Claiming Back Time

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There was never enough time for the things that mattered most.

My husband and I opted to live in a tiny, inexpensive apartment while he finished his masters degree. Upon moving in, I was immediately dismayed by its lack of “features”. No dishwasher? No space for my stuff? No closets? How could this be a home? My list of complaints stretched into the following year. Soon, we were juggling school and multiple jobs and I began to experience a profound numbness; mentally drained by all that I had to do and not enough time spent on things that mattered most. I wanted to feel purposeful again and wasn’t sure how to simplify my life without compromising important things.

I felt numb and exhausted.

After feeling numb for a year, it struck me that we had an easy option; we needed to simplify our stuff. Our clutter-prone things required an enormous amount of time to maintain and caused us unnecessary stress. There were too many utensils in the kitchen drawer, too many clothes in the closet, too many dishes, and too time-consuming to find an outfit. By significantly reducing our things we would spend less time doing the same “normal” household tasks and simple actions like opening drawers would be less stressful.

So, we ditched the stuff!

Over a year we reduced our belongings to about half of the original amount and really enjoyed the process. We got rid of anything that hadn’t been touched or had a major use in the past six months to a year. We reduced our dishes to four plates/bowls/glasses/coffee mugs, two travel mugs/water bottles, one set of mixing bowls, six sets of silverware, one set of sheets per bed, one set of towels per person. You get the picture. We were intentional about minimizing the mental impact of each space and it paid off. It now only takes 30-45 minutes to fully clean/organize our home rather than a whole weekend and our tiny apartment now feels like home.

I thought “life would start” once we owned a house, a dog, a yard, a garage; the American dream. My valuable time was spent working toward future possessions, a larger home, and maintaining our current things rather than storing up heavenly treasures in the present.

The big takeaway.

The “work-buy-clean-organize” cycle doesn’t need to consume our lives, minds, and relationships. Simply removing a few pieces of the puzzle unlocks mental freedom and valuable time.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21