Swedish Death Cleaning, 3 Benefits & 7 Tips

I have heard a lot about Margareta Magnusson’s book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, but I wanted to read it for myself. From what I learned before reading it, it was definitely something that resonated with me as someone who has a habit of regularly decluttering. The basic idea of Swedish Death Cleaning is to declutter and minimize your things leading up to your death in order to not leave a burdensome amount of stuff behind for your children or family members to deal with after you pass.

While reading this book I discovered 3 benefits of death cleaning and 7 tips as you embark on the journey of death cleaning. If you’re young, well that’s a relative term since none of us really know when we will die, don’t stop reading! You might find some of the benefits and tips helpful!

The first benefit in death cleaning is just acknowledging your mortality. When you face your mortality, you realize that your children or other family members will one day have to deal with the stuff you leave behind. It’s already stressful to lose a parent or loved one, dealing with their belongings can be an emotional and time-consuming task. It is good to acknowledge that whatever you leave behind will be someone else’s burden.

The next benefit is having a death cleaning mindset, which is you think more about how you can reuse and recycle things rather than bringing new things in.

The final benefit, you learn to appreciate things at the store instead of always having to bring the items home with you. Recognizing that anything you bring home will need to be later decluttered or handled by your children or family members after you pass will slow the inflow of things coming into your home.

Next I wanted to share some tips I learned about Death Cleaning. The first tip I learned was to not start with sentimental items. These items can really slow down your progress in decluttering, making it discouraging to continue on. By starting with items that don’t have sentimental attachment and there is not an emotional connection, you can get the momentum you need to encourage you to move forward.

The next tip is that it is easier to Death Clean when your home is organized. It’s never too early to start decluttering and organizing your spaces. It will make the process so much easier later on down the road. I think it is so beneficial to have a practice of regularly decluttering. We constantly have items coming into our homes. It’s much less overwhelming to deal with items a little over time. In addition to that, as we age it gets more difficult to maintain and manage our belongings. The fewer items we own, the easier it is to manage.

Tip number three is to take your time. This is why knowing about death cleaning is so important. If we acknowledge that it’s a process that needs to be done, then we will have plenty of time to go through our things. There might be circumstances where we are forced to go through things quickly – whether it’s an unexpected move or the loss of a loved one, but it is ideal to go through things little by little. This way you can be thorough.

Another tip I found helpful was to declutter items that are private that family members may not want to find. I am sure you can use your imagination on this one! I will give you an example from my decluttering experience. One time while decluttering my closet I found some old journals from my middle and high school years. It was mostly filled with angst ridden feelings that I guess were easiest for me to process on paper. Skimming through them I realized I really didn’t want to read these journals again, and I certainly didn’t want my kids to one day come across them, so I decided to get rid of them.

The next tip is to not feel bad about decluttering gifts! We can’t be expected to hold onto every gift we ever get for the rest of our lives. That would be ridiculous. Most people would not want their gifts to become a burden to you. For those gifts that you are no longer using or loving, it is okay to let them go. I really appreciated a quote from the book which was: “I will never feel guilty for not keeping presents forever. To be grateful and happy for a present when you first receive it is something different, because that gratitude is not connected to the thing itself but to the giver who gave it to you.”

The sixth tip is that you should save photos for last. Photos fall into that sentimental category, but in addition to that if this project is left undone before you pass it’s not quite as burdensome to family and friends. It can be a positive experience for them to be able to go through all the photos. 

The last tip is to have a “throw away” box. This is a box that you would literally write “throw away” on the outside of it so family members know that the contents of the box are really only meaningful or sentimental to you. This may be childhood toys, special letters or notes from family or friends, or maybe journals you kept.

I hope this was helpful to you! I highly recommend this book! It is a quick and easy read and there were definitely parts that made me laugh!

The video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

10 Organizing Mistakes

In today’s post I wanted to share with you 10 organizing mistakes people commonly make when trying to complete an organization project. I hope knowing these mistakes prevent you from making them when working on future organizing projects!

The first mistake I wanted to share is not decluttering first. This is the first thing you need to do with any organizing project. There is no sense in organizing items that you no longer use or love. You should declutter before assessing what organizing tools you will need to complete the project.

The next mistake is not measuring your space before purchasing organization bins. It is really important to measure the space you will be organizing so you know what size of bins to purchase and what type of items will fit in the space. I know a lot of people like to pick up organizing bins when they see them, but for a more functional space it’s best to know what you need before purchasing anything.

The third mistake is getting over ambitious. I think it is best to start small when you are organizing a space. Start with one drawer or one shelf. Maybe you have time allotted to organize an entire closet or even room, but know that many people underestimate the amount of time it’s going to take to get a space organized. Many people are overambitious and end up leaving organization projects half done. You will more likely have success if you do a little at a time, or at least be aware that it will likely take more time than you think.

