Minimalism: The Highs and Lows

I was wondering recently how long it’s been since we discovered minimalism and was surprised to find that my first blog on the subject was 26th March 2017! I can’t believe it’s been over a year!

My first blog was about starting the clear-out process with something simple. And we chose mugs.

At the time we cut down our mug collection from 28 to 15 and I clearly remember finding it really difficult and finding justifications to keep more than we’d originally planned!

Beardie and I now only own six mugs. We have two each and then two spares in the cupboard for guests/builders. This is perfect for us, but wouldn’t be ideal for someone who has a lot of friends over for tea and cake!

Approximately one year after starting our Minimalism journey – I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the highs and lows.


Highlights

It doesn’t take as long to clean

The rooms that we have tackled already have a lot less clutter so it’s easier to keep them tidy and to clean.

I’ve saved money

Particularly on clothes. I wasn’t an extravagant spender anyway and I haven’t given myself a spending ban at any point – but I’ve been making more sensible purchases and I’m finding it easier to let things go if they’re not right.

I’m creating more

Saving some time and money means I have more time to spend on creating. I’m growing more fruit and veg in the garden and I’m finding more time and money to spend on sewing and knitting garments for myself.

I’m looking after myself

Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of stuff! It’s about simplifying your life and living more mindfully.

I’ve always been a big advocate of self care and this was largely the motivation behind the Moody Blanket. I believe that looking after our minds is as important as looking after our bodies but it’s something many of us feel we don’t have time for.

I started a habit tracker this year to encourage me to meditate daily, eat healthily and get more sleep. I really feel the benefits when I stick to my daily habits and I notice the negative impact when I let things slip for a few days.

Habit Tracker by Clementine Creative

The Lows…

‘Stuff’ stresses me out

I’m quite an impatient person and if I decide to do something I generally just want to get it done! However – I knew that rushing through the initial ‘getting rid of stuff’ part of minimalism wouldn’t work for me. I’ve had big clear-outs before and I inevitably put things out of sight to sort out later. This time I want to do it thoroughly and make a lasting change!

People deal with the process differently. Ryan of The Minimalists had a packing party – putting all his belongings in boxes/covering furniture and then only keeping what he had used within a certain amount of days (extreme!). Whereas Josh (also of The Minimalists) gradually got rid of the majority of his belongings in the space of a year.

Beardie and I kick-started things in June by playing The Minimalism Game. When we came to a standstill we followed this up with a mini packing party for our kitchen crockery at the end of last year. Other than that we’ve just been gradually working through things… and it’s a slow process.

We’ve probably tackled more than half the house which is great – but because we haven’t completed the process of minimising every room, I always feel like I should be doing ‘stuff’ and ‘stuff’ becomes stressful!

I feel guilty

I guess it’s natural when taking good care of oneself to feel a bit selfish!

I find meditation particularly difficult because my mind bounces around and I feel like I ‘should’ be doing something else.

But taking time out can often make you more focused, more productive, calmer and generally a nicer person to be around. So ultimately self care is caring for everyone… my brains just not calibrated that yet!


As you can see – the highs outweigh the lows for me! I would love to hear from you if you’re working on simplifying your life too… particularly if you’re a fellow crafter surrounded by ‘artistic clutter’!

Capsule Wardrobe – take 2

The new year marked the end of my first attempt at a capsule wardrobe and the start of my second attempt!

Project 340 was always intended to be a practice run at Project 333 where you dress with just 33 items for 3 months. I struggled initially to narrow my wardrobe down to 33 items so my practice challenge became 40 items for 3 months. Find out more about the rules and what I included here.

I learnt a lot from restricting my wardrobe for three months. And after finishing I managed to clear out another bag full of clothes from those I have “stored” under the bed.

Lesson 1: I enjoyed it!

I actually like having a limited wardrobe! It’s not about deprivation – it’s actually the opposite.

Having a capsule wardrobe means I have more time because I’m not wasting as much time thinking about what to wear.

It also means I have more money! I didn’t do my usual thing of thinking I must buy something new for Christmas parties or to wear on Christmas day. I made do with what I had and I now don’t have another dress I never wear sitting in the wardrobe. Win-win!

I knew that streamlining my wardrobe would be great long-term, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it straight away.

Lesson 2: I got the balance of going out clothes to casual clothes completely wrong!

When planning my project 340 I made a list of everything I do – such as work meetings, working at home, meals out with friends, walking, nipping to the post office etc etc.

That helped me to see that most of my activities require casual and comfy outfits. So that’s what I focused on…with a few outfits for work meetings and going out.

