Less is More, with Lisa Munkvold from Complete Clutter Control
We’ve been spending the last few weekends working on decluttering and organizing our homes. After Hurricane Harvey, it really hit home that we all just have too much stuff. Waaaay too much crap! And none of it, none of the stuff, really matters at the end of the day. Since then, we’ve really tried to adopt a minimalist mindset. If you’ve not seen the Netflix documentary ‘Minimalism’ we strongly suggest it! Although we could never go as hardcore as those featured in the film, we appreciate the message behind it. That message is people challenging and rejecting the American ideal that things bring happiness and shedding light on the virtues of less is more.
When we set out to have a post on this topic, we knew we needed to bring in an expert- someone who specializes in decluttering our lives. And that expert just happens to be the woman, wife, and mama behind Complete Clutter Control. We’ve featured Lisa on our blog and social media channels many times since we first found her a few months ago and we’re so passionate about sharing her business. It’s a business that brings calm and organization back into our often chaotic, sometimes messy lives. Lisa has a passion for organizing, but more than anything she truly loves to help people.
Lisa pulled together her tips and tricks for decluttering, her passion behind ‘less is more’, and how to keep your house from acquiring more stuff!
Lisa, Professional Organizer & Owner of Complete Clutter Control
I am not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination, so I am not going to try to convince you to become one either if that is not your thing. However, I am a strong believer in “less is more” in various areas of my life. When people hear the word less they often only think of “too little” or “insufficient” or “lacking”. But I like to focus on less meaning “reduced” or “fewer” or even “making room for”. I am a firm believer that having a handful of things you love is better than an abundance of things you tolerate, or worse yet, dislike.
5 REASONS WHY “LESS IS MORE”
- Less things to put away
This is the most logical and compelling reason for me to have less stuff in my house. Just because I am an organizer does not mean that cleaning is my favorite past-time! I want to be able to pick up all the mess in my house in 30 minutes or less so I can spend the rest of my time hanging out or doing other fun things. By having a limited number of items to start with, I can easily create a system for organizing them and it is not a hassle to put them back once I am done using them.
2. Less things to sort through to find what you are looking for
I cannot stand looking for things!! If I have to dig through stacks of paper to find a bill or run on a wild goose chase trying to find school folders or my child’s other shoe, I will quickly get in a really bad mood. The easiest and most efficient way to eliminate or at least limit the chances of this happening is to have less stuff, have a regular spot for all the stuff and to put everything in its spot! This can also put some money back in your pocket since you will no longer need to buy duplicates or triplicates or have to replace something that broke because it was not put away properly.
3. Less choices to make which in turn leads to less wasted time
Having less stuff will save you time because you can make quicker decisions. I find myself incapable of making a decision when faced with a plethora of choices….whether that applies to outfits to wear or books to read or in my kids’ case, toys to play with. If I give my son the option of playing with his blue car or his Thomas train, he will pick one. If he has a bucket full of toys to dig through he will empty them all out and often not end up playing with any of them. The same goes for me, I would stand in front of my closet and try to decide on an outfit for the day and it would take forever to reach a decision. I would try on and take off a dozen options, none of which were just right and I would get into the “I have nothing to wear” funk. Now that my closet is filled with clothes I enjoy wearing and actually do wear I do not need to do this anymore!
4. Less choices also means less frustration
Notice I say less means less frustration, because I very much acknowledge that too little can indeed lead to more frustration and stress. You should have a sufficient number of things and there is no magic number that fits everyone. This point also relates closely with the previous one about choices. Less things to have to choose from, means less time and frustration tied to the task of choosing. One example is when you give your kids the choice of outfit A or B not A, B, C or D. They still feel like they are in control and so do you! And it is quicker to choose between two things than between four.
My kids have one fleece jacket each. Yes one. And that one jacket has one home, on the hook in the hallway. They know where to find their jacket and we don’t have fits over wearing the purple sparkly fleece or the pink polka dotted one, or the green with flowers because the only choice is the solid pink one, and that is that.
5. Less stuff means more space, both physically and mentally.
I cannot speak for every single person in the world, but I would say most people feel relieved and relaxed and they feel they can breathe when a space is calm, organized and not overflowing with stuff. Something as simple as a bedroom with a made bed and a clear nightstand can give you a sense of calm. Same with an empty kitchen counter, ready for your next culinary adventure.
