Minimalism helps many 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 to start. In this article you’ll find 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.
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. Whatever your reasons, write them down – and always keep them in mind when applying any of the principles that follow.
Organize, Then Assess
When things are disorganised, it can blow everything else out of proportion. 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 when everything has its place. If you can’t physically fit all your stuff into your available storage, then it may well be time for a purge. Being tidy and organised as a matter of habit will help you see the forest for the trees on this.
Don’t rush into everything all at once. You should be aiming for slow and sustainable change, not a radical one-day 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 with.
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.
Decided it’s time for a possession cull? Then let’s look at some practical ways of achieving that. The first and easiest thing to do is to stop buying any extraneous new things. If you are thinking of buying something, 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, 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, activities and events, but we want to look good while doing it. This leads to 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 eliminates both time spent choosing an outfit, and lots of extraneous clothing items.
If a uniform is too much for you, consider opting for what we 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 declutter. 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.
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, 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 and keep them there for 3 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 – instead ask yourself how often you use the item on average.
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 decluttering 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 decluttering guru Marie Kondo. 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?
We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to be a minimalist. Got any killer tips that we missed out? 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. Til’ next time.