imagine a happier school life and what I would do differently.  More on this part of my story here: https://minimalistmojo.blog/2019/02/04/anchors-of-the-past-my-hoarding-story-and-how-i-woke-up-to-my-mess/

If you’re keeping old pieces of your own work, keep only one or two pieces which really mean something to you, otherwise just let it all go. I guarantee you won’t miss any of what you do let go, but you will appreciate the lightness, especially if it was linked to unpleasant memories or being used to fill a void.

When it comes to your child’s schoolwork (if you have children), keep a few meaningful pieces or curate it all into a scrapbook for pleasant viewing. I recently bought my child a scrapbook and printed a personalised cover for him and he loves it. When they get older you can ask your child which pieces they want to keep and then arrange them into a beautiful, personalised scrapbook which they can browse at their leisure or show off to friends and family.

When special pieces of work are kept in a beautifully presented way, they don’t even have to be kept in the attic and can be kept on a bookshelf, in a cupboard or in your child’s room. As always, if you choose to keep it in your attic, keep it in an acid-free storage box just like you would with photos.

Objects that never get used eg.old workout equipment

You know the kids of stuff I’m talking about here: those weights you kept ‘just in case’ you decided to work out, that guitar you’re saving for when you take those lessons you will get around to ‘someday’.

Here we are again with the ‘just in case’ words that derail every attempt at decluttering and simplicity. If such items are in the attic, the chances are extremely high that they will still be there for the next generation to sort out after you’re gone. Such items are kept for the ‘dream version’ of yourself (which we all have to some degree) and quite often doesn’t align with who you really are. I kept my work out clothes for a few years, seeing a version of myself jogging through my neighbourhood with headphones on and my running trainers pounding the pavement as I got fitter and fitter. It never transpired, and I realised that with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, it wasn’t viable for me. I’m not saying it’s not doable for anyone else with a chronic condition, but for me, personally, that vision didn’t align with the gentle pace I have set for my body.

Do away with anything you’re keeping from the you in an alternate reality and breathe in the space for the person you really are.

Unwanted gifts

I know how hard it is, when you receive a gift and feel too guilty to get rid of it so you keep it on display for a while then stow it away in the attic.

By storing unwanted gifts you are storing negative emotions including guilt and obligation. In most cases, the giver wouldn’t want you to feel this way, and it’s mostly in our minds. If you know that the giver would be offended, it might take some more careful consideration and some gentle words, but you should never be forced to keep something which doesn’t add value to your life. People who are easily offended when it comes to gift giving may well have issues with showing their emotions and attach their feelings to the stuff they give and receive, so do be sensitive and mindful about the process if you’re in that kind of situation.

Otherwise, lift the burden by regifting to someone you know will love it, or by donating to a charity for the less fortunate.  

CD’s, DVD’s and videogame paraphernalia

This kind of stuff, particularly discs, will not do well in an attic. For starters, discs eventually get what’s known as disc rot, and will eventually cease to play. Being stored in an attic speeds up the process as I discovered when I looked at some of my old PSOne games. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-dvd-rot-1845719

Electronics that are of value to you shouldn’t be stored in an attic if you can help it due to the extremes in temperatures. Recently I decluttered my gaming room https://minimalistmojo.blog/2019/04/04/how-i-minimised-my-gaming-room/ and that gave me the space to bring down and display my beloved Sega Mastersystem II.

If you don’t have any such space, and you know you rarely access or even love the item ,then sell it on or donate it. Otherwise, invest in decent storage that will protect it in a harsh environment.

Old clothes and books

Over time, in an attic, clothes will get damp and grow mildew, and books will rapidly yellow.

Last year I came across some bin liners of old quilts and maternity clothes, and they weren’t in any fit condition to be donated. Not only were they damp, they stunk. Even the seasonal clothes I had been keeping in plastic containers had a funky smell to them.

For that reason I suggest you keep seasonal clothes on top of your wardrobe in a wicker storage box or under your bed. And for any clothes you’re keeping for the ‘alternate reality you’, don’t. Just get rid.

As for books, if you’re keeping them in the attic, you’re not likely to ever read them and they will quickly degrade if not stored in an acid-free container. Books are there to be read, to impart knowledge and entertain, and they aren’t doing much of that in your attic – donate them.

Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash

I could go on with the many other categories of stuff you find in an attic, but some, like sentimental items and heirlooms, deserve their own post.

The benefits of decluttering an attic are whatever you make it. You can revel in the newly created space, relax in the knowledge that your family won’t have to deal with it all when you’re gone, feel the lightness as you live for the future, and enjoy accessing your treasures.  If you wanted to and you had the money, you could even convert your attic into a study or a spare bedroom for guests.

I hope this post has given you the boost you needed to climb that ladder and come back down it a lighter person. As always, if there’s anything you want to ask, please drop me a message in the comments session. In my next post, I will be talking about dealing with sentimental items.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash


Finding Yourself in A Consumerist World

On a beautiful spring day last week, whilst waiting for my friend in my town’s Memorial Garden, I got thinking about how people are remembered.

So many of us surround ourselves with stuff and get buried in our digital devices, our worth falsely represented by what we own instead of what we do. Did these war heroes fight so that we could buy the latest iPhone and one-up our neighbours? So that we could passively fritter our lives away behind screens? Or did they lay down their lives so that we could have a future and fulfil our true potentials.

People’s eulogies are never about the things they owned or the size of their abode, but how they lived, what they accomplished, how they treated others, and who was important to them. Think about all the famous and revered people who have passed away and who you learnt about at school. Whether they were rolling in money or begging for scraps, these people are remembered in history because of what they accomplished, for better or worse.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Why then, do we continue to accumulate so much stuff, stifling our true selves and squandering our precious hours in the pursuit of acquiring more and maintaining it all? In our consumerist society of advertisements and social media, it’s no wonder we’re feeling more and more pressured to keep up with our neighbours, friends, family, and even strangers on the other side of the globe. When does it stop?

Unless you actively decide to do something about it, it won’t. And by that I mean become mindful about your consumer habits and marketing tricks that have a subtle yet powerful effect on us all. It’s not just the tailored ads on social media that mirror your buying habits, but most websites you visit.

Thankfully, most websites now offer their users a chance to uncheck targeted ads and limit what data they can use. But in a rush to view the website, most people skip this step.

Another way marketers get into your brain is via emails, so unsubscribe from marketing emails, particularly when there’s likely to be sales and promotions around holidays.  I’m not perfect – I’ve been guilty many times of succumbing to a tempting sale or promotional vouchers presented to me via emails. I’m no more immune to marketing strategies than the next person, but the difference is I’m much more mindful of what I allow into my inbox and what ads websites are allowed to display. Because of minimalism,  I’m also aware of what I already possess.

The most important thing of all is to be mindful whenever you go to the shops. Do you really need that ice-cream maker, or are you just buying it to satisfy a deep-seated emptiness that a friendship or hobby could fulfil instead? Think about the maintenance and space which each item will occupy and if you do make a purchase, consider removing something else less useful to you.   

It’s better to avoid shopping trips as a pastime, if you can. Such trips are usually born out of boredom and a desire to socialise with friends, but there are far more intriguing places to spend your time which doesn’t necessarily involve spending money. Plus, do you really want relationships to be built on a foundation of consumerism and subconsciously comparing stuff? I didn’t think so.                 


Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

When we’re feeling bored or unsatisfied with our lives, it’s easier than ever before to fill that void and get a quick buzz from a purchase at any time of the day or night. Online shopping is available 24/7, always there as a temporary salve for negative emotions and a buzz of excitement for something new. That’s why I deleted all shopping apps from my phone, and if I’m on my PC, ensure that I log out of sessions so it’s not so convenient to check it out on a whim.  

I try to avoid going into shops just for a browse (unless it’s a bookshop) because if I’m going for a browse it means I’m looking for ways to procrastinate from the things which will truly move my life forwards; things like working on my book and preparing my next blog post. You see, these things require hard work and focus, but the result is a far more satisfying and long-lasting buzz than anything from a store can provide.

Reading and writing nourishes me in a way that nothing else does: I need it like I need food, and without either, I become grumpy, listless, and prone to seeking meaningless dopamine hits from other sources. What’s your passion? If you’re unsure, don’t worry; once you take control of your possessions you can start steering your own destiny.

Be mindful, stay vigilant and realise your true potential. Above all, remember: you are always more valuable than any object.

How do you want to be remembered?

Photo taken in my town’s Memorial Garden. It is a beautiful place, perfect for contemplation and embracing simplicity.

