Did you know that your physical (and digital) "stuff" has psychological weight? We're taking our power back from our stuff, eliminating overwhelm, and cutting through the extremism that shows up in minimalist culture with Shawna Dirksen, Founder of Practically Minimal.
Shawna is the non-stop-shopper-turned-persistent-declutter-er behind Practically Minimal.
After too many years of over-buying and battling with overstuffed closets, Shawna began to wonder if less may actually be more. She started exploring minimalism about six years ago and hasn't looked back.
Today through her blog, Virtual Decluttering Parties and clutter-clearing programs, Shawna offers guidance, accountability and support to those who could use a little more ease in their everyday lives.
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You're on this earth for a purpose. You want to live a life that matters. So let's get through the fear and the overwhelming knowledge shift that gets in the way of you living a life. This is the becoming ourselves podcast. So we are fired up about you getting clear on who you are, what you're called to, and how to get there. Because the world is waiting for you show up and on your power. I'm your host, Juli Wenger, a coach, a speaker, a Jesus lover, an enneagram, two and a tree shape. Let's dive into what's keeping you stuck. Because on the other side is the life of fired up, fulfilled. And today on the podcast, I am joined by Shawna Dirksen of practically minimal. And I'm really excited for this conversation because Shannon and I actually recorded this before. And the technology being what it is, gave us the opportunity to re record and those actually turn into some of my favorite episodes. So welcome, Shauna, welcome back with the two of us, but obviously, hasn't heard you before. So I am excited to have you. Oh, thankUnknown:
you. And I love the way you framed that as well. And you know what, I'm always happy to hop on and be able to chat with you again, as well. So this will beJuli Wenger:
fun. Yeah. Okay, so let's jump into you use a term called minimal ish, a lot. And I like the term minimal ish. So can you explain to people the difference between minimal ish and minimal iist?Unknown:
Yeah, I mean, minimal ish, I wouldn't say that there's a real definition for that, I can't say that I made the term up. I did hear it somewhere before and I really liked it. So I'm like, you know, what that really describes me, minimal ism, is something that I kind of got into just sort of, I don't want to say by accident, but it was a bit of a progression just from, you know, starting to declutter my home and my life. And I started exploring that as a lifestyle. At the time, it was the minimalists, who were you know, really big, they had just come out with their Netflix special, they were doing a tour at the time, I think they're actually doing another one again. So you know, a lot of the things that they were saying really resonated with me, you know, just sort of how having you know, excess stuff around, you can really kind of take away from, you know, the things that you truly love and think are beautiful, or, you know, really use and want around you. So kind of the extra stuff is was more of a distraction. So that really resonated with me, but you know, there was kind of more of an extreme side to it, as well. So, you know, like, a lot of times, like with the term minimalism, you think, Okay, well, I can have, well, two forks and two coffee cups, you know, it's like, you can't have stuff or you have to count all your things. That's another big misconception with it. Whereas that's really not how I roll. I mean, I want to have a full set of eight dishes to 12 kind of things. So not just one for each person in the household, just as an example. So for me, the term minimal ish kind of allows a little bit more gray area. And not to say that minimalism is that extreme minimalism, can look however you want it to, but it's just sort of that connotation that goes with it. So to me, it just feels like a little bit more authentic to say, minimal ish.Juli Wenger:
So this is, I think, an important piece to give a little bit of airtime. Because even if you remember a couple of weeks, so you're posting a picture of your office was like, oh, man, my office has some room to go because I got caught up in that whole comparison thing. And you had commented back to me of you know, it looks great to me, it looks beautiful. And it really got me thinking about how our stuff serves us or we can serve our stuff. And how we can get caught up in the comparison of is it minimalist enough? Is it still too much? And what is our definition of too much? Right? What is it that I'm actually using? What is it that brings my heart joy? What is it that represents me and my personality? versus what does Shawn his office look like? versus what does Julie's office look like and having some sort of, you know, tension or measuring or something that's happening there?Unknown:
