Becoming a minimalist - part 2

In my last post, I mentioned how I have embraced minimalism. Let's discuss some practical ways that we can apply this philosophy to our homes.

1: Survey your home: your rooms, the living room, end tables, and artwork. Is there anything that you see that you don't absolutely love or that isn't useful? Bingo! You have immediately found a way to pair down your belongings. Tag the item for resale or for donation and move onto the next room.

2: Keep flat surfaces clear. Surfaces are magnets for stuff. Kitchen counter tops are one of the worst hot spots in the home. Everything gets dumped there in a pile. Make it a rule to clear all flat surfaces, keeping out only the things you use on a daily basis. For example, on my kitchen counter tops, I have a toaster, blender, and knife block (Update 1/1/14 - I don't have any of these items on my counters now). When I do make coffee, I use a French Press coffee maker and I keep it stored in the cabinet. Since I only use my stand mixer on occasion, I keep it stored in the bottom of my kitchen island.

In my home, we don't have picture frames on the end tables or anything on our nightstands. My exceptions are the baby monitor and alarm clock. I work to make room to fit any books that I'm reading into my nightstand so that at bedtime I put the book back in the drawer.

3: Buy and keep only your favorite books. Thanks to the Kindle and iPad, you can now download books saving bookshelf space and trees. But I'm kind of old school and I like to physically underline and dog ear my books. So before I make a book purchase, I try to locate it at the library. That way I can be sure it is something that I want to keep and re-read before I make the purchase.

4: Be vigilant about what enters your home. I don't keep every piece of artwork that my child makes at school. I sort through them each day. I file the ones I want to keep and I recycle the rest. I'm also sensitive to favor bags at birthday parties and giveaways at conferences or malls. When someone even offers me a piece of paper or something to take home, I will usually scan it and hand it back to them. I don't want the burden of bringing it home with me, taking it out of the car and then putting it in the recycle bin. I just say no thank you and move on. Here's another example, many times when I make a purchase of something small (make-up) that can fit into my purse, I tell the cashier that I don't need a bag. It's better for the environment but mostly it's one less thing for me to have to sort, store, or throw away.

What does minimalist living look like for you? I would love to hear your tips!