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Defining the differences between decluttering and minimalism

clutter kitchen

Decluttering or minimalism

In a blog post I read recently, the author breaks down the difference between “decluttering” and “minimalism.”

For many, the difference isn’t highly apparent, nor does it really matter but it is good to point out the differences.

Living a minimalist or minimalism lifestyle is the concept of ‘living with less,’ and being happy with that. For many, especially in the US, minimalism seems counterintuitive to our consumer-driven economy where stores and companies are making it easier each day to buy new stuff, regardless of whether you need it or not. However, before one can achieve this lifestyle of less, most have to declutter. But what exactly does that mean?

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Essentially, decluttering is an action, while minimalism is a lifestyle.

The author of the blog explains how decluttering is usually the first step to minimalism. To live contently with less, you must first get rid of the excess; The clutter. However, each person’s reason for wishing to declutter and possibly move even further and live a minimalist lifestyle are all different. Shifts in perspectives help. That perspective shift can be due to a variety of reasons- moving, getting married or simply realizing you no longer need some of the things you own.

The continuation of living with less, after cleaning out one or more aspects of your life is true minimalism.

From a personal standpoint, as someone who has both decluttered for myself and family members for all of the reasons sited above, moving from decluttering to living a minimalist lifestyle is not a seamless transition.

It is in our nature that once we remove things we no longer need, that we acquire new things we think we need, again, whether that is true or not.

Despite selling 90% of my belongings before making a huge life transition to a digital nomad, and thinking I had achieved minimalism, as soon as I become settled once again, old habits came back. I began buying only the things I absolutely needed, like a bed and proper clothes, but then I started buying stuff I really had no need for, but just wanted.

Moral of the story?

Decluttering for most of us is a sporadic event where we throw stuff out, like spring cleaning. We may do it every spring or fall or whenever and it may just be our closet or some other aspect of our life.

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For others, it is getting rid of everything they do not absolutely need to live.

But the difference between just decluttering every so often, regardless of how much and being a true minimalist is being able to maintain keeping only that which you absolutely need.

Pam Garner is a Staff Writer for The American Genius with a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas, currently pursuing her master's degree in graphic and web design. Pam is a multi-disciplined creative who hopes to one day actually finish her book on all of her crazy adventures.

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