The next mistake is wanting a Pinterest looking space instead of a functional space. Many people turn to Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration to get a space organized. Oftentimes spaces that look perfect are not functional. You can still achieve an aesthetically pleasing look with function, but it is really important to focus on function so that the new organization system is sustainable. 

Speaking of being sustainable… the next mistake is not keeping up with the system you set up. There is a common misconception that getting a space organized is one and done. Most spaces need to be maintained in order for it to function properly. Many spaces around your home have rotating inventory – whether it’s the fridge, pantry, or closet. You need to keep up with the system set up and declutter and reorganize the space on a regular basis.

Another mistake people make when organizing a space is not leaving breathing room. This goes hand in hand with keeping up with your system. When you organize your space you will likely not have that exact same inventory all the time. Leaving “breathing room” will allow for space for new or extra items that might come in later.

The next mistake people might make is not labeling an organized space. The obvious things may not need to be labeled, but it is important to label organizing bins in order to quickly find what you need. This also helps other people who will be using the space to know where things belong.

The eighth organizing mistake is not getting other people on board with the system. It is important that everyone who is using the space understand the system and commit to using the system properly. It is the best way to ensure the space functions well and stays organized.

Another mistake is not recognizing your organizing style. I have referenced the four organizing styles on my channel before. Cass, from the Clutterbug (she has a blog and YouTube channel) has come up with four different types of organizational systems, which I have found to be great classifications. Each one is represented with a bug. 

The first is the ladybug. This type of person likes things to be put away out of site, but their cabinets and drawers can get easily cluttered because they want to quickly shove things in drawers, baskets, or cabinets. They need a macro-organizing system – where things are quick and easy to put away. 

The next type is a cricket. They also like a clutter free environment, but they like things to be organized in detail, so micro-organization works best for them. 

The next type is a butterfly. They prefer everything to be displayed. A butterfly also needs the fast macro-organizing solution, however they will want things to be visible. They often feel like they could never get things organized and feel messy, but the truth is they can have a place for everything fitting within the way they thrive. 

Lastly is the bee. These people are also visual people and want their things on display, however they want things to be organized in detail. Like the cricket, micro-organization works best for them. They are likely the type of people who are big into crafting or even have a home business with a lot of supplies that need to be organized in detail.

The final organizing mistake is not taking things immediately to the donation center. When you don’t get rid of your decluttered items immediately, you risk them trickling back into your home and organized spaces.

Well, I hope sharing these common organizing mistakes with you today will help you for future organizing projects around your home!

The YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

Quality Over Quantity

Today I wanted to share about quality over quantity. And I really think this could apply to almost anything in life. I’m sorry if you get tired of hearing about my journey towards minimalism, but it has helped me to realize that having quality items is more important than quantity. 

Quality doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money on something. I would much rather find one amazing vintage piece – that might not even cost much – over purchasing a cart full of items from the Target dollar spot. As I have been working on intentionally decluttering my home over the past several years, I have noticed that the things I declutter the most are things that are not high quality – whether it’s clothes, shoes, or home decor.

I have learned to really be cautious in the dollar section of stores, or in the clearance aisles. I used to be so tempted by the deal, but now I realize that oftentimes those things end up getting decluttered a few years later or even just months later, and it’s not really worth having to take care of those items – clean them, organize them, and store them. Not to mention that it is a waste of money!

But I’m not just talking about physical items. I think quality over quantity can translate to other things as well. 

I have learned that quality over quantity is valuable with relationships. Over the past couple of years, I have been more intentional with my time and energy with regards to relationships. I have started saying no to get togethers or other engagements because I find it much more meaningful to go deep with a few people than to have a bunch of relationships with people who only know me on the surface.

In addition to relationships, I have been learning to be intentional with where I spend my time and energy. I’m always evaluating if there is anything I need to do differently, as there is only so much time and energy to expend each day. I must be intentional with spending quality time in the areas of life that matter, rather than spreading myself thin in a lot of different areas. Finding out what is important and what brings you joy, and spending time doing more of that will bring so much meaning and purpose to life.

I’m certainly not perfect at any of this, and I’m still learning to constantly evaluate my investment into quality over quantity! I hope this post was inspiring!

Shopping Addiction

There is a topic I have been wanting to address, but I don’t like to talk about it. It’s embarrassing and tough to actually face when you have a problem area in life. Shopping addiction. I really dislike the word addiction, and honestly I want to back pedal and say it’s not really an addiction, it’s just a problem. But if I look at the definition of addiction, that is what it was. I say “was,” using past tense because I do feel like I’m recovering. I still struggle sometimes, but I am aware now and that’s half the battle. I’m taking the steps to break the habits that keep me in the cycle of shopping when I don’t need to.

