Every journey starts with the first step. A journey toward minimalism, or a simpler lifestyle, means taking that first step toward getting rid of the excess. This can be overwhelming, however, and many people just don’t know how to break it down into small doable chunks. So they don’t do anything.
I know that there are lots of books and blogs out there on how to go minimalistic in 21 days or in a 10 step process. Those didn’t work for me. I had to break my journey down into small baby steps. I’m not alone in my home so I couldn’t have a packing party and begin with a blank slate such as Ryan did over at The Minimalists. You can read his about his 21 day journey here.
I also didn’t have a spouse that instantly jumped on the minimalism boat with me. Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist and his wife started immediately to declutter their entire house, including their kids rooms. They’ve written two books on the subject. You can read his journey here.
My journey is still a work in progress and I’ve had to take into consideration the fact that The Hubz, while a fan of minimal décor and contemporary sleek design, wasn’t hit with the Minimalism Arrow at the same time I was. I am easing my way into this whole new lifestyle and as he is seeing the results The Hubz is joining in. Very teeny tiny baby steps for him. That works for me!
So, here is how I tackled the first room in my house. I suggest you do the same. It is quick and easy and it feels so good once the clutter and extra junk is gone. A small victory that inspired me to tackle the next room and the next until I finally went big time and took on my kitchen. But I won’t go there just yet.
Simple Bathroom in 4 Easy Steps
Step One: Grab a couple of large black trash bags before you begin. Then, take EVERYTHING, yes I said everything, out of every drawer, cupboard, and cabinet. You don’t have to do this all at the same time, just open one drawer or cupboard and clear it out. When everything is out take the time to wipe up those sticky spills and hair balls that have accumulated in every corner. Are you starting to feel better?
Step Two: Look at each object you removed from the drawer. Do you use it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY? If so, then put it back. But before you do consider how old some of those items might be. Do you have old sunscreen from last summer? How about those half used mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner from your vacation a couple of years ago? It helps me to think about all of the microscopic bacteria that is probably swimming away in those junky old bottles. Do I want that on my skin? Nope. Throw it in one of those black trash bags. What about your make up? It doesn’t matter how much you paid for it. If it is old, then get rid of it! It is teeming with nasty bugs. The absolute maximum time a product, any product, should be kept is 18 months. That includes concealer, powder, cream blush, eye shadow, eye liner, and lipstick. Mascara should only be kept for 1 year max, same with foundation, lip liner, and nail polish. Liquid eye liner has a shorter shelf life of only 6 months. Make up sponges are disgusting after just 1 month. But there is something else to consider, simplifying your make up routine will simplify your mornings, which will minimize the time it takes to get ready each morning. At this point you may want to consider wearing less product on your face. Simple make up. I think I’ll write about that another day. Be sure and check the dates on any bottles of medicine or vitamins as well. I found children’s cough syrup that had expired five years earlier!
Step Three: After you’ve thrown away old products and the 27 rusty bobby pins you found hiding under your brushes, put anything you’re not sure about in the other black trash bag. Go ahead, throw it in there. You’re not tossing it in the trash at this point. Now place the black trash bag in your tub or in a corner, or even better, in the garage. If you discover you actually do need something in there you’ll know where to find it. Keep the bag for one month. During this time consider how many items you actually need for you hair. Do you need 37 assorted pins and clips and headbands? Really? Which ones do you use all the time? Keep those and a few spares.
Step Four: At the end of the month, pick up the black trash bag and carry it to the trash! I do have a caveat though. If you know there are things in that black bag that can be donated then by all means yank those curling irons from the 90’s out of that bag. Give those electric curlers to a friend. Take those extra 13 bath towels to the local animal shelter. Stuff like that. Do NOT put all of those items back in your cupboard just in case big hair and neon scrunchies make a comeback!
This exercise of going through each room and each item in each room takes time. I don’t recommend rushing through it. If you start small, with your bathroom or even one drawer in your bathroom, then you will gain momentum. You will discover, as so many, many others have discovered, that you WILL NOT MISS any of the items you’ve donated or thrown away. Truth. You will find that your life is easier and your routines simpler when you don’t have to paw through a drawer full of bottles and jars to get to the one bottle that you actually use.
I will probably go through my bathroom again very soon. I kept a few “just in case” items that I’ve been having second thoughts about. I never use curlers – I have very curly hair naturally – so WHY did I choose to keep them? Silly me. Overall though I only have the personal care products that I use. I only kept six bath towels – two for current use, two for use when I am washing the others, and two for guests. And, all medicine and first aid type stuff is in a plastic bin that fits nicely in a cupboard. Now it is easy to check expiration dates and to find what I need quickly. Minimal, simple, and frugal because I’m not constantly buying extra band-aids, antiseptic ointment, and thermometers because I can’t find them. The bonus is, I could easily pack up every single bathroom item in 5-10 minutes in one plastic bin if and when we move to another home. I like that idea best of all.