How to Achieve Simple Living

Simple Living

For us, as Muslims, the best example for conducting our lives lies in the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa). It is a well-known fact that he wore simple clothes, sometimes with patches.  He also had few spare clothes, but he kept them spotlessly clean. (Bukhari) His house was of simple clay with almost no decorations. His room contained a cot and a pillow stuffed with palm leaves.  He would sit on the bare floor or on a mat. Living simply in today’s world has many benefits:

  • Less debt. If we purchase less, we will have money in our pocket for the more important things like Sadaqah, Zakah and so on.
  • More savings. Not only will you be saving money by buying less, but you will be saving time and energy by not having to clean, maintain or fix all those possessions. You will have more time to spend on your priorities: family, friends, Dawah, reading, reciting or teaching the Quran.
  • Environmentally friendly. By possessing less, we are putting less into the landfills. Before tossing away anything, think: can I fix it, donate it, recycle/reuse it or compost it?
  • More contentment. Eventually, we will learn to be content with what we have, rather than what we don’t have. There will be no need to keep up with the latest trends. We will be less pressurized to impress with material possessions and can focus on impressing with good deeds and exemplary character. Instead of buying another toy for your child, spend and enjoy your time with them.

Simple living means different things to different people. Figure out what it means to you. Using our Prophet’s (sa) example, you can start with the following:

  • Live simply in a clean, uncluttered and organized space.
  • Live within your means.
  • Stay out of debt.
  • Trim unnecessary stress.
  • Be content with your life right now.
  • Make a list of your priorities and set smaller goals to achieve those priorities. Actively work toward those goals, starting with just ten to fifteen minutes a day.

Decluttering

For an instant impact, start de-cluttering the room you are in. Here is a step-by-step:

  1. Take a basket and put in anything that does not belong in that space; then, put it in its proper place.
  2. If that thing does not have a proper place, ask yourself: do I really need this? Do you want to keep it, donate it, throw it (if it is broken beyond repair), fix it, reuse it or recycle it?
  3. If you keep it, make sure it has a place; if you want to donate it, start a donation box; if it needs tossing, throw it in the garbage; if it needs attention (like repairing), put it in another box.

Keep all this in your mind, as you go through each space in your home.

You can slowly work from room to room, initially to get things back into their proper places. Do this at your own pace, fifteen minutes daily or from top to bottom. Once the first round is complete, considering going deeper. Take it room by room, starting with drawing, dining, lounge, kitchen and bathroom areas first. Except for the kitchen, these rooms tend not to have a lot of storage area. They do have clutter hot points, like tables and counters, which provide a big impact when de-cluttered first. It will give you that positive boost and sense of accomplishment to continue simplifying.

Be respectful, though, of others’ space. Your husband, in-laws, or older children may not like you going through their things, so be sure to ask or, better yet, enroll their help in your project and get them to live simply, too.  It really helps if you work together as a team.

As you are moving room by room, make sure to dust, while you have the tables, counters and decorative shelves cleared. If the space looks nice, you will give it a second thought before placing something there. Cluttered spaces tend to attract more clutter; therefore, keep it clear.

Clothing and closet de-cluttering need special attention. You can tackle them using the following steps:

  1. Start by taking everything out and make a quick run through.
  2. Toss into the keep, donate or fix pile.
  3. Dust out the closet and examine each item before putting it back in. Is it something you really need or like? Does it fit?
  4. Group clothes by use: daily wear, party wear, etc., and then by colour.
  5. Turn all the hangers around backwards.
  6. As you wear each item, put it back into your closet with the hanger the correct way.
  7. After six months or when the season is over, you can see what you have worn and what you haven’t. We mostly wear our favorite few outfits anyway.

Break the Shopping Habit

Make a conscious effort to reduce spending by not shopping and staying away from malls for at least ninety days. Shopping can be a habit that needs to be broken. Purchase only when necessary. Also, if you stop going to the mall, you will not be tempted to buy unnecessary items. If you do purchase something new, get rid of the old item it replaced. If you wear fewer colours, there won’t be any need for all the extra accessories, shoes, purses, jewellery, etc.

If you do go the mall, set a limit and make a list beforehand. Ensure that you stick to it. Go with a specific purpose and not only for window shopping. Also, purchase quality over quantity. If you can spend a little more upfront for something that will last longer and get more use, it is well worth it.

Budget-Wise

Once you have de-cluttered and organized the house, it is time to move to finances and your computer. Make a budget and see if there is excess that can be trimmed from the budget. Are you and the kids in too many activities? This can take up a lot of money and time. Make more time to spend together as a family. This can also lead to trimming unnecessary stress, like over-committing yourself to school, social events, etc.

