Cultivating Clean

I have always been a minimalist but in recent years I have personalized exactly what that means to me. My overall goal is to simplify my life in a manner that allows me to concentrate my time and energy on things more creative. But, it’s not always easy to keep things as simple as I would like. Even after all of these years, I have to mindfully practice simplicity to maintain the lifestyle. A bonus for me is the more I practice the more my OCD behaviors diminish.

Here are a few habits I have cultivated over the years.

Keep a simple cleaning routine.

Regular cleaning routines help us from forgetting things like changing the sheets or washing towels. I do laundry every Wednesday. Getting in the habit of a regular laundry day helps reduce stress. I’m not counting my socks to find out how many more days I can go before I have to wash clothes. As a minimalist, I have a fraction of the clothes most people have, so if I didn’t do laundry regularly I would run out of clothes by day 9.

A regular cleaning schedule prevents me from having to think about it or freaking out when someone stops over unannounced. Cleaning on a schedule ensures my home will remain neat and tidy. Believe me, it doesn’t take long for the inside of my tiny house on wheels to look like an unmade bed.

Accumulating mess is easy. It doesn’t take long for the sink to fill with dishes or junk mail to collect on the counter. Cleaning as I go reduces the accumulation.

Clean as you go.

I infuse micro-routines into my typical day, so I can avoid having to a “big” clean later. For example, we are a no shoe house, when I come home take off my shoes and put on the shoe rack right away instead of kicking them off by the door. This way, I don’t have to dig through a pile of shoes to find the ones I want later.

Similarly, if I’m making a dish, I put away the ingredients as I use them. It’s so easy to do if you are waiting around for something to brown, bake or boil. I even wash pots and pans in between. Once the food is ready, all I need to do is give the counter a quick wipe and wash the dining plates and cutlery.

In the bathroom, wipe the sink when your done and put away your hair dryer, makeup and toothbrush. A few seconds cleaning up after yourself will save you so much time later.

Keep all surfaces clear.

I enjoy the serenity of clear surfaces and I do my best to store things in their proper places. When surfaces are clear, I am not as easily distracted. It’s challenging for me to concentrate on a movie or even a conversation when I see clutter on the counters. I start to obsess, so it’s just easier to keep as many surfaces as clear as I can.

All of my regularly used items have a “home” that’s easy to access and put away again. If I have to dig through a bunch of things to get at something, I am less likely to use it. I have arranged and rearranged my cupboards dozens of times testing out the arrangements that are the easiest and most accessible.

Keep a perpetual donation bin.

I keep a little bag near the door to hold the things that I no longer want or use. Even after all these years as a minimalist, I’m still surprised that I can scrape together a bag of donations every month. Whenever I encounter an item in my home that hasn’t been used in a long time and I know that I’ll not likely use it in the future, I go ahead and put it into the bag.

Every couple of months I go through the storage in my tiny house and if I haven’t used something within a year, I get rid of it. I don’t want to store things I don’t use or don’t add value to my life.

Currently, I am in the process of turning over my wardrobe. The clothes I have, I have had for a long time. And while they have served me well, they don’t reflect me. As I have recently introduced new pieces, I have donated my best older pieces. I also surrendered some fancy shoes I love, but never actually wear but maybe once or twice a year.

Shopping is not entertainment.

I actually don’t have a shopping problem. In fact, I quite hate shopping. However, I have many friends and clients who do have a shopping problem. (My side hustle is organizing and cleaning out hoards).

Many people shop not because they need something but as a form of entertainment. It’s a double edge sword. Initially, the shopper might feel an endorphin release as they “score a deal” or find that “perfect” item. But often times, they are later filled with guilt and remorse as their credit card balances drag them into despair and their closets bulge with impulse buys.

Learning to manage compulsive shopping or acquisitions will free up some of your finances, reduce the stress in finding a new “home” for that particular item and keep your home tidier.

If there is something you really want or need, put it on a wish list and research it before you commit to buy. Taking that extra step might reduce the number of items you purchase and help you conquer impulsive buying. You’d be surprised at how little we actually need.

The Takeaway

Decision fatigue is a thing. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed you are making big, small and micro decisions. You have to decide what time to wake up, work out, what to wear, what to eat, when to shower, what to pack for lunch or make for dinner, etc. Those aren’t even the descions you are making for work!

By the end of the day we are exhausted from making all of those decisions. If you can implement a regular, simple cleaning routine you can eliminate much of the stress induced by decision fatigue. You’d be surprised at how much more productive and creative you can be if some of those little grey cells were freed up!

What habits do you implement to simplify your life? Share with us in the comments below.

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