The Shattered Perception of Stuff

For a finite length of time, the road to simplicity can feel exhausting because it involves so much soul searching and decision making. Not only that, but like with doing anything that’s outside the ‘norm’, you will probably encounter ridicule from others before they understand the benefits of what you’re doing. The best way to make somebody else understand minimalism and simplicity is by living the lifestyle and sticking to your values. Don’t be afraid to stand out and keep growing! When people see how much happier and more relaxed you are, they might even become a little curious themselves – just remember you can’t force them.


Photo owned by the author of Minimalistmojo

In the meantime, I’ve endured jokes that I’ll have sold off my whole house if I carry on, and even confusion from worried family members who can’t understand why I’m taking bags of my things to the charity shop every week. The truth is, going from hoarder to minimalist is a long, drawn out process which takes a lot of energy and mental strength, but the outcome is incredible and well worth it.

There are many times I thought I was done, but in fact, ended up finding more stuff I could live without. That’s a common side-effect of minimising: once you start removing things from your home, you find more and more as you slowly discover what it is that’s important to you. I like to think of it as uncovering a fossil: the more you chip away, the more reveals itself until you have a clear observation.

Last year, I had a wake up call when my four year old son smashed an expensive vase I had bought to beautify my living room. Of course, I was upset and screamed at him, and he became extremely upset. But when I took the time to look up from the shattered pieces, at his face, wet with tears, I realised something important: I could replace my vase but not my beautiful son who was growing up so fast. In that moment, I had placed far too much value on a store-bought object and caused needless anxiety in both of us. You could say the event shattered my perception on the stuff I was placing so much value on. That point was made even clearer recently, when just before Mother’s Day, he brought home this lovely plant pot he had decorated for me at school, complete with vibrant pink pansies. He was so proud and it was so much more special to me than any object from a store, no matter how expensive. The flowerpot was made and presented to me with such pure feelings that even if it got broken, I know that love is still there, and in the end, that’s more important than anything I own.


Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash


Curating your Kitchen

Kitchens tend to be one of the most clutter-filled rooms in people’s homes. They should be a pleasant space to cook and make drinks; instead, they end up as stress hotspots with rammed drawers, bursting cupboards and barely any space for food prep.

But how and why do our kitchens end up so cluttered in the first place? The answer is simple: unneeded cumbersome appliances, barely used cookware, clones of accessories, an excess of silverware, food or condiments you rarely access, and an overwhelming amount of cleaning supplies.


Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

So much clutter in the kitchen can make mealtimes into a nightmare and make you much more likely to spend money eating out or ordering takeaways. It’s hard to find what you need, hard to access what you use the most, and hard to decide what to cook. Deciding what to cook is an extremely common issue with couples and families, but most people don’t consider that it might be due to decision fatigue and the stress of an overbearing kitchen. To jump-start you in reclaiming back a harmonious space you can’t wait to get cooking in, let’s start off with the simplest place: surfaces.

Surfaces in a kitchen should be spacious with as little clutter as possible as they are used for serving and preparing food, and can even be used to host a spread at parties. Lots of surface clutter is also hard to clean under, so could be harbouring more grime and bacteria than you care to imagine. Things you may want to consider removing are:

  • Breadbin -bread can be stored in a carefully curated cupboard.
  • Tea and coffee caddies – teabags, coffee and sugar can also be stowed away in a cupboard in their original packaging.
  • Keys, notebooks and pens should never grace a kitchen work surface. Instead, invest in a nice wipeable board for the wall, and hang keys up in the hall or keep them in your bag.
  • Recipe books or folders – Keep just one and store in a cupboard where it is easily accessible.
  • Medicines-These should never be kept out on a surface and should be kept locked up in a suitable container, but I’ve encountered exposed pills and bottles many times. Due to fluctuating temperatures in the kitchen, medicines are perhaps best kept in a lockable bathroom cabinet.
  • Hair products – Believe it or not, I’ve come across hair and beauty products being kept in the kitchen. For hygiene reasons, keep styling and beauty products in the bathroom or bedroom.

Things that are fine to keep on the surface include kettle, microwave, and toaster. Although, I could argue that if you have a grill, you could easily get by without a toaster. If, like me, you’re prone to forgetting that you have food under the grill , by all means keep it. Your most used appliances will depend on yours and your family’s personal preferences.

