Thinking about adopting a minimalist lifestyle, but not sure if it’s for you? Or maybe you’re sold on the idea, but not sure how to go about it? Either way, you’ve come to the right place. We strongly believe that living a minimalist life has the potential to change the world for the better. But we also know it’s hard for some to take that first step – it’s usually the hardest. That’s why we’re going to look at our favourite reasons to go minimalist, and show you how to get started on the journey.
Why Go Minimalist
Let’s start off by looking at some common reasons that people opt for a minimalist lifestyle. But before we get into that, let’s figure out what the heck we’re talking about here anyway
What Is Minimalism?
Look around on the internet, and you’ll find a lot of definitions for what constitutes living a minimalist lifestyle. Some will tell you it’s all about setting a strict limit on the number of things you own. Others take a more nuanced view, deciding instead to embrace the principle of living ‘intentionally’. It’s safe to say we’re in the latter camp. So what is living intentionally? Put simply, it involves deciding what things you truly *need* in your life, and doing without the rest. Whether that leaves you with 4 possessions or 400, the end result is the same: you’ve eliminated the extraneous ‘stuff’ from your world.
This doesn’t mean that everything you own has to have some function or utility – at least not in the traditional sense. If you want to keep an object because it’s beautiful, or sentimental, then it’s just as ‘useful’ – and necessary to your well being – as your wallet or a multi-tool is.
Still not sure if living like a minimalist is for you? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits.
Our Favourite Reasons To Become A Minimalist
Let’s start with the basics. Less stuff in your life means less clutter. It means less time spent tidying and fretting, and more time to do the things you love. When you live in a tidy space, with only the bare essentials you need, an incredible sense of Zen descends on you. Suddenly all that ‘stuff’ that seemed important has melted away, and you wonder why you cared so much about it in the first place. Plus, you never have to look far to find something you need!
Did you ever think about how much time we actually spend on ‘stuff’? Acquiring it, admiring it, maintaining it, replacing it – you’d be surprised how much it adds up. With fewer things in your life, you’ll get a lot of time back. In fact, what you do with it becomes the next logical question.
Having fewer possessions gives you more time for experiences – which tend to be a much bigger player in terms of our overall happiness. Don’t believe me? Then just think about the happiest times in your life – for most people it will be their wedding day, or maybe a trip to Disneyland, or that time you and your friend just couldn’t stop laughing over nothing. The chances are low that anyone’s happiest memory is owning and holding the latest iPhone. Experiences – not things – drive our happiness and create our most cherished memories.
Care For The Planet
As a rule of thumb: The less you consume, the better it tends to be for the planet. Of course there are nuances, but cutting down the amount of stuff you buy is generally a great – and easy – way of caring for the environment. Plastic waste in particular is a huge problem, with much of it ending up in the ocean. So why not show some love for the planet that keeps you warm and breathing, and say no to consuming more stuff.
Free Range Humans
When you become a minimalist, you’ll find yourself more fleet-footed than before. When you have fewer things to physically carry, moving around a lot is easier – even fun. Of course we can’t all sling every single possession inside one rucksack (although a minimalism ‘purist’ certainly could). But even if you can fit all your stuff onto a car or motorbike – instead of a giant moving truck – it will give you more freedom to roam.
Some High Grade S***
When you live like a minimalist, you learn to appreciate the things you have – and how. This means you end up buying the best quality versions of your possessions that you can possibly find – whether it’s your phone or a dish towel. Owning a few high-quality, built to last objects will give you much more satisfaction than whole mountains of cheap crap. And because you’re not spending money on endless amounts of trash, it’s easier to save for those few high-quality possessions.
Finding What’s Important To You
This is our favourite reason of all for going minimalist, although it’s also the least tangible. Finding out what is important in your life is a valuable skill in and of itself, and it’s something that many find difficult. We live in a crazy, non-stop, globalised, attention guzzling world. Asking the question “What’s important to me?” is something that some of us never really even have time for. Starting off by applying it to something simple like your possessions is a great way to begin self-reflecting.
