My journey to simplicity started in 1996 when I read a powerful little book entitled Simplify Your Life* by Elaine St. James. I have read dozens and dozens of books about simple living and minimalism since my initial plunge. Despite having read deeply and widely about my minimalism passion, I’m always excited to read new books on the subject. This subject never gets stale for me!
Because of this, I was honored to be selected to preview a copy of Joshua Becker’s new book, The Minimalist Home.* I have been an avid follower of Joshua’s work for several years, and his simple, straightforward approach to writing about minimalism has always appealed to me.
If you take a quick look at the genre, you’ll find plenty of other books that teach step-by-step instructions for simplifying or minimalizing your home and your belongings. So, what makes Joshua’s book stand apart? In a word: practicality.
Becker vs. Konmari: Both excellent, but different approaches
I thoroughly enjoyed Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up* and came away from that book with some techniques I still use today to keep my life and my home tidy (t-shirt folding, I’m looking at you!). But I could not follow her strategy to the letter; I didn’t find it practical to approach decluttering by category as she suggests. For example, we have books in several rooms, and the idea of lugging them all to a central location to evaluate and sort them was unappealing. I love her philosophy, but her method wasn’t perfect for me.
The Minimalist Home follows a different route to achieve a more streamlined home. Joshua’s method of decluttering the home room by room is the way I have always approached minimalism.
At SimpleMoney, I promote the idea of tackling simplifying your life and finances in Baby Steps. Too often, people are excited about the idea of having a clutter-free home, but the more cluttered your home is, the bigger this project will be. Attacking multiple areas in your home simultaneously is a recipe for disaster. All of a sudden, you’re standing in the middle of a life’s worth of stuff that you’ve pulled out from all over the house and before you know it, analysis paralysis sets in.
The answer is Baby Steps. Avoid being overwhelmed by starting small. Taking on small areas or categories of your home to declutter and reorganize will minimize the risk of giving up when the project is too much to handle. Using Baby Steps is also the ticket to gaining small victories quickly, which helps to motivate and inspire us to continue the larger and longer journey.
Joshua’s book does just that. I like the sequence of rooms he has chosen for this project. He starts with the common rooms of the home, such as the living room and family room. Since these are the rooms where we spend a great deal of time, the benefit of experiencing the peaceful and calm feelings that accompany a decluttered room will come much sooner and more frequently.
Joshua’s room sequencing also begins with the rooms that are typically less cluttered. Since living and family rooms tend to have few to no closets, there are fewer places for clutter to be stashed. Starting with “easier” rooms is definitely a baby step!
Another beneficial feature of The Minimalist Home is that Joshua doesn’t stop at merely outlining the over-arching philosophy. This guide is eminently practical: He provides detailed guidance for every room and then finishes each chapter with a handy, short checklist for each room. These checklists alone make this book worth keeping for future reference, since decluttering is an ongoing project.
And because decluttering is indeed an ongoing project, the end of the book provides a very valuable Minimalism Maintenance Guide. This guide provides daily and weekly guidelines for keeping your home clutter-free. Better yet, Joshua provides yearly and “life season” guidelines — probably my favorite resource in the book.
The yearly guidelines drove home the efficiencies of using regular seasonal markers throughout the year to trigger routine decluttering. This is a favorite strategy of mine, since different times of the year inspire me to undertake different decluttering projects.
Minimizing for all of life’s seasons
The “life seasons” section was new territory for me. I have certainly experienced how different stages of my life have precipitated major purging of stuff. This is especially true with a child. As we have navigated various stages of our daughter’s life, some serious purging of toys and gear has occurred.
But there was something else Joshua’s list drove home for me. As I age, I recognize the past stages of my life and the accompanying “clutter” that is often hard to toss. Difficulty in letting go of the people we once were can sometimes be a big obstacle on the road to evolving into the people we want to become.
The list of life seasons offered in The Minimalist Home provides a blueprint for facing upcoming life changes. The goal is to approach transitions with joyful gratitude as opposed to dread and disappointment over missed opportunities or sadness acknowledging the completion of a season of life.
Our home is our refuge
The message I appreciated most in this book was the idea of creating a home that is a refuge. Our home should be the place we love to be and a place where we feel safe, not a place that depresses or overwhelms us with unfinished projects and all that pesky clutter.
The home is a reflection of our values, as well as our personalities as members of a household. By decluttering the unnecessary to make space for the home life we desire and deserve, we can fall in love with our homes all over again and feel at peace.
Do you have favorite books about simplifying your life or your finances? I plan to start a series of reviewing books that are near and dear to my heart in the personal finance and simplicity/minimalism space.
Feel free to share your favorites below, or if you prefer, you can email me at Dawn@SimpleMoneyPro.com. Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your ideas!
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