“Are you mad?! I can’t possibly stow any more in my cupboards!”, I hear you panic. If that’s the case for you; you could be pleasantly surprised or even flat-out shocked by how much you’re keeping in your cupboards that you don’t need. Once you’ve cleared your surfaces as much as possible, it’s time to evaluate everything behind those doors and become ruthless.

Clear out:

  • Outdated food, spices and condiments (goes without saying).
  • Food you don’t think you’ll ever touch but has a long sell by date – donate to a food bank. There’s much less fortunate people out there who could be delighted by your unopened, unused consumables.
  • Ingredients you swore you’d get round to using ‘someday’ but are still waiting for that day to arrive.
  • Unused appliances that haven’t been touched for over a year. Things like toastie makers, and novelty appliances made to save you time that only end up taking space.
  • The partyware that comes out once every few years – that includes cake stands, paper plates, plastic cutlery and beakers etc.
  • Cups and glasses which are rarely used, if ever. Think: How many cups and glasses do you really need? Consider how many people are in your household and how many visitors you entertain at any one time. And do you really need a glass for every type of alcoholic beverage? Too many of us keep enough to host our own mini-bar and cafe, and as a result we run out of space.
  • Plates and cookware. Evaluate what you use the most and how many plates you really need for your household. For sentimental crockery that you don’t like to use, either start using it for its intended purpose, or display across a wall. Get rid of old pots and pans if you have since acquired new. If you have a tonne of baking equipment, think about how often you use it and for what.
  • Cleaning supplies: you’ve probably got spray polish, bleach, a dozen cloths, furniture spray and just about everything you can think of under your sink for every probable scenario. Just like with bathrooms, whittle down your supplies and seek all-in-1 solutions that can do just about every job. You might want to consider using all natural products which are less harmful for the environment, safer if you have kids or pets, cheap, and easily concocted 1.

Lastly, we get to the drawers. When you get to editing your drawers, it might be easier to dump everything out and go through everything piece by piece. Kitchen drawers can be nightmarish to rifle through the dozens of spatulas, speciality knives, cutlery, medicine spoons, bottle openers, cheese graters, pizza cutters, ladles, corkscrews, and every utensil in the cooking world. This is because when people buy new cutlery, they tend to keep the old ‘just in case’, or buy a duplicate because the original was hiding beneath clutter. It’s also too easy bend to the mindset of ‘I spent good money on that’ – cookware can be costly, after all. But, if you’ve been reading my posts up to this point, you already know that is a dangerous and limiting mindset that ensures we remain trapped and weighed down by our possessions. Realise that you’ve had your use out of the object (or that you made a mistake)  and either let it go or donate it. Remember: things rarely hold their monetary value, especially once used. And even if there is something of value – if you don’t use it, your time and space is far more valuable.


Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash

As with most other rooms that get minimised, one of the immediate benefits you will notice is how effortless cleaning is. And once you know where everything is and exactly what you own,  you will likely feel more inclined to meal prep, and therefore, become healthier and calmer. With space to be more creative, you might even discover a new joy for cooking.

How I Minimised My Gaming Room

It’s been a busy week – one of selling my excess on Ebay and frantically going and back and forth to the post office. This is a direct result of purging the excess that was in the gaming room,and the attic. Despite this post being about decluttering games, I can assure you that it applies to anyone with any hobby that involves collectables. I recognise that there are minimalists out there who list gaming as one of the many time sinks alongside Netflix and social media, but I believe that as long as your hobby is intentional and brings true value to your life, there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’ve always had a passion for gaming, so I had a grand library of games and figures permanently on display. Even though I thought I had already sold or donated the ones that no longer held value to me, I recently had another look around at my collection. Beautiful and organised, but still too much.

There were more games that I could never hope to play in a lifetime, and it wasn’t all adding value to my life like I had originally thought. You see, I’m not perfect, but the more stuff I purge on my journey, the easier I am able to see the things that don’t matter.  

