Scandinavian design philosophy, in essence, is about cultivating a calm and clutter-free space, to act as a counter balance to our hectic and stressful daily lives. In interior terms, it manifests as the use of clean and simple lines, minimalism and prioritising natural colours and materials – but how can following this philosophy benefit other aspects of our lives?
Minimalist living can be interpreted as less of a design preference and more of a lifestyle choice, not simply reserved to physical realms, but every aspect of your existence. After the chaotic holiday period, January is a time of quiet reflection and recalibration. Here are our tips to declutter and clear your space and mind, outside of simply throwing belongings away.
1. Back up, Delete, Repeat
Digital spaces can often get overlooked when we are planning a decent declutter. However, a good clear out of your devices can really help to alleviate feelings of disorganisation and disorder, especially if you work on your laptop every day. Find a suitable and accessible place to back up your important documents, be it on an online cloud or on an external hard drive. Then for the fun bit - delete items that are no longer active or relevant! Be brutal. Feel free to repeat this process every month or so, to keep the clutter down, and maintain order.
2. Detox Digitally
This one is potentially already one of your resolutions for the new year: limiting screen time. Despite their many perks, our phones (and their addictive nature) come with an array of problems, including having a negative impact on our mental and physical health; increased feelings of stress, headaches and visions problems, sleep issues, and even obesity, due to lack of activity, have all been linked to excessive use. The stats are scary; according to Nielsen research, American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching or interacting in general with digital media. It can be near impossible to completely detox if you need a device for work purposes, however, putting boundaries in place - such as leaving your phone out of your bedroom, or using a system to block certain apps after a set amount of time etc. - can be a solution.
3. Seasonal Clothes Sort-out
Give up clutching on to hopes of shorts weather in January – it’s not going to happen. Depending on your current location and climate, clothes meant for the warmer seasons can be temporarily packed up and put away completely, in under-the-bed storage or in an attic or under-stairs cupboard, making way for more weather-appropriate attire. Consider your winter clothes too; be realistic about whether you still like or wear them – if not, hand them in to a local charity shop or refugee charity.
4. Align Your Appointments
Whether it’s online, a pocket-sized diary or an old-school wall calendar, having one place to note down all of your appointments, both social and professional, is key to a calm and uncluttered mind. Carrying a physical organiser on your person means you can consult it before you agree to any engagement, a useful little tool to avoid double booking yourself. Whilst on this topic, be mindful about how you fill your time and how much you agree to - ensure to leave some evenings free of socialising, and some mornings free for lie-ins.
5. Clear Those Cupboards
If you have lived in the same property for a while, it is completely possible that your cupboards, particularly in the kitchen, have become inundated with random rubbish – ambiguous batteries you’re not sure work, old lightbulbs, birthday candles, novelty straws… We’ve all got that cupboard in our home that we can hardly bare to look in – its unfavourable contents firmly out of sight, and out of mind. Now is the time to tackle it. Pick one cupboard-victim a week, starting with the one you dread the most, and go through it with a ruthless no-nonsense attitude - binning, recycling, or simply relocating items to a more appropriate place.
6. Spend a Little on Storage
Maybe even more annoying than the mess inside that cupboard, is the miscellaneous mess that has no place to call home at all. Bathroom sill littered with grubby half-empty lotions and potions? Magazines and tv remotes sprawled across your coffee table? Treating yourself to a simple box or canvas basket (or ten) can make a great deal of difference to the aesthetic of a space.
7. A Mindful 30 minutes
Getting a minute to oneself can be exceedingly difficult, especially if you’re lucky enough to have multiple kids or pets relentlessly jostling for your attention. Making a point of putting your alarm on 30 minutes earlier than you need to, is a great way to start your morning – trust us. Take stock of the day ahead. Write down what you need to do. Sit in quiet with a cup of tea or go for an aimless walk if you can. Read or get in the bath. A calm start can make all the difference and sets you up for success.
8. Bulk Up
If your current system for meal planning is working for you, please continue. However, if you find yourself rushing about making lazy and unhealthy choices in the week, why not try batch cooking… Set aside a few hours a fortnight to cook in bulk – a smart move for clearing your pantry and using up perishables that are past their prime. It encourages you to do an inventory of what you have and avoid waste. Boxing up and freezing a couple of portions of soup, stew or curry in advance, will take the pressure off your busy working week, and keep you eating relatively healthy and cheaply on those days where you’re susceptible to wander into takeaway-ordering territory.
9. Feng-shui your Furniture
Sometimes that materialist urge to buy new furnishings and homewares can be satiated by a simple rearranging of furniture. Changing the layout of your bedroom or living room can cultivate a sense of novelty at no extra cost, and different positioning can breathe new life into old pieces.
10. Repot your plants
Pangs of guilt every time you catch a glimpse of your cramped unhappy houseplants? Refreshing and rejuvenating your plant babies will no doubt soothe the mind and is a rewarding experience for both parties. A fresh batch of soil and a roomier pot (you know where to find them) to root down in will inspire growth and gains. Whilst you’re at it, prune dead leaves and change up where each plant sits around your home, so they all get a turn in the warmest and most well-lit spot.
Make minimalism your life mantra. Implement as many of these tips into your day-to-day life as you can, and feel the benefits of clear and uncluttered mind…