5 Rules that Minimalism Books Tell Me is a Good Idea that I Ignore

living room set - mid century green fireplace

If you’ve been here a while, you know I’ve read a lot of minimalism books. Although there are some differences from book to book, let’s be honest, the same tips come up a lot.

I’m not a minimalist, so that’s one of the reasons why I don’t follow these tips/rules. The another big reason is that I’m lazy and don’t feel like taking any amount of time to do anything that may improve my life in the long run.

1. Making my Bed

This tip doesn’t show up in every book. But the idea of making your bed first thing in the morning is very common. From an aesthetic standpoint, a room with a made bed looks way nicer than not.

I’m sure there are some sort of psychological benefits linked to making your bed every day. But I’ve never been the type of person to make my bed (much to my mom’s chagrin), and my fiancé doesn’t seem to care. We also have different blanket requirements so not making the bed means our blankets stay in the right spots everyday.

I’ve been caught a couple times, where a service person from my landlord has had to go into our room to check something and that’s mildly embarrassing. But let me tell you a little secret as someone that’s been in hundreds of peoples homes as part of my job. Short of a biohazard, like dog poop on the ground, I legitimately don’t care what your house looks like and will forget it by the time I leave. So keep that in mind the next time you do or don’t make your bed.

black and beige book on white bed sheet
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2. Unsubscribing from Mailing Lists

I see why this tip is a good idea. You can’t shop the sales that you don’t know about.

I have a bit of a habit of joining mailing lists because I want that welcome discount but I don’t always unsub afterwards. For the most part, I will unsubscribe when the next e-mail comes in, but it’s not perfect and there are a few brands because I want I know when their next sale is. Or because they offer cute phone backgrounds every month (I’m looking at you Simplified). One way I’ve tried to reduce this is by just googling if there are any promo codes. I’ve also had some luck with Honey, but it rarely works with smaller brands.

Then number of mailing lists I’m on pales in comparison to the number of brands I follow on Instagram. I follow so many small businesses. I think if you are going to buy something, supporting a small business is the way to go. But also I get tempted a lot. An e-mail I can delete without looking, a post or a story is a lot harder to ignore. It’s also not even brands that I follow, the Instagram algorithm has me pretty well figured out and the ads work. I’ve made a fair number of purchases based on seeing the Instagram ad enough times.

macbook pro on brown wooden table
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3. Making Lists/Waiting to Make Purchases

This one builds off my previous point. I have fairly bad impulse control when it comes to online purchases. That’s part of the reason I started the Inbound vs Outbound series so I can keep an eye on what I’m buying and look for trends or whatever.

So many of the books I’ve read recommend makings lists or just waiting to buy something. Like in The Year of Less, Cait Flanders made a list of things that were acceptable to purchase at the start of the year and stuck with it. I literally could never.

I think the only list I respect is for my groceries and I go rogue in that department as well. This happens less when I’m shopping with someone. Ironically, I’m pretty good at talking my friends out of purchases when I’m out shopping with them (if they ask me to). For the most part, I can go to the mall and leave empty handed. A craft show or a small business that is having a sale, that’s a whole different story.

Most of my online shopping habits could be solved if I changed my PayPal password. But I don’t, and that is one of the many reasons I’m not a minimalist.

notebook
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4. The One In/ One Out Rule

Again, if you read my Inbound vs Outbound series you will know that I don’t follow the One In/One Out rule. I also generally don’t think it’s that good of a rule.

There are times in your life when you need to bring in things into your life, and I don’t think you need to force yourself to part with something at as result. An example is buying a bike and bike accessories. Unless you already have an old bike and this is an upgrade, I don’t really see how the rule can apply. Why get rid of stuff you use, just because you got something new.

I think ownership of stuff goes in seasons, or waves or something else equally cheesy. There are time when you will bring in more, and times when you are getting rid of more. Like at the end of a season or prepping for a move.

I can see how the one in/one out might be helpful for someone trying to get a hold of their shopping habits, but I also think there are better rules out there. (like list or waiting periods, ironic I know)

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5. The Two Minute Rule

This is one rule I probably should do. I’ve tried it in the past and it’s pretty helpfully. The idea is if a task (ex: putting something away) can be done in two minutes or less. It should be done immediately.

