7 benefits of living with less stuff

There are many people writing about and talking about living a minimalist lifestyle. Now it’s not for everyone and, although not impossible, it is a lot more difficult for those of us with young children.

I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist. I still have a lot of things kicking around that I don’t use routinely. I still have things I’m hanging on to for sentimentality sake as well as things I don’t absolutely need. Over the past couple of years though I have been reducing the quantity of stuff I have around the house. I used to be an absolute sucker for the pretty things, the decorative things, nick knacks, dust collectors … call them what you will.

Having gotten rid of a lot of these things there are several benefits I’m seeing as a result of this lightening of the load.

1. Reduced panic. You know the feeling when you see your parents, siblings or a friend drive up the driveway? You take a quick look around and think “Oh Dear! I haven’t had time to clean.” Enter panic mode. Well with less stuff there is less to be out of place, fewer things to be cleaned, and fewer things to be put away. I used to invite people over and spend the entire day cleaning and making sure things were all put away or at least hidden in the closet. Not fun.

2. Less time cleaning. All of those nick knacks that I used to love to scatter around the house, well they took a lot of time to clean. To clean the surface they were on meant taking all the little bits and pieces down, dusting and then putting them back up. Now that I’ve gotten rid of nearly all of my small bits, cleaning is so much quicker. Just run a cloth over the clear surface and I’m done. Vacuuming no longer requires an initial run through of the place to get things up off the floor.

3. More open space. When I eventually parted ways with a lot of my stuff I was stunned at the amount of free space I had. I think it’s only natural, but I was very tempted to fill it with even more stuff. Over time that urge subsided and now I’m loving the space. Getting rid of stuff is addictive though. Consider yourself warned.

4. Appreciate what you have. Once you have purged a lot of the stuff you don’t need, use or like, all you should have left are things you really and truly want. I am trying really hard to get rid of things that I don’t feel a deep, meaningful attachment to (I know I shouldn’t be attached to anything but some habits are hard to break). My goal is to eventually not have anything in storage. My thought is that if it’s worth keeping it should be worth putting on display for me to see and enjoy everyday.

5. Packing for a move. As Leo mentioned a couple of weeks ago, packing up an entire house when preparing for a move is a massive project. Imagine how much easier, more pleasant and less expensive it would be if you had less to shift around. When my husband and I moved into our current home we got rid of a lot of our stuff. It was easier to pack and didn’t take nearly as long to move it around on moving day. Since being in our new home we’ve purged even more and I can’t imagine how much easier it would be now if we were to move again.

6. No need for organizing systems. On twitter last week Leo said: “Don’t organize. Simplify.” I totally agree. When we keep too much stuff there is a need for systems and processes to keep track of it all, a lot of which you don’t need. I think you’d be better off focusing your energy on reducing or simplifying as opposed to trying a number of organizing systems that may or may not work for you.

7. Easier to stay on top of things. With less clutter I find it’s easier to stay on top of things. Bills, library books and appointment slips are no longer forgotten about as a result of being buried beneath piles of magazines, mail or newspapers. I am also able to spend more time on things that really matter to me or interest me (family, businesses etc …) since I’m not cleaning or organizing.

There are a lot of benefits to living with less stuff. Minimalism may be an extreme for most, but for those who can legitimately pull it off my hat goes off to you! For the rest of us, start small, do a little bit at a time, and remember to be as critical as you can be when it comes to the items you are contemplating getting rid of.

When you reduce what you have around the house, what do you notice is a related benefit?