"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19
I love the month of January each year. There is just something about that clock striking midnight on New Year's Eve that feels like a reset button has been activated. Everything feels so new, untainted, and like we've all been handed a brand-new start. So, now that we are several days into the month of January, the Christmas decorations are put away, and the dust of party and celebration aftermath has settled, what could be a more perfect time to begin the clearing out of what we no longer need, use, or want?
Though my family and I have released about 95% of our physical possessions, and our minimizing journey has been going on for a few years now, from time to time we feel the need to start at the beginning again and assess the things we currently own. Especially right after Christmas. It is amazing how much stuff can sneak back in and begin accumulating without our notice.
So, in this month of new beginnings here are a few things that I hope will prove to be helpful reminders and suggestions as you begin or continue your own minimizing/decluttering/organizing journey.
1. Imagine you are making a long-distance move in 2019. If you were moving everything you own from Florida to New York, and if everything you were taking had to fit into one moving truck, what would you categorize important enough to squeeze in? Now, even if you are not making that long-distance move, go get started, and de-clutter as if you were!
2. Approach the new year with new eyes. It is amazing how something I felt I couldn't live without just six months ago now seems less important or even insignificant to me. Sometimes, just letting something sit for a while, then revisiting it a few months later creates a whole new perspective. I find this is true when it comes to birthday and Christmas cards we receive. It seems inconsiderate and ungrateful to discard them immediately, but if we enjoy them and reread them for a few months, I feel more at peace in letting them go.
Children are continually outgrowing clothing, homeschool and art supplies, shoes, and toys. January is a great month to reassess their current needs and wants in light of Christmas gifts received and the things that currently fill up their space. What no longer fits? What do they no longer play with? Could other children benefit from the gently-used things they no longer need, use, or want?
3. Don't try to tackle it all at once. Break it down into one drawer, one closet, one cupboard, one shelf, one section at a time. Anything else becomes overwhelming and unmanageable. Doing it a little at a time makes it seem more achievable, boosts productivity, and being able to see the smallest amount of progress is inspiring and encouraging.
4. While decluttering, minimizing, and organizing, keep sets and like-minded items together. Having them all in one place really gives a visual of the number of that item in your possession and allows you to identify areas of over-abundance and excess. After every, single like-minded item is in one place, create three piles. Label them as "needs", "wants", and "keeping only because of guilt". Honestly evaluate and differentiate between the three. Keep the "needs" pile. Analyze the "wants" pile, keeping only what you really love and the things that make you smile. Get rid of the "keeping only because of guilt" pile—the sooner the better.
5. For storage of the things you decide to keep, use up every available permanent, pre-made space, especially what is hidden & out of sight. If there is already an empty drawer, closet, shelf, or cupboard in place, make good use of it. Instead of rushing out to buy the latest organizing tote, crate, rack, or gadget, ask yourself if there is an already-existent area of space in your home that could be used instead. It is already there, taking up a certain amount of space. Sometimes, adding another organizational assistant ends up just creating more clutter and taking up more space. Using what you already have is frugal, efficient, practical, and extremely gratifying.
6. The parts of our minimizing journey that have been the most gratifying and blessed us most are the times we have been able to give something that is still useful to someone else and know that it fulfilled one of their needs. As you sort through the things you plan to dispose of, mindfully and thoughtfully throw out the things you wouldn't consider good enough to purchase today at a thrift store. Chances are, if they aren't something you would want to purchase, they aren't something anyone else would want to receive. Then of those things that remain, give respectfully and freely. Not that we should give in hopes of return blessings, but the laws of giving and receiving are firmly established in God's Word.
Jesus said, "...freely ye have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8
"I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." Luke 6:38
"But whoso hath this world's good, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" I John 3:17
"He answered and said unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise." Luke 3:11
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." Joshua 1:8
God bless each of you dear readers on your minimizing journey, make your way prosperous, and give you good success in 2019!
Happy New Year!