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I have talked a lot about decluttering, simplifying and minimalism before on the blog, and it seems that since I started a major decluttering of mine and my family’s belongings and lifestyle around 5 or so years ago, there has been an explosion of content creators and authors catching on to this topic.
Maybe it’s because I have an interest in this area, but I seem to see YouTubers and bloggers still talking about it several years on since I fell into it. There also seems to be more and more books coming onto the market, and although it has been claimed to be a declining area, it seems to me that it will be around for a long time to come.
And I am all for it! Decluttering and downsizing has been one of the best things I have personally ever done to create space in my own life. It has also been good for my relationships, finances, health and fitness, mental clarity and for creating space to create.
So I wanted to share a few of my favourite books and resources, for anyone who is interested in learning a bit more about this topic.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
You can’t really talk about decluttering without talking about this seminal book on the topic. Although Marie Kondo doesn’t specifically class herself as a minimalist, claiming that minimalism is more about letting go and living with less, whereas her KonMarie method is about finding joy in the things you own and surround yourself with, she is definitely the place where a lot of minimalists start.
Including me. I read Kondo’s book several years ago when I came across it in my local library, and I must admit, I had no idea of the phenomena she had become. I also admit to finding some of her ideas a little on the kooky side, if I’m honest! Thanking your shoes for carrying you around all day? Er, ok.
But the more I read her book, the more I realised that she was on to something. I knew I did own too much stuff, and it did feel like it was pulling me down at times. I was a busy working mum with a young family, and the house we owned never seemed to be tidy. I went back to the book and re-read it a second time, when I felt ready to tackle the problem, and it was a great guide to getting started.
For anyone who hasn’t read the book, Kondo walks you through the main areas of physical clutter in your home and advises breaking this down into categories, rather than rooms. For example, clothes and papers. She advises getting out everything in that category into one place and working through it, asking yourself if the item ‘sparks joy’. This can be a bit problematic: does my cutlery drawer spark joy? Not really. But I think this idea works better for things like clothing, where you often instinctively know which items in your wardrobe make you feel good when you wear them. I have found her methods particularly useful for this, as well as for letting go of items with gratitude rather than guilt. Her advice to ‘thank’ inanimate objects as you throw them out isn’t exactly something I’ve followed to the letter, but I love her quirky way of tackling this.
I would definitely recommend starting with this book if you want to declutter, or checking out her Netflix series, which shows her working with people in their own homes.
Essential: Essays by the Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
Ok, firstly I have to confess that I haven’t actually read this book! But The Minimalists (aka Millburn and Nicodemus) had such a huge influence on my decluttering and downsizing journey that I had to mention them!
I came across these guys when I was working at home freelancing and came upon their podcast. I then went and read all their essays on their website and made my way through their whole back catalogue of podcasts! Although they were two single American men who had walked away from six figure salaries and sold their stuff to pay off debt, I found their conversations ‘spoke’ to me so much.
If Marie Kondo is all about the how of decluttering, The Minimalists are all about the why.
Millburn lost his mother to cancer, which was the catalyst to him realising how unhappy he was, and how much regret he had in not spending time with the people he cared about.
I resonated with his grief and began to wonder if the decluttering I’d begun with Marie Kondo might be pointing me in a deeper direction.
It isn’t too much of a stretch for me to say that listening to The Minimalists podcasts and reading their essays completely changed the trajectory of my life, which is why if you haven’t discovered them yet, I would advise either reading one of their books (they now have several), listening to their podcast or trying their Netflix documentaries. If you are new to their podcast, I would definitely recommend starting with their first few, as everything they are about really starts there. They also now have a YouTube channel if you prefer the visuals!
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
I cannot say enough good things about Cal Newport’s work!
Newport is a computer scientist, but his books are written in a really understandable way. He talks about minimalism from a different standpoint – for him, it’s all about technology and the way we use it. But it all feeds back to the same idea, really: how to free up your life to allow you to do more of the things you want to do, with the people you want to do them with!
Newport’s work has helped me to re-evaluate the way I use technology, procrastinate (no, I haven’t stopped doing that entirely), and given me an insight into the way we are at the mercy of social media companies. He also now has a great podcast where he discusses his ideas.
Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki
This was another find in my local library, once I was further on my decluttering and simplifying journey. Although this was written by a single man who felt stressed out by his belongings in his small apartment in Tokyo, and was far removed from myself, living in a family of four in the UK, I found his story interesting and relatable.
Having gotten rid of the majority of his stuff, Sasaki explores the ways in which this has helped him to move on in his life, and achieve ambitions he hadn’t thought possible. It is an inspiring read, though his level of minimalism definitely wouldn’t be for everyone!
Stuffocation: Living More With Less by James Wallman
This is more of a journalistic investigation into our culture’s obsession with owning more. Wallman investigates why people own so much, the consumerism abound in society and interviews some interesting people in each chapter who are living differently.
I found this an interesting, more in-depth study of how and why we got to the stage where we feel we need to declutter in the first place, rather than actually a help to decluttering. But I always like to read case studies of people who have been there and done things a little bit differently, so if you’re the same, this is definitely worth a read!
So those are my top reads and resources. There are also literally millions of blogs and YouTube videos about this topic – I can’t be the only person who has an addiction to the calmness of minimalism videos?? – but if you are interested in this topic, I would suggest starting with one of these books. Maybe one of them has ‘spoken’ to you more than another. Maybe even one of them might change your life – they did mine : )
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