My Minimalist Purse

When I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I was intrigued by her routine of completely emptying her purse each time she returns home for the day.  I saw the practicality of removing all the little paper snippets, old receipts, and miscellaneous items to put in their respective places.  While reading the chapter, I wondered: Just what exactly is in my purse right now?  Why do I have so many purses when I really only *need* one?

I dislike having multiple purses.  I know sooner or later the need will arise when I will want a certain type of purse for specific events, but I cringe at the thought of having a hoard of purse cluttering my closet.  I think back to my school days when a single backpack was all I needed day in and day out, and wonder if I could do that again now.  Unfortunately, I found that a backpack is not always the most appropriate option for my day to day activities*.

That being said, I narrowed my purse selection down to a tote for work, a black purse, a clutch for special events, and a green Kavu bag that seems to have endless space.  While I still feel that this is a bit excessive – I’m eyeing my clutch considering its worth to me- I know I can always downsize when the time is right.

My black purse is my everyday go-to, which I managed to clean out and keep the items in it to a minimum.

Items in my purse:

  1. Wallet – While this is pretty expected, I really like the wallet I have.  I picked up a Columbia credit card travel wallet because I was looking for something compact.  Not only does it protect against credit card fraud/electronic theft, it’s durable.
  2. Cell phone
  3. My mini notebook – It fits in the bag without taking up precious space and I can jot down my to-do list or a note quickly.
  4. Chapstick – I never used to put items in the little decorative external pocket on the front of my purse, but I found it is a handy spot to store my chapstick and retrieve it without digging through the main pouch.
  5. 2 G-2 pens – Not only are they my all-time favorite pen, I use them all the item so it just makes sense to keep a couple in my purse alongside my notebook.
  6. Keys – If I take my car, the keys are there.  If not, I take them out.

Sometimes a book or small bottle of lotion will find its way in my purse, but after I established the habit of emptying the purse every night, those items aren’t permanent fixtures.  By keeping my purse simple, I have found that I do not lose track of items as frequently and never worry about what to pack to meet my daily needs.  It is simple and consistent.   Pass it on!

 

*A note: The more I think about it, perhaps it is just my perception that a backpack would be out of place if I dragged it to the office everyday, but that might be an experiment I’ll try!  In that case, I’d be able to subtract one more bag from my current stash!

 

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Let’s Discuss: Intentionality

Intentional: (adjective) done on purpose, deliberate

It seems that many times we start projects or have great ideas, we find it hard to follow through and see whatever it is we’re doing to completion.  Maybe there is a good reason to put off or entirely halt something, especially if it is not a priority.

But what if it is a priority?  What if a new idea will bring you joy? What are we going to miss out on?  It seems like we can find examples of this dilemma anywhere: there are a lot of great ideas, but for a myriad of reasons (or excuses), we don’t see those ideas to fruition.

Minimalism can bring us closer to achieving our goals – no matter how high or low on the totem pole those goals are.  When I began my journey to living as a minimalist, one of my primary motivators was that I spent so much time working on a bunch of little tasks that would never be fully completed and I did not enough time focusing on what would make me content.

Feeling bogged down by a bunch of low priority items on my “to-do” list, I knew I needed to make a change in my perspective in order to accomplish what would be empowering and make a difference in my life.  Minimalism helped me sort my goals from my tasks, creating a vision for how I wanted to proceed with my life.  Before I became a minimalist, I was not intentional about making time for things that made me happy; running, exploring, even having downtime seemed always slightly out of reach.  Either I compromised on my agenda to fit in a run here or there, or I simply didn’t run – feeling frustrated that I tied myself into this mess.

Minimalism helps me keep the menial tasks at bay.  Sure, there are little “housekeeping” jobs that need to be done, but I am no longer caught up in a cycle of writing and checking off those jobs.

So how did I make the switch?

First, I ditched the spiral-bound planner all together.  I knew my competitive streak would wear me down if I felt like I needed to fill out every single line in that booklet’s pre-designed pages.  I resolved to stick with my wall calendar and a simple mini notebook or bullet journal.