The idea is pretty solid. And that’s why I’m bad at it. I’m a die hard procrastinator, so my brain has a hard time wanting to do The Thing, even it is pretty easy and will ultimately help me. Like my To-Do lists are filled with tasks that would take 2-15 mins to do, and I let them fester for months!!!

One example is the cabin filter of my car. I took my car into service, I think, September of 2021. They mentioned my cabin filter needs to be replaced for like $50-$60.

I did what any reasonable person would do. And called my dad asking for his advice, since he knows more about cars than me. He said that cabin filters are easy to replace and that he’s pretty confident I can do that one myself.

So I declined the service, ordered a filter online. And…..

Did nothing for 3 months. It became a joke amongst my friends. They would see the filter on the table and joke about how I still didn’t do it. (Why was it sitting on the table? idk)

It wasn’t until January 2022, when my partner and a friend of ours were doing a new years resolution goal setting, where I put replacing the filter down. My friend asked were the filter was, and to grab it.

The three of us when down to my car and guess how long it took to replace the fucking filter? 20 mins tops and that includes looking up youtube tutorials and just generally cleaning out my car (thanks for helping guys!).

I waited, and was going to continue wait months to do a task that took less to do time than a Simpson’s episode. Why? Cause I was lazy and didn’t want to go to my parking garage and do it.

All of this to say, I approve of the 2 minute rule even if I don’t live it. The little moments it takes to put something away, rise something, fold something, toss something out etc… All build up and can reduce the likelihood of your friends making fun of you when they visit.

yellow mini cooper parked beside white concrete building
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That’s pretty much it for now. I probably could add more. The odds are, if it’s recommended by the Minimalists I probably don’t do it. I eventually want to write a post about the things that I do do (haha dodo). But I still need some time with that one.

Are there any rules or general life advice that you ignore? I would love to hear about it.

Backsliding and Some Thoughts about my History with Stuff

stock woman on rock platform viewing city

Although I do not consider myself a Minimalist (if I had to label myself I would say I’m a critic of the movement given how many books on the subject I shittalk). I do agree with the general idea that people in first world countries own too much crap. And owning the right amount of crap might have some positive knock-on effects to other parts of life.  

In the past 3-ish years I’ve been working really hard to stop buying extra stuff. There’s few of the reasons I fell into the trap of overconsumption and I just wanted shared them with you. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience.

Lifestyle creep: 

When I started my first real person job, I had only few work appropriate clothes collected from various summer office jobs. Not really enough to keep me going in a full time professional environment.  

I also was earning, like, 3 times what I was making at my part-time job. So the money might have gone a bit to my head and I spent a fair amount of cheddar on clothing and general lifestyle stuff.  

stock image of professional woman giving a presentation
Photo by The Coach Space on Pexels.com

Pretty much all the crap the finance books warn you about. For the first year and a half of my professional career I was a walking money-unconscious millennial stereotype. Lattes, avocados, ordering mixed drinks at restaurants, take out for lunch. The only spot I think I broke from the archetype your boomer parents are always complaining about is that I didn’t have credit card debt. #flex 

Although I didn’t have any debt, yet, the lifestyle was more expensive than it should be. I did notice this trend when I tried my hand at budgeting and have since taken more steps to be less wasteful with my spending. Also wasteful lifestyle wise as well. Hard to say I care about the environment but also buy from H&M

PayPal 

There are definitely some impulse purchases that would not be in my life if I didn’t have a PayPal account. It’s just too easy to complete the purchase. Which I know is the whole point of the service…  

PayPal knows the devices I’ve ordered from before so it will automatically log me in. So the friction between me seeing something stupid online and ordering it and basically zero. That might explain such purchases as: a few pairs of shoes I ordered while walking to the bus, a pack of holographic dickbutt stickers I ordered before bed, and an electric spinning wheel I saw on my Instagram feed…  

Stickers on Ipad cover featuering a holographic dick butt
Why did I order 50 of these?

Sidebar: don’t get me started on how much crap I’ve bought just cause I kept getting Instagram ads for it. Not proud of that.  

Adulting 

I don’t think the word adulting is still cool to say. But it was another way I ended up buying stuff. Once I moved out of my parents after university there were some things that I needed. And a lot of things I thought I needed but realistically was just wanted. Like did I need mixology set? Probably not, but it was the start of the the pandemic and I needed something to keep me busy.  

Writing all of this out is making me super aware of how basic I sound. Which, like I am, but… that’s not the point of this post.

