One less thing: Packed bags

I only noticed it tonight… My evening consisted of hanging out with my kids and doing dishes, even though we had a major outing today. Why was it so simple?

The answer: I had automatically unpacked all my bags within 10 minutes of walking through the front door. I didn’t even register doing it (Ok, I admit I wasn’t being present!) but the chore had become an automatic “System Reset” routine.

I emptied the dirty dishes into the kitchen, kids clothes in the wash, hung up my wet swimsuit to dry, set aside receipts, put away my sweater and scarf, and hung up my bag in its place. The things to go upstairs, I put at the bottom of the stairs for my next trip.

It boils down to: Emptying your bags when you get home will bring peace and simplicity to your day. There will be no more rotting food or mouldy wet clothes, fewer lost papers, less “I can’t find it!” moments, and no headaches of digging through a bag for something you need RIGHT NOW.

Here’s your fieldwork: Immediately after entering your place of residence, empty your pockets, your bag, the kids’ stuff, your backpack, whatever. Put everything away (within reason, if you’re going out again, you know what I mean). It’ll only take a couple minutes, I promise. Do it every time and it’ll become a habit.

One more thing

I’ll bet you’re wondering if I got the title wrong… usually minimalists write about one less thing. But this week I added something to my possessions: A coffee maker.

For the last seven years I have resisted buying one. I have tried all the instant coffee brands, going without, buying at work, filtering with a piece of cotton and a funnel, and using a travel cup with a plunger. None gave satisfaction.

Therefore I bought myself a double-walled, stainless steel, 8-cup french press. It makes gorgeous coffee. I’m unlikely to break it with my clumsiness or world travels. I can take it camping. I’m very happy with my purchase.

Does this signal the end of stylish minimalism? Not at all. Is the joy of freshly brewed coffee at home worth owning another possession for me? Yep.

Minimalism is a means, not an end. Clearing out the excess leaves a huge amount of space for the good stuff, the living we really want to do. Sometimes that means buying a coffee maker. Hardcore minimalists might drink their coffee with the grounds still in the cup but what’s the point of that if you choke on every sip?

What this means for seekers of peace and joy

The point is to not stress out about getting rid of everything you own or do, and to not be afraid to add new things. If learning how to paint was always your unrealised passion, go ahead and buy the paints and brushes… and still call yourself a minimalist! Mind you, this isn’t an excuse to go shopping or buy on a whim. If you’re not sure you really want it, don’t get it. And if you decide to go for it, do your research! Don’t be afraid to take your time… took me seven years for a coffee maker.

Declutter what makes sense for you. And if something makes you smile every time you use or look at it or participate in it, declutter around it to give it the room it deserves. Clear your schedule to make the time. I made room in my cupboard for my new coffee maker, so it’s not clutter on my kitchen counters.

What do you want to showcase in your life? What’s getting in the way? Is there something you’ve been wishing to add in?