What I didn’t think about was…where do I want more choice?

When I’m working at home or going for walks or lunch locally – it really doesn’t matter if I wear the same thing all the time! Obviously I need enough choice so that I don’t need to do the washing every day – but wearing the same few outfits every week is fine by me.

But only giving myself the choice of a few outfits for going out leads me onto my next lesson…

Lesson 3: I get bored after 2 months!

After a while I really missed having more options. Although when I thought about what I would wear if all my “storage” clothes were still in the wardrobe…I still drew a blank.

This for me has reinforced that restricting my wardrobe is the right thing to do. When I have these moments of “I have nothing to wear!” I’m going to write down what I would want to wear in an ideal world – if I could just click my fingers and be wearing anything I wanted. And those are the garments I need to make!

In the meantime – to avoid getting bored I’m going to tweak my capsule wardrobe again in two months.

My new capsule wardrobe for January and February is 33 items (project 233!). I have included:

3 x skirts

Jeans

Jeggings

4 x tops

2 x cardigans

4 x jumpers

4 x dresses

Brogues

Ankle boots

Knee high boots

Wrap/scarf

Hat

Mitts

2 x necklaces

Handbag

Belt

2 x coats

2 x pairs of earrings

The majority of my wardrobe has stayed the same – but I have taken some bits out and tried to include more nice tops to wear when I go out which would also work with lounge pants when working at home!

I’ve also not included leggings in my count this time. I only really wear leggings with skirts/dresses that are a bit short for tights so I decided to class them as underwear.

Has anyone else tried Project 333? I’d love to hear how you got on!

The Minimalism Game

I’ve mentioned the Minimalism documentary a couple of times in previous blogs and if you haven’t seen it yet I would definitely recommend it!

It’s really changed the way I think about my quality of life.

For a long time now I have felt strongly that time is more important than money. It’s why I made the decision to leave my demanding full time job to work freelance back in 2014 and it’s why I choose to work part-time now. I’m constantly striving for that perfect balance where I can do the job I love, pursue my creative urges through freelance work…and still have time to eat, sleep, relax and enjoy life.

So far this year, that balance has really been challenged. But after a very busy few months, things are calming down and I’m starting to feel like this balance is achievable. But I know I need to make some changes.

Jem Weston Moody Blanket KAL 2017When I’m busy I have a lot more teal “meh” days on my Moody blanket. This is mainly because I just become overwhelmed and don’t have time to switch off. But I’ve started to realise recently that I’m also overwhelmed by “stuff”. Just think about how much less stressful it is to work at a nice clear, tidy desk rather than being surrounded by piles of paperwork. Everywhere I look in my office I see things I need to do – whether that’s a pile of receipts I need to add into a spreadsheet, papers that need to be shredded, my broken shredder that needs to be fixed or replaced so that I can shred the papers…I’m feeling stressed just thinking about it!

And it’s not just work “stuff”. How much stuff do you just walk past in your home everyday and don’t use, need or get any pleasure from? But it still takes up space or needs cleaning. I think we’ve all got things lurking in the back of the wardrobe that we’ve not worn in a year, or a box of stuff that hasn’t been looked in since the last house move.

But minimalism isn’t about getting rid of everything you own.

It’s about living a more considered life. Not buying for the sake of buying and only owning what you need and get “value” from – which will be different for everybody. I personally get a huge amount of joy from my yarn and fabric stash! But I’ve quite happily moved over to the kindle – so do I need shelves full of books? That’s a question I will be asking myself whilst playing the Minimalism Game.

So if you fancy clearing a bit of space in your house and your mind – join me to play the Minimalism Game in June!

The idea of the game is that you get rid of one thing on day one…

Two things on day two…

Three things on day three…

And so on for 30 days!

By the end of the challenge you will have cleared out 465 things. I’m not going to lie…this is going to be difficult! To make it doubly hard – Beardie is also embracing the concept of minimalism and will be playing the game as well. So after 30 days we will have gotten rid of 930 things between us! I’m not sure we own enough things to complete the challenge – but we’re really excited to give it a try.

On The Minimalists website they say that you have to get the items out of the house by the end of each day. That for me would be a logistical nightmare as I’m often on the road and away overnight with work. So I’m planning to do a few days at a time – throw out anything that will just be going in the bin, and box/pile everything else up as I go along for charity shop, selling, giving to friends. I also think I will struggle to photograph and share each day individually so I’m planning to share seven days at a time over on Instagram if you want to watch my progress and join in!

We will be starting on Saturday 3rd June. Who’s on board?

Let’s get minimal!