So, the first step to dealing with any bad habit and creating healthier habits in life is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Sometimes we don’t even recognize that certain behaviors are problematic. We live in denial. Perhaps there is a small part of us that knows it’s a problem, but consciously we don’t want to acknowledge it because then we are admitting to a negative behavior pattern and then we have to deal with it.

Just acknowledging it doesn’t change anything though. In order to make changes, we need to come up with practical steps to address the issue. Once I realized I used shopping as a coping mechanism to deal with hardships in life, I came up with a plan to combat that. 

About 7 or 8 years ago I came across the concept of minimalism. This idea intrigued me as I have always felt overwhelmed by stuff, especially when things in my physical environment were out of order. I loved the idea of only living with what I loved or what was useful to me! This is when my intentional decluttering journey began. 

For several years I felt like I was working so hard at decluttering but I still had a lot of stuff! It was then that I realized in order to really make a difference in minimizing my things I couldn’t just declutter, I also had to curb the inflow! It was then that I decided to do no spend challenges. The first year I did a no spend month in January. I was specifically focused on not purchasing clothes, shoes, and accessories; and also home decor. These were the categories that I saw I had the most inflow. The next year I decided to push myself even further and did no spend January and February. That went fairly well and the following year I extended my no spend challenge through March! Realizing I could make it through a quarter of the year, in 2019 I decided to embark on a no spend year! I continued to specifically focus on clothes, shoes, accessories and home decor. I have this whole process documented here on my blog.

I did want to talk a little bit about the psychology behind shopping addiction. While I did mention that I didn’t really want to claim it as an addiction, but I believed it truly was – I recognize that some people may have much more severe problems with it than I did. As I read through information about shopping addiction, many people have financial problems which propel them into debt because of their shopping habits. Thankfully mine was controlled enough that we don’t have any sort of debt. In addition to this, oftentimes the resulting debt can cause anxiety or depression – causing a cycle of shopping as the person may try to alleviate the feelings with shopping, which causes even more debt. At its worst, it can also cause hoarding tendencies where the items are not even being used, but piling up in the person’s home. According to Donald Black from the University of Iowa, nearly two thirds of all shopaholics have mental health issues like anxiety or depression (source: psychguides.com) In order to really deal with the shopping issue, you must deal with the mental health issues – which are the deeper, root cause.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) does not officially recognize shopping addiction as a distinct disorder, and considerable debate surrounds the legitimacy of the disorder according to an article from healthline.com. It seems to fall under the category of compulsive behavior, which would be an anxiety disorder.  If you are wondering if you might have a shopping addiction, I did find some symptoms from that same article to determine if it is a problem for you.

  • obsess over making purchases on a daily or weekly basis
  • shop to cope with stress
  • max out credit cards or open new ones without paying off previous balances
  • feel intense euphoria or excitement after making purchases
  • buy unnecessary things or purchase items that go unused
  • steal or lie in order to continue shopping
  • feel regret or remorse over purchases, but continue to shop
  • be unable to pay off debt or manage money
  • fail in attempts to stop compulsive shopping

I’m learning that the best way for me personally to combat the negative spending behaviors is to replace those behaviors with positive behaviors which address my anxiety. For me, pursuing creative outlets has helped tremendously! I have enjoyed sharing creative content on YouTube, Instagram, and here on my blog. I have also been pursuing self growth through creating monthly challenges for myself (documented on my YouTube channel), learning new skills through taking Skillshare courses, and watching YouTube videos with self help and psychology content to learn more about why I do the things I do. Finding new behaviors to replace the old ones has helped me to be more intentional with the direction of my life.

Here is the video where I share the information from this blog.

I hope this post gave you some encouragement today if you are struggling with out of control shopping. I am by no means perfect yet, and still sometimes struggle with shopping for unhealthy reasons, but I’m aware and making changes!

Tips For An Organized Closet

I have a problem. Clothes. This is the one area where I really struggle to keep minimal. I actually wrote a blog post a while back about why I no longer strive to create a capsule wardrobe. Because of my love of fashion, and therefore my plethora of clothes, it’s imperative that I stay on top of keeping this space organized and tidy. Today I wanted to share with you 7 tips for keeping your closet organized.

Tip number one is to DECLUTTER! Are you surprised that this is my number one tip? If you know me well, then you are not surprised! I always encourage people who want to get a space organized to first declutter! Getting rid of anything that no longer fits you, or has stains or holes is a good place to start. Keep only the clothes that you feel amazing in!

