Becoming A Minimalist
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 11:37AM
MS Simplicity in Organizing

Hi, my name is Melissa and I am a mom of three and a wife of one and we have clutter. I now only have one child left at home so the clutter has decreased greatly. While my kids were never messy, we just always had a lot of stuff. Having a kid comes with stuff. There are birthday parties. There are holidays. Society says on these occasions to buy your kid more stuff. So having celebrated 59 birthdays (the age of my children added up) you can imagine we have accumulated some stuff.


But I am happy to report that you do not need to live like that. You can start to say no to consumerism and keeping up with the Jones's. Will there be an overnight answer to living with less? No. But I am all about gathering information and coming to an informed decision as to what works for me and for you.


The more I work with clients I am convinced that I am working with tired people. They are not lazy, they are simply tired. They do their best. They want to live with less but they just don't know how. Often it is a voice that is stuck in their head telling them that the secret to happiness is to have more stuff. But when I dig a little deeper by asking important questions I usually find out there is some mental clutter from years ago they are still carrying with them.


When I ask the client with a huge board game collection that is out of control and needs organizing why she has so many. At first she doesn't know why and then I probe a little deeper. Suddenly she is crying as she talks about playing Monopoly as a child with her dad who has passed away. Or the client with enough wrapping paper to wrap presents for the rest of her life. We discover that she never received many gifts as a child and so when she gives ones she wants to make sure that they are beautifully wrapped.


One place that I look to for my inspiration is with The Minimalists. These are two guys who are spreading the word of living with less. I have heard them speak on two occasions and have watched their documentary. When I am with them my wheels start turning in my head. They ask provocative questions about our possessions and really leave us with a lasting message of living a meaningful life with less stuff.


I have written posts about some of my favorite bits of advice from them like the 20/20 rule. The rule is simple: if you can replace something for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes you can get rid of it. This goal with this rule is to really focus on what you actually use. It is fun to walk around your house with the 20/20 rule in your head. And believe me your will have some funny conversations in your head about what you can get for $20 in less than 20 minutes from your home. Please keep your spouse!

Another favorite of mine is the 90/90 rule. Another seemingly simple rule that gets my mind working. If you have not used an item in the last 90 days and you are not planning on using it in the next 90 days, get rid of it! Like my prom dress with the big bow on the butt. Like I am ever going to wear that in the next 90 days! Adult prom is not my thing, ever!

Right here these two powerful rules will generate some serious purging.





To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

MS. Simplicity



Melissa is a Productivity Consultant and author living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 



Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon

Article originally appeared on Melissa Schmalenberger, Professional Organizer, Fargo, North Dakota (
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