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Less is liberating

The idea of paring down makes many people very, very nervous. I’m not talking only about the process of culling your things. I’m talking about what happens next: actually living in your streamlined home, with fewer possessions than you’re used to. Even people who are feeling overwhelmed by their things, who yearn for simpler spaces, worry about this, imagining cold, stark environments. They worry that they’ll miss their stuff.

But paring down doesn’t have to mean privation. It makes your life easier!

laundry in basket

This is true for a lot of reasons. But here is one example that I often use: If you limit the amount of clothing you own, laundry becomes much easier.

When you have fewer clothes, your laundry, clean or dirty, will stop piling up. That’s because it can’t pile up—if you don’t deal with it, you’ll have nothing to wear! Fortunately, dealing with it won’t be too daunting, since you’ll have manageable loads that don’t take a lot of time or effort to handle. Wouldn’t it be a relief to “limit” yourself this way and save countless hours on a task you don’t enjoy?

I talk about laundry a lot because so many people tell me how much they hate it. But there are many other benefits to reducing the size of your wardrobe. You’ll save money. You’ll have an easier time deciding what to wear. It’s much easier to retrieve your clothes when you need them, and to put them away.

What’s the right amount of clothes? There’s no set number, and for every person the answer is different. The point is that by carefully considering how much you really need—and perhaps pushing yourself to cut down a bit beyond your first impulse—you can reap a lot of benefits.

That’s because clothing, like all your stuff, costs you. People often focus on clutter, but the price of stuff also includes time, energy, and stress. Your stuff requires shopping and unloading; cleaning and maintenance; time spent moving it around when you want something else—just thinking about and dealing with it in general.

When you minimize your things, you minimize all of those activities too. You have fewer petty annoyances (for instance, the need to unstack a tower of pots to get to the one you really want) and fewer tasks you don’t enjoy (tackling mountains of laundry, or dusting a whole bunch of decorative objects).

Paring down helps you to be more organized, and it gives you more time and energy for the things you choose to keep, and the activities you want to pursue. Less is liberating!

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