Tip number two is to KEEP A DONATION BIN in your closet for any clothes you want to declutter. If you are bringing new items into your closet, throw the items you are decluttering directly into the bin. Also, when you put something on and you don’t feel amazing in it, and you take it back off… don’t hang it back up! Put it directly into the donation bin. When the bin gets full, you can drop it off at your local donation center.

Tip number three is to BUY UNIFORM HANGERS. Having uniform hangers automatically makes a closet look more tidy and organized. My favorite type of hanger for aesthetic reasons is wood hangers. I have never owned the thin velvet type hangers, but I have also heard that these work really well because they fit more clothes into a space because of their thin design. Having uniform hangers also gives us natural boundaries on how many clothes we own (unless of course you go out and purchase more!) I have a set number of hangers and this helps me to stick to the “one in, one out” rule where I need to declutter items if I bring new items in.

Tip number four is to LABEL BINS you have in your closet. This is not a must, as you may already know what is in each bin, however labeling the bins makes it easier to identify each bin when you need to get something out.

Tip number five is to CATEGORIZE CLOTHING BY TYPE. I know that it looks pretty to categorize clothing Home Edit style in rainbow order, however it is more practical to have different sections for different types of clothing. You can still organize each category in rainbow order, still making it look nice. In reality, we dress for activity or weather. It is easier to find what we need if all of our tank tops are together, all of the short sleeve shirts, all of the cardigans – you get the picture. It takes less time and brain space if we know what type of clothing item we need and then only look through that section to select something. I also like to keep my shoes organized by category and have each type of shoe grouped together. 

Tip number six is to HAVE A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING. This tip is helpful really for your entire home! If you have a place for everything, it is much easier to put things back away quickly. If it is quick and easy to put things away, we are more likely to actually put them away instead of creating a pile of clothes in the corner chair, on a workout machine, or on the floor. If everything has a place, we are also more likely to stay on top of decluttering as more things come into the closet.

Lastly, tip number seven is to ADD GOOD LIGHTING to your closet. It is surprising what good lighting can do for your closet! When we moved into our home, our closet had no real light fixture, just a single bulb. Although I did not add brighter lighting, it did level up my closet to add an actual light fixture. I am in the process of looking for additional lighting to add to our closet so we don’t always have to turn on the overhead light. There are so many options for battery powered lights to add to your closet space!

Well, I hope these tips were helpful for you. In my opinion, closets can be the most difficult space to keep organized as there seems to be items coming in and going out frequently! Although I did say I’m not interested in creating a capsule wardrobe, I have decided to challenge myself in the month of February 2022 to live 28 days with 28 articles of clothing (not including pajamas, workout clothes, or accessories.) I will update you in March to let you know how that goes! I thought maybe trying it out without totally decluttering most of my wardrobe would give me a good picture of how I feel with less clothing options!

This is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post if you want to check that out!

7 Tips For Slow Living

Over the last several years I have been focusing on living with only the things I need and love. I have shared some of this journey here on my blog and over on YouTube. I have consistently taken steps towards this goal of living with less. Each month I spend time intentionally decluttering my spaces, and over the last several years I have done spending fasts, including my no spend year back in 2019. One of the primary reasons for this journey was to get to a place where I had less physical possessions to take care of so I have more time to live at a slower pace. Pursuing this journey has also caused me to really evaluate my life – what I spend my time, energy, and money on. I have learned more self awareness in the last 5 years perhaps than in the rest of my life! I do recognize that everyone is in a different life stage and what is “slow” for me might look different than what is slow for you. Our youngest is now 18, so I have a lot less responsibilities around child care than I did when my children were young. However, I believe whatever life stage you are in, you can find what works for you and your family – still choosing behaviors that will support a slower pace. Today I wanted to share with you 7 tips for slow living.

The first tip is to EVALUATE YOUR PRIORITIES. What do you spend your time, energy, and money on? You could probably look at your bank statements and your phone time usage for a picture of this if you’re not sure. Oftentimes we may THINK we have certain priorities – like cultivating healthy family relationships, health/fitness, habits that help us grow – like reading, taking a course, talking to a counselor or therapist; but in reality the statistics (bank statements and phone time) tell a different story. At times, it can be easy to live life on autopilot – not even recognizing that you are developing priorities whether you are conscious of them or not. Intentional living is naming your TRUE priorities and making day in and day out habits that will curate the life you ACTUALLY want. Say them out loud, write them down, or tell a friend.