Why did I decide to get my shit together? 

I feel like all the stories I read online or in books, have a very dramatic breaking point: either credit card debt, strained relationships with family, an epiphany after a health scare for example. My reasons were extremely underwhelming in comparison.

I knew I would eventually have to move out of the basement apartment which I had really cheap rent on. I needed to stop buying stuff and get rid of some of it because I was either going to move into a microscopic studio apartment or with a roommate. While paying double in rent than the space I currently had.  

So to make sure I could realistically live in whatever the space I was moving into I knew I needed to downsize.  

stock image cardboard boxes on living room
Photo by Mister Mister on Pexels.com

If memory serves me right, I did have a passing interest in minimalism at this point. I read half of Marie Kondo in university, years prior (my friends and I had a good giggle at the part about folding socks and I pretty much gave up right after). I also listened to The Minimalist podcast and hated it. And read Joshua Becker’s book The Minimalism Home (review here).  

My most effective way I decluttered was surprisingly through the minimalism game  (Day 1, one item, Day 2 two items, … Day 31, thirty one items). Despite me just saying I hated the Minimalists. 

I didn’t play it the whole way through but I think I got to day 25. Which was still a good amount of things.  

I actually filmed all of it at the time. If I have any of the footage still I might make a video of it.  

flatlay of the decluttered items in the minimalism game
Archive photo of Day 21 of the Minimalism Game back in 2019

So I do the move, and it’s overall okay (this isn’t the move feature in this post, but the one the year before it). I’m sure my old roommate could point out (rightfully) that my stuff did take more than my share of the common space, such as kitchen or washroom cabinets.  

So my downsizing efforts weren’t perfect. No one was going to feature a picture of my room or apartment in their Pinterest boards. Unless they want their boards to be filled with bedrooms that have unpacked boxes of yarn.  

While living there, I started this Blog, and began tracking the stuff that was going in and out of my life. Sorta as a way to keep myself accountable to not buy weird crap, but also just to see if the crap I did buy was something I kept in the long run. 

Sidebar #2: Just checked the posts for last year and most of the stuff I brought in I still have, minus some plants that died).  

Plants on Bookshelf

In the months leading to my most recent move, I got back into deep declutter mode. Since I didn’t want to waste time and energy moving stuff that doesn’t Spark Joy

Right before that move was probably the point I had the least amount of things since moving out of my parents as an adult. Although, based on the feedback of my friends that helped me move, it was still a lot of stuff.  

Uhaul truck on moving day
From my most recent move

So where are we now?

If you’ve been paying attention to the blog (thanks by the way), you might have noticed that the past few months a lot of things have been coming in and not a lot going out. Which isn’t necessary a bad thing…  

Except I’m feeling the pull of some old habits resurface. Particularly the past few weeks with the week Black Friday and Boxing Day sales. I’m made a few purchases which were not as carefully thought-out as I would like in a perfect world. Examples being two plants from a local seller, and pots that I’ve seen on Instagram a million times.  

There were moments here and there were I did a bit better, like One of a Kind Show, which is a really large vendor sale of Canadian artists. Supporting locally made is something I value, and I’ve gone pretty friggin’ hard in the past.  

It’s been two years since I’ve been, I was excited to go, yet worried about over spending. I think I was pretty good. Mostly due to my partner rolling his eyes and making fun of me for having this blog while also wanting all of the things. I did end up getting a few items: a shirt, a sweater, some presents for my parents and a craft kit. Some people may find that was a lot but, again, better than previous years.  

me screaming in a forest
Me in said sweater yelling in the woods

After this I bought some pots I saw on instagram/online that I decided to order.  

That was definitely a willpower issues. Did I need pots? Not really… Especially since I regret the purchase as the colours on the website are not close to the actuals.  

Chive planter in peacock blue

This time of year is kinda tough if you are trying to not buy things. The darkness gets to your bones. You lowkey feel like an animals trying to scavenge all the things you need to survive hibernation and it’s all on sale!  

It can be helpful if there’s stuff that have been on a list and you’re looking for a deal. But trying to not let that snowball into somethings larger, is really hard. Which is were I’m at. I’ve ordered a bunch of stuff online and for a short while I forgot what I ordered and when stuff that was arriving in the mail. So every day was a little surprise. Yay consumerism.  

But what would I have done differently?

