A guide to minimalism: 5 tips on tidying up and decluttering for Lunar New Year even Marie Kondo would approve of

New year, new you: and that should include the way you live, too

Nicole Moraleda |

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Try cutting down on the things you own. You probably won't need seven pairs of jeans.

Before the arrival of the Lunar New Year, it is customary for people to say goodbye to the old year by cleaning their homes. This “Day of Cleaning” occurs on the 28th day of the 12th lunar month (this year that’s February 2). Whether your family practices these traditions or not, why not take the day to declutter your living space? 

Keep in mind, there is a difference between organising and minimising. Picking up the things scattered your bedroom floor and stuffing them into your drawer may make your room appear cleaner, but it would make more of a lasting difference if you were to get rid of things you no longer need in the process. 

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We know it’s not easy to let go of your belongings, which is why we’ve compiled five practical tips from the book Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki – a man who owns just three shirts, four pairs of jeans, and not much else. 

Notify friends and followers 

Before you begin, let your friends know on your social media accounts that you will be taking on a minimising mission. Take a before shot of your room and post it on Snapchat, or keep your followers updated on your progress through Instagram stories. This will make you less likely to give up halfway, plus you’ll get encouragement from your friends that will boost your motivation. 

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Cut it down to one 

An easy way to start decluttering is to reduce multiples of anything you have down to one. Do you really need three pairs of scissors, six white T-shirts, and four umbrellas? The answer is NO. Pick your favourite one and donate the rest to charity. 

Give your things an expiry date 

When deciding whether to throw an item away, we often convince ourselves that we might need it someday, but more often than not, that “someday” never comes. Another simple rule to follow is to get rid of things you haven’t used in a year, because if you haven’t used it in the past four seasons, it’s unlikely you will use it in the future. If you come across an item you’ve used once or twice in the past year, ask yourself if keeping it is worth the space it’s taking up. Perhaps you can rent or borrow one when you need it instead? 

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Don’t get creative 

Have you ever thought, “Hey, this shoebox would make an excellent container for my chargers?”, or said to yourself, “This old pair of jeans are too short for me now, I know, I’ll turn them into shorts!” Chances are those shorts you envisioned never came to be. You can get surprisingly creative when you don’t want to part with something. But, no matter how brilliant your ideas may be, it’s probably wiser to just throw that thing out. 

Take a picture, it lasts longer 

This is where it gets tricky. Items with fond memories attached are often the hardest to let go of, but they may not be of any actual use to you. What Sasaki suggests is that you take a photo of these things before you part with them and keep these pictures instead. You’ll find it makes the process of throwing these items away easier. And that way you’ll still have a picture of that souvenir from a trip, or that gift someone gave you, to remind you of your experiences.