Essentialism 101: Step 3: What’s Working?

Hi there! I’m back after a little delay. I’m hoping to get a few more posts in before Peanut arrives and then see what the blog holds after our baby-led hiatus :D. A number of weeks ago, I introduced Essentialism 101, or my fundamental formula for the best and most sustainable method for dealing with the excess in our lives. I’ve written about the first two steps in more detail: Step 1: Stop Digging! and Step 2: Priorities!. Let’s discuss Step 3: Figure Out What’s Working!

(a little nursery teaser as it’s what’s working in my life right now ;)

(a little nursery teaser as it’s what’s working in my life right now ;)

Once we have examined our habits and worked on figuring out what’s truly important, we can finally start to sort through what we have. This can be physical stuff, calendars full of commitments, or over-stretched budgets (not to mention emotional baggage!). These areas of our lives represent how we use our space, time and money… or really how we show what is important to us.

The process of decluttering can be simple or really complicated. There are so many systems and books to follow and everyone responds to different concepts. There’s also the trend to just ask yourself “Does this spark joy?”. I’ll talk about some of my decluttering thoughts in my next post about removing what’s not working, but for now let’s focus on figuring out what is.

One of the easiest ways to let go of things that aren’t serving you is to start by knowing you already have enough. Starting with a pile of “yeses” makes saying “no” a lot easier when you need to. I recommend entering decluttering from a place of abundance. What’s the best way to do this?

+ Pick your favorites first. When you’re looking at a pile of sweaters or a list of engagements, pick out your favorites first. Simply keep your 9’s and 10’s. If you have ten sweaters and pick your favorite five, you start to feel that you already have enough. Passing on the other five to people who could really use them begins to get easier.

+ Set limits on what stays! Or our stuff can start to control us. Create a budget for anything that overwhelms you so you don't end up with excess. A few examples: own no more than seven t-shirts, maybe have only one bookcase (or even shelf) for books, choose to socialize only twice per week, or spend no more than 15 minutes per day reading blogs. The limits can seem arbitrary but they are experiments and can always change.

+ Live and plan for 90% of life. What’s truly necessary? What do you love and use often in your day-to-day? That’s what’s working. Let go of living for house guests, "just in case", and rare-to-you activities like camping or home improvement. Remember to let the store store those things you might need.

+ What would you pack if you were traveling for a month? Think about how wonderful it feels to travel and have only the bare essentials. No paperwork, no projects, no excess. Do you really need all of the other stuff at home weighing you down?

+ What supports your priorities and vision for your space or life? Look over your priorities from Step 2: Priorities!. What are you currently doing that is essential to them? This will help align your lifestyle with your values. In your home, which items support your vision for the space? In your budget, which expenses are necessary or support your goals? On your calendar, which activities nourish you or bring you joy?

Start where you are. Start from a place of having enough. Start by focusing on what’s already working. It will make it so much easier to let go and create space for the things that truly support your best life!

+ Next step, we’re going to discuss sorting and removing what’s not working!