By Vanessa Salas of Shed, Mom

Simplifying makes for a meaningful and joyful life.

It allows us to savor the little things that too often get taken for granted in the hustle and bustle of daily living. It helps us become more mindful of our choices, and to be truly present for our loved ones. It gives us the ability to focus on what’s important. It takes us away from the numbing effects of “going on autopilot”.

Simplifying also requires vigilance. Intentionally editing our lives is an on-going process. For me, bare walls and less clutter was never the end goal, but a means to an end. How I simplify evolves and changes as the years go by.

This year, this is how I intend to do it.

1. Own only one of each thing. 

Be honest: do you really need 5 can openers, 100 drinking glasses, 14 egg beaters, or 351 coasters in your day to day life? Unless you’re a caterer or live in a house with that many people, chances are, you don’t. I do make an exception with no. 2 sharpened mongol pencils (pencil bouquets are beautiful). And also – washi tapes, because one can never have enough washi tapes.

2. Organize less by decluttering more. 

I hate organizing, but I love organized spaces. Anecdotally, many of you are probably on the same boat. In my pre-minimalist past, my solution was to add more storage. I bought those cheap plastic boxes that can hold anything and everything. But it didn’t really solve the problem of too much stuff. Whenever I looked at those not-so pretty boxes, there was this iffy feeling I’d get from keeping what I knew deep down was actually just clutter (defined by professional organizer Kat Ong as “postponed decisions”). Owning less things has made it easier to organize, and cleaning time has been cut in half.

3. When you buy one thing, remove another.

Whenever I buy a new piece of clothing, I make it a point to either donate, up-cycle, or let go of another of the same kind. This, for me, has been an effective deterrent for excessive shopping.

4. Go on nature walks with the toddler. 

I love going to the mall. I love window shopping. But window shopping usually leads to, ehrm, actual shopping, and the consequent parting from my hard-earned cash. This year I’ve resolved to go wander around the verdant trees of UP Diliman instead, and have my my toddler tag along. Not only do I remove the temptation of buying stuff at the mall, this also exposes my son and I to fresh air, squeezes in a bit of exercise, and gives us bonding moments. Win-win-win.

5. Use all of my things. 

I resolve to make sure that every single thing that I have in my life right now will actually be used on a regular basis and not kept in storage for an indefinite period. No more “just in case” or what-if items for me.

6. Capsule wardrobe. 

I haven’t gotten rid of all of my clothes, but I have been picking out 33 items to be used for 3 months at a time. This is a capsule wardrobe challenge inspired by Courtney Carter of the blog Be More With Less. I rotate my clothes every three months, which happens to be the amount of time I get bored with my current capsule. Whenever I go back to the clothes I have in storage, it’s like shopping for new clothes again!

7. Make “me” time sacred.

As much as I’d want to squeeze in more work time into my schedule by scrimping on either sleep or leisure, I know from experience that this will only result in frayed nerves, short fuses, and lots of yelling around the house. If I keep it up longer I’d end up not being effective at work as well. So I treat these moments to recharge as a productivity tool, a necessary component to becoming better in the different roles I have in my life.

How are you simplifying this year?