I came across games I hadn’t touched in years, games I had bought years ago for the sake of collecting, games I already owned digitally, and games that I owned improved versions of. There were also figurines that had long since been out-favourited, and a few shelves of CD’s I hadn’t opened in years. So, I went through the usual process of evaluating every object, and as I went along I started pulling things out and piling them against the wall where it eventually formed a mountain.Then I did something that my old self would have found abhorrent just a few short weeks ago – I put all of my treasured CD’s and their booklets into a CD binder, and threw all of the cases away; even the ones I’d had since I was a teenager. One might argue that there’s no point in keeping CD’s at all in an age where everything is digital: that’s down to you to decide. But I will say this: if one of the services ever went down or one of the companies decided to revoke licensing for any of the tracks, I still have access to my favourites on those discs. It also prevents me from repurchasing songs if I can’t find them on Spotify.

A curated shelf in the gaming room

Going back to my mountainous sell pile; it was astonishing to think of the weight these items were adding to my life, both physically and metaphorically. All of them had been sitting on shelves collecting dust, or hibernating in storage boxes never to grace another surface again.

Through further minimising the gaming room, not only did I find myself not needing my CD tower anymore, I made a nice amount of cash out of the items which were worth a significant amount. Cash which I’m learning to be mindful about. While on the subject of money, I’d just like to remind you not to get caught in the trap of keeping things due to a made-up monetary value in your mind. Do your research, and if it’s not worth the effort to sell it, donate, instead. Let go of the guilt of spending money from years in the past and make a new start, today.

Since freeing up all that extra space I’ve been able to display things which do mean a lot to me, that I had no space for before. Things like my Sega Mastersystem II which has a lot of happy memories attached and makes me smile whenever I see it. After all, why should my treasures have been collecting cobwebs in the cold, dark attic, while superfluous things took the spotlight? There may come a day when I decide I no longer need half the stuff that I find valuable to me now. And that’s OK. Because when it comes to letting go I will be ready and,hopefully, so will you.

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Bathrooms -Places of Serene Routine

Bathrooms don’t have to be a place of dread, lost time, and rifling through hundreds of cosmetic products. Did you know that with some mindful minimising, you can achieve a bathroom which is airy and perfect for a long soak in the bath or shower? We’re talking space for some thoughtfully placed candles and a spa-like experience. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

How many people are sharing your household can, of course, have an impact on how minimalistic you can make it, but just by going through your products as an individual, you’ll likely be amazed at how many bottles, sachets and poufs you can live without.

Bathrooms often brim with half-full and unused shampoos, conditioners, beauty products and freebies. Quite often, even when a product has been replaced because the old was no longer suitable, the old is kept because ‘good money was spent on it’. But why not free up the space and breathe a little easier? It will save you valuable time during chaotic mornings and be so much simpler to find what you need. Not to mention, cleaning will be far less demanding.

Here is a checklist to help minimise your bathroom:

  • Get rid of half-full and unused shampoo and conditioner
  • Bin expired products (which likely mean it wasn’t being used)
  • Donate or recycle freebies which have been stashed away at the back of a shelf or cabinet
  • Dispose of unused beauty products
  • Regift or donate unopened gifts such as that Lynx Africa set that’s been sat there for half a year collecting dust.
  • Pare down to just one sponge, flannel or puff (one per person). Note that puffs are not considered to be hygienic, as mildew and dead skin cells can accumulate in the folds and the mesh. https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/beauty/skincare/shouldnt-wash-shower-puffs-327812

Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Once you’ve been through everything you can, consider these tips to prevent your bathroom from becoming cluttered again.

Tips

  • When it comes to hair products, buy 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioners where possible to reduce the amount of bottles.
  • The same goes for body wash. It’s  possible to buy an all-in-one which washes the body and the hair and is especially easy to find for children.
  • Frequently replace sponges and poufs if you use them
  • Have no more than two towels per person hanging up
  • Use multi-purpose cleaning products to reduce the number of sprays and bottles.
  • Don’t buy new products until the current one has run out (or is very close to doing so).
  • A Tallboy bathroom unit can store most, if not all, of your supplies in one place.
  • Be sure to recycle where possible: keep your eye out for the recycling logo on the back of most bottles and cans.

Photo by J.luis Esquivel on Unsplash

Following these tips won’t just help create a serene space for all your bathroom needs, but will minimise your impact on the environment. Minimising your bathroom is also fantastic if your room happens to be small like mine (my bathroom is also shared with 3 other adults and a child-none of them minimalist). If you do share your bathroom with others, and they have a lot of clutter, consider having a gentle talk with them to see if you can get them on-board with some of the ideas above. If not, don’t push it and just bask in the satisfaction of your own hard work. I know that shared rooms in larger families can be incredibly frustrating if you’re a minimalist, but refrain from nagging or shouting at them about their ‘mess’, as all you’ll succeed in doing is creating an air of hostility. They may even cling more tightly onto the things they do have. More on living with other people’s clutter in another post.