Knowing your priorities can help you decide if there are things you need to do differently, which brings me to my next point: slow living requires us to CUT OUT THE NOISE. Living in the time we live in, we are bombarded daily with messages – the news, social media, email, and more! We need to choose what we will allow to speak to us. Putting boundaries on habits that are a time suck like internet scrolling, social media, TV, and shopping will give us more time to live slowly. It will look different for each person, but maybe you can decide how much time a day you will a lot to these activities, perhaps you can take a day off of social media or internet use each week, or maybe delete apps and take time off for a period of time to reset your mind and habits around these things. Studies have shown how addictive social media in particular is! We need to set boundaries and not allow this NOISE to be ever present!

The next tip for slow living includes BEING PRESENT IN THE MOMENT. I must admit, as a type A who makes lists and plans things out, this has been difficult for me. There are times when I struggle to live in the moment because I am worried about something in the future. It is a good practice to be aware of this, and try to redirect your mind to enjoying the moment. I think it is especially important to live in the moment during routine things. It can be really easy to live life on autopilot, especially in the routine moments of our days, instead of really enjoying even the mundane. There is some sacredness to the mundane – tasks we perform everyday can almost become a moment to treasure because these little everyday mundane moments add up to the wholeness of our lives! Slow living requires us to not live on autopilot, but to really enjoy everyday practices and living in those moments rather than thinking about the next thing that needs to get done. You are consciously aware of the things you choose to do instead of just going through the motions of life. 

The next tip is DON’T OVERCOMMIT. I think it is much easier to say yes to things than to say no. We must be intentional about our “yes” because commitments pile up much quicker than we anticipate or expect. If you are hesitant to say no because you don’t want to let someone down, remember that you need to do what is best for you and your mental health. You are not in charge of someone else’s feelings. If you are unable to do something and the person is “let down,” really that is on them and not on you!

On a similar note, UNCOMMIT TO THINGS THAT ARE NO LONGER SERVING YOU. This one can be even more difficult than saying “no.” It is important to evaluate the responsibilities you have and which ones maybe are not working well for you. Cutting out those things in life that are not serving, you or are worse yet detrimental to you, will provide extra time in your schedule to slow down.

Another thing that has helped me to live slowly with intention is to SCHEDULE IN REST. Particularly if you are someone who tends to struggle to slow down, scheduling in rest will give you permission to rest. Each morning I like to spend time quietly, for me that is reading the Bible and praying, prior to getting on social media or checking email. I also schedule one day a week where I don’t work and for the most part stay off of social media. This day helps reset my mind and body so I am forced to slow down. On this day I find it easier to do things like reading, self reflection, and self care that I don’t make time for on other days because I feel “too busy.”

Lastly, another way to slow down is to MAKE IT A PRIORITY TO GET IN NATURE. This doesn’t have to be a big production where you’re pulling on hiking boots and going out for a hike that will take half the day. Walk around the block, or even just step out into your backyard. I have found that putting away my phone and getting into nature resets my mind. 

I hope this post was encouraging to you today! I don’t have all the answers, and I still struggle with some of these things, but I am AWARE – and that is the first step to changing behavior!

A Clutter Free Christmas!

As the holiday season is upon us, most of us are thinking about gift giving. I have to admit, for me this time of year is difficult. As someone who is intentional with what I bring into my home, I want to make sure any gifts I give are also intentional. I want to make sure anything that I am giving to someone that goes into their home will be used and appreciated instead of just adding to any clutter they may already have in their homes. Today I wanted to share three categories of gifts that are sure to be used and appreciated that will not cause clutter in your family or friends homes!

The first type of gift I wanted to talk about is the intentional gift. In spite of what people may think, I truly do love giving gifts to others! Some people may think since I am anti clutter I am anti gift-giving. One of the ways I like to be sure I’m giving a gift that will be used and loved is by knowing the person and paying attention to what they talk about to get clues about their interests. Purchasing a gift in line with the person’s interests is the best way to give them something intentional. Maybe your Mom likes a certain store, or your Dad collects something specific. Perhaps you can get something that is adjacent to their interests. For instance, my son was interested in the medical field when he was in high school, so I purchased some medical related wall art. My daughter loves nature and wants to visit the National Parks around the US, so I got her a coffee table type book with photos and information about the National Parks. Actively listening to and engaging with people in your everyday interactions will give you clues as to their interests!

The second type of gift that will prevent clutter is a consumable gift. Most people enjoy receiving special food or drinks for a gift that they otherwise might not purchase for themselves. Perhaps it’s a fancy bottle of wine, or a gift basket of their favorite type of food! Perhaps they don’t like to cook and you could give them a subscription to one of the dinner making kits. Another great category for consumables are special body products – like soaps, bath bombs or salts, or lotions. Be mindful if you know someone is sensitive to smells to take that into account. Lastly, another great consumable gift is a candle. Again, you will want to be mindful if the person likes scents and which type of scents they prefer. All of these items are great gifts because they will be used up over time and will not create clutter for the receiver.

