How To Practice Minimalism
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” -The Minimalists
BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM
Clear your physical space to allow more focus on your priorities. Find happiness no matter how large or small your home is. Find happiness no matter how much or little money you make, as material possessions hold less value. When your space is clear and minimal, you can experience higher levels of productivity as well as increased mindfulness. One of the most important aspects of minimalism is that you can be as subtle or as extreme as you desire. There are no set rules so it’s all up to you.
DEFINE YOUR INTERPRETATION OF MINIMALISM
Decide what is important and what is excess. For me, minimalism is having only the core essentials needed for my peace and productivity. I personally love having clean and open spaces. I feel like I’m already trying to balance the chaos in my mind so it is important for me to have my outside world as clean, organized and minimal as possible.
Clutter makes me nervous and frustrated. I value being able to find anything I need instantly. I believe every item in my home should have a place that it “lives”. I haven’t yet achieved this total state yet, because I do live with my husband and two small children, but I desire to go all the way and commit to this lifestyle.
“You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” —Vernon Howard
CREATE A DOWNSIZING PLAN
You can choose to downsize your world within any period of time that you desire. You can do a 7-day challenge, a 30-day challenge or take a few months to transition. Either way, this lifestyle is going to take maintenance and commitment so that you don’t fall back into your old habits. I personally work in different areas and sections of the house at a time. For instance, I most recently decluttered and minimized my wardrobe (it being laundry day helped). I started with the most used and active areas in my home.
I started my minimalism journey with just one area of my life in mind, my wardrobe. I had a vision for what I wanted my closet to look like and I executed that vision through getting rid of things that have either served their purpose or have never served any purpose at all.
Choose one area, focus on that, then move to the next. After I minimized my wardrobe, I decided to work on all the drawers and closets in the house, followed by the rest of the various rooms upstairs and downstairs. There is no right or wrong way to plan your downsizing, just go by what you feel will be the easiest to tackle.
CONSIDER YOUR ROOMMATES
My husband values different things in our home in different ways than I do. Because of this, I can’t just go around and get rid of everything I feel needs to go. I focus on only my belongings and then I communicate with him about certain things I have questions about. If he doesn’t have a problem with me getting rid of something that is ours or his, then I will.
If he does have a problem, then I’ll offer up my reasons as to why I think we may not need it and then I’ll leave it alone. Merely mentioning my ideas to him does spark a certain consciousness of the item and as a result, he may be more inclined to actually use it, or get rid of it on his own time.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” —Leonardo da Vinci
DONATE. SELL. GIVE. TOSS.
For every item that you want to get rid of, you should decide whether or not you will be donating it, selling it, giving it to a friend or family member, or just tossing it in the trash. I usually like to save tossing things in the garbage as the final destination. Sell the items that you think would do well on an online marketplace. My husband handles a lot of the sales that are local pickups, so we don’t have to spend money on shipping.
It is also very easy to fill up a box or bag with clothes and shoes and swing by the Goodwill or Salvation Army. You should be careful with giving away your items to family and friends because you don’t want to be a source of someone else’s clutter. I’d suggest only doing this if you know someone has been eyeing something of yours and would love to have it. For everything else, just toss it.
GET RID OF excess
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” —Henry David Thoreau
There are many things in my home that simply do not get used. In theory, they are useful. But in actuality, they sit gathering dust and take up space. I have a tactic where I look at an item and try and think of the last time I used it. If it doesn’t fit into my daily routine, weekly, monthly or even yearly routine, I get rid of it.
There are some items that you use just once a season and that is fine. At least that is some sort of useful interval, such as holiday decorations. If I am uncertain, I toss it anyway and decide that if there is a situation in which I do need it, I’ll just get another one (I rarely ever make the repurchase). This works for me. What will work for you?
I have natural hair so over the years, I’ve collected many products that for the most part do the same thing. Many items in my health and beauty collection are unnecessary and are a result of phases of experimentation and product hoarding. I’ve never really liked that my hallway closets are unorganized and spilling over with bottles and jars.
I’ve learned that I can survive happily with a huge bottle of Aussie Moist conditioner, a jar of Jamaican Black Castor Oil, a jar of Cantu Coconut Curling Cream and some gel. That’s four items. I do use my husbands shampoo but not that often. This is my personal definition of minimalism when it comes to my hair care products. Find your holy grail lineup and stick to that if you are looking to downsize in that particular area.
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” —Socrates
If you declutter, organize and minimize your life section by section, room by room, and you don’t change your consumption state of mind, you’ll find yourself with a ton of stuff you don’t need again within a years time. In order to live a more minimalist lifestyle, you have to make a mental shift that adjusts how you make purchases. Come up with a guideline to follow when shopping. Ask yourself if you already have an item similar to the one you are considering purchasing.
Ask yourself if you really, truly need that item. I often ask myself “Will this purchase contribute to my aspiring minimalist lifestyle?”. Since this shift in my mind occurred, I’ve saved money by avoiding frivolous purchases as well as avoided backsliding into chaos and clutter. Minimalism can make you wealthier without any change to your income. You’ll spend less. You’ll need less. You’ll be able to invest your money in whatever direction you feel necessary.
“That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” —Steve Jobs
As far as sentimental items, this will be very simple, keep what you love. If it has meaning, keep it. Just make sure you dedicate a specific place for everything. All of your belongings should have a home to go back to after they are used or admired. Getting rid of excess frees up space for that which you love.
The main point behind how to practice minimalism is to define what it means to you. You must visualize how you want your environment to be. If you don’t know, then go gather inspiration from people who resonate similarly to yourself. It’s your world, so allow yourself to have the space, clarity and peace that you deserve and require.
“In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life.” —Plato