Second, I began to write two lists: one for the week and one for my day.  Every week, usually on Sunday or Monday, I check my calendar for upcoming bills, deadlines, or events and write my weekly list.  Then, based on the order of priority, only those items get redistributed each morning to my daily list.  I found that limiting my list to two or three items that could be done anytime during the day, I opened my schedule to fit activities that make me happy.  I add those activities to my list too.

My list every day looks something like this:

Monday:

  • pay phone bill
  • vacuum/dust room
  • mail letter
  • run!

Third, I identified areas in my life that I spent more than enough time on in order to prioritize my goals and remain intentional about reaching them.  I already knew that my health and exercise come in high on the list, but what else was important?  Traveling, learning a foreign language, and spending more time learning tasty recipes, among other things.  I singled out these activities and brainstormed ways I could fit them into my schedule.

When I simplify my life, I simplify my stuff, my calendar, my list of priorities.  Since reconstructing the way I schedule my day-to-day tasks, I have found time to invest in my health, relax after work, and accomplish some goals without needing to worry that my furniture needs dusting or that my car needs cleaning out.

Before adopting a minimalist lifestyle, I fell into the routine of stocking my daily to-do list with way too many tasks.  I wanted the gratification of completing the list, but I wanted it instantly, and forgot to consider how long it would take me to actually complete the list.  I burned out.  There was no intentional planning of my list to compensate for reality: oh yeah, that wash cycle will take fifteen extra minutes/ oops, I forgot to get gas so I need to do that first. Now, armed with my tried-and-true new planning strategy, I can roll with the pop-up tasks and still have time to pursue my goals.  Pass it on!

 

Minimalism Strategy: The Minimalism Game

When I look for inspiration to enrich my life as a minimalist, I pour over blogs and books until I find something that clicks.  One strategy that helped me start out on the right foot was  The Minimalists’ Minimalism Game.

For those of you not familiar with the Minimalism Game, it is simply taking a month getting rid of a number of items each day.  For example, day one = one item, day two = two items, etc. Try to hold out as long as you can. Anything counts! And while you’re at it, check out their website The Minimalists for more inspiration!

Here’s my two cents (or rather five) on my experience:

  1. When I discovered this challenge, I was not convinced it would be hard to do.  I had read the blogs that shared the stats on how many possessions a typical family (in the Western world) owns, so I figured: How hard can it be? I’ll definitely find items!
  2. The first days truly made a difference- even if I was only finding one or two items at first.  I did not realize how much stuff I was hanging onto just for the sake of “hanging on.”  Those items were the first to go and I feel so much better!
  3. While I did not take the items out of my house everyday (I had limited time to sell or donate items, and did not want to resort to throwing things away simply to remove it from my home), I designated boxes as strict holding stations for my “sell” and “donate” items.  Once items went in the boxes, they did NOT come back out.  I ended up making a few hundred dollars from clothing by saving it until I had  time to bring everything to a consignment shop.
  4. I didn’t have anyone to do this challenge with, but I did find a willing accountability partner who I checked in with daily for encouragement and to inform that I didn’t cheat.  Having a buddy helps!
  5. The game did become a challenge as I worked my way to the end of the month.  I found myself critiquing lots of stuff and finding my weaknesses (areas I spend too much in/ fears).

All in all, this approach to simplifying my belongings played a significant impact on my perspective of minimalism, along with a good “go-to” activity to start anytime.  The Minimalism Game can be played as many times as you like – I’ve already found that I could incorporate Marie Kondo’s tidying method to the game by playing in categories (i.e. clothes, accessories, memorabilia, etc).  Having participated once in this challenge, I know what to expect the next time I play… which will probably be soon*!  Pass it on!

*Curious about the details of my next minimalism game?  During my next round, I will document something about each day: my thoughts on the challenge, my strategy, perspectives on “why,” or a picture of my progress.  Stay tuned!