Do you want to find out how to be a minimalist? In this article, you will find 10 practical tips for embracing a minimalist lifestyle!
You must have heard terms like “minimalist living” or “becoming minimalist”. Contrary to common misconception, a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you like. It doesn’t have to be about making big sacrifices – it could be something as simple as reducing the time to decide what flavor of coffee you want at Starbucks or the 15 minutes you spend on deciding what to have for lunch every day. Making minor changes can help you reap the benefits of being a minimalist.
First, you need to know why you want to make this lifestyle change a reality. Living with less is immensely liberating, but it is also a big change – and it can be easy to fall back into old habits in no time. Whether you are making this change as a family or an individual, it is crucial to do so for the right reasons. It is advisable to write down some of the key reasons you want to make this change. Reasons could be diverse such as wanting to save money as you are under debt, more space around the home, to carve out more time for yourself and loved ones, to live a simple life, and so on.
Your reasons for wanting to minimalize could be anything – the most important thing is that you are clear with yourself and loved ones as to why you are making these adjustments. When you start feeling overwhelmed or feel like this lifestyle change is a whole lot of work without much reward look at this list and keep reminding yourself why the change was needed in the first place.
Are you ready to accept the declutter challenge? Minimalism is based on the concept of managing with fewer possessions. The less clutter you have to deal with, the better you can focus on the things that you truly need and those that make you happy. However, transitioning into a minimalist lifestyle from scratch often means you have to know exactly how to declutter your home. Don’t try to tackle your entire home in one day, as this task can’t be rushed – pick one room at the start, throw out the clutter from that space, and move on to another room only when you are done with the present area. You can download declutter checklists online as well.
Another way to declutter your life is to opt for digital minimalism. There are always far too many tools, apps, software, etc. on phones, tablets, laptops, and computers. It is time to be free from digital chaos. Please make sure you digitally declutter once every week by moving old files and documents to Dropbox and freeing up space. Search for duplicate files, photos etc and delete them.
A systematic approach can work wonders when it comes to streamlining life. Regular tasks such as paying bills, medical checkups etc. can be structured into a system so you can function more smoothly. Have a laundry system, a bill payment system, email system, and so on, so you don’t have to invest more time in these tasks than is required. Creating a schedule can simplify your life to a great extent and is more efficient as well.
Capsule closets are essential items of clothing that can’t go out of fashion, and they go well with any other item in your wardrobe. Yes, you can keep a few items for special occasions such as a gown or skirt, but try to maintain the “minimal rule” as much as possible. Don’t keep stuff that you don’t feel comfortable in, donate stuff you haven’t worn in 6 months, avoid multiple items of the same style, and maintain a flattering color palette so your clothes can be coordinated. Remember, if your drawers and closets are flooding with stuff, it is time to make some space. Think of it this way, there are many people who would really need the clothes you haven’t bothered to look at or wear since purchasing them. Pack it all up and drop it off at you local charity center. It is a guarantee you will feel freer and better. The benefits of a minimalist wardrobe might not be apparent immediately, but you will gradually understand how positively it has impacted your life.
You wouldn’t believe how much time you can save by minimizing your TV viewing. The problem is, TV encourages being lazy and spending on material things seen advertised in between programs. Not only does it slowly turn you into a “couch potato”, but it also dulls the creativity in your mind. Did you know the average UK person spends almost 24 hours per week watching TV? An entire day of your life, per week, lost on television – the thought is utterly depressing, to say the least! Think of all the things you could be doing with your life without the distraction of the screen. Yes, it might not be possible to throw the TV out (it is a costly investment), but you can certainly cut down on watching it. Limit yourself to one hour a day in the evenings – it might not be easy in the beginning, but eventually, you get used to it. A better idea would be to cut yourself off at the source by canceling your cable altogether. A subscription to a service like Amazon ShowTime or Netflix is not only far cheaper but will mean you only watch TV when you want to watch something – not just because it is in front of you.