The third and final category of gifts that will be useful is an experiential gift. There are such a wide variety of experiences you could give to a friend or family member – from some sort of subscription, to some fun experience you know they have wanted to have like going to a theme park. I will share a list of ideas that might be helpful as this is my favorite type of gift to give!

Gift card to their favorite restaurant

A vacation or plane tickets

We took our son to Hawaii for his graduation gift!

Passes to a theme park or museum

I took my son to Disney for a special mother and son trip!

Movie theater or live theater tickets

A tour – wine or factory, or plane or helicopter ride over the city

Adventure type experience like skydiving, bungy jumping, or ziplining

Concert tickets

A spa day package

Nail salon gift card

Coffee shop gift card

A cooking, painting, or some other sort of class of their interest

You could also get a season pass for a local venue they frequent:

The zoo

Children’s museum

Arcade

Indoor trampoline/bounce house park

Roller skating rink

You could also get them a gift card to some sort of subscription service:

Streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Disney +

Spotify

Audible

Gym membership

Yoga/spin studio membership

Lastly, you could give to a charity in their honor. There are many charities that appreciate end of the year giving. Think about what organization may be meaningful to the person you are giving the gift to. One year for Christmas, my husband purchased several livestock animals for “me” through an organization we trust, to help support an impoverished community in another part of the world. It was SO meaningful to me. I loved that I wasn’t bringing more stuff into my house, and we were able to bless someone else at the same time. Maybe you have an animal lover and you could give money in honor of them towards animal protection. Or perhaps you have someone who is into astrology and would love to have a star named after them!

As you can see there are a lot of ideas for gifts that would not clutter someone’s home and truly be meaningful and appreciated! I hope this gives you some ideas for family members or friends in your life!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

15 Things I No Longer Purchase

If you are new around here, you may not know that I have been on a long, slow journey towards minimalism. I’m learning the balance of making my home cozy, but also not owning an abundance of stuff! I’ve been learning what areas in my home it makes sense to own less, and then there are other spaces where I’ll be honest I like to have a variety – like clothes and shoes! One thing that I have found helps with keeping a minimal home is not just what goes out through decluttering, but also what comes in. I wanted to share with you 15 things I no longer purchase now! Not purchasing these items has helped to keep the inflow of items down. With that said, some of these items are consumable as well. All of these items are things that I used to purchase.

{{ONE}} First is dryer sheets. I used to use dryer sheets, however now I use wool dryer balls. I purchased the dryer balls a couple years ago and I really love them! Not only are they more environmentally friendly than dryer sheets, I actually like them better for making my clothes smell better! I just use a few drops of essential oil on the balls prior to adding them to my laundry in the dryer. In addition, dryer sheets often have chemicals in them.

{{TWO}} Next is plastic straws. I have been drinking protein shakes for my breakfast for a very long time and I used to use throw away plastic straws. Several years ago I bought some reusable metal straws and I have never bought plastic straws since!

{{THREE}} The next item I no longer purchase is plastic water bottles. Well, I no longer consistently buy these! After the crazy winter storm here in Austin in 2021 I decided maybe we should have a package of bottled water on hand in case of an emergency! On a day to day basis our family uses a reusable water bottle. We have a reverse osmosis system in our home, so our water is purified and tastes great! I think it tastes better than bottled water.

{{FOUR}} I also no longer purchase cans of soda. It was quite a while ago that I began learning about the importance of eating whole foods and avoiding unnecessary processed sugar. This ages me, but I recall really starting to get into whole foods when I was pregnant with my second who is now 20 years old! I used to drink a soda every afternoon for the caffeine and I would often drink soda on the weekends with pizza or take out. I have stopped purchasing cans of soda to have on hand. We do purchase sparkling water, which is somewhat of a substitute for soda. We also occasionally have soda when we get fast food, but I no longer regularly purchase it.

{{FIVE}} The next item I no longer purchase is pre-cut food. Pre-cut food is so much more expensive than purchasing it not pre-cut. It was definitely something that was very convenient when my kids were younger and I was busier with their schedules. Now that they are older, I find I have more margin in my life to devote to cooking – something I love to do! Cutting up fruits and vegetables is very cathartic for me and something I actually enjoy.

{{SIX}} Next up is magazines. I used to love magazines many moons ago before Pinterest and Instagram were a thing. I used to love home and home decor magazines for inspiration and even had a 3 ring binder that I would keep all of my magazine clippings in for home decor inspiration. Now I am inspired by photos on Instagram and finding ideas and inspiration on Pinterest. My in-laws do purchase Consumer Reports for us as a Christmas gift, but recently my husband and father-in-law had a conversation about how all of this information is easily accessible online, so it is silly to receive paper copies of this magazine, so we will no longer receive those after this year.

