As a professional filmmaker making commercials, documentaries and animations, my days are long, frantic, and stressful.
Prep days involve endless documents: licenses, applications, call sheets, risk assessments. Shoot days involve truckloads of camera gear spread around a location and huge teams of people flitting this way and that.
As a producer, my job is to make sense of it all and ensure everybody is clear about what they’re doing then. Wrestling every single tiny moving part into shape and locking it down into a complex jigsaw.
At the end of the day, like every working professional, I want to relax. I want to be able to think clearly in the comfort of my own home. But for some reason, over the last few years, I haven’t been able to do that. Being at home has its own kind of stress.
A small flat filled with books, magazines, camera kit, notepads, trinkets, souvenirs. A busy kitchen that always needs cleaning. A wardrobe packed with clothes I don’t like. An overflowing laundry basket with shirts that always needs ironing. Cupboards with expired food that always need emptying.
I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt uneasy. Why I could never have clarity of mind in my own home.
Then, last year, both my grandparents passed away.
Amongst the myriad of complex emotions that come with the loss of two loved ones in quick succession, I was suddenly faced with a house to empty.
Drawers, cupboards, attics, entire rooms filled with things. Things that have been accumulated over the years. The house wasn’t a mess by any means. It was immaculate. Everything had its own place. But not everything had its own purpose. I wonder if much of it had even been looked at in the last twenty years.
So nearly all of that was donated.
Charity shops received trailers full of ornaments, books, old clothes. Recycling plants received trailers full of wrapping paper, boxes of gift cards, notebooks and printer paper.
Donating, removing, recycling all of these things was like lifting a huge weight off my shoulders. If it wasn’t essential, if it didn’t make me truly happy, it was out.
When I got home, I started to minimise.
There’s a growing movement of writers and filmmakers sharing similar experiences of minimising their lives. Marie Kondo brought it to the masses with her book and Netflix show, teaching people that tidying up is so much easier when you have fewer things to tidy.
I looked around my flat and immediately identified areas I could start minimising. I didn’t need three spatulas in my kitchen. I didn’t need four chopping boards. I didn’t need three pairs of jeans I never wore.
So now I have one spatula. One chopping board. One pair of jeans I really like.
And as my home became tidier, my mind became tidier. Not purely through reducing, but through revealing the things that mean the most to me. I didn’t throw away things I liked or things that I really needed.
By paring down everything I own, I was left only with things that made me happy. And guess what? Being surrounded by things you love makes it a heck of a lot nicer to come home after a stressful day at work.
It’s not something I could achieve in just a couple of hours of filling up bin bags. To minimise is going to be a journey. So I’d like to invite you to come on that journey with me.
I’m not going to preach to you how to live your own life. All I’m going to do is share my thoughts and discoveries as they relate to my own. And if that gives you a hint of inspiration for bringing some peace back into your own life then, well, mission accomplished.