A minimalist challenge
As a starting point on my journey to a more minimalist lifestyle I thought I would do Jessica Rose Williams' 7 Day Minimalist Challenge (check out her blogfor some great posts on minimalist living and capsule wardrobes). There is a challenge on each day to be completed but they're all bitesize which is perfect for someone who is a bit squeezed on free time with a baby in tow! I confess I didn't do these challenges on 7 days straight but even slightly more spread out it felt really beneficial.
There are a couple of things that have really struck me doing this challenge. The Moments app showed me that I was spending quite a lot of time on my phone which at first didn't bother me - I flick through a lot of emails, blog posts, Pinterest photos, Instagram photos, Vero photos and edit photos that I've taken on VSCO when I'm sat on the sofa cuddled up with my son during his naps. I also use it to stay awake in the middle of the night whilst I'm heating up his milk for the night feeds. Yet then I thought perhaps I didn't need to do this every time I found myself pinned down - maybe I could try reading a book instead or focusing on developing my photography. I ended up reading a book in 2 days flat as a result and absolutely loved every page of it. OK it helped that my son was ill and just wanted to sleep in my arms pretty much all day so I had a lot of time but it did show me that I could do things differently. It also resulted in me reading in the evening after dinner rather than watching TV.
The challenge of turning off all the notifications on my phone except for messages and calls really opened my eyes further. I instantly stopped using my phone as much. I checked my emails only once a day, I went on Instagram at the start of the day and then once in the evening, I've barely touched Pinterest unless I had a particular research idea in my mind and I let blog posts that I read back up a little until there were a good number to sit down and deliberately read. I thought I would miss all those notifications, I thought I'd turn them on the minute the day's task was over. I didn't, I haven't and I have no plans to switch them back on (despite Instagram asking me to turn them on every time I look at it!). It's put all of those apps back in their rightful place in my life - enjoyable but not ever present. It's made me feel far more in the here and now. It's also made me really consider what content I want to put on Instagram and my blog so that each time I do go on there and post something it's containing the best of my creative skills at that moment in time. I've also paused Vero - there's only so much time I can spend on social media and Instagram is still winning out for me (even with the algorithm).
Wardrobes and cupboards and drawers and decluttering - I've been working on this by myself and as part of this challenge for a few months now and it's liberating! Everything is starting to feel just that bit more clear and organised and oddly less wasteful. For example, I know how many reels of sellotape I have - six, ridiculous! - and so won't be buying any more for a long time! I've found months worth of shower gel from where people have bought it for me as a present and it's just got put away in a box. Instead of getting rid of all this as unnecessary duplicates I'm using everything up which is decluttering and saving a small amount of money at the same time. It's funny, the more I'm doing the decluttering tasks the clearer my mind feels as though I'm decluttering that too.
This challenge has been a brilliant exercise and it's spurred me on. If you're thinking about a lifestyle change then I'd highly recommend doing this.