When we hear the term “minimalism” it’s easy for us to immediately jump to the chic modern art style or imagine sparse, Scandinavian-designed rooms. But don’t be intimidated! The day-to-day practice of minimalism doesn’t need to be so stark and extreme. In this article, our goal is simply to help you cut out the unnecessary to focus on what matters.
So should you concentrate your efforts on material objects or internal well-being? Lucky for you, you don’t have to choose! It’s sort of a chicken-and-egg situation. With less clutter around, you’ll be less stressed and have more time to be happier and more productive.
If all this still sounds vague and unattainable — don’t worry! We’re going to lay out some helpful ways to dip your toes in the clear and clutter-free waters of minimalism without having to overhaul your lifestyle overnight.
Start off with a little self-reflection:
- What problems do you want to solve?
Are boxes, gadgets and doodads cluttering up the garage? Is all your “me time” eaten up by social obligations? Has materialism gotten the best of you? Don’t sweat — we’re only human. But here’s your chance to address these things head-on and begin to simplify whichever area of your life you’d like!
- What goals do you want to reach?
Now that you know what problems you’re addressing, what would your ideal, minimalist life look like? Set a definitive goal to reach. Why do you want to live more simply? What do you want to achieve? We know — it’s a lofty subject. So to help get you started, here’s how The Minimalists explain how this lifestyle has helped them:
- Eliminate their discontent
- Reclaim time
- Live in the moment
- Pursue passions
- Discover missions
- Experience real freedom
- Create more and consume less
- Focus on their health
- Grow as individuals
- Contribute beyond themselves
- Rid themselves of excess stuff
- Discover purpose in their lives
Ease yourself into it with baby steps:
- Take note of what you need.
Before you start filling up the trash and recycling cans, really start to scrutinize your own behavior and what you actually use on a day-to-day basis. Are there items that you walk by every day without ever using them? That 42-piece tupperware set may have seemed like a good idea at first, but maybe it’s better at taking up space than being of practical use.
- Create a small, clutter-free space.
Designate just one part of your living space as a clutter-free zone. In the beginning, it may just be a countertop in the kitchen or a small corner of the room. But as you start to hone in on the difference between need and never use, you’d be surprised how far you can expand this clutter-free area.
- Make three piles.
As you go through your closet (or other parts of your home), make three piles: yes, no and maybe. Keep the yes, donate/get rid of the no and hold on to the the maybe. If the clothes are still in the maybe pile after a month and you haven’t missed them at all, add them to the no pile. This is just an easier way of cutting down on clutter without having to second-guess yourself.
Step up your simplifying game:
- Remember YONO (You Only Need One).
If you live by this rule, you’ll be well on your way to mastering minimalism. You probably don’t need two copies of the same book or duplicates of the same frying pan. But always use discretion — you want to have more than one coffee cup, but not much more than that.
- Limit your screen time bit by bit.
If the whole point of minimalism is to cut back the unnecessary to focus on what matters, then that should also apply to unneeded binge-watching. Again, allow yourself the occasional splurge, but start chipping away at how much screen time you allow yourself and you’ll probably start to see a shift in priorities for the better.
- Eat more simply.
If you let it, minimalism will spread to every facet of your life — including mealtime. Only buying ingredients you’ll actually use will inevitably lead to more deliberate menus. You’ll have an easier time honing in on a specific diet and cooking simpler, more well-rounded meals! Not to mention you’ll cut back on unnecessary spending and reduce waste. Trust us, your stomach and budget will thank you.
- Do less. Live more.
Uncluttering your calendar is easier said than done, no doubt about that. But once you start prioritizing objects and food, it becomes natural to start doing the same with your free time. You might shift your priorities toward one or two main goals (which could even be as simple as “relax more”), and let the superfluous time-wasting things drop by the wayside.
Full disclosure: There is no “right path” when approaching minimalism. It’s really whatever works for you and what you want to get out of it that will determine what being a minimalist will look like in your life. If you start the journey, let us know how it’s going or what you’re struggling with in the comment section.
As American philosopher Vernon Howard said: “You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.”