My Minimalism Journey Hits a Crossroads

Minimalism – The Journey #7

When I began this minimization journey, I felt confident that outside of my books and some excess clothes, I wouldn’t’ have a lot to minimize. And now that I’ve taken care of all the low hanging fruit, I’ve discovered that a lot remains.

Not a lot of volume, but rather a lot in terms of time. I can’t simply pack up the remaining stuff in boxes and drop it off at the nearest charity shop. With this time-based obstacle on the horizon, I’ve discovered the stressful side of minimizing my life.

The initial goal for me was to simplify and declutter my house. The hope was doing so would declutter my life and allow me to live with less stress. Unfortunately, I feel more stressed than ever.

What remains is a set of tedious tasks that will consume a great deal of my time as well as be emotionally taxing. To give you a clearer picture of what remains, I’ve outlined my Minimization To Do List below:

The Minimization To Do List

  1. Paperwork – A mountain of paperwork from the past 3 decades of school and adult life awaits me. I have to sort through all of it to determine what I can get rid of, what I have to keep, and what I want to scan before tossing. Then the tedious task of scanning the paperwork that I decide to keep electronically.
  2. Items to Sell – There are a few items I want to try to sell because I think I can get $10-$20 for them on eBay or Craigslist. But these transactions take time and are a hassle. As an introvert, Craigslist always involves an extra layer of stress. eBay is better, but still, it requires a fair amount of time and effort.
  3. Old Photos – Digital photos came onto the scene when I was in my mid 20’s. This means large portions of my life only exist on old school photographs. More sorting and scanning will be necessary.
  4. Sentimental Items – I’m not very sentimental by nature, but I do have a handful of items that I just can’t bring myself to get rid of. But they also don’t bring a lot of value to my day-to-day life.
  5. Inventory of What Remains
  6. Round 2 – Revisit all these categories 6 months to a year down the road to determine if further minimization is possible.

What’s Next?

Now that the low-hanging fruit is out-of-the-way, it seems the real work of minimization can begin. It’s tempting to congratulate myself on my success and pack the remaining paperwork, photos, and other miscellaneous items back into boxes and shove them in the closet.

After all, what’ left over wouldn’t fill more than 3-4 boxes. I could easily stack those boxes in a corner of a closet and forget all about them. Will my life really be any different with an extra couple of square feet of closet space? Is the time it will take to complete the Minimization To Do List really worth gaining a couple extra square feet of closet space?

The Crossroads

With these questions, I’m now at a crossroads in my Minimalist Journey. I have to define what minimalism means to me. If it is simply about removing my personal clutter from my life, then I think it’s fair to say mission accomplished.

However, if minimalism is a philosophy in which I want to live my life, then I still have a lot more work to do. Not just the work of completing the To Do List, but also the work of allowing minimalism to permeate all other aspects of my life.

UPDATE: Thank you to Physician on FIRE for the Sunday Best Shoutout! If you are a Physician on FIRE reader, be sure to check out his recent responses to my Random Questions Challenge. You may learn a thing or two about him you didn’t know before!

11 Comments

  1. Not only is it physical cutter, but it is also mental clutter knowing that one day you will need to go through it. My advice to you is break it up into small, accomplishable tasks to do every day. Take a few papers out of the stack every time you pass by and start putting it into piles: keep, digitize, shred, toss. It will take seconds at a time and before you know it, you will have gone through it all. I did this awhile back and it took some time to actually make a dent, but it was easier to only spend a few seconds here and there, rather than hours at a time.

    1. You’re completely right. It is mentally draining just knowing it is sitting there and needs to be dealt with. That’s a good tip. Organizing it is the first step, which will be easier than digitizing it. I’ll give it a shot and start to slowly make piles and see where that gets me. Thanks, Mrs. Wow!

  2. I am miles behind you on my minimalism and decluttering journey, but the struggle with paperwork and photos is definitely on my mind regularly… It will be time consuming, sure, but just think of the freedom when it is all done! I keep that in mind whenever I feel overwhelmed by the stacks of paper…

    1. Thanks, Jena! That’s a great tip. It definitely feels great to have removed the things I have, so I’m sure it will feel even better to finish these last few items. Thanks for the encouragement, I appreciate it!

  3. Sorry you are feeling more stressed. It will get better. Clutter removal is kind of like spring cleaning, just when you think you’re done, you look up and see more cobwebs.

    Minimalism is definitely an ongoing journey. Looking forward to see where it takes you.

  4. When my mom pared down to move, she set either a box # or time limit. Either she’d tackle 1 box, or set 30 or 60 min. Unfortunately the effect was when I visited for the weekend, I was trying to got through my portion of what she’d set aside for me in a lot less time. Every weekend I was there involved these decisions. Finally I asked to do something fun out of the house to balance it out, make new memories not just sort through old ones.
    I have my own stacks and boxes now. With plans to live small / tiny some day I know I will have to conquer it as some point.

    1. Great suggestion! I’ll have to give it a try and see how it works out. Although, I totally agree that finding balance is so important in this process. I appreciate the thoughtful comment!

  5. Good read. I’m in a similar boat after an international move (got down to having my whole life in ten boxes). I still have the remaining ‘too hard basket’ items and have no doubt acquired new stuff but not much. Everyone has a different threshold for how far they can minimize in one stint. The last 10-20% always requires 80-90% of the effort.
    This touches on a pretty deep philosophical point though. Basically, nobody else will ever really know about what you do here except for you. It is an opportunity for you to show yourself how strong your commitment to minimalism really is.
    All the best, I’m sure you’ll rise to the challenge. Then I can read about it and be inspired to follow in your footsteps!

    1. I really appreciate the encouragement. That’s one of the things I’ve really enjoyed in my minimalism journey, it’s not about anybody but me. I’m the one that has to go through the struggles, but I’m also the one who gets to experience all the rewards. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!

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