The main one is listening to my partner when he was trying to talk me out of these purchases. He knows I’m trying to curb my spending. I would just look at him, giggle and hit the PayPal ‘buy now’ button.  

That’s probably why a lot of decluttering books mention having a accountability partner. Until you’ve fully ~shifted your mindset~ toward minimalism or whatever, it’s hard to not want to follow old, yet wasteful patterns. So having someone that you can mention wanting something and hear them telling you ‘NO’ can be powerful. As well as someone to discuss the feelings and just getting a dialog going can remind you why you want less stuff. 

stock photo of women talking to each other
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

 Another tried and true things all the books mention is having a goal. I didn’t and I think I let that lost feeling manifested in weird ways. I don’t know if I’m fully over it now. But I’m high on that New Year’s Resolution good good and been able to go *checks calendar* 8 days without buying any crap.

Hopefully I will be able to keep up that energy throughout the year. This year, I have some savings goals, as well some environmental impact goals that I’m trying to keep top of mind as we continue into 2022.   

That pretty much it. This post ended up being a lot longer than expected. I mostly just wanted to write about feeling silly for buying so much crap through PayPal and how it made me feel like I was in my early twenties again and it just when from there. I would love to hear from you. What there something dumb you bought because of Instagram? Or because there was a Black Friday sale? I would love to hear about it.  

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BOOK REVIEW: New Minimalism by Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici

New Minimalism is written by Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici. It was published in 2018, after their blog and consulting service of the same name grew in popularity.

This book’s angle in the minimalism landscape is to include a sustainable lens for how to declutter.

The majority of the book explains the standard why minimalism is good for you and how to declutter your house. Their method is sorta similar to the KonMarie method by Marie Kondo: bring all similar items from a categories together and sort from there.

The differences are the categories, particularly the clothes and home décor sections. The first step should be to pick your 5 favorited items that you definitely want to keep. This will help you visualize your personal style and guide you through your maybes. Which I think is a good idea, particularly when it’s your first round of full house decluttering.

They mentioned the four archetypes of people that are starting their minimalism journey and which categories will be hardest for them. I think this section could have been fleshed out more. They mentioned their experience with their clients and I would have liked to hear more about that. Also the timeline of the whole thing.  

The archetypes are as follows:

  • Connected: They wants to keep things from loved ones and are very sentimental about their items.
  • Practical: They want to keep stuff because it might be useful one day.
  • Energetic : They take on a lot of projects and hobbies. Then they don’t want to get rid of any of it, even though it’s unlikely they will complete it.
  • Frugal: Keep items because of the money they spend on it. Or the idea the item may increase in value.
Image Source: New Minimalism

There’s actual mentions of therapy! It was a one off sentence in an anecdote. But I appreciate that they mentioned a client being in therapy helped them figure out why they held on to certain items.

So many books, including this book in previous chapters, mention a client just “eventually coming to the realization” on something massive. I guess it can happen that way, but I think that those types of stories really gloss over the work a individual has to do to get to that point. They just seem to think minimalism will solved everything in a dudes life.

I wish they had gone deeper on that or clients that didn’t do therapy but came to figured out their hurdles. Like more on though process to get there.

The last portion of the book was about interior design. They include 12 design tips/elements to incorporate into your final design when your done. I won’t go into them. But they made sense: use existing storage before buying more. Your drawers should be only filled to the point you can open and close them with one hand. Find a home for everything.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

I wished that this book had gone a bit deeper in the route of sustainability. They encouraged donating instead of throwing away and using more simple “natural” cleaning products. I don’t remember 2018 that well but I believe that we were more evolved in the eco and decluttering world by then. They mentioned very briefly donating to more specific originations than just your local Goodwill but don’t explained why (PS: The big places get too overwhelmed with donations and end up trashing most of it).

I did quickly look at their blog, and it seems like nothing has been published since they released the guided journal extension for this book in 2020. A few of the articles touched on items directly mentioned in this book.

Image Source New Minimalism

Overall, I just found this book under developed. I would just suggest taking 10 minutes looking through their blog posts and you will probably find all the important parts of this book.

Not to end on a bad note, the book had a lot of pictures of interior spaces, and I really liked them. There was colour, and nice, natural materials. Which is sometimes lacking when you think of minimalist décor. So that was nice to look at when you got to a end of a chapter.

You can find out were this book ranks on my minimalism book tier list.