July 28, 2008
we have begun a new series here at becoming minimalist that we call “quick tips.” three sentences or less to a less-cluttered home.
quick tip #1 – remove vhs tapes from your home. don’t just store them, remove them. if you really watch them that often, buy the dvd (it’s better quality picture anyway).
quick tip #2 – get rid of your vcr too (it’s just taking up space now that you don’t have any vhs tapes).
July 27, 2008
July 26, 2008
reader caron recently asked:
“how do your children feel about living the minimalist lifestyle?”
my simple answer is “very well. better than i expected. and better than their parents in many regards.”
to give you a little background, my son is 5 and my daughter is 2. my daughter has had little input in our minimalizing, but we have worked hard to include my son in the process. we feel that it is important for him to understand what is happening and feel included in the process. wefirst noticed his better-than-expected attitude when we minimalized his bedroom. he loves reading and we were dreading the process of going through his books. but we were shocked when he pulled out far more books to sell at our garage sale than we envisioned. next, he picked out more stuffed animals than we had pictured. thirdly, he cared little about his clothing and didn’t object at all to removing the things from his dresser top. after his bedroom came the big test when we moved downstairs to his toys. again, we were surprised that he had little hesitation in getting rid of many toys that he no longer uses. i even wrote about it here.
the only hiccup that we have encountered was when we removed the toys from our living room and moved them downstairs in the newly formed toy room. as a compromise, we decided to keep some of his books on a shelf in the living room and reminded him that he could still play toys in that room – he just had to return them to their new home downstairs when he is done.
the thoughtful question from caron has caused me to ask the follow-up question: “why exactly has it gone so well? why has my son adjusted so much quicker than his parents?” and i think there are a number of reasons.
he didn’t pay for the things that we’re discarding.
he’s still got more stuff than he could possibly use in one day.
his security is not found in his possessions. his security is found in his stable family.
his memories are not wrapped up in his possessions but in the people he loves.
he doesn’t look for joy in his possessions. he finds it in living life to the fullest.
which makes me think that we’ve all got a lot to learn from 5 year olds.
July 24, 2008
here are 7 things that could be minimalized in your living room today:
- books (on the bookcase or in the magazine rack)
- old family photos (do you really need 2 photos of your cousin displayed?)
- cds/dvds (remove the ones you don’t use and put the remainders in storage out of sight)
- decorative items (keeping just the items that you want people to notice will help them get noticed)
- entertainment center (remove old components and organize cords)
- children’s toys (put them in storage out of sight – “everything gets a home”)
- furniture (remove and rearrange – you just may fall in love with the extra space)
do you have anything to add to the list?
July 22, 2008
July 22, 2008
we enjoy entertaining and having people over to our house. we almost always have guests in our home once per week, occasionally twice per week, and sometime three times a week. with this much company, you would think that we would do a better job of keeping our house spotlessly clean. but with two small children, it’s not that easy. and just like most families, we are tidying, dusting, and vaccuming in the hours preceding the guests’ arrival hoping that none of them arrive too early.
since intentionally becoming minimalist 45 days ago, we have noticed a significant decrease in the amount of preparation time before our guests arrive. there are less things in the house that need to be relocated. there are less things that need to be cleaned or dusted, and we have a tendency to keep our house cleaner throughout the week because the clutter is more obvious in a minimalist home.
this benefit came sharply into focus over the last two test cases. 1) my mother-in-law came to stay with us for a week to watch our kids. 2) a group of strangers came over for an evening to discuss investing in our businees. in both cases, we were ready preparing the house in record time and even had time to spare before the guests arrive.
since going minimalist, we have found it easier to entertain and more enjoyable.
July 22, 2008
i quickly ran into border’s books the other day to purchase a book that i have been meaning to read for the past several weeks. after asking the cashier to help me find the book, she directed me to the correct section, told me exactly where to look, and informed me that “i couldn’t miss it.”
sure enough, she was right. there were 4 copies on the shelf in 2 different sizes. one was smaller and less expensive. the other was larger and cost $4 more. i had a decision to make.
picking up the smaller one, i considered the benefits: takes up less space, less trees, cheaper, and all the same info. as long as my eyes can support the smaller print, it’s an easy decision.
follow-up: great book, i recommend it. no wonder it’s been in print for 70 years!
July 18, 2008
i have been going through a bit of minimalism withdrawal lately. over the span of 36 days, i will be in town for only seven – and those seven have been filled with visiting relatives, spending time with my kids, and meetings at work. as a result, i have had nothing to report about my personal minimalism efforts (maybe you have noticed). and even worse, i have been itching to get back to the job that i started 45 days ago.
luckily, this evening (friday) i was able to sneak in an hour of minimalization around the home. i was quickly drawn to the storage room downstairs and went to work. old toys, old knick-knacks, old books, old tools, and old boxes went flying. 4 large trash bags tied and ready for the dump later, i feel satisfied. i have had my minimalism fix.
i wonder what i would have said if somebody had me told when i was 21 that i would soon be spending friday nights celebrating the trash that i have collected… oh well, maybe if somebody had told me when i was 21 to stop buying stuff, i wouldn’t be in this mess today.
July 18, 2008
over the past 45 days since we intentionally decided to become minimalist, i have had scores of conversations with people about our decision. and it usually happens the same way…
my wife and i are sitting at a table with a group of people when one of our friends will say, “joshua, you should tell so-and-so about your minimalism decision.” i am usually reluctant, but often oblige when so-and-so reiterates the question. i try to begin as close to the beginning as possible (read it here) and take them through our journey while the parties ask questions along the way. somewhere about half-way through, i inevitably find agreement on the part of the listeners.
typically, they will respond with statements like, “i have so much stuff that i need to get rid of too,” or “you should see my basement, it’s a disaster,” or my favorite, “i can’t wait to get home and start throwing things away.” a smaller percentage will email or post a comment the following day journaling the boxes of junk or bags of clothes that they have removed from their lives.
the attractiveness of minimalism (to date, only two men have outright determined that they would never get rid of their stuff) seems so universal that i can’t help think that this is the way life is meant to be lived and when a soul hears the invitation, it responds favorably. we were never meant to live life accumulating stuff. we were meant to live simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the God of life – not the things of life. i just wish it hadn’t taken me 33 years to figure that out.