For example, maybe you’re having a clear out and find a long-forgotten photo album. Not only do you decide to keep the album, but you’re also going to call that friend – the one who’s in half the photos but you haven’t seen in years. Or maybe having a possession purge gives you the zen and clarity to come to a realisation, such as wanting to quit your job or spend more time with family. Or maybe you find that spending less money on stuff lets you save for something important to you – that cruise or skydiving trip you always wanted. Once you start really becoming conscious about what’s important in your life, you’ll find that it naturally takes centre stage in everything you do.
Minimalism can help people to live happier, more fulfilled and less cluttered lives. If you’re ready to take the plunge into a minimalist lifestyle, you’re probably wondering “Where do I start!?” Well, next we’re going to look at some of our favourite practical tips and tricks when it comes to purging your possessions, deciding what’s important, and living that life of freedom.
How To Become A Minimalist
So, you’re totally sold on the why now, right? Okay, even if you still need some convincing, I’d urge you to take a look at the next section of this article. Mostly because going minimalist is probably a lot easier than you’d think. By breaking the process down into small, manageable baby steps, you’ll be off and running in no time. Let’s take a look at how to get started on the journey toward minimalism.
There are, broadly speaking, two things to be aware of here: what’s going on in your head and what’s going on in the physical world. In other words, all the organisation in the world won’t help you if you’re not ready to embrace a minimalist mentality. Be prepared to make do with less, and keep on top of organisation, or else all your practical de-cluttering will be for nothing. Let’s look at both sides of the coin, starting with mentality.
Centre Yourself, Then Find What’s Important
A big part of being a minimalist is deciding what is important in your life, and making it a focal point. Maybe you want to spend more time with your kids, but you feel stressed out because the house is messy. Maybe you want to travel more, unburdened by physical baggage. The best thing to do is start regularly finding some quiet time for yourself. Unplug, put your devices on flight mode and listen to some relaxing music. Or maybe sit in total silence.
Once you’ve done this for 30 minutes or so, hopefully you’ll be in a better position to judge what you really want out of your home life, and what minimalism is about for you personally. Whatever your reasons, write them down – and always keep them in mind when applying any of the following principles.
Organize, Then Assess
When things are disorganised, it can blow everything else out of proportion. A messy home can amplify your sense of having a disorganised life. You may think that piles of ‘junk’ are stressing you out, but could it be that it’s just not organised very well? You’d be surprised how much difference it makes to your life when everything has its place.
Remember, when it comes to storage, IKEA is your best friend. If you can’t physically fit all your stuff into your available space, then it could well be time for a purge. But being tidy and organised as a matter of habit will at least help you see the forest for the trees on this. Try to make time every day for a quick tidy around the home.
Don’t rush into everything all at once. You should be aiming for slow and sustainable change, not a radical one-day life overhaul. If any of the changes you’re trying to make are unsustainable, you’ll only end up rowing back into the same mess you started off with.
They say it takes around 2 months for a behaviour to become a habit. If anything you’re trying to do sounds difficult to pull off for that long, then consider smaller and easier changes first.
Prepare For Hard Choices
Living a minimalist lifestyle can involve some pretty tough decisions. Prepare to ask yourself difficult questions about everything you own. For example, if you know you have lots of sentimental possessions – and have trouble parting with them – then ask yourself two things:
- Is it useful?
- Does it bring me joy?
If the answer to either question is yes, then keep it! Minimalism isn’t about some punitive quest for ever-fewer things, it’s about finding what makes us happy and focusing on that. Be honest with yourself though, as you’re likely to be happier without anything that answers no to the questions above. For tips on finding what brings you joy, we recommend Marie Kondo’s excellent book The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up (naturally, we recommend the Kindle version!)
