Living a minimalist lifestyle probably sounds like something we’re quick to dismiss or categorize under “Maybe Next Year,” but this particular way of living might be your key to a happier life. Those who have indulged in minimalism have stated that their lives (not to mention their homes) have gotten significantly brighter once they decluttered their rooms and schedules to make more time for themselves. Not to mention, decluttering your home has numerous benefits to your mental health such as reduced stress, better decision making, and the ability to literally sleep better at night.
You may have wondered how to become a minimalist at one point in your life, but it’s much more than just purging your closet or donating some of your favorite books to a local thrift store or library. Minimalism takes a little bit of discipline and hard work because, after all, you’re adopting a new lifestyle. If you’ve ever wondered how to become a minimalist but weren’t sure where to start, we’re here to help get you going.
Load up on garbage bags, notepads, and storage bins because here are just a few of the things you can do to help yourself inch closer to a minimalist lifestyle.
Make A List Of What You Don’t Need
One of the first things you should do is make a list of what you can throw away, donate, or otherwise get rid of. When you look around your house you might not think there’s too much to get rid of, but once you zero in on things you don’t technically need or rifle through your closet to find neglected articles of clothing, you’re going to come up with something. As soon as you start digging around in your closet, kitchen cabinets, or bookshelves, you’ll come across pages of things you don’t need or can get rid of without too much heartbreak. Without paying attention to what we accumulate in our homes, it can be easy to continue adding to the pile. Make a list of non-essentials and work your way from there,
More Than One? Get Rid Of It
Here’s where the decluttering process begins. Once you have your list compiled you can go through your home and start collecting things you’d like to get rid of.
However, if you were stuck on where to begin or you didn’t really have more than a few items listed, you can start going through duplicates. Do you have the same sweater in three different colors? Donate two of them and keep the one you like the best. Do you have dozens of cute mugs but only drink coffee from one or two of them? You know what to do. Encourage yourself to get rid of things you know you don’t use.
This rule also applies to the things that you technically do need. Things like bank statements, credit card bills, phone bills, and the like can be digitized so you don’t have an excess of paper building up on your kitchen table. Consider moving things over to e-statement form so you can reduce the clutter in your home.
You also don’t need to limit yourself to your physical space. Take a look at your phone. Do you have more than a couple games or apps on there that you don’t use? Sift through what you have saved on your phone and delete any apps that you haven’t used for a few months. Go through your photos, notes, and messages and get rid of anything you don’t need there either. Decluttering everywhere will ultimately make your life way easier.
Create A Clutter-Free Space
A simple trick to keeping your home clutter-free is to declare a no-clutter space. It doesn’t have to be something as grand as your entire living room, but it can be something like your kitchen table, your desk, your counters, or your coffee table. Select a space in your home and make a promise to yourself not to fill it with knick-knacks, paperwork, mail, or loose clothing. Keep that one particular space free of any clutter in order to reserve a spot in the home that will always maintain your minimalism. It will also serve as inspiration for you to spread the idea to other areas of the home.
Don’t Fill The Cart
The next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t stock up on things you don’t really need. It might sound like a good idea to get two boxes of coffee filters or three bags of chips, but unless you’re stocking up for the apocalypse or a house party, you don’t need it. Keeping your cart free of unnecessary clutter not only saves you some money but also spares you the time of going through multiple boxes of pasta before dinner. Plus, you won’t have to purge your cabinets every few months or forget about those pudding cups in the fridge. Only purchase what you absolutely need or know you’ll use.
Another way to avoid clutter is to pay close attention to sales in the grocery store. They sound great on paper but unless you really need to take advantage of a “buy 3, get 3” deal, you don’t need all that excess clogging your pantries.
Pack A Lighter Load
Maybe you’re taking a trip to your parents’ house for the weekend or heading out of town with a group of girlfriends, but the chances are that you’re sitting on your suitcase to try and close it. Not anymore. Whatever it is you think you need, try to slice that amount in half. You don’t need to pack five dresses for two days or eight pairs of shoes for a weekend with the folks. Plus, carrying a lighter load is only one of the benefits to not packing half your wardrobe with you. A big part of minimalism is trying to incorporate the lifestyle into as many aspects of your life as possible. Understanding that more is less is one of the first steps to minimalism.
Take Up The “One In, One Out” Rule
This step is one of the most important for new minimalists. Whenever you feel like purchasing a new item, whatever it may be, get rid of something that you already own. By adopting this rule you’ll help yourself maintain the clutter of your home while simultaneously forcing yourself to reevaluate the need for a new purchase.
Save Your Money
Easily one of the biggest perks of minimalism is the ability to save money. By not making unnecessary, frivolous purchases and reminding yourself to live off of what you already own, you’re saving yourself money. We all know that having a rainy day fund not only takes a load off our minds but also gives us the freedom to purchase whatever essentials we need in the future.
Having additional funds stashed away helps you get closer to the bigger picture of buying a home, repaying any debt, repairing appliances or springing for any remodeling to your home, and just having money to rely on. Investing in the minimalist lifestyle is a good way to invest in your future too.
Focus On One Thing At A Time
As adults, it can be hard not to spend all of our time on work, putting in overtime, making dinner, getting the kids ready for school, and about one million other things the day calls for. But, adjusting to a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t just extend to your physical home. A big part of minimalism is clearing your schedule and making your day-to-day life easier but not piling on a bunch of tasks.
What many minimalists call for is for you to focus on one thing at a time. It might seem difficult with a jam-packed schedule, but if you take a look at everything you do in a day, a week, a month you’ll be able to make alterations to your schedule that better suit your needs. It might take a bit of time to adjust, but don’t bombard yourself with thoughts on what to do next. Focus on what’s in front of you and don’t stress yourself out by multi-tasking.
Purge “Just In Case” Items
We all know how it goes. One day you’re buying a cute dress in case of a fancy dinner party or an expensive tea set in case Queen Elizabeth ever comes by, but those days don’t come. The next thing you know your cabinets and closets are filled with items you haven’t even touched in years. It’s time to get rid of those items. You don’t need them and chances are you never really did. It can be fun and even impulsive to indulge in the thought of a “just in case” purchase, but these items just add to the clutter in your home and set you back further from minimalism. You can always donate or toss away those items and chances are you’ll be able to buy extra shoelaces when you really need them.
Give Your Closet A Makeover
One of the biggest hubs for clutter is the closet. Between shoes, sweaters, winter accessories, and clothing we haven’t worn in years, the closet is a terrific place to start emptying belongings. You might find it hard to part with some things, but if you discover items of clothing you forgot existed, don’t make excuses for why you should keep them. Then they’ll wind up in the “just in case” pile and you’re right back to square one. Instead, donate them to people who can get some use out of them. An added bonus is that cleaning our your closet makes getting ready much easier in the morning or before an outing. With only so many of your favorite outfits to choose from, you’ll be dressed to impress in a fraction of the time.
Take It From The Experts
There is a ton of reading material out there on how to become a minimalist. If you’re interested in reading a full novel about the subject or learning about the art of minimalism from the experts then you should try books like The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, or Essential: Essays by The Minimalists if you’re looking for multiple opinions in one place.
You may be nervous to start but some of the most well-noted minimalists were once where you were. Start small and work your way up to the minimalist lifestyle you always dreamed of.