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how to declutter

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If you’re like me, you are overwhelmed by too many things.

Clutter frustrates me. I become anxious if I haven’t cleaned up after dinner within the following hour. I cannot call upon any sort of creative energy if I’m surrounded by too much stuff. My focus is definitely out of alignment when there is mess. But I think a lot of people are like me. I think it’s important to have a clean space for eating in, sleeping in, playing in, living in. I think that when we take away the things that don’t serve a convenient purpose in our everyday lives, we thrive more.

The minimalistic approach to life inspires a world driven by intention and ease. Things flow well in an emptier space – because more space is utilized for living and movement. Minimalism provides more time, more space and a clearer head to think with since there is less material stuff to focus on and contend with (and ultimately, get in the way of the aforementioned).

If you’re new to minimalism, or looking to start with small steps, try it this upcoming holiday season and set the tone for the New Year and beyond. Whether you celebrate Christmas, another important date or not, you’re bound to receive gifts from other well-meaning people in your world, be it through the workplace, your family, friends, even your neighbours throughout the year.

The minimalistic approach to life inspires a world driven by intention and ease.

Here are some simple steps to making this holiday season less focused on stuff and more focused on the people and the experience that the season can provide.

  1. Make your expectations known – ahead of time. Let your family and friends know that you are freshly embarking on the attempt to minimize your material world and would appreciate their support.
  2. Compromise, if required. There may always be those that are going to feel rejected and hurt by your new proclamation of minimalism (read: your movement towards a simpler, more focused lifestyle!). They’re possibly going to name you a “Scrooge”! When this happens, there’s never any harm in compromise. If someone really and truly is hurt by the fact that you’re not accepting gifts for, say, Christmas, try something in between. Try a Secret Santa method – everyone in the family or group of friends picks one name and are responsible for gifting to that one person. In this way, you’re more likely to receive something pretty thoughtful since your gifter’s mind was on you and you alone!
  3. Instead of the impersonal last-minute shopping for gifts, let yourself be inspired all-year-round by things that you recognize as something that a family member or a friend would love. This a wonderfully unique method to try if gifts are in fact expected from you. By gifting this way, you’ll be guaranteed to not only complete your list, but fulfill it with meaningful ones.
  4. Gift an experience. Mention it to family and friends, and try to arrive at an agreement to try gifting something to do rather than something to have. The best part about gifting an experience is making and keeping memories – and that won’t take up any space! Ideas for gifting experiences can include passes to facilities or parks, gift certificates to a favourite restaurant, a spa package, vacation, plane or concert tickets, vouchers to an event, even sailing or music lessons.
  5. Agree on gifting something perishable or digital. For example, a tray of cookies or a digital portrait. A tray of cookies won’t last forever on your counter, and a digital picture can be displayed on an iPad or printed and hung on the wall or refrigerater, taking up minimal space.
  6. Get personal. Compile everyone’s favourite recipes onto a file. Write a poem. Draw or paint. Create a personalized story. Get creative!
  7. Gift Away. If you do receive too many gifts, decide which ones you can give away. Think of the people in your lives who may be able to use what you’ve received.
  8. Regift. If all else fails, empty a space in a closet or storage area for the gifts that you do not wish to keep but that could be welcomed by someone else. Throughout the year, you’re bound to head to the “gift shelf” or “gift box” and pick something out for someone.

The best part about gifting an experience is making and keeping memories – and that won’t take up any space! Ideas for gifting experiences can include passes to facilities or parks, gift certificates to a favourite restaurant, a spa package, vacation, plane or concert tickets, vouchers to an event, even sailing or music lessons.

Chances are, people are going understand your minimalistic approach to gift-giving and receiving. If some are opposed to it initially, they may come to like the idea with time. And don’t be surprised if you even have a few following suit. Minimalism can be quite contagious!