The five strategies I use to clear my house and my mind

Photo of a tidy bedroom.
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When I moved across the country from my family I took whatever I could fit in three suitcases and a carry-on. Unintentionally, I had become a minimalist.

Unfortunately, that didn’t last too long. Over the past two years, I have accumulated quite a lot of, well, clutter. I lived with it for a while. But then I got tired of it.

Slowly, one day at a time, I’ve been decluttering.

I’ve found a consistent system to get things out, and over time I’ve cleared out a lot from my house. Decluttering became a routine. It became a habit.

I talk…


Not doing something perfectly is better than not doing it at all

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The number of times I haven’t sent an email because I was too anxious I didn’t write it “correctly” is ridiculous.

Or I spend hours, or honestly days, writing an email and then send it a week after when I should have. Now, I do that and I KNOW that not submitting a timely response is worse than sending an email that isn’t perfectly written.

I wrote an article all on how to send professional emails, and I stand by it.

However, what I didn’t articulate in that article is that you should send replies in a timely manner. Perhaps…


Asking for help isn’t a bad thing, but doing it yourself is a whole new feeling of self-empowerment

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I fixed my washing machine by replacing two suspension rods, changed out a light switch, and switched out the ballast in my light fixture this week.

I have no experience with washing machines, and electricity scares the living daylight out of me. I mean, after all, you can’t SEE it. I know to watch out for something that may fall on my head, but how do you watch out for something that is invisible?

Nonetheless, I faced my fears, and after quite a few trips to the local hardware store, I was successful.

I spent around 100 dollars in parts…


Please stop addressing me by my email handle

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As a part of my PhD program, I interact with a lot of undergraduate students. In my current role, I receive emails from 20–100 students each day most days. Some are incredibly professional (almost unnecessarily so) and on the other side of the coin, some don’t use complete sentences.

The disparate types of emails I’ve received have prompted me to write this article.

There are some basic features of professional email correspondence which should not be ignored. And while some might argue college does not necessitate such high levels of professionalism I will say three things.

  1. College is the perfect…


Spoiler alert- there aren’t any. Read on to find out why.

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I recently wrote a pair of articles discussing the financial value I place on particular material items. The first discussed 7 things I NEVER pay full price for.

The second discussed 7 things I ALWAYS pay full price for.

Well, someone responded to the latter piece saying “Every cheaper thing has some bad side, don’t they?”

It made me think a bit harder. DO they? Am I living my life so frugally that I’m missing out on all of life’s joys and pleasures?

After a bit more reflection I determined, no. Not every cheaper thing has some bad side. …


It’s about the little things, done consistently.

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Quarantine got the best of me. I’m going back to the basics- The health and fitness tips that worked for me when nothing else did. The tips that allowed me to sustain my progress, and not fall back into bad patterns after a week. The tips that allowed me to be the fittest I’d ever been.

The truth is, these tips weren’t things I had heard others talk about. They are tips I discovered through personal exploration.

I sincerely hope my personal journey can help you too. …


We will never not take moments for granted. But reflecting on those moments will allow us to have fewer regrets at the end of our own road.

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My classmate passed away last night.

My classmate took his last breath last night.

My classmate left the earth last night.

My classmate died last night.

No matter how you say it, death is a terrible, horrible, gut-wrenching experience.

He died in a car crash, leaving behind his loving wife and his little girl who had just had her first birthday.

We were both working on our PhDs. He had given me great advice for my comprehensive exams which are tomorrow and I was just thinking how I should reach back out and thank him when I logged onto Facebook…


Having fewer items allowed me mental space to understand that the most important items weren’t in tangible spaces

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I flew across the country from everything I knew and loved with just 3 suitcases. I didn’t have the ability to bring all of my material items from the state I had lived in my entire life to make my new one a home. So I clutched to my few mementos and prayed the items I brought would make it homey enough.

Two years later, a fraction of what is visible in my home are items from my childhood. Even some of the things I packed in those three suitcases I’ve begun to give away. I gave away some sentimental…


Being too hard on yourself limits your potential for growth

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Even when I do something “well” by society’s standard, I come back home and contemplate all the nuances where I could have been better. I think of my mistakes, my shortcomings, and my downfalls. I don’t think about my successes.

I performed with competitive winterguard teams for 9 years. It’s a combination of dance, flag, rifle, and sabre, nicknamed the sport of the arts for its combination of athleticism and theatre/dance. (Think marching band colorguard but indoors in an arena and without the band). …


Rules aren’t meant to be broken but sometimes they have to be

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When I was a Junior in high school my grandmother was very sick. I vividly remember my mother standing at the entrance to our garage asking- “Do you want to come with me to the hospital?” I said no, explaining that I had to go to school the next day to turn in an assignment. I’d never not turned in an assignment.

The next morning I got the call that she had passed away.

I have never felt such grief. I fell to the floor and cried and screamed and punched anything in sight. …

Trudy Horsting

Writer. PhD Student. Frugal Traveler. Passionate about health, personal growth, and saving money.

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