For your computer and desk area, go through all emails and paperwork to see if you need it anymore. If you need to keep it, put it into a proper folder, paper or virtual.

Congratulations! You are now on your way to a simpler life. Make a conscious effort to maintain what you have just accomplished.

  • Take fifteen minutes daily to de-clutter.
  • Twice a year, do a spring and winter cleaning from top to bottom; you may not need now something that you needed then.
  • When something new comes into your space, get rid of the old.

Lastly, be content with your life, as this is what Allah (swt) has given us. Be grateful for what you have. Say a lot of Duas and prayers for guidance to live simply and be an example for others.

Chasing Away the Clutter: The Bedroom and the Closet


bedroom
Target Areas in Bedrooms

  • Clothing (closets, drawers, and shoes)
  • Dresser tops (jewellery, change, receipts, buttons, photos)
  • Nightstand tops and drawers
  • Magazines/books
  • Throw pillows (a few are decorative, too many is clutter)
  • Under your bed
  • Television
  • Toys
  • Linens – you only need two sets, one on the bed and one extra to put on while washing the others. Keep them in the appropriate bedroom.

 Closets

 Clothing and closets need special attention:

  • Start by taking everything out and make a quick once through.
  • Toss into the keep, donate, or fix pile.
  • Dust out the closet and examine each item before putting it back in.
  • Ask yourself is it something you really need or like? Does it fit?
  • Group clothes by use; daily wear, party wear, summer, winter and then by colour.
  • Turn all the hangers around backwards. As you wear each item, put it back in to your closet with the hanger the correct way. After six months or after the season has finished, you can see what you have worn and what you haven’t to re-evaluate the need for those clothes.
  • Make a conscious effort to reduce spending by decreasing shopping and mall trips for at least 90 days.
  • Shopping can be a habit that needs to be broken. Purchase only when necessary. Stop going to the mall so you’re not tempted to buy unnecessary items.
  • If you do purchase something new, get rid of the old item it replaced.
  • Wear fewer colours so there won’t be a need for all the extra accessories, shoes, purses, jewellery.
  • Set a purchase limit and make a list before heading to the mall and stick to it.
  • Go with a specific purpose and not to shop the sale racks.
  • Purchase quality over quantity. If you can spend a little more upfront for something that will last longer and get more use, it is well worth it.
  • If you have multiple children, pack away the unused clothing sorted by size, gender, and season. Before you pack it all away mindlessly, go through and evaluate the condition of the clothing. Why pack away worn, stained, holey clothes now just to be done away with later. When it is needed, pull it out.
  • Consider using an elder’s tossed pile clothing, if it is in good condition; sew it into the latest season’s design.

Chasing Away the Clutter: The Bathroom

bathroomBy Karrie Bhurgari Declutter

  1. Reading materials
  2. Over-the-counter medicine: Go though and check for expired medicines
  3. Make-up: Toss away anything older than 6 months
  4. Bath toys
  5. Cleaning agents or supplies
  6. Appliances: Toss old, non-functional dryer/curler, electric razor, and electric toothbrush
  7. Bottles of shampoo/conditioner
  8. Towels: Do you really need all those? 2 per person per bathroom, plus 2 hand towels and 2 wash clothes (and give each person their own colour)

Organize:

  • Prioritize first. Start by pulling out the things you actually use on a regular basis. Make sure they are in the most easily accessible areas. It will definitely make it easier to get ready in the morning.
  • Keep any extra stocked items together. If you like to keep extra toothbrushes, bars of soap, or bottles of shampoo on hand, keep them in the same area.
  • Consolidate duplicate items. Try to avoid the crowding of extra items by combining them. It won’t hurt to combine two half empty bottles of conditioner together.
  • Place small items in a contained area. It’s easy to lose small items like nail clippers, tweezers, and hair clips. Use a small drawer/plastic bin near the front of a drawer to keep small things from sliding out of sight.
  • You don’t need all those tiny bottles. Buy the travel size containers that you can refill with your regular shampoo.
  • Kids need their own spaces, too. Make things convenient for them as well. Make sure they can access the extra toilet paper and give them a designated spot for their toothbrushes and hairbrush.

