Less is more: Decluttering can set you free (for free)

I went through a fair share of challenges prior to becoming a coach. From stressful life events such as frequently moving house (and country), to mental health struggles (anorexia, OCD, and anxiety). Every time, minimalism helped me through. Before you dismiss this as a wishful-thinking kind of oversimplification, allow me to explain why it worked for me, why I sometimes introduce it to my clients, and, more importantly, why it can work for you. 



First, let’s define minimalism. The dictionary refers to 1950s paintings, so that’s no help (unless you’re an artist, of course). In my mind, minimalism is not just a lack of unnecessary possessions, which is what it has come to be known in popular culture. I think minimalism goes further than that. It’s a mindset. On the one hand, that makes it difficult to embed, because it means you need to shift your thinking rather than just throw away a few pairs of old socks. On the other hand, it can mean long-term liberation.

What I mean when I say that minimalism is a mindset is that it refers not just to your possessions, but to your interactions with people and to the activities you fill your day with. Minimalism means deciding what you love and need, and giving those things or people your full focus.

Imagine a world in which most conversations you have with people are as deep and meaningful as the ones you occasionally have with your best friend over a glass of wine. Imagine that you never come back from a shop with more than you can afford. Imagine knowing exactly how many items of clothing you have and never wasting time deciding what to wear. Imagine having a clear inbox every day without staying up late replying to spam. Imagine knowing exactly what you want to do and then doing it every day. If that sounds good, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can have all of that. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve just asked you to imagine my daily life.

I usually introduce minimalism to clients when they ask for a session on time management. Although I use a series of exercises and approaches to guide clients towards planning their days and weeks, I often find that the problem isn’t a lack of organisation or discipline, but an abundance of things that (seem to) demand our attention at any one time.

The reason behind that is usually years’ worth of no-filter approaches to people, activities, and things. If you think that half the town are your friends, and that your hobbies include every sport you played when you were at school, and that networking means going to meetings on topics that are nothing to with your job or career goals...then it’s no surprise that, no matter how organised and efficient you are, overwhelm is your daily companion. There is a simple logic to it: if you complete fewer unnecessary actions, then you will get fewer unnecessary reactions (think emails).

Another juncture at which I might introduce minimalism to clients is when they bring up issues they are experiencing in their relationships. Minimalism leads to greater focus on the things that matter most at the expense of things that matter less. This often means more time with your partner, children, parents, and siblings built into your day so that it’s not ‘an effort’ to see them.

Being more focused and having more time also means you are less stressed and therefore less likely to snap at your loved ones or say things in the heat of the moment that you didn’t mean (something that I’ve struggled with). To put it in basic terms, minimalism can mean less arguments in your life.

Furthermore – and this might be the best part given that we are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis – adopting a minimalist lifestyle is entirely free of charge. In fact, I would be surprised if it doesn’t save you vast amounts of money. Most life-changing interventions require at least some financial investment, but minimalism can actually make you money.

If you remove every single item in your house that you have not used in the last 12 months, you can easily make some money selling things. Or you could give them to a charity shop, getting rid not only of the clutter, but also of the notion that you can’t give to charity unless you are well off.

Suddenly, things that usually took you vast amounts of time, things that you had to ‘schedule in’ start taking half the time. Think how much faster you could clean your house, pack, and get ready in the morning if you had less stuff. It takes me seven minutes to pack a suitcase to go on holiday. And I’m not a radical minimalist who only has two t-shirts. And sure, you could say a lot of that has something to do with the fact that I am organised and know where my things are. But so would you, if you had fewer things. It’s very difficult to lose things that you use all the time.

The most reliable way that minimalism can save you money though is across time. If you decide that you want to declutter, you probably won’t want to re-clutter. This will mean that you will change the amount of things that you buy, re-gift gifts that you don’t need (this is coming from a sentimental person), and encourage other people in your household not to undo your efforts. All of this will reduce your future spending. And think how much money you can save if you decide that you don’t actually need all of your subscriptions and memberships? Probably a lot. 

I wouldn’t be advocating for any of this if it hadn’t changed my life and led me out of some dark places. And you don’t even have to be in a dark place to change your life! If the above inspires you as much as it inspires me, then you are my perfect client. I offer free no-strings (or spam emails)- attached consultations, so feel free to reach out for an implementation call via my profile below. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, MK18
Written by Daria Ermolenko, BA, MSc
Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, MK18

I am a qualified life coach and positive psychology practitioner (MSc Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology, UEL). I love empowering clients to achieve their goals. I coach people in a wide variety of areas, helping them make sense of and move forward with their relationships, careers, and/or life changes.

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