Modern*Simplicity

Creating a Life Free From Chaos

How to Snub Clutter and Embrace Significance

Chris SingleheartThis is a guest post from Chris Singleheart. Chris is a freelance writer and speaker. She lives a life of meaningful action by promoting human welfare and empowering others. She has done extensive volunteer work with numerous organizations and has made it her mission to further the advancement of those less fortunate. Visit her blog at chrissingleheart.com for inspiration, practical ideas and download her free eBook: The ABCs of Social Consciousness.

I already live simply, so when I determined to play The Minimalist Game during my spring cleaning this year, I knew I’d be digging deep. I was prepared for a heavy dose of self-denial. As it turns out, it was much more fun than it was painful — intoxicating even!

My purpose for minimizing is two fold. First, as someone embarking on a writing career,  I need to create a workspace free of distractions. This is a challenge when you are raising a fairly large family in a 2,000 square foot home.

Secondly, I’m training myself to buy fair-trade, so purging my home of clutter holds a redemptive quality for me. Getting rid of certain stuff, in a sense says, “I want no part in the problem of slavery, except to help end it.”
How to Snub Clutter and Embrace SignificanceSavoring, not Starving

When you are on a weight loss plan, diet experts advise not to deny yourself dessert. When I cut down on sweets, I became a food snob. I indulged in “special” treats when they were offered, like homemade pastries. Anything packaged or processed became easy to decline. I became a person of distinguished taste and did so guilt-free.

Becoming a bit snobby isn’t a bad philosophy when minimizing. Now I’m on a mission to purge my home of “junk” and only allowing in the “best.”

Quality, not Quantity

While minimizing, I applied the principle of quality over quantity to my wardrobe. Ill-constructed clothing is a sign of forced labor, child labor, or other unfair labor practices. After my closet cleanse, I determined to be more conscious of future fashions I acquire. I not only want getting dressed to be simple each morning, I want to do so with a clear conscience.

Curating, not Hoarding

My bookshelves were narrowed (even further) to my favorites. I used to have a habit of amassing books that my living space did not accommodate. Now my collection is more fine-tuned and thematic.

I also gave limits on physical media to my kids. With Netflix available, I don’t find it necessary to stockpile DVDs anymore. Believe it or not, we’ve still got VHS tapes. We have one slim cabinet to store them in, so only the best make the cut.

Pallid, not Desolate

My style of home decor has become more pallid, but not entirely desolate. I chucked the mass-produced craft store decorations and showcase authentic objets d’art. Many of these are found at yard sales and thrift shops. I always keep an eye out for those rare pieces that speak to me (namely vases) and rotate the collection, featuring just a few at a time. I don’t have the luxury of travel at this moment, so displaying treasures from around the globe is one of my ways of seeing the world. It’s a simple pleasure.

A Few Tips on Minimizing While Adding Meaning

 Here’s a few helps on snubbing clutter and evaluating the significance of your stuff:

  • Designate a space and don’t allow for overflow.
  • Consider the source: was somebody exploited in order for me to own this?
  • Organize a collection around a clear theme.
  • Ask yourself if you saw this for sale today, would you buy it again?
  • If it’s terribly difficult to part with it, take a picture first. Have fun with this! Pose with it, journal it, but if it’s not adding value to your life, don’t keep it.
  • When you do need to make a purchase, research your options and make the most ethical choice. Make protecting lives a priority by investigating brands at Made in a Free World.

Jesus said that life does not consist in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15). Smart guy. He knows more possessions does not equal more happiness.

Minimizing creates space in our homes, in our days & in our hearts. ~@CSingleheart Click To Tweet

Minimizing makes room for what is truly important. By minimizing, you are creating more space in your life for relationships and experiences. That space does not only equate to square footage, but includes space in our days and space in our hearts. So here’s to a meaningful life… a life with less stuff!

Hitting the Reset Button : When You’re Overwhelmed and Need a New Plan

Are you overwhelmed? Is it time to step back, reevaluate life, and come up with a new plan?

I am overwhelmed, and it’s time for a new plan. For the past week, I’ve lived in a constant state of panic. I missed a writing deadline, which is very out of character for me. I’ve got piles stacked up everywhere. My office is a disaster zone. We’ve been eating fast food or piecing together meals from leftovers in the fridge — I can’t even remember the last time I cooked a “meal.” As someone who battles a chronic illness, stress is not my friend.

As Jon Acuff would say, it’s time for a do-over.

Hitting the Reset Button: When You're Overwhelmed and Need a New Plan

Here’s my 5-step plan for hitting the reset button and pulling together a new plan.

  1. Identify your priorities. One reason we feel overwhelmed is because we are trying to do too much. Spend some time identifying your true priorities and the things you must do to move forward with your purpose. Those are what you need to focus on. See how much of the rest you can delegate or eliminate altogether.
  2. Pull yourself together. As my husband so wisely told me the other night, “It’s time to stop feeling sorry for yourself and get your act together.” Grab your to-do list, and write down everything that must be done this week. Then get your calendar and schedule every must-do item on your calendar. As the old saying goes, plan your work, then work your plan.
  3. Clean up your crap. Spend some time this week cleaning up your surroundings. When your home and office are clean, it’s easier to focus on what you need to do. I love this quote by Christine Scalise: “Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.” My office is one giant pile of unmade decisions and procrastination right now, making it more difficult to be productive and focused. If you’ve got a pile of unmade decisions lying around too, it’s time to clean it up.
  4. Create boundaries. Prevent overwhelm in the future by guarding your time wisely now. Consciously decide what you want to spend your time on. Make a list of your priorities, and intentionally plan your commitments based on whether those commitments support your priorities. Let’s say your priorities are building your business, spending time with your family, and decluttering your home. If someone asks you to volunteer your time, say, on the board of your local zoo, despite your love of animals, that’s probably not the best use of your time and resources when you’re already feeling overwhelmed, so it’s best for you to decline graciously and without guilt.
  5. Go easy on yourself. This state of overwhelm didn’t happen overnight, so it’s not likely to resolve overnight either. Be gentle with yourself. Give up any ideas of perfectionism, and let “good enough” be enough for now. Slow down, and take your task list one item at a time.
Give up any ideas of perfectionism, and let 'good enough' be enough for now. Click To Tweet

How do you pull yourself together when you’re at your wit’s end? Tell me in the comments your best tips for fighting overwhelm and exhaustion!