Chasing Away the Clutter – In the Home

Vol 4-Issue 3 Home-schooling

The Kitchen

  • Glassware/Crockery: How many of those cups/mugs do you really use anyway?
  • Cookbooks: If it’s not “your favorite”, clip or copy out the best recipes and discard the book.
  • Gadget drawer: The one with 5 spatulas…
  • Countertops: Find a new home for your things and remove the clutter from your sight
  • Grocery/plastic bags: Save a few and recycle the other 50
  • Fridge/freezer: Pull everything out, clean, and be selective about what goes back
  • Pantry: Donate some of those uneaten non-perishables and clear the cabinets for stuff you really like.
  • Junk drawer: Do you really need old batteries, old keys, old receipts, tape, paper clips, and rubber bands?

The Office

  • Paper files: If you can, scan them to your computer. If not, sort and file.
  • Bulletin board items: You’ve needed to declutter that for months anyway, so get rid of it
  • Wall decorations – just keep 1 or 2 accent pieces (a clock and framed diploma)
  • Desktop items – find a home out of sight for your stapler, tape, and paper clips
  • Computer desktop icons – remove unneccesary icons (or hide all of them)
  • Desk/junk drawer – see above
  • Books – if you don’t use them, get rid of them

TV Lounge/Drawing and Dining Room

  • Books/magazines
  • CDs/DVDs: Get rid of the ones you don’t use or load onto an mp3 device. Put the remainders in storage or out of sight
  • Decorative items: One or two is nice; more than that is clutter. Gift or give away.
  • Entertainment centre: Remove old components and organize cords.
  • China hutch: Opt for a storage type cabinet rather than the glass showcase or put the dishes in the kitchen. Better yet, do you need that extra set of china? Use it and get rid of an old set of dishware.
  • Furniture: Remove and/or rearrange; you may love the new extra space

To be continued next week, Insha’Allah!

Organizing and De-cluttering Homes

declutter

When you have to move to new accommodation or get a paint job done in the house, do you feel that there are houses within your house? Whichever closet you open or whichever drawer you slide out, they are stuffed to the brim. You could actually furnish two more dwellings with the amount of things you possess. Well, don’t fret! Most of us get swept away by the tide of materialism. Just read on – help is at bay

Label storage

If you want to find your stow-away, label it – be it cartons, bags, boxes, suitcases, etc. It could have a main heading, such as “winter-wear for kids” followed by maybe three or five names of clothing groups inside, for example: “sweaters, stockings, jackets.” Select the room you want to place the storage in and keep a diary or record of it room-wise. For example: “kid’s bedroom, box 1 – kid’s winter-wear.”

This might seem like a laborious job initially, but you will know exactly where to find stuff even months later. Believe me – it’s worth it, if you want to use your possessions timely!

Keep an inventory check

It is best to consciously observe the things we use the most and in what numbers. For example, if you have loads of outfits gracing your wardrobe, break them into such categories as casual wear, party wear, formal wear, etc., depending upon your real needs (not wants).

Anything beyond your actual need should be considered surplus. You may gift it or donate it to family, friends, servants or the less privileged around you every quarter or even on a monthly basis, if you can.

This assessment will help you keep an inventory check on your belongings. Try this formula for everything you own.

Try the one year retention plan

Sorting and deciding what to keep, what to chuck out and what to give away is a common challenge.

An effective method to resolve this issue is to follow the one year retention plan. Keep your stuff for one year. After that, carefully assess how many times you have used your belongings during that year. If it is frequent, clearly, you are in need of that particular stuff. But if it is seldom, you may reduce its numbers (e.g., crockery). In case you have one annual party every year, you can keep your favourite dinner set and donate the rest. When your party time arrives, order the extra dinnerware from outside. The cost of storage and maintenance of this stuff is greater than the cost of annual rental.

Similarly, this technique will help you identify the stuff you haven’t used at all and can easily part with.

Do not arrange for additional storage space

Believe it or not – not having a big storage space is actually a blessing! You will have all your possessions within sight and efficient usage. Most of the stuff lying in storerooms and warehouses just eats dust and cobwebs, until more room is needed for newer storage and, eventually, the older one is thrown out in a miserable condition.

Make a strict rule for yourself to keep in your closets and cupboards only what you can safely manage. No cellars, basements or store rooms needed.

Broken things are not a bad omen

It takes a great deal of sacrifice to part with our beloved possessions. But caution! This is a real Iman tester. As soon as we are afflicted with some material damage, Satan starts drilling into our head what a calamity has just occurred and spells dooms day!

If things break, just learn to say: “Inna lillah e wa inna ilaihi rajioon.” Allah (swt) had planned for this to happen. Look at it positively – one thing less to be accounted for before Allah (swt). Otherwise, after we die, lying in our graves, we will be held accountable for the tiniest spoon we own, while others would be merrily using all of that stuff we have left behind.