Secrets to Paring Down

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Like most anything else that is necessary, paring takes work, energy, time. The benefits of minimalism far outweigh what you will go through while trying to rid your life of all the excess. The more weight you have to lose, the more patient you will have to be.

This is obvious, but it needs pointing out. If you want to lose weight, you don’t want to be working in a bakery. Same with this. You have to stop the flow in before you can make real progress. You need to break the habits that got you to where you are now, or else everything you do now will just open space for more things.

How to make this job easier, you need to remove all advertisement. Stop magazines from coming in. Stop going to malls. Unsuscribe from shopping sites in your email. Stop browsing for things. Note when you envy something on someone’s FB page. This is all advertisement, getting you to be discontent with the life that you have. You can never truly be minimalist if you are discontent. You will always want to get away, spend, buy. Simplicity is when you can control desires and recognize them for what they are. Be the master of your domain.

You also want to watch out for threats to minimalism. For me, I recognize excess furniture as the main threat (aside from advertisement). The more space you have, the more stuff you will buy to fill it. Blank surfaces (esp by the door) will always be covered with things. Drawers will always be filled. Removing all furniture that is not necessary is a huge step to progress. It forces you to think before you bring things in.


I am a big fan of lists. This is because I can measure progress and have a visual of what I have left. So my clutter list would cover all the spaces in my house that need work: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. Then under each of those categories, I would cover what I need to declutter specifically to break it into smaller chores. So bedroom nightstand is one small chore, bedroom dresser is one, under the bed, so on. Then as I finish each mini chore (boxing/bagging the stuff I’m unsure of and putting it in the designated spot), I cross it off. So nice to see progress!

The key is to start small. Tackle one thing. It’s like debt. Once you pay the smallest one off, you get momentum. Do that with decluttering. Start on something not too hard, a junk drawer or your fridge. Minimalism touches all aspects, your things, your food, your appointments/obligations. It changes the way you think and approach life. All the time and money we spend pursuing is now free, free to make a difference.

Be relentless. Go through your clothes and toss everything that doesn’t fit or flatter. Toss all the things falling apart. This is the initial purge, the low-hanging fruit. This is the easy part.

While working on your closet, turn your hangers toward you when you use the garment on the rack. This is one way to keep track of what you use.

The best tip I did was to put everything in a box/bag that I couldn’t figure if I should keep. I would designate the coat closet for this temporary space. I would then set a time on it: three months, six months. Around the designated time, whatever I didn’t pull out obviously didn’t matter enough. I gave it all away. Once I gave that away, I started on a new box, until I was where I always wanted to be – only with what I use and love.

The best thing about this method is that you get instant gratification. All of a sudden your closet and your living spaces are clear. Your stuff is still there, just out of sight and mind. You get a sample of what you could have if you could just let go. The freedom is addicting. Try it.

(If you have more things than I did as a college kid at the time, then you can designate a bigger space to box/bag your clutter.)

5 thoughts on “Secrets to Paring Down

  1. Hmm. What if minimalism isn’t the ultimate goal, just decluttering? I don’t consider furniture clutter, just all the useless things that tend to collect. Clutter to one person is decorative or necessary to another. I knew someone who wouldn’t allow a cookie jar or canister on her counters because they were clutter to her; others can’t run a kitchen without them.

    Having (relatively) recently moved with many things still packed, I do see how things dear to me in one space are less important in the new space. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want any of those things. Some are treasures collected through the years and are important reminders of different times of my life (you’re still young!). Others would make my life easier; I just haven’t found them in the jumble of boxes.

    I don’t think everyone can live with few things, in large rooms that look and feel empty. Fewer things, yes. A room with a lot of unused space can feel empty and cold to some.

    • For most people, it is just decluttering. I am a minimalist for many reasons (that post to come), but mainly because it makes sense. I’m hardly a minimalist compared to most people that post about it, though, since I rarely travel and like stuff in general. I enjoy luxury and comfort, so I like things.

      I just think minimalism is about living with only what you love and feel is necessary. I have a lot of kitchenware because I love to cook, but I have almost no craft supplies because I don’t enjoy that. I think it’s all about letting your stuff speak for you. I have certain decor pieces that I just love, but that have no function. But they tell about me. One of them is a sand pyramid with sand and seashells from Hawaii, and it means a lot to me. It also looks great.

      I don’t like the minimalism that is sterile (everything white, no color, cold). I also don’t like the extreme brand of minimalism because I could never be comfortable with just one luggage lol I love comfort! I think minimalism to me is having what is necessary and things you feel are beautiful (I love bottles), but not a lot of excess. It allows everything else to stand out or become easily accessible, so it really makes sense for me.

      • And that does make sense. I was looking at the photo above and thinking about how the room might echo, as clean and lovely as it looks. My dining room has a lovely dining set, but it echoes so! I want to put more furniture, as well as more textiles, to make it feel warmer and not echo to people I’m talking to on the phone! I like your comments about minimalism, though, which basically allow everyone to determine what it means to them.

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