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How Minimalism Makes Me Happier and More Productive

Too many people live surrounded by things they don’t need “just because”. Remove things that you don't need or love, and free out time and space for those that you do.

It had been nine months since I started clearing my home following the KonMari method. As recommended, I started clearing my clothes and books (coincidentally these are two possessions I have most and am most prone to overbuying).

Reflecting upon my quest on organising my material things and only keeping things that spark joy made me realise how KonMari’s philosophy on things (amongst few other philosophy) made me much happier. Here’s some positive effects on me:

1. More organised home, mind, and life
I’ve never been naturally neat. When I moved into my bachelorette pad five years ago, my house was in a mess.

What’s amazing is that I realise an uncluttered home has great effects on my mind. After decluttering my things, my mind became much clearer too. There are less material things to worry about.

2. Less time to clean up and more joy
I have no qualms to having a lot of materials things that makes me happy. I love things. I really do. What I do not like is spending time to clean and tidy up my things. I realise that with less things in my house, I spend less time taking care of them.

Now that I buy quality things that spark joy, such as well-designed shift dress from an independent designer, I realise caring for them is extremely joyful; they are no longer disposable items but things I treasure. Besides, I want to keep something that I believe looks good on me in pristine condition.

3. Being able to find what I need easily leads to increase productivity
I know what I have and where to get them. It’s almost like I have an inventory of things I own in my head. I could find anything I need almost immediately.

I also have my at-home dresses displayed in a basket so it’s easy to see all my clothes and pick what I want to wear.

All these means that I rarely waste time thinking where I put my things or finding things that I need to use. Doing things at home is a swift and mindless process.

4. More mental capacity and time to do things I love
Points one, two, and three ultimately lead to more mental capacity and time to do things I love. When nothing is bothering me — my space is neat, my mind still and my life in order — I am more likely to be able to focus on things that matter. When I save time on tidying and searching for things, I have extra time to invest in my hobbies.

After clearing my house, I find that I have more time drawing comics. I even started a mini apartment garden — something I once believed I wouldn’t have the time to do.

Having less things gave me more time to do things I thought I didn’t have time for like gardening.

5. More control of my possessions
When you go shopping carrying the Kondo mentality of “Keep (and buy) things that spark joy” you will accumulate a lot less than before. 

Now, when I want to buy something, I ask myself “Does it spark joy and will it continue to spark joy for a long time?” If it’s a no, I would put it back. Previously, I couldn’t stop myself from a purchase.

I can’t say that I don’t like shopping. I still enjoy it a lot. However, I feel it is now a lot more controlled than before. 

Shopping nowadays is more mindful. Hence, I realise I save money on unnecessary things 

I feel happier that I’m in charge over my things rather than having my stuff control me.

6. Joy from being surrounded by things you love 
Now I understand why hotel rooms with a view fetch a higher price. Humans are influenced by things that they see, and beautiful sights makes you feel good. After clearing my home using the KonMari method, I also told myself that I want to only buy and keep quality things that spark joy 

The result is that everything at my home serves a purpose or sparks joy. I keep things that I need hidden neatly in a box (e.g tools) and place things that I love in the open, allowing myself to see and reach to them easily (e.g. ukulele by my bedside or on the sofa).

It’s hard to explain the peace and joy I feel from being surrounded by things that spark joy. My heart flutters seeing them and sometimes I find myself looking at them momentarily in admiration.

7. Discover what you really like to do/reignite forgotten passion

When you cut out the clutter and keep only things you love — you start to realise what you truly like to do. You may think you already know, but sometimes you discover forgotten interests until you tidy up and make space for things that ‘spark joy’.

While cleaning, I saw all the artwork that I used to do. Scrap paper with drafts of my comics are things that I find hard to throw away. I remembered that I used to love to draw and make art as a child. So I decided to draw again – with paper and pen.

It also led me to think about turning my passion into my profession. Since I love people and cooking, I started a cooking class at my family home.

8. Realise that it doesn’t take a lot to be happy
I’m not one of those people who are naturally happy with very little. I have high standards, I enjoy quality goods and I like working hard to get them. 

I believe it’s very easy for me to fall into the trap of materialism. Cleaning my house and asking myself “Does this spark joy?” over and over again gradually made me realise that I really don’t need that much to be happy.

9. Have friends and family over more often
I love to have people over at my place but previously had been unable to do it as often because my house is ‘not ready for guests’. 

While deciding what to keep and what sparked joy, I kept (and bought) pretty cushions, serving trays and a basket of snacks for guests. 

Now that my house is neat all the time and I tidied it in a way that is welcoming to people – I realise I invite people over a lot more than before.

10. Ability to enjoy the lifestyle that I want
My house is tidied in such a way that allows me to work on writing, relax with a book and healthy snacks, cook delicious meals easily, and have people over occasionally. I want to relax, create and be with people.

I have a new working table which enables me to write. Next to it a small bookshelf filled with books that I love. I also created a ‘tea corner’ so that I can drink tea and read on my sofa often. Sketch books, pen and iPad are kept in a box underneath my coffee table so that I’m encouraged to draw.

Minimalism made me create a lifestyle that I want at home like enjoying a cup of tea

Wrapping it up…
I love things. I’m not talking about minimalism in a sense that you deprive yourself of stuff. In life, we will accumulate things. 

It’s okay to have a lot of things that you love. What I believe is that material things is a mean to — and not the source of — happiness. This is what I’ve realised after plenty of soul-searching. Marie Kondo’s minimalism merely taught me how to do it.

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