Declutter and develop a lifestyle of more by owning less.
Keeping an organized, decluttered home is not easy for everyone. Pets, children, personality traits, a shopping addiction, you name it, it can get in the way of a beautifully clean and sparkly home. Often, however, a cluttered home, car or desk can lead to a mind that’s just as cluttered, making living a disorganized, hot-mess-style life that much easier. So if you’re ready to clear out your home a bit, we’re sending help. Pick the method that best suits your madness.
Hygge: The Cozy Culture
Denmark is the happiest country in the world, and a big part of the Dane culture is a lifestyle known as hygge (pronounced hoo-gah).
Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, puts it this way: “Danes think of hygge in the way Americans think of freedom. It’s part of our national identity.”
Hygge is not something you buy. In fact, it’s not something you can force either. Kayleigh Tanner, hygge enthusiast and blogger behind hellohygge.com, describes hygge as an action—something you hope happens but that isn’t always guaranteed. Sure, you can buy the candles and blankets, brew hot cocoa and wear thick, soft socks to assist with your hygge lifestyle, but hygge isn’t found in material possessions alone. The lifestyle of hygge involves creating a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere to enjoy with close friends and family.
“When you’re ‘consuming hygge’ through social media, or books, or articles, it’s easy to imagine it as something static—not the living and breathing act it really is,” Kayleigh writes. “You don’t see the tendrils of steam curling off that cup of tea, or the way the sofa molds to someone’s body as they take their usual spot, or see the goosebumps erupt on someone’s skin as they receive a hug from a cold-skinned visitor at the front door.”
The atmosphere of a hygge-inspired home is often decluttered but cozy, decorated to represent the homeowner’s unique personality and vibe. Danes take pride in their homes and in welcoming others into them to enjoy spending time together. These moments of relaxation and good times spent in a clean, comfortable environment are what hygge is all about.
“For me, it’s about deliberately making time to do the things I enjoy with my favorite people,” says Kayleigh. “Instead of spending a lot of money in a loud, crowded bar, hygge has given me an excuse to hibernate indoors with one or two close friends without feeling the pressure to be constantly on the go.”
In order to grasp the overall meaning and concept of hygge, Kayleigh suggests thinking of hygge as a time when everything seems just right. This often trips up hygge-admirers in their well-designed attempts to achieve hygge. It’s all about the experience, though the setting helps facilitate it. With this goal of spending quality, cozy time with friends and family in a conducive home environment, it’s no wonder Denmark is the happiest country in the world. (Now we’re wondering if Meik Wiking might just be the happiest individual on the planet—he did write the book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, after all.)
Simple ways to incorporate hygge into your life include only slight changes in your home and mindset. Consider your ideal environment and the way you want your home to feel. Let the goal of spending time at home with your favorite people give you purpose for creating a decluttered and comfortable home environment. Take into account the way you live because hygge is a lifestyle—the cozy family room just makes it more accessible.
“I believe most people already have hygge in their lives to some extent—they just probably don’t know it yet!” says Kayleigh.
Learn more › Visit hellohygge.com for more inspiration.
Minimalism: Making Room
Two best friends have recently made a name for minimalism through expressing their happiness and freedom from a materialistic lifestyle. According to Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus—known as The Minimalists of theminimalists.com—if we as a society didn’t attach so much value to material things, the pursuit of the American Dream wouldn’t be the goal and current occupation of our lives. These minimalists push the thought that it’s because we give so much value to material possessions that we lose our freedom, time, passion and purpose. As a result, many of us find ourselves in debt financially and lacking happiness.
For Ryan and Joshua, it’s more than just ridding themselves of material possessions. It’s about making room for more in their lives without letting possessions, or the need for them, get in the way.
They put it this way: “Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”
Ryan and Joshua share that it’s only when we eliminate our possessions that we can truly find a meaningful life. It’s not just about decluttering your home or your office. They explain it’s a mindset change that eventually affects not just our clutter but our entire view of life. The essays written on their website encourage beginning minimalists to learn from their mistakes and develop their own kind of minimalism without having to follow a whole set of rules. This way, it can become a lifestyle rather than a rigid and unsustainable to-do list.
A good way to jumpstart your way into a minimalist lifestyle is to play the 30-Day Minimalist Game. (Hey, we’ve done it.)
Here’s how to play:
- Find a friend. Keep each other accountable—send snaps, post on Instagram, do what you need to do.
- Pare down according to the date. On March 1, you must get rid of one item. On March 2, two items. And on and on until the end of the month. You get it.
- Donate, sell or trash. Your items must be out of your house and out of your life by midnight each day—no piles in the spare room or bags in the trunk of your car. (We know what you were thinking.)
- Stick it out, and win. Whoever keeps playing for the longest, wins. Use #minsgame to join others in the purge.
Learn more › Visit theminimalists.com for more resources, essays and podcasts by Ryan and Joshua.
Project 333: Stylishly Minimal
Courtney Carver, a stylish closet minimalist, has a formula to help you get your wardrobe under control. One side effect is that you’re likely to fall in love with the clothes you have left. That sounds ideal, right?
Here’s how it works: For three months, your closet can consist of only 33 items—shoes, outerwear, handbags and jewelry included. Carver suggests taking a day to clean out your entire closet, shoe collection and jewelry stash. Take your clothes off the hangers, empty your drawers and put everything on your bed. Put the clothes you love most into a pile, and then repeat the process for your shoes, handbags and jewelry.