Okay, so now that we’ve covered the importance of having the right mindset, what happens when it’s time for a possession cull? Well, there are lots of easy and practical ways of achieving your first major de-clutter. The first thing you should do is stop buying any extraneous new things, before tackling what you already have.
If you’re thinking of buying something, first ask yourself whether you really need it and can afford it. If the answer to either question is no, then put your wallet away.
When it comes to dealing with the stuff you already have in the home, here’s what we recommend:
Clothes tend to be one of the biggest and most space-consuming piles for many people. Not only do we have to be prepared for a variety of seasons, weathers, activities and events, but we also want to look good while doing it. This leads to most of us having mountains of threads.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many people subscribe to the idea of a uniform – wearing the same simple set of clothes every day. This saves you time by getting rid of the outfit choice dilemma, and helps you get rid of extraneous clothes to boot. Huffpost has an interesting take on this which is well worth a read.
If a uniform is too much for you, consider opting for what I call the ‘best self’ rule. Keep only the pieces of clothing that you feel absolutely amazing in. If it doesn’t get you checking yourself out in the mirror for way too long, then it needs to go. This allows more flexibility than a uniform, makes you look and feel great in everything you wear, and gets rid of everything else. Imagine waking up every day and knowing that whatever you wear, you’ll look great!
Music, Books And Other Media
Thanks to digitisation, this is one of the easiest areas of your life to de-clutter. Your book collection can be replaced by a Kindle, and your CD’s and DVD’s with Netflix and Spotify. We know it’s difficult to part with some physical forms of media (personally I’m a sucker for both vinyl and old books). So ask yourself honestly what’s more important: the extra head-space or the joy that those items give you.
If it’s the latter, then that’s just fine. Part of minimalism is paying attention to what gives you happiness, and trying to spend more time and energy on it.
Another piece of low-hanging fruit is getting rid of any tools you have lying around. A single high-quality multi tool (we recommend the outstanding Leatherman Wave) can accomplish 99% of everyday household tasks.
When you need something more specific or heavyweight, such as a drill, why not ask to borrow one from a neighbour? You’ll accomplish what you need to do, and maybe make a new friend into the bargain. Household tools tend to sit idle most of the time, so getting rid of as many as possible is a no-brainer.
Batteries, board games, knick-knacks, tangles of unknown cables – chances are there’s a lot of ‘miscellaneous’ stuff in your life. The easiest solution for these items is apply the ‘use it or lose it’ rule. Put all the items in one place – ideally some place hard to reach – and aim to keep them there for 3 whole months. If you haven’t used them and don’t miss them during that time, you know what to do.
Remember to make exceptions for seasonal or special occasion items. With these, ask yourself how often you use the item on average, or how often in the last year.
The most difficult things to part with tend to be those with sentimental value. Here, we’d urge you to look at what you’ve achieved so far in terms of de-cluttering before tackling personal items. If your house is already more orderly, then maybe it’s time to leave personal items for another day when you can give it your full attention. Or maybe you don’t need to get rid of them at all – there’s nothing wrong with having a house full of sentimental items that bring you joy. In fact, just the opposite.
If you decide you do need to part with personal items however, here is some advice from the Marie Kondo’s book. Try and attune yourself to whether your personal items spark joy inside you. It can be difficult to figure out at first, but the more you practice the more attuned you become to the sensation. You’ll soon figure out which items truly mean the most to you, and those are the ones you should keep.
Ready To Get Started?
Well, that was a lot to take in. If you’re still reading, congratulations! I hope you enjoyed this guide on whether and how you should become a minimalist. Remember, although it seems like a lot at first, you can make big strides with some small changes now. Then when you’re ready, you can build on those small changes and make bigger ones. Pretty soon you’ll become healthier, happier and wealthier, and wonder how you ever got by before you became a minimalist!
Got any killer tips that we missed out? Or another to love minimalism? We’d love to hear them in the comments! And don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog to see what else we’ve been up to. Until next time.