A new school year often brings a new place of residence. No matter if the move is to a dorm room, apartment or house, it is the perfect opportunity to get rid of clutter that has been piling up for years. The recent trend in organization has had hoarders everywhere questioning whether they really need that ceramic elephant collecting dust on the bookshelf or the bathing suit that hasn’t been worn in 10 years. Whether the student is a freshman or an upperclassman, college is undoubtedly one of the most crucial times to employ a minimalist attitude.
1. Don’t need it? Don’t keep it. First, question the need for all belongings. This goes for clothes, decorations, furniture and so on. If the items are used all the time, then they, of course, should be kept. If not, out they go.
The trick with this is to be as brutal as possible. The hardest is eliminating sentimental stuff. If something has a specific memory attached to it, hold on to the positive thoughts while disposing of the object. Memories and relationships are not tied to material goods, but it is hard to realize that until unnecessary things are purged. Ultimately, fewer possessions will help clear mental space.
2. Think about the psychology. Psychologists have studied the effects of minimalism on everyday life. It is theorized that a desire to hoard is something that has been passed down through evolution. Animals that hoarded food may at one time have had a survival advantage. By collecting more food than necessary, those animals could ensure they would have enough to sustain them in the long run. This tactic to hoard to survive, however, clearly is not necessary anymore. Now, scientists suggest that our desire to hold onto little and meaningless items may even be a symptom of anxiety, distress and loss.
Psychologist Jim Stone wrote in Psychology Today that “Perhaps minimalism isn’t about minimizing the amount of stuff we own. Maybe at its core it’s more about maximizing the amount of time, attention and energy we have available for the most important things in our lives.” Minimalism is a positive means of reducing dependence on material possessions and focusing energies on relationships with others. This will funnel into trying exciting new things and not feeling tied down.
3. Tidy Up. Another way to practice minimalism is to simply tidy up. When organizing a room or apartment, apply the rule of five. This rule states that every scheduled cleaning, five personal possessions must be thrown out. This can be something as small as a pair of shoes or as big as a rug or piece of furniture that you simply don’t need. This is a method that doesn’t seem as extreme as purging all belongings. It slowly eliminates clutter, and if cleaning days are regularly scheduled, it won’t take long to really reduce the number of unnecessary items in a very visible way.
4. When decorating, do so sparingly. Covering every possible surface and inch of your wall with pictures, trinkets and banners isn’t the only way to convey taste and create a unique space. Instead, try to limit decor to just one or two photos.
Every USC student in Los Angeles is subjected to intense advertising, making it hard to resist a materialistic outlook on life in such a wealthy city. Adopting a minimalist lifestyle, however, combats this temptation. By organizing spaces and cutting down unneeded items, everyone can focus on future successes, by starting with the little things.