Go back to your ‘love’ pile of clothes, and sift through it to make your Project 333 wardrobe. Consider the season, and be sure to leave room for outerwear, shoes and accessories. When all is said and done, box up everything that didn’t make the cut. Hang your slimmed-down wardrobe in your closet, and move the boxes out of sight.
“Now that I’ve settled on my 33 items for three months, my closet looks bare, simple and surprisingly inspiring,” Courtney writes.
The point of this challenge is to see how many outfits you can come up with and how much joy you develop for your clothes. Notice if you miss any of the clothes you boxed up, and, at the end of the three months, open up your boxes and consider what you actually need. This challenge may help you identify your personal style, preferred color palette and favorite textures.
“People will not notice that you are dressing with the same 33 items for three months, although they may notice there is something different about how you present yourself,” Courtney writes. “You will likely get more compliments. That has been my experience and that of others on this journey.”
Ready for the challenge?
- Choose your start date. Remember this is a three-month challenge.
- Pick your 33 items. These items include jewelry, shoes and outerwear.
- Box up your remaining clothing and accessories. Don’t forget the tape!
- Pay less attention to what you wear each day. Notice you’re able to devote more brain power to more important things.
- Adjust your wardrobe. At the end of your first three months, switch out certain items, build a new 33-item wardrobe and get ready for the next three months.
Learn more › Do the journey with others by sharing your outfits on Instagram with #project333 and following the Project 333 community board on Pinterest. Browse Courtney’s website, bemorewithless.com, for more tips.
The KonMari Method: Finding Joy
The KonMari Method of decluttering originated from Marie Kondo, a Japanese phenomenon known for writing The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. She’s known for tidying from a young age, and by her early 20s, she had started her own business and named her method of decluttering the KonMari Method.
Elizabeth Player is a professional organizer from Tampa who is certified in the KonMari Method. Elizabeth comes from a corporate background, and she found Marie Kondo’s method when she was looking to change careers.
“When I found her book, it was like a lightbulb went off. I thought, ‘This is what I want to do,’” Elizabeth says.
In January 2016, she wrote to Marie Kondo about training, and that summer, Elizabeth was part of the very first training class ever held outside of Japan in New York City. Now, she’s in love with her life as a professional organizer.
“I get to help others declutter their homes using the Marie Kondo method and watch how therir lives and spaces are trasnformed,” Elizabeth says. “It’s so rewarding. You feel the lightness from the very first session.”
Here’s how she suggests getting started:
- Create a vision for how you want to live. Think about how you see yourself living once your house is tidy. This gives you a focus if you feel overwhelmed and helps you commit to the process.
- Declutter by category. The KonMari Method takes this approach in order to see everything that you have within each category. Categories are clothes, books, paperwork, komono (or miscellaneous items) and sentimental items. Go through the categories in that order.
- Keep what you love. Within each category, keep the items that bring joy and discard the ones that don’t. Then, find a home for each item before moving onto the next category.
“What I love about her method is that you focus on what you’re keeping, versus what you are letting go of,” Elizabeth says.
All you need to consider when sifting through your belongings is whether or not an item brings you joy. Elizabeth notes that it’s very important to go through and discard unwanted belongings before finding the perfect spot to store or display items so you can see how much you are keeping and the storage options that you have.
“It’s important to show gratitude to our things, too. The bottom line is now you have surrounded yourself with things that only bring you joy, which in turn leads to more happiness in all areas of your life,” Elizabeth says.
Just like Marie Kondo’s book title claims, Elizabeth ensures this method to be life-changing for anyone who embarks on a tidying journey.
Learn more › Find out more on her website, energeticorganizing.com.
Swedish Death Cleaning: Paring Down With Purpose
It’s not as morbid as it sounds. Promise. In fact, Swedish Death Cleaning is a great way to prevent your partner or children from feeling obligated or burdened to hold onto all of your stuff after you pass away. It’s not all about prepping for your death either, although that supplies a deeper sense of purpose for this lifestyle.
Swedish Death Cleaning is a decluttering approach that Margareta Magnusson, author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter, believes should begin around those middle-age years. Magnusson describes herself as being between 80 and 100 years old, and she has been death cleaning for the past 40 years.
Although it does seem a bit doomsday-ish to think about on your 40th or 50th birthday, the point is to develop a lifestyle of purging unneeded possessions. We say just go ahead and get started no matter your age. Just remember that this method takes a much slower approach than the other decluttering methods—we’re talking about the rest of your life.
Swedish Death Cleaning has been referred to as the morbid KonMari Method because it also takes the approach of decluttering by category, beginning with clothes. Magnusson suggests creating two piles—Pile 1 for what you love and Pile 2 for what you don’t love. Once you’ve conquered a category, move on to another group of possessions. Of course, this is a process that doesn’t need to happen all at once, but it does require a significant amount of maintenance in order to own fewer and fewer possessions over the years.
The result is a simple, uncluttered lifestyle because you’re slowly but consistently working to get rid of your unneeded possessions. And that sounds pretty good to us.
Learn more › Find out more by checking out the newly released book on Amazon.
Sources: konmari.com, scarymommy.com, nypost.com, cnn.com