The Joy of Less

These are some notes from the book: The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay.

Part 1: Philosophy

1. See your stuff for what it is

Items can be divided in 3 categories:

  1. Useful stuff: Practical, needed.
  2. Beautiful stuff: Add value to your life.
  3. Emotional stuff: Memory emotional attachment.

Walk around your house and for each item you see, ask yourself: Do I use it? Would I replace it if it gets lost or broken?

2. You are not what you own

There is another sub-category:

  • Aspirational stuff: Things we buy to impress others.

We need to clear out the clutter to get the time, energy, and space to realize our true selves, and our full potential.

3. Less stuff = Less stress

If you get rid of 50% of your stuff, you’ll get 50% less cleaning, maintenance, and repair.

4. Less stuff = More freedom

Things can be anchors, they can get in the way of success.

In order to free ourselves mentally, we must shake off the stuff completely.

When we are no longer chained to our stuff, we can enjoy life, connect with others, and we are more open to experiences.

5. Become detached from your stuff

Imagine you have to move overseas, what things would you take with you?

Our stuff isn’t all that important. We can weaken the power it has over us, and be ready to let it go.

6. Be a good gatekeeper

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

Things come into our homes in one of two ways:

  1. We buy them.
  2. They are given to us.

Before purchasing anything, think:

  1. Do you deserve a place in my home?
  2. What value will you add?
  3. Will you make my life easier?

All we have to do is stop and think: Why?.

In order to be a good gatekeeper, you have to think of your house as a sacred place, not storage space.

7. Embrace space

Music is the space between the notes.

The more space we have, the more beautifully and harmoniously we can live.

The problem is that we put more value on our stuff than on our space.

The amount of stuff we are able to own is limited by the amount of space we have to contain it.

8. Enjoy without owning

It’s way easier to enjoy things without owning them, because you don’t have to maintain them. Examples: gyms, spas, tennis courts, etc.

9. The joy of enough

He who knows he has enough is rich.

Part 2: Streamline

  • Start over
  • Trash, Treasure, or Transfer
  • Reason for each item
  • Everything in its place
  • All surfaces clear
  • Modules
  • Limits
  • If one comes in, one goes out
  • Narrow it down
  • Every day maintaining

11. Start over

Pick a space (could be as big as a room, as small as a drawer, or anything in between) and completely empty it. Take it all out.

Decluttering is infinitely easier when you think of it as what to keep instead of what to throw away.

We’ll decide which objects enhance our lives and put only those things back into our space.

12. Trash, Treasure, or Transfer

We are going to separate our things into 3 piles/categories:

  • Trash → Things to throw away immediately.
  • Treasure → Things we want to keep.
  • Transfer → Good items that are no longer good for you. We’ll sell or donate these things.

13. Reason for each item

Stop and question each item on the Treasure pile.

Remove the duplicates.

Ask for each item:

  • What is the item used for?
  • How often do you use it?
  • Have you used it in the past year?
  • Would you take it with you if you were moving?
  • What is more valuable to you, the item or the space it occupies?

14. Everything in its place

Each item should have a designated place.

We can set a system for placing things:

  • Inner Circle (within arms reach): Place frequently used items here.
  • Outer Circle: Place things used less than once a week, but more than once a year here.
  • Deep Storage (Basements, Attics, Garages): Place things used only once a year here.

15. All Surfaces Clear

Horizontal surfaces are a magnet for clutter.

If we don’t have clear surfaces, we don’t have space to do anything.

16. Modules

A module is a set of related items that perform a particular task.

  • Gather like-items together.
  • Save only your favorites.
  • Store them in a container together (modules).

17. Limits

Apply limits for your stuff. Examples:

  • Limit the amount of books you own, to the ones that fit in your library. Only save your favorites.
  • Limit your plates, cups, utensils to the size of your family.

18. If one comes in, one goes out

Every time a new item comes into your house, a similar item must leave.

19. Narrow it down

You must determine your own list of must-haves and then narrow your stuff down to it.

20. Everyday maintenance

Keep decluttering. This is just the beginning. Your minimalist powers will grow stronger with time.

Part 3: Room by Room

Time to put our decluttering skills to work. Let the minimalist make over begin.

This part explains chapter by chapter how to declutter each room (Living, Bedroom, Kitchen, Attic, Bathroom, etc). Read it if you need guidance.

Part 4: Lifestyle

Let’s take our minimalist takeover beyond our four walls. We’ll declutter our schedules and learn techniques to reclaim our time.

29. Streamline your schedule

  • Say “No”: ”I’m sorry but I just can’t do it at this time”.
  • Eliminate the excess: Start over by examining how you spend your time. Dump everything in a piece of paper. Scratch out the nonessentials. Build your ideal days.
  • Prioritize: When we set priorities we take control of our time. Rank your priorities.
  • Consolidate: By consolidating like-tasks together, we can manage our time, and our to-do lists much more efficiently.
  • Standardize: Set up standardized systems that you can complete with minimum fuss and maximum efficiency.
  • Delegate
  • Embrace “good enough”: In 99% of the stuff that we do, perfection is superfluous. Accept “good enough” for your work and the work you delegate.
  • Reduce expectations: Reducing what we expect from ourselves and others takes a tremendous amount of pressure of our minds, our schedules, and our bank accounts.
  • Set limits: Set limits to the number of activities in which you are involved.
  • Just be

30. The Greater Good

  • Become a minsumer: Minimizing our consumption to only what meet our needs.
  • Consider the lifetime: We want the stuff that we buy to last for a long time.

The Joy of Less |
Tags: books
Share: Twitter LinkedIn