Exactly. Yeah. The whole comparison itis thing. It happens with minimalism, too, for sure. Yeah, and it's especially kind of going into this as as a business. It Even different, right? Yeah, that can affect you even more, right? So you, you know, you kind of have an audience of people who, not everybody, but who, you know, do live this lifestyle as well. And maybe they do kind of live with less things like small Homes is another one. Like, that's kind of another misconception. We don't live in a small hole, but it's works for us, right? It's not too much space for us. So like you were saying, it's, it really just kind of depends on you and your circumstance, and what's authentic to you. And that you kind of you create your own definition of, you know, what too much stuff is, and you know, you know, how you feel if you have excess stuff around you. So you know, when it's too much, right, and so kind of clearing it out and decluttering it to a point where it feels really good for you. That's what it's all about.Juli Wenger:
There's a target of what helps life be easier. And simpler that I know, we've been working on adopting as a family. And that's all kinds of interesting with small kids, right of learning to helping them learn to let go of things. Because they don't want to, it's like, No, I want to keep that puzzle forever. But buddy, you never play with it, right? They're so attached to their things. And in that, that gives us some insight into our adult selves, right? That we attach to our things. And we create these connections to them or this convincing that we need it, even though we never touch it, or whenever look at it, or we never use it. So what do you see being helpful with that in your practice and your work and helping people to let go of stuff that really is not serving them. And it's just wait, yeah, andUnknown:
I mean, that's a huge thing for a lot of us. And I mean, I wasn't immune to that myself, either. For me, where I started, I actually started complete opposite of where I am. Now, I'm pretty unlikely kind of a person to get into this. So I had kind of a low key shopping addiction, for clothes. So of course, naturally, like closer what I've had the most trouble letting go of even I'm about six years later into this right now. So for me, I do have a series of kind of questions I'll go through to just run through it in my mind to ask myself, and this is what I recommend to clients as well. So do I need this? Do I use this? Do I love this? And the most important question is, does this align with me right now? So does this fit with the life that I have right now the lifestyle I'm creating? Or is it something that maybe I'm holding on to from my past that I don't need anymore? So just sort of, you know, going a little deeper and exploring why you want to hold on to something, and a lot of it is I think I might need this later, you know, so that's a big one, let's so kind of that just in case. And that's huge for a lot of people. So if you just sort of play that scenario out, in your mind, so Okay, let's say that I did let this go. And what let's say that I did need it again, in the future or felt like I wanted it as an option in the future, what would I do? So you know, maybe you're in a place where you could use something else in its place, be a little resourceful, you know, kind of replace it with something else. Maybe you could borrow it from somebody, if it's something that it's you might kind of need it for one time later. Or maybe it's something you could rent even or, you know, if worst case scenario like could you buy this again, you know, do you have the resources to go out and buy it again, if you had to? And most of most of the time, you could answer yes to almost all of those questions. So why let it take up space in, you know, in that closet, like free up, free it up, let it go.Juli Wenger:
There is something really incredible about opening a drawer or a closet and having an empty shelf, yes, or having just breathing room. And that very much mirrors because you know, I get all excited about the psychology of all of this. The breathing room also shows up mentally, because our physical stuff has a psychological weight to it. I know you and I have talked about that before. Because we have to take care of it and it takes energy. It takes energy to get rid of it, it takes energy to get it it takes energy to maintain it. It just takes energy to look at it and process all the stuff that we have. And I'm seeing right now it's actually been really interesting with COVID. And I'll let you speak to this too. But people who are spending so much more time at home and are really having to contend with the volume of stuff and also contend with their patterns of bringing stuff in. Especially if it's numbing or something right or if it's a coping mechanism. There's all this stuff coming in and it's becoming overwhelming. So what are you seeing in your business there?Unknown:
Well, it's It's kind of funny, it ebbs and flows as we reopen and closed down. But really, like you were saying, like, in general, you know, being at home, we're, we're kind of confronted with it right? So whereas before you can close the door on it, you go to work, you leave for the day, you close the door on it, you kind of turn a blind eye to it on a daily basis, so it's easy to kind of put it off and forget about it. But when you're working at home, it's around you all day, when you are just not doing as many things socially, you're, you know, doing things within your home, you are completely confronted by it. So definitely a lot of people have become fed up with it. Whereas because it's causing that frustration on a regular basis, right. So I mean, the donation centers are, you know, full, when COVID first started, when they when they reopened again, of course, as well, they were just overwhelmed, you know, with the amount of drop drop offs and things like that. So, you know, that kind of reflects it as well. But it does go to show how, you know, our surroundings really do affect us, they affect our well being really,Juli Wenger:
so one of the things that occurred to me as you were chatting about how people get rid of things, because I think this is important in leaning into the overwhelm that can show up. And I bought a backseat to some of that even with some of my clients and my business, right have, but there's just so much and it's built up for, you know, a while it's heavy, it feels like a lot, right? There's something that you mentioned, that made me think about aspirational identity versus our old selves. So this is really this becoming ourselves process of looking at our stuff in this context of who is that I want to be, and what aligns with who I want to be and what I'm becoming and what I value in my life right now, which is what you're speaking to. And what is me holding on to an old version of myself, what is me holding on to a previous version of my life? How is our stuff actually weighing us down and keeping us from our next growth curve, or keeping us from that next expansion, because it's this outward manifestation of maybe internal chaos, or it's an anchor to old patterns or things like that. So what comes to mind when we talk about that,Unknown:
you know, I love how you brought up kind of the aspirational side of it. And that's a really good, you know, because that can be confusing. As far as you know, who do I want to become, right. So, you know, projects like, like supplies for projects that you want to do, like crafting kind of comes up for a lot of people that I work with. So, you know, they want to do like kind of a DIY project, maybe a crafting project, something like that. So they hold on to all these supplies, but they never do it. So what I would say to that is, if you are kind of going through your stuff, you're looking at what you can let go, how are you fitting that into your schedule, so that it really truly is somebody who you want to become you want to be the person who, you know, finishes all the scrapbooks? Or, you know, the person who does the bathroom? And does it themselves?Juli Wenger:
Yeah. Or reads that stack of books? Every Yes, yeah, booksUnknown:
are another one, too, for sure. When are you doing that? So if you, you know, you got to make it a priority as well, if that's who you want to be, it has to be in your life, right? So I would say if you're not kind of willing to get that into your calendar going forward, or if you just can't see a spot for it, maybe Now's not the time for that. So maybe you let it go for now. And you can revisit it, whether it's you know, in a few months, a few years. You know, when you can make that a priority. But you know why? Hold on to all all of that when you look at it, what do you feel maybe guilt that you haven't started yet? So it's not going to be bringing up good vibes for you to hold on to that either, right? Yeah, I would say definitely let it go. Let give it to someone else maybe. And then revisit that, again, when you actually, you know, can make that a priority for yourself.Juli Wenger:
And there's a piece there of whose story is it? Right, that aspirational identity. And this is something that I see show up in my business all the time is, is that thing that you're attached to, that you want to give your time to? Or give your energy to something that you actually want? Or is that something that you're shooting on yourself about? Is it something that you're supposed to do? Take another one of those enoughness checkboxes because often we'll you know, buy books because we think oh, well this is the thing that someone who is going to be quote unquote successful in my field or in these spaces of life that I occupy. That's what they would do. Yeah, so I should do that. And it's really innocuous sometimes or it's, you know, subtle, but it just shows up. And then we end up with this bookshelf full of stuff, or this drawer full of craft supplies or kids activities, or subscriptions or whatever. And when we really conclu into, okay, what is it I want for my life? And what is it, it fuels me and fills me up? Those things aren't actually aligned in someone else's stories. It's a societal kind of a should, and even with getting rid of stuff, and we can tie that back to the initial part of this conversation right of Is it a should that I should be more minimal? Is it a should that I shouldn't have so much stuff? Or is it really me tuning into myself and saying, I feel like this is too much I feel like maintaining this or keeping this clean? or finding things or all of that is just too much. So I'm going to choose intentionally to let it go. Yeah.Unknown:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I mean, it's, I mean, it's, it's that inner work, that it's the stuff that you teach, right. And I mean, you could either start with the inner work, and then let things go. I was the opposite. I started by letting things go. And that led me to do some of that inner work, as I got into looking at some of the stuff that I had to ask myself those kinds of questions, right. And I'm not, I'm still in the work, too. I mean, it's an ongoing thing, right. So it's not something that's going to happen overnight, or in one big purge or anything like that. So you can come at it from from two different ways. But I do think, you know, once you kind of go down this road, and really kind of like you were saying, like the intent, look at the intention behind what you have in your home, and what you decide to bring into your home as well, which is like an important piece of it. Especially for someone like, yeah, had a problem with that. Yeah, that's when you really kind of get into you have to dig deeper.Juli Wenger:
I don't want to get too deep into the environmental impact, because we could go on a total sidebar there. But yeah, we look at this stuff coming into our home. And we look at some of the patterns and things that have that continuing, because you could do a whole house purge, you could get rid of a whole bunch of stuff. And then two years later, you could be in exactly the same position. Exactly. Yeah. Right. What do you suggest that people really get curious about when they're looking at their consumption patterns to keep things from getting out of control kind of similarUnknown:
things? Really, you know, before you're, you're adding to cart and before you're, you know, clicking buy on it? You know, just really asking yourself, like, why am I buying this? Do I really need this, when went big one for me, when am I gonna use this or when am I gonna wear this? You know, and if you if you can, or the other thing, too, is like not to buy something just because it's on sale, or a good deal. Either. You know, that's another one that we can kind of get tied into, there's marketing and all the things right, all the ads that pop up. So kind of removing yourself from those kind of temptations, getting yourself off those, you know, retail, email subscriber lists, you know, giving up your 10% that they offer you to up your purchase to sign up. Yeah, and just like being really intentional, before you click that, you're going to buy something, another trick to leave in in your cart for 24 hours. So you know, sleep on it, and you'll find that you'll come back to it, and you probably don't really want all the stuff that's in there anyway. And just you know, I had to really kind of dig into the reasons why I was buying and motional reasons and like that, not enoughness like you were talking about, I mean, huge for me, you know, trying to kind of compensate by by buying things, you know, that I think will make me and not so, again, I mean, it's not that glamorous, but taking that you know, really deep dive inner inner work and kind of looking at, you know, what's driving those habits, what's underneath it, and you'll find that you're not going to want this stuff is much once you really get to the root of it.Juli Wenger:
Well, it's not glamorous, but it's freeing. know us doing our work of becoming more us. It's not convenient. It's not easy. It's kind of mundane, right? And I'm thinking to about even how we back up a step because so often this stuff becomes default. I think about Amazon and our budget through COVID. And it was so easy because we were ordering everything we could to the house. And we just think of something and oh, we should just order that. Oh, we should just get that we had like four Amazon boxes showing up at the door every day. And it was spiraling a little bit. And so one of the the hacks for me was how do I create friction? How do I create That momentary pause that interrupts the pattern a little bit? Yeah, make it not so easy. So the little stuff, like, take Amazon off my phone, take skip the dishes off my phone, so I have to actually go login to something or I know you had told me before, you know, don't put your card information in. So you have to actually physically go to your wallet and go get your card. Yep. Because that creates that momentary pause, right?Unknown:
Yeah. Yeah, if you're lying in bed about to order something like how badly do you want it? If you have to actually get up? You know, maybe go downstairs, go to another room? Have your wallet and find your credit card. So yeah, don't save your credit card numbers. For sure.Juli Wenger:
Yeah. So let's chat a little bit about virtual decluttering. Because this is something that I've seen you spending some time on, and we have, you know, physical stuff that creates psychological weight. And then we have these computers that we spend all this time on. So what is virtual decluttering?Unknown:
Oh, my gosh, yes, the digital virtual decluttering. I mean, there's, you can do that in so many different ways. But I mean, it's not something that we think of as clutter, right? You know, when you're saving something digitally, whether it's you know, all the photos on your phone, all of the apps because you think it's it's well, it's not always free, if you're paying for storage, but you think like it's you know, you can put as much as you want there, the desktop on my computer was really big. And I'll say to you, like digital decluttering is the last thing that I've stepped into. I did all the physical stuff first, and then kind of had to get my digital life in order. And that's definitely something that you know, needs constant maintenance. So getting good systems set up is key. Yeah, so I would use my desktop on my computer, it was basically a parking lot for anything. So if someone sent me an email, and I needed the document off of it, I just throw it on my desktop. So before I knew it, but your desktop is swimming with, you know, all these documents and icons and all kinds of things and to find some beers squinting at the screen, and you're looking for it, and you're probably you know, late for a meeting, or you've got to be on zoom with something in about five minutes. So it's stressful.Juli Wenger:
Yeah, it's like walking into the back Hall when it's an explosion. And you're going where are my keys?Unknown:
Yeah, exactly. Where did I put this? Where did I save this document? So it's kind of the same principle. I mean, you know, moving the excess stuff, deleting what you don't need. And then super key is getting those system simple folder and sub folder systems set up. And, and using those. So. But yeah, it's I mean, and talk about overwhelming, especially if you know you've been working online for years and saving things for years, bit by bit.Juli Wenger:
So if people are looking at where do I start? Because they're recognizing that okay, this might be getting in the way. I may have created some chaos. And I want breathing room. Instead, when I go from chaos to calm. Yeah. What is a small first step that they canUnknown:
take? Like, do you mean with digital or just in general?Juli Wenger:
How about one digital and one physical? Sure.Unknown:
So let's talk digital, I would say the first step that Well, there's a few first steps, I guess. But the first step is, of course, like to, to commit to it and get it into your calendar, right to clear some space and have some time for that. And I would say that's the first step for any kind of decluttering to be intentional about it set a specific time, then you've got that accountability. But I would say the most important thing first is to set up your system that you're going to use, like stop adding to the clutter, right. So you know, maybe drafted out on a piece of paper, that's what I did, I kind of sketched out on a piece of paper. I've heard other people suggest even doing like post it notes, kind of doing a post it note system on the wall just to kind of figure out what your folders and your sub folders are going to look like. You can do this for digital files plus email as well. And start using that right away. So the other thing too, I'll add to that it's kind of a dual first step is to take everything, all the documents that are already just littered all over like your desktop, maybe they're just in your My Documents folder, gather them all up and put them just all into one folder, get your screens clear when you first come in, because you're going to be less tempted to add something else to a clear screen. Whereas if you're just adding like another thing to a giant pile like it doesn't seem like a big deal. So get it all in another folder. All it is is another click to find what you need. label it like I'm decluttering this or something, just give it a label and then when you've got your time scheduled in your calendar, maybe it's 15 minutes a day. jump in there for 15 minutes, start deleting or moving to the folders, the appropriate folders that you've set up already. So start using that, that folder sub folder system. And I mean for physical, pretty much the same thing key, getting that in your calendar, finding the time to do it. And then no matter whatever that time is, like set yourself up to do it, whether you're finishing one project a week, whether you're chipping away at, say, a big paper pile or something for 15 minutes a day, just kind of get your little decluttering station set up kind of out of the ways you're not tripping over it all the time. But Easy enough that you know, you can just jump back into it here in there and, you know, keep chipping away at whatever's driving you the craziest.Juli Wenger:
While and it gets easier as you start to make momentum. Right? It has, I always think about this from an ego perspective, because our ego is the thing that gets in the way, because it wants you the same. So when we lean into doing some of this work, it's going to show up and be like, No, just put it off. No, that's too much. Now let's throw up some overwhelm. Let's throw up some I can't let's throw up some I don't know how to throw up some confusion, and perfectionism and all this stuff. Right? So that will just stay stuck. And there is this really intentional choosing to know I'm going to do it. So as I'm kind of combining what I teach and what you teach and looking at it through these kind of blended lenses, it's this, where do I need to build an accountability? Who needs to know? Where am I talking through the resistance that's showing up so that I can step through it. Because if it's just in our head, and we're just thinking our way through it, it's going to take a whole lot more of our power, than if we give voice to it, we start speaking it out and getting some feedback from people that can encourage us and say, Okay, I hear you that you're facing some resistance right now. And you can do this, go step in go do the next thing. And that's the other piece, right is we have to chunk this stuff down, we have to turn it into just what's the next step. Not always focusing on the big picture. If you ever read the compound effect, new, I've heard this fun book by Darren Hardy. And when I was still in real estate, I read a few of his things, he had some really great material. And we talked about or he talked about in the book, how if we're always looking to the top of this giant staircase, that's our big hairy, audacious goal, or a B hag, that's overwhelming, because it's just too much. But when we have clarity on what that big goal is, and we can break it down into all of its constituent steps in the staircase, then all we have to do is