I hope you find this post useful, and as usual, if I’ve missed anything out or you have something to say, leave a comment.

Reclaiming Power For Your Future Self

While decluttering and pursuing minimalism, you may notice that you think about your stuff more than you ever did before. Not only do you find yourself evaluating every object in your home, but when you go shopping, you’re hyper aware of everything in your basket and turn the willpower up to max. But it’s only temporary -you’re aiming for your future self to live a much simpler and more serene life by doing the hardest work in the present. The mindful shopping will become far more natural over time and the decision making will become faster and faster until it’s almost instant. Depending on your mindset and circumstances, it can take a few months to a couple of years to reach a state you’re happy with. Once you’ve reached that state, all you need to do is remain mindful of future purchases and stay vigilant with the things which enter your home, be it junk mail, takeaway menus, paperwork or a new set of knives. Today, for example, I bought a new bag, but I did this with the bag in mind that I was going to get rid of. In fact, when I brought it home, I ended up purging two bags in its place. I always aim to do this for every new thing that I purchase; books, clothes, shoes, and recently, my video games.

As time goes on, I find myself purging more and more stuff that no longer complements my lifestyle, but sometimes it can be difficult and take a significant amount of time to let certain things go. Quite often, these are objects with an aura of sentimentality or gift status attached. Such decisions often require a plentiful reserve of emotional energy and inner calm, but it is amazing how once the decision has been made, said object will usually lose the hold of guilt or nostalgia it had over me.


Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

With perseverance and a calm mind, you too, can reclaim that power and one be step closer to a freer, happier, more mindful you.


Banishing Bustle from Your Bedroom

Whether you go to bed at night to sleep, or simply go to your bedroom to rest and get away from the bustle of life, you want a haven of tranquility. Somewhere you can recharge your batteries. But wait. Your nightstand is a mess of books, medication, coins, makeup, glasses and other bits ‘n’ bobs that have made themselves at home. What’s more, your drawers are full and you hate going through them to find what you need. When you go to get dressed in the morning, you’re paralysed by indecision about what to wear and can’t find your favourite pair of jeans. And forget about sitting on that chair which the heap of clothes is enjoying.

Sound familiar?

If any of it does, you won’t truly be able to rest or get any quality relaxation because your eyes will be constantly drawn to the clutter and the to do’s.Even when hidden from sight, clutter causes hidden stress and makes you want to avoid certain parts of the room. Like the living room, bedrooms can also end up part of regular mammoth organising sessions, when all you should really have to do is make the bed and put away laundry.

Bedrooms should only ever contain the things you need to get dressed and help you relax.

Because night stands are often a clutter magnet, I am going to bullet point the things to keep in a nightstand so that you end up with a clear surface which only serves to hold a lamp, clock,  glass of water, and glasses if you wear them. Surprised I didn’t say phone? That’s because phones don’t belong in a bedroom – ever! Not only can the blue light they emit disrupt quality sleep, they are temptations to access at inappropriate times and clutter your mind with digital noise. They’re also incredibly tempting to pick up and browse after a bad dream, which would, of course, have the opposite effect of getting you back to sleep. In fact, no kind of technology that could pose as a distraction should reside in bedrooms. TV’s and laptops are a no-no because they emit blue light, and also have the potential to take away intimacy and conversation if you have a partner. Keeping technology out of the bedroom trains your mind to associate the bedroom with rest and relaxation instead of entertainment and anxiety.

Without further ado, here’s a guideline to minimalistic and stress-free bedside tables and drawers:

Nightstand surfaces

  • Glasses if you wear them
  • Glass of water
  • Lamp or small plant
  • Alarm clock (NOT a smartphone alarm)

Nightstand Drawer

  • A book or magazine you’re currently reading
  • Pocket tissues
  • Medications you might need during the night such as an inhaler. Other medications should be kept in a secure medicine container in the bathroom or kitchen.
  • A notebook or journal. Keeping a journal in your bedside drawer is fantastic for brain-dumping worries or to do’s that can keep you awake, and is infinitely healthier than simply picking up your phone to do some mindless swiping. Instead of posting how anxious or awake you feel to social media, journal it. It’s far more therapeutic than a screen. It’s also perfect for recording dreams and for taking inspiration if you’re a writer.
  • A small makeup bag if you wear makeup (I don’t personally wear makeup).
  • A small puzzle book. If you can’t get to sleep, some simple puzzles can help your brain to tire and distract it from going around in circles.
  • Anything else that is personal to you that you frequently access during evenings or times of relaxation.

