Years ago at one of my first jobs my supervisor made a remark about how disorganized my work space was. I replied something to the effect “My work space is immaculate compared to Einstein’s.” My supervisor replied “Can you imagine how much more he would have accomplished if he was half way decluttered?” My boss had a point.
I am not a neat freak by nature, but I haven’t let my apartment get college frat house cluttered for several years. I found a middle ground. If I say so myself, my place looks pretty good compared to some of the bachelor (and even bachelorette) pads I’ve seen. Since I live in a complex with dozens of units, there is a minimum standard I have to keep at all times. I’m not about to get evicted over something preventable.
One thing I have noticed since I became serious about health and exercise is that every aspect of my life has improved. Everything from my finances, my appearance, my mental stability, and the cleanliness of my apartment have improved. I have achieved a cleaner apartment through practicing minimalism. Minimalism is really just getting rid of clutter and things I don’t absolutely need. Last summer I took an inventory of everything I had in my apartment and looked at everything I hadn’t used in the last twelve months. If it had been longer than that since it was used, it immediately went away. It may have been given away to neighbors or it may have gone to Salvation Army, but it was gone.
I got rid of a lot of clutter immediately. Books I hadn’t read, clothes I hadn’t worn, DVDs I could watch on Netflix or Youtube, CDs were backed up on my computer and thumb drives (I literally do not own any music CDs), decorations for holidays, all furniture except a dresser, a night stand, a couple chairs, a couple small couches, and light weight computer desk were gotten rid of. Most of my ‘stuff’ was given away. Some things like worn out shoes, flip flops, and socks went to the dumpster. After this first round, my books with sentimental value, my classic literature books, and history books were kept on two tall book shelves. I have gotten to where most of my reading materials are on my iBooks files. I do have a short book shelf that serves as a stand for my printer and computer programs.
The second wave of the minimalist project involved giving away all canned food in my pantries I wasn’t going to eat. I will not buy anything I know I won’t eat. I don’t care if it is on sale. I’ll pay a little extra if I know it will be eaten. I had to get rid of most of my old clothing as I had lost a lot of weight. I now have only ten shirts, three pairs of gym shorts, a couple pairs of sweat pants, a couple pairs of jeans, a couple dress shirts, a couple winter coats, and a couple light fleece coats for clothing. That’s about it. I also have only four pairs of shoes, a couple walking shoes, a pair of dress shoes, and a pair of steel toed boots. I own four lamps. Put in brighter energy saver bulbs and use more natural sunlight. I got rid of most of my dishes. I literally have maybe three plates, three bowls, four cups, and a half dozen spoons, forks, and knives. I don’t even have a toaster or electric skillet. If I want toast and pancakes, I go to the all night diner.
This sounds drastic, but it has simplified my apartment and my life. It has led to less stress, less anxiety, more peace, more contentment, and even better finances. I no longer feel a need to buy stuff I don’t need to impress anyone. No need to keep up with the neighbors. The neighbors are probably more broke than I am even if they make more. It’s because I don’t buy anything I don’t absolutely need.
I’m not done even yet. I would like to eventually get all my books to fit onto one book shelf and get rid of the other shelf. For those wondering how I entertain guests, there are literally dozens of restaurants, sports bars, parks, etc. in my small town that have furniture, food, HD televisions, and wifi. I got to where I saw no point in having things I would use only a few times.
One thing I didn’t minimize was my emergency preparedness materials. I still have first aid kits, flash lights, a crank up radio, etc. If we get snowed in or flooded in for a few days I’m the guy who remembered toe nail clippers and a Swiss Army Knife. Some things I don’t shirk on.
My mental well being and money situation really improved once I got rid of most of my clutter and quit looking for contentment in owning things. It is such a good feeling to see how little clutter I have in my closets and on my floors now. It’s a good feeling to have some emergency money. It all gives peace of mind to an otherwise anxious and distressed schizophrenic brain. If I can’t be organized in my mind, I’ll do it in my outer surroundings.