I’d planned to write about teachers and minimalism a couple of weeks ago. As luck would have it, a few things got in the way. Perhaps for the best, I now find myself writing on Black Friday. A day when consumerism rules, for many people, anyway.

In case you hadn’t noticed, minimalism is big right now. You may know the Marie Kondo book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. If you haven’t read it, it’s not just about tidying up or decluttering but about the positive changes that you’ll experience in your life once you’re no longer encumbered by all those physical possessions.

A nice idea, but teachers are already focused on higher things, right?
Well, yes and no. As teachers, we’ve chosen a profession based around helping others and combatting inequality. In many cases, we’ve left jobs in higher paid professions because we want to make this difference.

Depending on where we live, our salaries may or may not be higher than those of our neighbours.

But minimalism is not just about committing ourselves to giving up most of our possessions, living in tiny houses or owning fewer than one hundred items. It’s a philosophy that encourages us to reflect on how to live our lives better.

Minimalism is about rejecting the urge to consume without reflecting on why.

Minimalism is about prioritising time, and recognising it as a finite commodity.

Minimalism is about enjoying experiences rather than purchases.

I used to believe that I did of all these things. I was already pretty good at knowing what is important in life and you probably are too.

But taking some time to look at your life and values is something we should do regularly. Try asking yourself the following:

Do I waste money buying things that I rarely use and that clutter up my home?

Do I waste time on social media? Does that take me aware from my work and my loved ones?

Do I waste time looking for things at home and at work because they get lost amongst things that I don’t really need to hang on to?

Have I forgotten the pleasure of simple activities such as reading, playing with my children or chatting with colleagues?

Do I tell myself that I’ll be happier once I’ve received a pay rise, reached the end of term or even retired?

Minimalism isn’t just about owning less stuff, although that clearly is part of it. It’s about reassessing what’s important and giving ourselves the time and energy to enjoy those things.

As teachers, we’re often guilty of deciding that we’ve already made the right decision and don’t need to assess our lives again.

But reflect and reassess regularly. Once we do this, we can continue to make small everyday improvements that build greater happiness and value in our lives. Isn’t that what we all want?

Easy Ideas for Everyday Minimalism

Each weekend, spend time tidying and decluttering a room in your house. When I pass something on that I no longer need it feels good – just like when I cross something off a to-do list.

When you or a family member want to buy something, wait a day or two. If you decide you don’t really need it, don’t buy it.

Have a specific place for everything, particularly things you need each day like car keys. It’ll save you time when you’re not searching for them each morning.

Always make a shopping list to avoid impulse buys. Go food shopping on a full stomach for the same reason.

Remember that you can always make more money, but you can never get back wasted time – so value it.
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