Now that we’ve spoken about good rest hygiene and bedside drawers, it’s time to tackle other problem areas, such as accent chairs that end up drowning in clothes. As family, chronic illness and work life took its toll, I used to leave my clean laundry for weeks at a time. Clothes would spill out of the laundry basket until it became a makeshift wardrobe full of random socks,  crumpled tops and long-missing jeans. Meanwhile, my actual wardrobe would be three quarters empty and it took much longer to find the clothes I wanted, which would often be so creased I simply moved them aside and dug for more until I had no choice. Eventually, I decided enough was enough and that I was going to iron out my procrastinating ways once and for all. Ever since then, I always put my clothes away as soon as they are dry, therefore, I have no need for a spare laundry basket to be taking up space. It takes five minutes and it’s far less overwhelming to put away a washing machine load than a week’s worth or more.

Unless you have a very good reason (and I don’t mean catching up on Netflix) put washing away immediately and never, ever sling them over a chair or other piece of furniture. Once you do that, I can guarantee that the next time you look it will seem as if the clothes have been breeding. Storing clothes on a chair, or even on the edge of a bed, gives subconscious permission that it is OK to store clothes there ‘temporarily’. And we all know that ‘temporarily’ becomes ‘accidentally permanent’, because in the end, you block it out as if it’s part of the furniture itself. In a room of peace and tranquility, that’s not what you want to happen. If you do have a chair in your bedroom, keep it clear and use it for drying hair, reading a book or having a conversation.

A few more spots of interest to consider are the window ledge and the top of the wardrobe or dresser. The top of my wardrobe used to be a miniature city full of boxes, wrapping paper, soft toys and other random stuff. Be aware that the top of your wardrobe is a place which can quickly accumulate loads of storage boxes where random objects get stowed away. It’s fine to keep a box of out-of-season clothing stashed up there, but do not, under any circumstances, start to use it as a general storage area. Remember: clutter attracts more clutter. If you find that is an issue for you, perhaps it is time to consider whether those objects add any value to your life, are simply taking up space, or belong elsewhere. The same goes for under-bed storage. It should only really be used for clothes and spare blankets or linen. With other surfaces such as a dresser or window ledge, it’s perfectly fine to have a plant or a couple of photos dotted around; just don’t go overboard or it starts to become cluttered, distracting, and hard to manoeuvre a duster round. A jewellery box or ‘pocket junk’ dish are perfectly practical things to stand on a dresser, as is a precious photo or object.

Finally, for those of you who wear jewellery and makeup but struggle to store it; a great solution is to buy a standing floor mirror which doubles as a jewellery and storage cabinet. This removes the need for a jewellery box and frees up drawer space, as well as giving you a convenient mirror. They’re often lockable, too, giving you peace of mind for your more precious accessories.

You may be wondering why I haven’t talked about the inside of wardrobes. That’s because I am going to dedicate an entire post to sorting them out once and for all, along with dresser drawers. Now I have covered the main living areas, my next posts are going to cover kitchens, bathrooms, hobby rooms and attics.

Something I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments, or simply tell me about your own minimalism journey. I’d love to hear it.

Minimalism: The Path to Self Discovery, and How It Helped Me To Find My Worth

I know that I said my next post was going to be about bedrooms (it is), but this morning I’ve been thinking about the other ways minimalism has helped me, which doesn’t just involve the physical stuff in my life. It is of utmost importance to share this because so many people think of minimalism as just being an extreme form of decluttering, when it is about so much more than that. What follows is a deeply personal post which I feel could help those of you who have struggled all your lives with your possessions, with the people in your lives, and/or with yourselves.