okay, what's the next step? And we take that one step, we do that one thing, okay, that wasn't so bad. And then maybe I'll do another step today. And we take the next step. And then over time, as we're just making these little steps that are achievable pieces, like a kitchen drawer, or a closet shelf, or a folder on the computer, or whatever, all of a sudden, we look back, and we're halfway up the staircase. In it, wow, look at how much progress I've actually made. I maybe didn't feel like I was making a ton of progress. But I also wasn't getting completely overwhelmed by this big goal of I need to completely reorganize my entire computer system and all the emails and all the files are I need to completely purge my entire house. Yeah, right. And I think to that there's a lifestyle piece to this, right. This isn't just I'm going to do it once and then I'm done. Just like any personal growth is into I'm going to do it once and then I'm done. There is a continual giving time and attention to this. Yeah, but I would say that it gets a little simpler as time goes.Unknown:
Oh, absolutely. It gets Yeah, it gets it gets easier and easier. I love that. Because even with like it's not one and done like doing a big purge. I mean, that's great. It's gonna make life a lot easier. But it's no matter what, it's great TV. Yes, yes. Yeah, exactly, exactly. But this is something that needs to be maintained. So as you're going through this, and kind of even just starting and getting, you're building a habit, right. And that's a habit that you need to kind of keep up with, if this is the kind of lifestyle that you know, that you want. If you're wanting to, you know, kind of live a little more intentionally without as much stuff. You got to keep maintaining that. So I mean, like, I maintain it myself, you know, and there's always something to let go of, because you are always bringing stuff into and sometimes you make the wrong choices about what you bring in, no matter how intentional you try to be. And you need to kind of clear clear that away and I mean, there's also like consumable type things like kitchen and bathroom products or something that you know, are important to go through quite often as well like things that may be expired, that kind of thing. So like that's, you know, purging too, right. That's also clutter.Juli Wenger:
Yeah, and as you grow and you shift You change, there's things that you're not going to need that you did before. No. And I think about even the shifting of businesses, right? I have a whole bunch of brochure holders in my basement. And I know that some of those need to go, I know that we're not going to have in person events have the same capacity that we used to there are things that have changed in the last year and a half. There are some things that I can't use that rule of have I used it in the last year because life's been so weird. Yeah. But yeah. But there's a there's an element to I think of layers, right of the first time you go through things. And I've heard you speak to this before, there are things that you're ready to let go of. And there are other things you're not ready to let go of. And as you continue to lean in and do more of that work. It's like okay, yeah, now I'm ready to get rid of this other thing.Unknown:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I mean, you'll probably have to do several rounds. The first round things are usually fairly obvious, you know, something that's maybe worn or broken, that, you know, you're not going to repair, you know, things that are just multiples as well, you have five or six of something, it's pretty easy to let go of, you know, two, maybe three of them, right. But that'll still make a huge difference overall in your homes. But as you kind of keep going through and doing round number two, round number three, round number four, and so on. Yeah, things get a little bit, it's a little bit different. And but you know, you've kind of built that muscle to, right. So you've proven to yourself that you can live with fewer things, you've kind of reaped the benefits of it. So it kind of gives you, you know, you're a little more confident in letting go of more things. So it's a progression, like anything else.Juli Wenger:
So if people are looking for support on their journey, we will make sure to drop some links to you in the show notes so they can check you out and what you're doing. And Shawn is running some virtual decluttering parties right now. And there's other exciting things that I'm sure will be coming up. So make sure you check that out there. Thanks so much for spending time with us today. Shauna was really enlightening. And I think we'll be really supportive of people as we lean into fall into a new season, which tends to always prompt some of this stuff for me. So yeah, any last thoughts or tips for people as we close this up?Unknown:
You know what I would say? Just get it in your calendar and get started. You know, if you want to let go of things, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you forJuli Wenger:
Thank you so much. I hope this episode triggered something in you and got you thinking about your next growth curve. Make sure to check out the show notes for more details and links to resources or people that we've mentioned today. And make sure you hit follow or subscribe. And if you have a hot minute believe an awesome review. I would be so beyond grateful. Until next time, be too much. I dare you.