When your house is visually chaotic, in other words full of stuff, (which is not always the same as physically chaotic) your brain cannot relax. It is too busy trying to make sense and order of the items it is surrounded by. This is especially true for kids. A clear space with a small selection of well-loved toys can often be better received than a space filled to the brim with every toy and gadget under the sun! Their little brains can then focus on the one thing and not be pulled in a hundred different directions.
You can easily test this out with your kids. If you clear a table and put a cup of colored pencils and a small stack of clean paper. What do you think would happen? Do you think they would be any less creative than if they had 72 crayons, a bucket full of markers, 100 colored pencils and every color construction paper they could dream of? You might be surprised, so why not give it a try!
HOW TO ACHIEVE HAVING LESS
But what if you already have too much stuff, then what? How do you get rid of things? How do you achieve less? Let me tell you!
Purge – purge – purge!
I could tell you to throw away 50% of your stuff and that you would be so much happier, but honestly that would achieve nothing. First of all, you would probably be resentful because I made you get rid of a bunch of stuff, secondly you would likely acquire all the same items, if not more, in just a short amount of time.
Purging is definitely a process, so do not feel bogged down if you have to repeat it in a few months. Your life changes, your situation is different, your priorities shift and your needs are no longer the same. The secret to efficient purging is a change of mind, a change of habit and a change of heart.
A change of mind – you have to be ready to purge. You have to set you mind to it and stick with it even when the going gets tough!
A change of habit – you have to be ready to change your shopping habits and not add new items without some serious thought.
A change of heart – you have to be willing to part with the items and ready to embrace this new stage in life and a life with less.
Purging is a multi-step process.
1st –a quick purge where you get rid of obvious excess and items you just don’t want anymore.
2nd –an in-depth purge where you go through your things, one by one, category by category. This is when you really think about whether you love it, use it and want it.
3rd – a final purge is like the final touch. Once you have sorted your things and you are ready to organize them, take a close look at how many of any one thing you have. For example, 4 tape dispensers, 17 pairs of jeans, 19 reusable bags etc. and reassess the need for each of these items.
Once you have completed your purging process then, and only then, is it time to find perfect storage solutions for your things, your space and your life.
Now that you know the WHY and the HOW when it comes to “less is more”, it is on up to you to embrace it and take the leap! Most of my clients say the first step is the hardest, but once the ball gets rolling it usually ends up being a freeing and invigorating experience. If you still feel stuck, enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member or a professional to get you started. Here is to enjoying a life with LESS!
9 WAYS TO AVOID FILLING YOUR HOUSE WITH MORE STUFF
1. Skip the samples and free gifts with purchase.
Do you really need another water bottle or pen or even t-shirt or tote bag?
2. Wish for gifts of experiences or consumables instead of stuff.
A membership to the zoo, a giftcard to a favorite restaurant or a yummy treat are all favorite gifts at our house.
3. Skip the trinkets.
Including the toy in the kids meal, the items from the treasure chest at the dentist/doctor etc. We all know they usually break in 3.5 seconds anyhow so why bother!
4. Say no thank you to pass-alongs.
When a friend or family member is getting rid of something and asks you if you would like it, you can say no. Unless it is something that you actually need or have been looking for, skip it. Hand-me-downs for kids fall in a slightly different category, but again don’t take on more than you would use.
5. Stop items in their tracks.
Do you actually read the magazines you are subscribed to? What about catalogues, would you be ok without them? Do you subscribe to a box of this or that but never use the items inside? Take the time to cancel the subscriptions before the items pile up.
6. Streamline and stick to your favorites.
If you have one shampoo, one lotion and one brand of mascara you swear by, stick with them. Why have 5 different varieties of everything?
7. Be realistic about how many or how much you actually need.
Watch out for falling into the bulk buying trap. Do you really need 4 gallons of floor cleaner? What about clothes…..do you actually get around to wearing them all? If you have 35 pairs of work out pants and you do laundry once a week you could wear 5 pairs a day and still have enough!!!
8. Avoid the out of sight, out of mind trap.
If you are prone to forgetting you have something because you cannot see it, then invest in clear storage and open bins to stay in control. Also use labels to ensure that all family members are on the same page.
9. Remember your house is a living space, not a storage space!
In today’s world of almost instant deliveries and access to most items at our fingertips. Let the stores store the items and get them when or if you need them. No need to sit on an arts and craft supply large enough for an entire kindergarten class, or food enough to feed an army.
For more information on Lisa and her business, be sure to check out her website!