Some things to do instead.
It’s sunny later and later these days, as we crawl our way slowly towards summer and late-afternoon rosé and chips and salsa as dinner. Maybe you’ve worn every sweater you own at least five times and hate it; maybe you are itching to sweep out the corners. It’s time for spring cleaning. Perhaps you’ve been considering embracing minimalism as a lifestyle, inspired by an hour-long Instagram deep dive and fever dreams of green plants against stark white walls.
The Financial Diet asks you to consider six basic minimalism principles, perfect for anyone that “hates minimalism.” Because I hate minimalism but also hate the piles of non-valuable stuff I have cluttered on every available surface, I clicked.
Aside from the last two tips, which are exhortations to “meditate” and “plan your day more thoughtfully,” the rest of the tips are simple spring cleaning reminders, wrapped in minimalism’s stark white coat.
Nicole and I talked these tips over before coming to the shared realization that they are essentially a reminder to occasionally go through the piles in your house and throw some stuff away, mixed with some good old common sense. Of course you should “evaluate how and why you buy things ahead of time,” as per the first tip. Trouble is, that’s not “minimalism,” it’s just thinking about what you’re about to purchase and then figuring out whether or not you want it right then and now — this clings to the minimalist thinking that everything you own should have a purpose, but that strips away half the fun of life.
The rest of the tips are about living your life waste-free, going through your closet and then also getting rid of your books. If you squint and look at these for long enough, it’s just a neat way of packaging stuff you probably do anyway.
If your closet is full of shirts and things with unidentifiable stains that won’t come out, dispose of them in your preferred method and buy some new shirts. If you’re concerned about waste, please peer into the dark recesses of your refrigerator and throw out that bag of grapes that is turning into raisins. Also, maybe don’t buy grapes if you don’t really like them. Going away on vacation? Eat all the stuff in your fridge so that you don’t have to find the raisin-grapes when you get back.
If your books or your records or your collection of dashboard hula girls and commemorative snow globes makes you happy, you don’t have to get rid of them. Give some away or don’t. Barricade yourself in a fortress made of your old college notebooks and books you haven’t read, but will one day. Do you like what you’re surrounded by? Are you happy? Will you feel nice if you look around at all your stuff, really revel in it, and then go make a cup of tea?
You don’t need minimalism; you might need to clean your house and see what’s in the under-bed storage, instead.
These ‘Minimalism Principles’ Are Actually Just Tips for Spring Cleaning was originally published in The Billfold on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.