I’ve moved four times in the past five years – from Los Angeles to various New York nabes to San Francisco where I live today. In order to make each transition go smoother than silk all efforts were made to sell or give away as much as humanly possible (The word used on repeat was “catharsis”).
I’m not going to lie, it was hard to donate all those clothes (and shoes! sweet, sweet shoes) that in reality I’d never wear again.
I was initially sad to part with all of the the beautiful coffee table books I secretly knew I’d never read. I didn’t use the majority of the cooking gadgets my mom had sent over the years either, and those old electronics I was holding onto for reasons only the clutter gods knew. In the end I had to force myself to resolve that all of this”stuff” would find a better use elsewhere.
All of these things were nice to have, but they didn’t define or help me to grow in any significant way. In fact, they were doing the opposite — they were holding me back.
Change can be tough, but it has its silver linings. In the end, when I moved from New York to San Francisco my things had been curated down to two suitcases and ten medium-to-large boxes. I could’ve pared it down even further but for some reason felt inclined to retain a shred of comfort found in the semblance of “stuff.”
After landing in San Francisco I moved into a studio apartment with only those two suitcases, where I’d live for two weeks as the boxes were in transit. On day two, I realized that I’d packed a (mostly fabulous) wardrobe in those suitcases but nothing more. So, I went to Target and purchased a set of basic silverware, a cup, two plates and a french press. I then realized that if the boxes never arrived I’d be okay with that. There was something freeing about living with just the basics.
It was then and there that I made the decision to bring new things into the apartment only when absolutely necessary. If something new was acquired, something else had to go. I promised myself that in the future I would only purchase with intent.
A year later, I’ve managed to keep my studio apartment relatively clutter free–even after those boxes finally did arrive four weeks later.
This approach has done wonders for my head space too.
Here are eight ways that living a minimalist lifestyle at home has helped me to become better organized, slightly more focused and increasingly productive.
1. Your priorities are in clearer view.
When my space is very simple I am better able to focus on what needs to be accomplished in the present moment. Focusing on only the essential in the physical realm has helped me do the same in business. I pick two to three targets and use them as “bullseyes” to hit for the day. Like “stuff,” the challenge then becomes re-prioritizing the rest of the incoming noise trying to get in.
2. Less physical clutter = less mental cutter.
This sounds like a no-brainer but is truly revelatory when put into regular practice. You’ll be able to focus more when there’s less around you to visually and mentally take in.
3. You’ll spend less energy decision-making.
My diet is mostly vegan — on busier weeks I’ll order from a service like Hungry Root and other weeks cook simple dishes with slight variations at home. My closet is now based on capsule wardrobe methodology. I wear a basic color palette of mostly neutral colors (black, white, gray, navy blue). I have go-to outfits for board meetings and other events for when it’s necessary to step it up a notch. Having quality pieces ready to go removes my mind from the details of getting ready, and instead puts me in the mindset of whatever it is that I’m preparing for that day.
4. Quality becomes top priority.
Back when I was shopping at a mall or buying things to satisfy a temporary or seasonal need it was perfectly fine to buy cheaply made items. Clothing that would fall apart in the wash, poorly made furniture, rickety kitchen appliances, things like that. I look at purchasing decisions as more of an investment that is made only once and for a specific purpose.
5. You’ll save tons of time.
I’ve been able to dedicate more time to the important things like investing in personal projects or on meaningful relationships with others. You’ll save time on housekeeping to-dos like cleaning and maintenance. Not to mention, the urge to “shop” or “run errands” completely goes away. All kinds of extra time opens up for the things that matter most to you.
6. Your pocketbook will thank you.
7. There is literally nothing holding you back.
I have a home but don’t feel tied to it. I can comfortably travel, spend the weekend at my S/O’s, and feel happy and content knowing that if I need to move again at a moment’s notice — or have the opportunity to travel the world! — I can easily do so. A tie no longer exists to physical things that restrict me from moving around the world with ease.
8. You will find yourself living a simpler, more conscious lifestyle with more intention and clarity than ever before.
Originally published at medium.com