A Beginners Guide To Minimalism

Minimalism 101

The minimalism movement has grown from a small group of outliers to a huge following of individuals, families, bloggers, and communities embracing a simpler life. While you may think that means living with 33 articles of clothing, abandoning home ownership, or not having nice things, you’re far from correct. Minimalism is basically this; Remove what is not adding value to your life, to make room for what is (or can).

We live in a society that often does not allow us to reflect on what we really want, so instead we often live a life based on what we think we should want. The result is a lack of fulfillment and not knowing why. In order to compensate for this lack of fulfillment we acquire more stuff, over-commit ourselves, and have more people in our lives than we can meaningfully stay connected to, etc. Having less stuff, fewer time commitments, and fewer unnecessary people in our lives means we’ll have more time, more space, and more energy for what is most important. This all sounds good, but figuring out how to get there can be a challenge.

A Written Plan –

Randomly tossing out all the clutter that surrounds you is not the best approach to adopting minimalism. You’ll likely have regrets later on (“Why did I throw away that blue sweater I love?”) or quit somewhere in the middle as you think, “Why am I doing this? I’m exhausted and I have so many other things I could be doing right now. I’m out!!!” Think about the reasons why you want this,

  • Tired of cleaning up and yet the piles always return?
  • Not sleeping well at night as your mind cycles through all the things you think you need to do?
  • Want to show your kids that buying more does not equate to a happier life?
  • Wish you could capture the calm feeling in your own home that you have when you’re in your friend Sarah’s (because it’s so clear and clutter free)?

Whatever the reason, write it down. It will give you greater clarity of purpose and you’ll want to refer to these reasons when your in the trenches of going through your stuff and needing to make decisions about what to keep or get rid of.

Get Rid of Clutter

Don’t know where to start? Walk through each room of your home and find 4-6 items to trash, recycle, or donate. Do this everyday for a week. Collect the donation items in a bag or box in your garage. At the end of the week take the box to your local donation drop-off. Next week…rinse, repeat! It may take a while, but if you’ve been putting off a large decluttering project, slow progress is better than no progress.

Throw a Packing Party

Want quick results to inspire you to live with less, throw a packing party. This may be a bit extreme if you have a family, but you can try it with just your own stuff, one room, or one space (e.g. your desk drawer). Basically you’re going to pretend you’re moving tomorrow. Box up all of your stuff in that space or room and then as you need something, take it out of the box and put where it goes; your toothbrush/toothpaste, your favorite sweater, a pan you need to cook breakfast, etc. If you’ve packed everything up, putting things away should be a breeze.

Live with the boxes for as long as you need (within reason) until you are no longer regularly unpacking things (likely anywhere from a few weeks to a month or two). Then determine whether you’re going to trash, donate, or sell the rest. You’ll soon discover what is important to you and what you really need when you’re no longer missing the stuff that’s boxed up.

Play The Minimalism Game

You can do this alone, but it’s more fun when there’s a competition. Partner with a friend and each day pick one more thing to get rid of. Day 1 – one thing, Day 2- two things, Day 3 – three things…you get where this is going. The beginning will likely be easy and get a little more challenging over time. However, as your stuff and clutter slowly decrease, you’re attachment to it hopefully will as well.

Stop Over Committing

If you’re stressed and tired all the time from too many things to do, too many people to see, too many obligations to attend to, it might be time to realign. Give some serious thought to your priorities (your family, your health, your education, your friends, your relationship?), and see if you’re committing to things that don’t fit those priorities. It may be time to quit that group, drop that friend, or say no to that query.

Make Time For Downtime

The 24/7 world we live in does not allow time for stopping and reflecting. Take breaks, meditate, take a walk, or whatever you need to do to stop and recharge. Making time for downtime will give you time to think and continue to have more clarity around what is important to you. This will help you to feel better about living with less as well as be more present in whatever you are doing.

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