Sunday, September 8, 2013

How To Live With Non-Minimalists

This is how clutter makes us feel.  
Image Source: Flickr: Gavin Schaefer. CC-BY-2.0
If you follow the normal pattern of growing up in a family, moving into college with roommates, and then getting married, it's safe to say that you will spend a large portion of your life living with other people.  People who may or may not appreciate your desire to have your spice cabinet merchandised like a grocery store.  So how do minimalists survive in a cluttered world?

Evaluate the Other Person's Attchment to Their Stuff

While the majority of people I come into contact
 with would love a less cluttered living space, there are a few that aren't quite ready to live a monk like existence.  Be careful of being a little too pushy because it might come off as judgmental and inhuman.

If your house hold pack rat is open to the idea of a little change towards minimalism, starting small like going through old cosmetics together, will put you off to a good start.  Once they see the rewards of minimalism, they might just minimize their whole existence.  Remember, that the objects they are going through may be of deep value to them, so be careful not to condemn all of their worldly treasuries to the charity pile.   They may need some time to become unattached to their possessions.


When two different lifestyles clash, and there is a commitment in the relationship, then compromise can help create a healthy space for the relationship to continue smoothly.  Both parties have valid points for why they need their worldly space a certain way.  

To the minimalist, clutter is stressful.  Every time a minimalist has to cram a bowl into an overstuffed cupboard, it creates stress, anger, and wastes the minimalist's precious and coveted time.  The minimalist prizes efficiency, productivity and function over fashion.  

To the pack rat, possessions hold a sentimental and aesthetic value.  They enjoy thirty different yarns to craft with equal luster to the minimalist who enjoys one single-colored painting on the wall.   They look at a treasured heir loom like a vase of fresh cut flowers.  

Claim Real Estate  

If compromise doesn't work, to keep both party's sanity, it is necessary to claim separate areas of domain.  For instance, the minimalist gets to organize the garage, if the pack rat gets a closet they can do whatever they want with.  

Warning to the minimalist: JUST DON'T OPEN THE CLOSET.  

Having an assigned area that can be kept the way you want can give a sense of control of  your personal domain without stepping on the toes of the other people in your household. 

My Personal Experience:  Not liking how the fridge was constantly being over packed with food that wasn't mine, I claimed a shelf and "gave" the rest of the fridge away.  Now I can find my yogurts, and the others can feed an army with the rest of the fridge.  

Do Everything Yourself 

I learned early on in school that if you want to be certain of getting an A on a group project, you will most likely have to do the majority of work yourself.  It's a sad, but true, microcosm for the rest of life. It is a proven model that 10% of a group does 90% of the work.  You will find this true at work, a church, at school, and in your own home.  So if you want things clean, you will have to be the one to do it.  

This is a last resort move, but if compromising and claiming domains fail, then the only other way to keep your sanity as a minimalist, is to keep your house how you like it.  If other leave dishes out, and you have asked nicely for months for them to clean their own bacon grease, then just do it yourself.  Take out the trash yourself, get really good at bleaching the tub, and go through the junk mail yourself so it doesn't pile up. 

I've started doing this everywhere I go.  If something is too messy for my tastes, I clean it up, regardless of who caused the problem.  Please don't hate me, if I reach into your fridge for a soda and they all end up vertically merchandised by the time I pull my hand out.  Force of habit. 

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