{{SEVEN}} Another item I no longer purchase is special events or holiday dishware. I used to have different dishes that were for specific holidays, only getting used once a year. Now I have all white dishes and serveware and can use napkins and table decor to make any holiday or event feel special!

{{EIGHT}} Along those lines, I no longer purchase special event clothes. I have several dresses in my closet to choose from and I use what I have on hand to make work for any special event or holiday.

{{NINE}} Next up is sale items. I used to be a sucker for the sale section in any store – clothes, shoes, accessories, and home decor! I would definitely get drawn in by the price and the “great deal.” Oftentimes these items didn’t last long and I would soon have a pile of things to declutter. Now I have different shopping habits where I am more intentional with what I bring into my home. Since I am not bringing as much into my home, I can spend a little more on fewer items that are more meaningful to me or I absolutely love. Don’t get me wrong – I will purchase something that is on sale if it is something that I love and would make a good addition to my home, but I do not shop sales just because there is a sale now.

 {{TEN}} I also no longer purchase souvenirs. To be fair, I will if it is something that is really meaningful, but I don’t purchase them just for the sake of having an item to remember a trip. I always take a lot of photos to remember trips!

{{ELEVEN}} Next, I no longer consistently purchase nail, brow, or lash services. I actually never did get lash extensions, so maybe I should not have included that, but it is in that same category! I used to consistently get my eyebrows waxed, but when COVID happened and a lot of those places shut down for a while I learned I could live without that! I didn’t ever consistently get my nails done, but I would get them done a few times a year and I have stopped going to get my nails done as well ever since COVID.

{{TWELVE}} Another item I no longer purchase is purses. I used to have a variety of purses and in different sizes and colors, but a while back I noticed that I really don’t like to take the time to switch my purse over to a different one and decided to only keep one. I use that purse basically until it breaks and then buy a new one. I tend to purchase a high quality purse so that it will last longer. I do have a smaller purse that can be a fanny pack, cross body, or clutch that I will use when we go out, but on the daily I only use one purse.

{{THIRTEEN}} I also do not buy the newest version of phone! I actually have never been one to purchase the newest available phone or electronics. I use my phone until it dies!

{{FOURTEEN}} Something else I no longer purchase is seasonal decor. I do have some seasonal decor that I have had for many years – some pumpkins, Christmas decor, and Easter decor, but over the last few years I have looked for decor that could be used year round. For instance, I have some brass deer which are great for Christmas or winter time, but would really work year round. I also like purchasing items that are a great color scheme for different seasons, but you could still use them year round. In general, I do not purchase new decor each year for every season.

{{FIFTEEN}} Lastly, I do not purchase things I cannot afford. Again, this is something we have always done as a couple and as a family. We have chosen to live debt free with the exception of our mortgage. Everything else we want to purchase we save up for. We don’t have any credit card debt.

Well, I hope this inspired you to think about items you could potentially quit purchasing, or at least made you think about why you purchase what you purchase. I would love to hear what things you no longer purchase. Do you have some of the same items on your list? Or do you have different items?

This is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post if you would like to check that out!

Reducing Visual Clutter

Does your external environment cause you anxiety? Do you struggle to focus because of external clutter? Today I wanted to talk about visual clutter, the impact it has on us, and how to reduce it.

For many people, visual clutter is distracting. The reason is because our brain is constantly processing our environment. Visual clutter can have an impact on our mental and emotional health, resulting in us not being as efficient and productive as we could otherwise be.  Clutter has been linked to cortisol production, the stress hormone. Research from a 2009 study out of UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) has shown that women who perceive their homes to be cluttered tend to have unhealthy patterns of cortisol levels. Interestingly, men did not have the same cortisol response with regard to clutter. This could potentially be because women tend to take on more of the household chores even if they are also working full time. Clutter is also linked to lack of self control, resulting in unhealthy eating habits. According to a Cornell University study from 2016, stress triggered by clutter may also trigger coping and avoidance strategies, like eating junk food, oversleeping or binge-watching Netflix.

So what can we do to reduce visual clutter? I wanted to share some ideas for you to reduce visual clutter in your home today.

First, the obvious one: declutter your possessions. When you have less, it is easier to clean, store, and organize your items. This can be easier said than done, so I suggest doing this slowly over time. If we try to declutter all of our items at once, we can get overwhelmed and experience decision fatigue. Slowly but surely as you declutter your possessions, you will have less visual clutter.