If you are fond of traveling, you need to learn how to pack light. Taking along everything you own for a vacation is not only impractical but costly as well if you are traveling by flight because you have to pay a bomb when you exceed the weight limit. Look up lists like the “best lightweight luggage for international travel” online. For those who plan to travel the world long-term, please know that minimalist packing is the best way to enjoy it. That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing the same outfit for days at a time, permanently smelling, and living on the bare essentials, but only taking what you really need and discarding the rest.
An average UK household wastes a whopping £470 worth of food per year, and this is mainly due to the fact that they don’t plan meals correctly. Your approach to food shopping and cooking each week can have a huge impact on your attitude towards the rest of the things in your home. Are you throwing out excess food every single week? If yes, it is time to create a proper meal plan for your family. Planning what to eat beforehand can be tedious and time-consuming, but it will be worthwhile. If you chalk out even 5 days out of 7, you can save money, while reducing clutter and waste in the cupboards. Write out an ingredient list to take to the shops with you and stick to it.
Try to resist adding to your possessions by simply replacing things when they are too old to use. For instance, people tend to buy new trousers and pick out the pair they will replace before even trying them on. Think about all the items you have in your wardrobe that are worn on average once a year and what you could have done with the money spent. That doesn’t mean drab wallpapers, torn cushion covers, or faded clothing, but try to resist making new purchases until something actually requires replacing.
Some of the best books on minimalism suggest not to get entangled in social engagements that are a waste of time. It is vital to say “no” at the right moments. Saying “yes” to all social engagements means you have less time for people who do matter in life. Downsize your planner and learn to let go. Don’t go to a party just because you have free time. Spend that time in a constructive activity like catching up with loved ones (to whom you haven’t spoken in a while) over phone or volunteering at local soup kitchens.
According to research done by San Francisco State University, buying experiences, not possessions, leads to greater happiness. If you find yourself wasting money on stuff you don’t need just because you have money at your disposal, then find a way to make it unavailable to you. For example, invest in something you really need, like a house. A huge portion of your salary goes towards paying the loan for the house, so you automatically learn to live with the remaining amount. For those who have the option to rent places, try and stay close to work. Do you really want to spend a huge chunk of your day in the middle of blaring horns, road rage, and annoyingly frequent red lights? Even if you forget the time and money being wasted here, spending that much driving or traveling is frustrating and consumes a lot of your energy. Staying close to work ensures you can get numerous things done instead of spending unnecessary time on the road.
As mentioned above, spending on experiences instead of possessions is how you can practice minimalism. Enrich your life with new skills and adventures, not with a new car that loses value the second you start driving it. For instance, consider occasions that bring your family members together, like birthdays or holidays, it is better to “experience” gifts than buying material ones. These gifts can be an entertaining group activity or game where everyone can participate regardless of their age. You will have a gala time and cherish these moments for life!
Creating a minimalist mindset is even more important than the physical process of decluttering the environment around you. If you can’t capture that particular mindset, you won’t be able to learn how to live minimally. Not only does it have to become an essential part of life, but it should be practically second nature so you don’t hesitate anymore. Creating a minimalist mindset is all about living with awareness. You need to bring intention into your daily actions and know why you make the choices you do.
Personalizing minimalism is one of the most effective ways to get into that particular mindset. For example, advanced minimalists say (and as discussed in this article) you should learn to let our possessions go when they don’t serve many purposes, but at times we are too attached to certain things. Rest assured there is nothing wrong with that. Sit down, think hard, and jot down a list of things that are absolutely non-negotiable and things you would consider letting go. There is no standard way to be a minimalist – you can do it your own way.
After you are done with decluttering and downsizing, people tend to slip back into old habits due to too many distractions. For instance, you might see a Facebook post from a friend attending a party, and say “yes” to a meaningless social engagement. Cut down on time spent online on social media. Another great idea to keep up living minimally is to follow the “one in one out rule”. Every time you get something new to your house something old has to go. This practice can be used for managing smartphones and tablets too; every time you download a new app, one of the old ones has to be deleted or at least disabled.
You don’t have to practice extreme minimalism all the time by giving up every worldly possession you own and becoming a monk. The purpose of this concept is to boost productivity and efficiency so you live a happier and fuller life.