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Why You Should Consider Minimalism in the Military

Marie Kondo-ism has swept the U.S., and “cleaning out the clutter” has practically become an …

4 November 2015; Marie Kondo, Author and Organising Consultant, Marie Kondo, on the Society Stage during Day 2 of the 2015 Web Summit in the RDS, Dublin, Ireland. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE / Web Summit

Marie Kondo-ism has swept the U.S., and “cleaning out the clutter” has practically become an Olympic sport. But no one is better poised to succeed at this than military families, who are faced with the daunting task of packing and unpacking their entire households every 1-3 years.

Minimalism when PCSing

Minimalism in the Military
(U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp)

There is no better time to downsize than while you’re forced to literally pick up and hold every single thing you own. And while you may plan to take advantage of the free packing when the military moves you, you don’t get free unpacking – so at one point or another, you’re forced to evaluate whether you really need everything you own.

In fact, it was my time in a military household that made me a minimalist. One year, when my house flooded, I found myself living in a hotel with two toddlers for SIX ENTIRE MONTHS while the house was being gut renovated. I had to pack up everything we owned, with the exception of the essentials, and store it in the garage.

When the house was finished, I couldn’t have told you even a fraction of what was in those boxes I’d left behind. Because we were about to sell the house and move anyway, I didn’t unpack them. I simply took out what I needed to stage the house (which sold in only a few hours for above asking, thanks in large part to the clutter-free staging), and then when I unpacked at our next destination, I ended up donating over 50 boxes of stuff that had been sitting in that garage.

Minimizing home decor

Minimalism in the Military

I can tell you here’s no better feeling than looking around you and realizing that you’re only living with what you need, and that you really love what you still own. Most of the things around me have sentimental value (or they’re just really pretty).

I only have three pieces of art on the walls – a painting I bought in Asheville on a family trip, a beach scene from the town where my kids were born, and a drawing of my kids made by my old elementary school teacher’s wife. My kids’ toys all fit inside drawers so that they always have a place to be put away – and we don’t have any really big toys except a basic white play kitchen. My closet has been whittled down to mostly neutral colors, and if I haven’t worn something for a few months, I donate it.

Minimalism in the digital world

smart phone
(U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord)

Minimalism isn’t just helpful when it comes to household goods. It’s also something you can practice digitally: Take a weekend and put all your emails into folders (or delete them). Go through all your old files, store them on the cloud or an external drive, and keep only what you need on your computer.

If you don’t use all those social media apps, delete them; only apps you use at least once a week should be on your phone. I’m also a big fan of minimalist photo albums – every few months, I print a couple of the best pictures from each week of the past months and paste them in an album. Today, people take so many pictures that there are just too many to look at; this helps me and my kids appreciate the special moments.

So the next time you get orders to move, don’t dread it – embrace it. It could be the best thing to happen to you.

Feature photo courtesy of Diarmuid Greene on WikiMedia Commons

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