If minimalism has you curious, but you’re too scared to dive in head first, here are two un-scary exercises just to dip your toes in.
FIRST, THE CLOTHES ORGANIZATION EXERCISE
This exercise will take about two hours and maybe a couple of water breaks, and don’t do it on an empty stomach. Relax, you won’t be purging. You won’t be berating yourself for poor clothing purchases of the past. You won’t be body shaming yourself for being unable to fit into your someday-skinny clothes. Simply pile all of your clothes on your bed.
Now ask yourself two questions:
1. Do I have more clothes than I realized? Take a good look at the size of your pile of clothes. It may be what you expected. It may be much more. No matter, on to the next question.
2. How can I organize these clothes better? I keep my everyday tee-shirts on a closet shelf and my winter hoodies in a dresser drawer and my socks in yet another drawer. If my clothes were jumbled together and stashed away wherever, it would take longer to get dressed in the morning, and I wouldn’t be able to keep track of what clothes I have. Okay, get ready to celebrate:
• There are lots of (great) tips out there on how to organize closets and drawers. Google if you must, but really, we’re all grownups here and can figure out how to organize things. Even if it doesn’t turn out looking perfect, it’ll be better than it was before, and that’s cause for celebration!
If, in the course of organizing, you find that you have something you don’t want to put back in your closet, for whatever reason, it’s okay to let it go. Someone else shopping at the thrift store might love to have it. I am reminded of a quote from Jane over at http://www.fairdare.org: “What we hold on to (just in case)…we are holding back from someone else.”
Two more questions after you’re done organizing:
1. When you looked at the size of your pile of clothes, was it so large that it made you feel overwhelmed?
2. Do you have so many clothes that they were difficult to organize?
If the answer to either or both of these questions is yes, then you know that minimalizing your wardrobe, even just a little, would no longer be scary. On the contrary, it would free you from that feeling of clothing overwhelm, and it would make your closet easier to organize.
THE SECOND EXERCISE IS A ZERO-DISTRACTION MINI-SPACE
This un-scary minimalism exercise takes 30 minutes plus a quick clear out. Locate a tiny spot in your home where you can clear everything out and sit down in the visual serenity. One corner of a room might do.
Other possible spots include a half bath with the counter top cleared and the towels removed, a hallway closet (heehee, the kids will never find you there, but you might want a flashlight), or the back seat of an empty car.
Switch your phone to do-not-disturb, and set a 30-minute timer so you won’t constantly be looking at your watch. Then do a mindful activity such as:
• Closing your eyes and listening to life around you, like the bird at the window, street sounds, your kids working out disagreements with one another, the air conditioner running, and on and on until you hear the 30 minute timer go off.
• Writing down names of people to pray for then praying for them.
• Meditating. Not my cup o’ tea, but some people swear by it.
• Writing a flash fiction story about a childhood memory. (Flash fiction is a super short story, like only 100 words.)
• (The most fun one I think!) Immersing yourself in a good novel.
• Counting your blessings.
When the 30 minutes is up, put the half bath or closet back in order, and imagine what your days would be like if your entire home were less cluttered with fewer distractions. Instead of writing flash fiction, you might write that entire mystery novel that’s been stewing in your brain. Instead of moving all the toiletries off the bathroom counter when you have to clean, you might swipe an already empty counter and spend the rest of the time on a romantic stroll with your spouse. Suddenly minimalism is the fun guy at the party and not the scary guy.
Make this day even better. Consider:
- Take the Minimalism Or Eclectic quiz. I scored 94 percent minimalist, but it’s just a fun little activity, nothing serious: https://www.buzzfeed.com/natalyalobanova/are-you-a-minimalist?utm_term=.fqN3A5gk3#.yhOgreVjg.