Inside: Is it possible to be a messy minimalist? Absolutely! Messy people are my kind of people. We need minimalism most of all.
Let’s get one thing straight. This minimalism thing doesn’t work for me because I’m such a neat freak and naturally good at keeping everything organized. It’s quite the opposite really. Minimalism works for me because I’m kind of a slob. Messy people need minimalism most of all!
Messy Minimalism, available where books are sold.
I’m a Slob Because I’m Brilliant
Here, I’ll prove it. A study by the University of Minnesota has found,
“The messy desk of geniuses is actually linked to their intelligence. If you don’t spend much time cleaning and organizing everything around you, your mind is obviously occupied with more important stuff.”
This study goes on to suggest that messy environments encourage creativity, while tidy environments encourage “convention and playing it safe.”
However, sometimes the genius in me needs a break from all of its awesomeness.
Clutter never bothered me until it did. I’d go about my day, ignoring it all until ignoring it was no longer possible. When I’d finally get around to tidying, it would take forever. Messy people need minimalism so they can focus their genius on more important matters, and have fewer clutter induced breakdowns!
Brace yourself, this is about to get real.
I’m the girl who leaves multiple cabinets open in the kitchen. I feel like there is a good chance a few of you will never look at me the same again now that you know this. I’ve come to learn that people who need cabinet doors shut immediately are very strongly opinionated on the subject.
When I change into my pajamas at the end of the day, 70% of the time I just drop my clothes on the floor…ok, fine…80%! 80% of the time I do not put them away until the next day, or maybe even the day after that.
I’ve never been naturally tidy.
Even as a child, I picked up my room by shoving piles to the walls of my bedroom and calling it clean enough. I spent life as a young adult pretty much doing the same thing.
Then I got married.
My husband and I manage possessions very differently. I lucked out big time, or so it appeared. He has always been really good at taking a disastrous room and making it presentable in just a handful of minutes. You see, for college, he attended a military academy. Moving his belongings out of sight was a skill he mastered pretty much instantly during bootcamp. His ability to tidy is truly a remarkable thing to observe.
However, I’ve got a piece of insider knowledge to share with you about his “mad skills.” He wasn’t organizing or tidying with intention. No! He was simply taking my carefully curated piles and just shoving everything into any available drawer, nook or cranny.
Out of sight, out of mind, was his mantra. While I was grateful, I kind of wanted to stab him. (Ok, not actually stab him. I use that dramatic phrase loosely and frequently).
We lived in a crazy cycle of me piling things up I felt were important, and him ruining my piles by moving them out of sight. We’d argue about it, blame each other, all the while missing what now seems so obvious. We were both wrong!
I recall thinking once I had a family, I would be amazing at organizing. Because well, I was going to be amazing at everything when I became a parent. From nap schedules and discipline, to my social life and spiritual walk, I had a plan and that plan was to be really awesome at it.
Then the kids came along
For some reason I didn’t become Mary Poppins over night. The piles were still there, but now my house was even more full of random items and I was stuck on the couch nursing this little person for hours a day instead of also becoming Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart and Beth Moore, all at the same time.
Each consecutive kid brought more stuff and with it came more shame. I figured I would be nailing this home life thing, but instead I was drowning in it.
Messy People Need Minimalism
My home functions much differently now! It took me far too long to realize that my messiness was only part of the problem. Minimalism has since helped save me from myself!
I still tend to pile, in true messy minimalist style. I still drop my clothes on the floor and leave the cap off the toothpaste (that’s right). Cereal bowls are sometimes left on the counter all day and kitchen cabinets open for hours. If you drop by unexpectedly, you’ll most likely find crumbs on the floor because apparently I’m raising chipmunks.
However, my messiness is manageable and I have minimalism to thank for it.
Messy people need minimalism most of all.
Here are three ways minimalism has made me less of a slob.
1. I Have Less Tolerance For My Messiness.
My brain is less cloudy when my home is picked up. I find what I’m looking for faster. I feel more relaxed when I can see white space in my home. When I begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, I now quickly recognize where it’s coming from and adjust with ease. I’ve gotten a taste of the good life and there is no going back.
2. My House Can’t Get Nearly as Messy Because We Simply Do Not Own as Much Stuff.
We are a family of five. That’s five people’s shoes, moods, jackets, laziness, socks, crumbs, projects, passions, silverware, books and pistachio shells. My home can most certainly get messy, but not nearly as messy as before.
When the shoes are left out in the hallway it’s because someone was too lazy to put them away, not because they are overflowing from the closet like before. Everything has a place. We are a family of humans, not robots, so things get left out regularly and that’s just life. There is simply less stuff to leave out these days.
3. When it is Messy, it Takes a Fraction of the Time to Pick Up.
My house could be at its absolute worst and in less then thirty minutes it can be tidy from top to bottom. I can slam out my main living space in less than ten minutes. I’m talking, host a dinner party kind of picked up. This was never possible before. That’s why messy people need minimalism!
So there you have it, the real me. The me my family knows. The reason my declaration of minimalism was initially met with eye rolls.
If I can become relatively tidy, so can you! For some of us, it takes more than spring cleaning, new home storage solutions, or a couple of weekends spent decluttering.
It takes a drastic shift in thinking. Messy people! You are not the problem. I’m more convinced than ever that we were never intended to own this much junk in the first place.