I was bullied all through school from the day I started to the day I left, had terribly destructive relationships with some of the most important people in my life, and grew up with horrendous self-esteem. This manifested itself in a myriad of ways, including: over-the-top anger, being quick to defend myself in innocent conversations, allowing others to verbally abuse me (and feeling I deserved it), not having a true sense of identity or purpose (which caused a lot of issues in intimate adult relationships), inadvertently hurting others, and clinging onto people much like I did the stuff I continued to surround myself with.

By the time I went to college, a few years after leaving school, I had made a handful of real friends, entered a relationship, and perfected a mask of being happy-go-lucky, which eventually became a genuine part of myself. I’ve always loved helping others and it didn’t matter how others treated me, so long as they were there in my life. Just like I thought that owning more cool stuff would make me happy, I thought that the more people I had in my life, the more worthy a person I was.

As I went through life, I struggled to hold down jobs due to long-term health issues, fought with my identity, and exhibited inappropriate and negative behaviours which caused friction with the people I loved. Eventually, I got diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum ,which gave me answers as to why I struggled so much at school, as well as having chronic illnesses Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia. Many years later, I learnt to manage all of those things, but I still had major issues with accumulating and hoarding possessions, with the people in my life, and with who I was as a person. Even after landing a stable job and having a beautiful son with my lovely fiance, I was a mess. I wanted to be the best parent I could possibly be, as well as being a reliable partner, friend, and co-worker. I wanted to inspire my son, and others. I didn’t like who I was, but I couldn’t see the light illuminating my path , for all my possessions were hiding it.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

There were several factors which propelled me towards discovering minimalism; the fateful day where my mum brought all the anchors from my past down from her attic and over to my house, and the deaths of some people I knew. I haven’t spoken about those deaths but I started to think about how people were remembering them and I wondered if they had any regrets in the ways they lived their lives. If they could go back in time, would they do things any differently? Would they have followed their true passions in life? My passion has always been writing, my ultimate dream to be an author of several books, yet everything I had written was hidden away in the attic and on Google Docs. I was too under confident to share my writing, even though I so desperately wanted to help and entertain others.

Thinking deeply about my own life, and about how I wanted zero regrets, I started on a journey of rapid self-growth, reading every self-help book I could get my hands on and completing all the exercises, consistently applying the concepts to my life the best I could. I read books about how to be confident,how to talk to other people, how to heal from the past, how to achieve my goals, how to recover from toxic relationships, how to heal my inner child, how to discover my purpose in life, and how to handle my emotions in a more positive manner. While all of the books I read certainly helped me to a degree, nothing helped me grow as a person half as much as when I discovered and started practicing minimalism. I devoured every book and website I could on the subject, as well as discovering for myself, the amazing long-term benefits of the lifestyle.

As I dramatically reduced my possessions and started to think deeply about what was important to me and why, my true self started to emerge. My true values, my true beliefs, the false beliefs that had been keeping me chained. Once I was satisfied with my new environment, I began true self-growth which was far more rapid than before. I looked at everything from my job, to my writing passion, to my beliefs, to the people in my life, and I started to intensely evaluate those things just like with my physical stuff. Instead of trying to change the people around me, or hoping they would change, I started to change myself. Because, ultimately, the person I was least happy with was myself. I was giving off a negative self-image, and I certainly wasn’t inspiring to others. By being so ashamed of myself, I was allowing others to treat me how I was feeling, so the solution was to start treating myself with and believing myself to be worthy of love and respect, just like everyone else on this planet.

As my confidence and self-esteem grew, I worked on some of my closer relationships, and cut off some which were bringing me down. Cutting off the toxic ones was even more freeing than decluttering my belongings, because suddenly there was more room, and far more time and energy for the relationships that mattered. I was also able to look at the toxic relationships for what they were, and why I was clinging onto them in the first place. The most amazing thing? I felt no guilt for doing so. Because cultivating my self-respect and self-worth, and putting more energy into the positive relationships is far more rewarding. I’ve since, also taken my writing far more seriously and began working towards achieving my dream of being an author and inspiring others.

Without minimalism, I never would have been able to do that.

A good while ago, I took a photo of this sunny path in a park. Now it is perfectly apt for how much clearer and lighter my journey has become.

I still have a ways to go, for true self-growth is continuous, never stopping, even for a moment. Just like the image above, life continues to be blotched with the shadows of challenging times, but I am far more equipped to take those challenges head on, and learn from them. As I continue on the minimalist path, I hope to continue growing and helping others to do the same.