I come back to Greg McKeown's book Essentialism every time I feel myself getting cluttered and off track because of the busyness of life. It helps me come back to focusing on what I most want to do and achieve in this period in my life.
It also helps guide the evolution of my style at home. I've always been a simplifier, but I'm not a minimalist - I like the comforts of collections, tactile rugs and pillows, books, and flowers and plants too much to join the minimalist camp. Read more about why minimalism isn't for me here.
I call my style Essentialism.
Essentialism is the art of discerning between external noise and internal voice.
At home, this means that I surround myself only with those things that help me be who I truly am and want to be. For me, that's committing to a healthy lifestyle, expressing creativity, and spreading peaceful happiness to others as my way of contributing to the world. To be successful in these things, it's helpful to be in a home that encourages mindfulness, serenity, cooking, meditating, reading, writing, and entertaining clients and friends. And so all of the stuff that I've accumulated over the years that doesn't lend to these things has gone to the donation centre. I keep things comfortably edited to only the artwork that makes me smile, the lamps and comfy chairs that beckon me to curl up and read at night, the kitchen tools and shelving that make it easier for me to cook a healthy supper instead of eating out. I arrange my office for the best possible flow of work - both a sitting and standing desk and room to spread out my colour chips and fabric samples. I set up my entryway so that everything is easy for me to get out the door and start the day on a positive note. These are the essential things that keep me focused on being my best self. Making them work beautifully in my home is the secondary task.
To create an essentialist home that will help you live an essentialist life, you need to design it with your essential lifestyle in mind. You need to figure out the things you need help with - perhaps it's exercising regularly, socializing & entertaining more, or leaving work behind and unwinding with family. Then set your home up so that you can more easily do these things. Design your home for function, then layer in comforts and beauty, but be careful not to add so much that it distracts you from your essential purpose and goals.
As McKeown says “Our whole society has become consumed by the undisciplined pursuit of more. The only way to overcome this problem is to change the way we think—adopt the mindset of only doing the things that are essential—and do it now.”
A few practical things to get you started:
1. Get rid of any clutter laying around where it doesn't belong. Everything should have a home, where you know where to find it. If it doesn't have a home, maybe you don't really need it.
2. Is there space in your home? On your walls? Don't fill up every single space. Allow room for flow. It will ease your mind and allow more room there as well.
3. Organize your rooms for how you use them. Put all the baking supplies together. Create a convenient smoothie station. Designate specific spots at your entry for keys, shoes, and coats. Turn the unused bedroom into a writing room or yoga room or photography space. Hang a valet hook in the bedroom to hang out your workout wear.
4. Edit, edit and edit some more. I'm always taking things away from vignettes on shelves or groupings on the wall. Standing back and looking at it with an essentialist perspective using means editing things down a little.
For more ways to create an essentialist home, see these posts:
I'd love to hear your thoughts on creating an essentialist home. Would (or does) this work for you? Are you more of a minimalist? Or perhaps err towards more clutter?