The next one goes along with the first. Be intentional with what you keep and what you bring into your home. When you are intentional with what comes into your home, you have an idea of where the item will go and how you will use the item or what purpose the item will fulfill to you. Sometimes people get into the habit of purchasing anything they find beautiful without intentionally thinking about its purpose. This is when it gets difficult to find a place for everything we bring into our homes. I have learned to enjoy and appreciate items visually at the store, acknowledging that you like it and it is beautiful,  without having to take the item home with me.

Next, group like items together in bins or baskets. When smaller items are stored away in bins or baskets, there is less visual clutter.

Choose uniformity when organizing and storing items. Get uniform food storage containers, cleaning bottles, and storage bins. When you have uniform jars, bins, and bottles you eliminate bright colored packaging, making your space feel more calm.

Have a place for everything. If you have a home for each of the items you own, they are less likely to get left lying around your home. When things are put in their proper place, your home feels less chaotic and less cluttered.

Another principle you can implement to reduce visual clutter in your home is maybe one (or a few) is better than an abundance. Throw pillows are a good example here (although admittedly I likely own too many of these!!) Maybe having 2 on your sofa is better than having the entire sofa lined with pillows. Or perhaps it’s home decor. Maybe having a small vignette of 3 items grouped together is better than the entire piece of furniture being covered in home decor.

Lastly, storing items away in a cabinet or drawer instead of leaving it out can reduce visual clutter. For me, I like to have a spot in my cabinet to store things like our toaster, the blender, and other large appliances. In the bathroom, you can have space for your items such as make up, a hair brush, toothbrush, and facial products in your bathroom drawers or cabinets instead of housing them on top of the counter. This will immediately reduce visual clutter in these spaces.

I hope this gave you some practical ideas on how you can reduce visual clutter in your home today!

The YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

Six Decluttering Tips To Give You Momentum

Decluttering can be difficult and daunting. Sometimes it’s just getting started that is the hardest part! I wanted to share with you six tips to help you with the decluttering process. At the end of this blog post I will share with you a PDF printable document with a list of spaces in your home that you can declutter!

The first tip is to get rid of old things you are replacing immediately. If you are replacing an item, whether it’s a broken toaster, or a worn out set of dishes, immediately put the old items in the donation bin. You don’t even have to think about if you should or shouldn’t since you are replacing it with a new item. If you don’t get rid of it immediately, you may end up forgetting and having duplicates of the same type of item in your home.

The second tip is don’t second guess yourself – once it’s in the donation box, it stays there. It can be tempting to revisit the donation bin and second guess if you made the right decision. I would suggest if you have items that you are on the fence about to have a separate bin where you can store these items for a fixed amount of time (usually 6 months is a good amount of time), then move them to the donation bin once you realize that you didn’t miss the items. Usually there is a reason you initially put an item in the donation bin, so don’t second guess that gut instinct.

The third tip is don’t declutter other people’s stuff – you’re not responsible for it! Allow other people – whether that’s a spouse, children, or other family members living with you – to declutter their own items. It’s very important to allow people to make decisions about their own possessions. If you declutter someone else’s things, you risk having tension in the relationship and there is a good chance that they will bring more things into the space when you declutter their items without permission.

The fourth tip is to start with easy/non-sentimental items. It can be very time-consuming and therefore discouraging to start with decluttering sentimental items. When decluttering items that you don’t have a sentimental attachment to, or they are easier to replace, it makes the decluttering process go more quickly. Oftentimes with decluttering, you just need momentum to continue the process. Starting with something like decluttering kitchen items will make it easy and quick to make decisions giving you confidence moving forward.

The fifth tip is to set a timer. This makes it feel easier, like you’re not going to spend the entire day decluttering. Setting a timer allows your brain to know that you will only be working on this project for a finite amount of time. Sometimes decluttering projects can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to declutter everything in one space all at once. Decluttering a few items is better than none.

The sixth and final tip is to have fun! Don’t overcomplicate it! Can decluttering be fun?? A couple of months ago, I played the Minimalism Game to declutter my home. If you’re not familiar with this game, you spend one month focusing on decluttering. On day one you declutter one item, on day two two items, on day three three items, and so on and so forth through the whole month. You end up decluttering over 400 items! This was a fun way to get things decluttered from my home. You could also enlist your family members’ help for items that belong to the whole family – like movies or games. Maybe take a vote on each one, and the majority wins! Or perhaps you could have a contest with other family members to see who can fill a box or bag of items to declutter the fastest! There are many creative ways to declutter that are fun and make it not as stressful as it could otherwise be!

I hope these tips gave you some inspiration on how you can declutter in your home today! Use this free printable to give you ideas on different spaces in your home that may need to be decluttered.