Look around the room you’re in right now. How many items in this room do you actually use? Of everything in the room, how many of the items make you feel happy? We tend to buy and collect things we don’t need. These things don’t bring us joy and typically don’t serve a specific purpose. Yet, we hold onto all of these unused, unloved items. We fill our homes with them and bring them with us when we move to our new homes. It’s hard to break the cycle and completely reevaluate what we actually need in our lives. This new thinking is what brought about the minimalist movement and encouraged more people to live minimally.
What is Minimalism
Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist describes minimalism as the “intentional promotion of the things we value most and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” Essentially, minimalism is identifying the things you value most in your life. After you’ve identified those things, you begin to get rid of everything that interferes with those things you value. Once you’ve removed all obstacles, minimalism is about continuing to live intentionally. This is to say, once you’ve gotten rid of all the “clutter” you no longer allow things into your life that do not align with your values or the things that bring you happiness. There’s no right way live minimally. The way that you interpret living minimally and maintaining it is up to you.
Where to start:
Identify your values – Start by identifying the things in your life that you value. This could be time with your family, your happiness, time with friends – anything you want. The goal of minimalism will be to eliminate things that get in the way of your values. You will be building a life that enhances these values rather than detracting from them.
Identify your excesses – What currently takes up your space? Identify places that make you feel overwhelmed or stressed. This could be a cluttered car, an overpacked fridge, or even just a cluttered counter. What takes up your time? How about your energy? This can be physical things, but it also could mean things like watching too much TV, spending time on social media, or even being around someone negative.
Make a plan – Determine a plan of attack to start living minimally. Set clear goals for yourself and work toward them daily. Decide where you are going to start and how you will begin to clear the “clutter” from your life each week. Once you begin living minimally, you’ll also need a plan in place to make sure you continue in the right direction. This plan could simply be to go around your home once a week with a trash bag and get rid of anything you’ve brought into your home that week that does not spark joy.
How to Live Minimally:
Define the value of items – For each item that comes and goes, take the time to define what the item means to you. Look for things that serve a purpose, spark joy, or bring you closer to the things you value. If it does not check these boxes, you probably don’t need it.
Choose quality over quantity – Being a minimalist doesn’t mean being cheap. In fact, it’s better to invest in quality items that will fully serve their purpose than cheap items that constantly need to be replaced. For example, you can buy 5 cheap shirts for $50 that will each last you a few months. Or, you can invest in one $50 shirt that is well-made and will last you for years.
Invest in reusable items – Changing to reusable items in your home will save you money, space, and time that would have been spent shopping to replace the disposable alternatives. Plus, you won’t have to take out the trash as much after cutting out things like plastic wrap, baggies, paper towels, disposable plates and cutlery, and plastic water bottles.
Declutter regularly – Even after you’ve fully embraced living minimally, you may still find yourself bringing in things you don’t truly need. Every week or so, walk around with a grocery bag and collect things that have made their way into your home. You’d be amazed at how much you collect in just ten minutes walking around your house.
Go paperless – The next step is to reduce paper clutter coming into your home. Begin tackling your paper clutter with receipts. Unless you use receipts to track expenses, start opting out of receipts. Places like gas stations and ATMs will give you the option of not receiving a receipt. Many other places will give you the option to email yourself a receipt instead of printing it. After you’ve tackled receipts, take the time to transfer all other statements and receipts online. This includes bank statements, credit card statements, and utility bills.
Live by the 1 in 1 out rule – Living minimally doesn’t mean you can’t go shopping or bring new things into your home. It does, however, mean you need to be mindful of the things that are entering your home. Living by the 1 in 1 out rule will help you determine what items are really worth bringing into your home. Through this rule, you are allowed to bring things in, but it means something else must go. Not only will it discourage you from buying things you don’t need, but it also makes sure clutter doesn’t build in your home.
Pair down to a capsule wardrobe – If you’ve never heard of a capsule wardrobe, now is the time to do your research. Essentially, capsule wardrobes consist of 25-35 basic wardrobe staples. These staples are able to be mixed and matched to create a variety of over 100 new outfits. By owning less clothing, you’re able to budget more money toward quality clothing that looks good on you and will last longer. It also reduces stress in the morning when deciding on an outfit.
Delete your social media apps – This part is optional, but if you’re someone who spends a lot of time on social media this may be a good idea. As mentioned, living minimally is not just getting rid of clutter. It means getting rid of anything in the way of the things we value. If you value time with your family, and social media is demanding your energy and attention, it is a roadblock.
Unsubscribe from junk mail – Junk mail is another source of paper clutter that finds its way into your home. One option or eliminating junk mail is to stand directly over your trash can when going through your mail and immediately throwing it away. For some types of junk mail, you can actually unsubscribe online.
Don’t dive in head first – One of the most important tips for living minimally is to start small. It can be exciting to get started, but you don’t want to burn yourself out before you’ve even gotten started. Give yourself time to adjust to living with less. You may even want to rent a storage unit for the first few months to allow yourself more time to get rid of items while still keeping them out of your immediate surroundings. Start getting rid of clutter in one room in your home and slowly work your way across the house.
Don’t quit! – It’s okay if your journey to living minimally is not perfect. Transitioning to a life with less physical items can be a challenge and won’t happen overnight. The best thing you can do is refuse to quit. Continue to make room for the things in your life that make you happy, no matter what pace you take.
There’s truly no right way to live minimally. It is completely up to you how you tackle this journey. The items listed in this blog are simply suggestions, not guidelines for how to achieve minimalism. If having a closet filled with clothing makes you happy, then you should keep your closet. The goal is not to live with nothing, but rather to make room for what makes you happy. If at the end of the day you have more time, space, and energy for the things in your life that you value, then you have succeeded in living minimally.
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