One of the most difficult things that I’ve found, now that I’m on this journey, is that becoming a minimalist is very different from being a minimalist.
I say this because I was so excited to get started that I jumped right in. I had already ingested as much Marie Kondo as I could and requested tons of books on decluttering and having a comfy home. I created the 31 Days of Introspection and even before December 1st I was packing things away to donate or throw away. I swept through the clutter in almost the first day and was finished by the first week’s end. Everything was given a place and everything was then put in its place.
Then the reality set in.
Minimalism isn’t just about decluttering, just as I’d read. It’s more about the mindset and I just didn’t have it down yet. Well, I should say ‘don’t have it down yet’. I am a messy person. Messy, not dirty or gross. I clean things (bathroom, kitchen, lint from the dryer) but I’m less likely to have an empty table, books will be strewn about, and clothes aren’t put back in their place. I couldn’t figure out why this new thing I was so obsessed with wouldn’t last. I knew it had to change. I wanted my apartment to reflect the changes consistently.
Step 1: Be Honest
No, I’m not going to tell you ‘Click here to take this test at this link and get this…’ and all that jazz. I’m more interested in finding out your personality type strictly in relation to cleaning. We can talk about the deep dark depths of your soul another time. (Unless you just really want to tell me what your personality type is. I’ll take it. Comment below.)
In order to get the best out of this step is to be honest with yourself. Seriously! Be honest! Figure out what type of person you are. Are you the ‘I’ll take the trash out later’ three days in a row type? Are you the ‘I can’t start eating until I completely clean the kitchen’ type? Do you need a checklist in order to keep you on top of chores? Do you just let dishes pile up until you have to clean before you can use your sink? If you set the goal “I’m going to make my bed every single morning when I get up” will you stick with it?
My Truth: Through Introspection and trial and error, I found that I wasn’t the type of person to pick up all day. One of the reasons I struggled in the beginning was because I am a mom and a full time student. I don’t have the time, or the motivation, to clean all day. I lie to myself and say that laziness doesn’t play a part but it does. When I have a moment to sit and hang out, I want to read, not clean. During that short period of craziness I would run around like a headless chicken and scream at anyone that left things dirty. Yeah, that’s not for me. I don’t want to become THAT minimalist.
Step 2: Solve
In order to keep on top of things you must create a schedule or idea that could help you stay on top of things.
Once I was honest with myself I was able to come up with a solution. I’m currently writing this as laundry sits on the floor in the bedroom, the living room has toys all over the place, and the kitchen is in disarray from roasting chicken and my parent’s 5 day visit. But I’m not frustrated by this, as I would’ve been only a month ago. In that 2nd week of the 31 Days of Introspection, I would get frustrated every time things were out of place. I had this “idea” of what Minimalism (capital M) looked like and any time we forgot to put a dish in the dishwasher or left Naomi’s toys out I’d go running to frantically make sure the apartment was clean. I was burnt out in less than two days. Now, I know what I’ve set in place for myself, and I’ve been sticking to it.
My Solution: I follow the 10 Minute Clean Up. I came up with this on my own but you’ve probably heard of a quick clean up or created a mini version of your own. Throughout the day, I go about life as normal. Of course, I try to be “mindful” (my word for 2020), by putting things back in their place after I use them, but I don’t spend all hours fumbling after myself, the baby, my guy, and myself again.
At the end of the night, before I grab a book and go to bed, I walk around the apartment. I spend 10 minutes straightening, wiping things down, picking up Naomi’s toys, loading the dishwasher, and taking out the trash. I set myself up for the next day by putting my laptop where it should go or making sure my backpack is set up for school. It doesn’t always take 10 minutes and sometimes I race against my own clock because I’m weird like that. Once all of this is done, I do my skincare routine and moisturize my dreads (newbie at these too, and I love them). Then I hit the sack.
I used to hate the dishes, and let me be honest – it’s still not my favorite thing, but it really doesn’t take that long. Especially if I am being mindful during the day by immediately rinsing them. The only real issue with the night time pick up is trying not to wake Naomi with all the clinking, clanking and water pressure.
Step 3: Stay Focused
Once I was honest with myself I realized that a 10 minute clean up before bed would help me round out my day.
My apartment was clean, things were in their place, I’d already cut down on my ‘getting ready’ time by decluttering clothes and keeping a small shoe rack by the door. Also, my backpack or purse was already set (via the 10 minute clean up) and I can grab and go. Now, I just needed to stay on track. I was able to release the stress and stop chasing my guy around whenever he put a cup down on the coffee table or forgot to fold the blanket from the couch. Okay, that’s not true. I still do that sometimes because he’s not on this journey with me and so he hasn’t quite caught on to the concept yet. But he is working on helping me keep things together and I’m sure he’s much happier, in general, that our apartment is de–cluttered and consistently clean.
Every night, that 10 Minute Clean Up needs to happen. That being said, should something happen stopping me from doing it (too druuuunk, tired beyond exhaustion, in pain or hurt…there are reasons), I can’t let myself freak out. Light and Happy. Light and Happy.
Step 4: Remember
This one is easy and not really a step. When I notice the apartment is getting a bit messy I remember why I decided to de–clutter in the first place. If I’m getting into bed and I haven’t cleaned, I get up before that warm plush mattress pulls me in. I do my quick clean up and get in bed happy, knowing that my apartment is clean, I’ve kept a promise to myself, and that I’m stress free. I can breathe.
What about you? Are you a messy person? Do you struggle to keep up with the neatness that minimalism has imparted? What was your solution to being a messy minimalist? Is it working? Have you had to try different things?
* From a newbie to other newbies! *