Let your shame leave your life right along with your clutter and opt to live a brilliant, creative and tidy life through less.
Messy Minimalism Available NOW Where Books Are Sold
For more information on Messy Minimalism head to MessyMinimalism.com
I’m not super messy, but a lot of what you wrote resonates with me. I like minimalism because it makes cleaning, tidying and clutter minimal. I feel like I can breathe when I see a clean, minimal space. I know it’s different for all of us, and I realize the ‘levels’ of minimalism will change, but I can’t think of one person I know who wouldn’t benefit from getting rid of something. 🙂 Great post.
For sure and thank you! I know what you mean by “levels of minimalism changing.” It’s about a sustainable, attainable and rational minimalism to live your best life!
Totally my life – piles for me and stuffing in to the closet for my husband. And we also have three kids and I also, amazingly enough, didn’t become Martha Stewart while nursing. Thanks for the inspiration. I’m spending the day decluttering!
Yes! It’s so much more manageable with less stuff. You’ve got this!
I too am a messy minimalist. But less stuff makes cleanup easy
Yes exactly! Love it!
Love this! I’m moving toward minimalism (art and craft supplies are my kryptonite), but naturally messy, so this is totally what I need!
Good post! After moving twice and purging a LOT of stuff. We are now seeing the benefits of less. So much easier to pick up after my three kids and husband and self! I love how much easier it is to find everything (for me especially the kitchen). We’re able to do more of what we love without the frustration of digging for what we need or want
Yes, absolutely! So much easier! Moving is such a great opportunity to get started. Way to capitalize on that:) And thanks for sharing.
I just found you and am adding you to my Feedly reader. I need all the guidance I can get 🙂
I just read one of your previous posts and this hit me between the eyes: “Getting rid of perfectly good items may feel wasteful, but that’s not where we went wrong. It was wasteful to purchase it. Now you’re just acknowledging it.” I need to print it out and paste it on my forehead!
Wow! Thank you???? Isn’t that such a game changer!? It helped us get rid of so much… and I don’t miss any of it!
I love the quote from The University of Minnesota! I am going to type it up and put it in a frame near my desk. I am a messy desk teacher! The rest of the room usually looks great, but never the desk. Thanks for your real life articles on minimalism.
Oh my! The article about Minimalist is for messy people is too funny. I was hysterically laughing while reading it. Is all true though. Thanks for the article. ????
I love your guide. It helped me clean my house from the things I don’t need and now I’m much more organized. Thank you!
Yay! So glad it helped.
I have been reading many articles about minimalism, and this one is so good. I sent it to some of my friends who are messy to read too. 😀
Thank you so much!
This is basically me. I drop my clothes by the side of the bed at night and sometimes they don’t get moved to the hamper until the next night. There are generally several pairs of shoes scattered around the house. I can see two open kitchen cabinet doors from where I’m sitting in the living room. But the more we let go of, the easier it is to keep the place looking company-worthy. That alone makes minimalism worth it.
Exactly! Ha, so glad I’m not alone!
I love you! I could have written this lol, we are so much alike. But you are much funnier and actually living the minimalist life I hope to. Heading over to your site NOW and so thankful for this article and finding you.
You are too sweet Megan. Thanks for your kind words and I’m so glad you’re here!
I’ve read hundreds of articles and books on minimalism and this one is at the top for sure. I’m a minimalist Christian Mom and I’m so glad I found your blog.
Wow, Thank you. That means so much to me and I’m so glad you found it as well.
Love this! Love how real you are in this post! I rarely feel so in tune with what is being said as I did in this post. This is so me! It makes me feel a little better that I’m not the only one out here like that and I’m not crazy or terrible..ok maybe a little crazy. But also give me hope that it is possible to get to the minimalist place I’d like to be. Definitely will be a long journey for me…I’m pregnant with my eighth child and homeschool so we have to have things…school books, projects, baby stuff, cooking lots of clothes just because there are alot of us. But I’m trying to be intentional and shift my thinking and simplifying because I need and want it to maintain sanity! I have started but I need lots of encouragement like this post of yours. Thanks!
Wow! Yes, it is most certainly a journey. Kids bring stuff, that’s for sure. Realizing that we don’t have to have ALL the stuff, that was a game changer for us. Keep up the good work and thanks for your kind words.
Oh, how much do I love this! And you for saying it! I’m a professional organizer (yes, I am one of THOSE people) and I’ve been telling my clients for many years now that neat+tidy does NOT = organized! Real homes are messy, because real people live in them. But having less stuff makes it so much easier to stay organized. I’m always suspicious when I walk into an immaculate home, especially one with children who live in it, because what I’m pretty sure of is that stuff has just been stuffed into drawers and closets (and under the bed, and under the couch, and in the stove…) That just makes it harder to find stuff! (I always say that organized people are basically just too lazy to look for stuff.) Megan – thank you for writing this. It’s awesome.
I don’t do Facebook anymore so this message is my little thumbs up for you! I stumbled upon your site through the weekend links of becomingminimalist.com. I love your way of writing on this topic also in your other posts. Being a slightly chaotic mom of three and also a Christian I can so relate!! I always say I hate mess in the house because my head is messy enough already 🙂 Keep up the good work of living, loving and writing! Love from a fellow mom in the Netherlands.
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