Most of us can sympathize with the feeling of having too many possessions, or that our environments and lives are cluttered with excessive and unnecessary things or habits that we realize we may be better off without. But few of us have the time, energy, or motivation to eliminate this excess from our lives, and the thought of living more in accordance with the principles of minimalism can be daunting. As such, when it comes to creating a less wasteful and more mindful lifestyle for ourselves, it’s a good idea to first come up with a plan for how to do so comprised of a number of small steps which, when completed, will hopefully lead to a more focused, fulfilling, and happy way of life. These steps should not require you to reinvent your life all in one fell swoop; rather, they should take into account your personal circumstances and preferences and should be iterative, with each small step building on the previous one to enable a gradual shift in lifestyle.
As with many projects in life, the first step should be to consider all of the reasons why you’re interested in a change in lifestyle and how you think this change will benefit you personally. Then you should write down your goals and motivations. You should see this writing process as an opportunity to clearly define your intentions and point of view, and treating the writing step as an artistic and creative endeavor can make the experience fun. To hold yourself accountable to your lifestyle change intentions, I recommend starting a bullet journal, which includes an organizational system that lets you define your goals and allows for a near-unlimited degree of flexibility and creativity. Because they are essentially infinitely customizable, bullet journals offer a more personalized and effective approach than traditional time management systems like pre-printed agendas and calendars, and if you’re a creative type their artistic appeal can encourage you to maintain your journal over time.
Once you have everything on paper, you can start by looking through your environment and determining what you can donate, sell, or get rid of. Many of us own clothing that we no longer wear; as such, it’s a good idea to start in the closet and collect a number of items to give to a church or a thrift store. As you go through your belongings, assess each item’s value on both a financial and personal level, and accumulate your things into piles depending on what you want to do with them. For objects with sentimental value, determine whether this value is strong enough to warrant allowing the object to continue to clutter your life, and be honest with yourself as it’s a lot easier to convince yourself to hang on to useless old items which are attached to a particular memory than it is to get rid of them. Remember, your purpose is to simplify and streamline your life, and succeeding in this process requires making tough decisions about what’s worth hanging on to.
People with minimalist lifestyles are very careful about what they choose to invest their time, energy, and money into, and as a result find themselves more focused, engaged, and successful in the areas they deem essential.
If your house or apartment is large or you haven’t decluttered in a while, it is a good idea to focus on one room or area at a time. Pick the area where you spend most of your time at home – whether that is your desk, your kitchen, or your living room – and start by decluttering just that area. After doing so, you will begin to notice yourself enjoying the time you spend in that space more, which hopefully will inspire you to declutter the rest of your environment to match. When decluttering, notice if you have duplicate items, as there’s often no sense in owning two of the same items, and determine whether you should sell, donate, keep, or throw out the second item.
Minimalism is not just about limiting your number of personal belongings and reorganizing your environment in a streamlined and simple way – it’s also about reducing complexity in your daily habits and lifestyle. People with minimalist lifestyles are very careful about what they choose to invest their time, energy, and money into, and as a result find themselves more focused, engaged, and successful in the areas they deem essential. Changing your lifestyle is harder than changing your environment, but there are a number of things you can do to make the process easier.
One good habit for minimalists to adopt is a daily meditation practice. Mindfulness meditation can help put you into a headspace which is more singularly focused on the task at hand, and can help you to understand more clearly what is important in your life and how to make changes for the better. Though you may feel you do not have enough time to maintain a meditation practice, keep in mind that the commitment requires only ten minutes a day, and that people who meditate can paradoxically find themselves feeling as though they have even more time throughout the day as they are more efficient at reaching their goals. When considering lifestyle changes, a major place to focus is your diet. If you’re someone who enjoys going out to eat or eating pre-packaged meals often, consider instead purchasing ingredients to prepare simple and healthy meals ahead of time.
There are a number of benefits to living in a minimalistic way. One benefit is that as you reduce waste, you also help the environment, as you contribute less to landfills and greenhouse gas emissions. Another benefit of minimalism is the fact that it can save you money; as you sell things you have determined you don’t need and reduce your number of expenses, you may also come to realize that you don’t need as much space as you thought you did, encouraging you to live in a smaller but cheaper home or apartment. Minimalism grants us freedom, as it helps stop us from being burdened by our possessions and time-wasting habits. Lastly, minimalism can even help with your personal relationships; as you shift your focus away from building a collection of things towards valuing experiences, you are likely to spend more time with friends and family, and others will begin to notice and appreciate your more focused and intentional disposition.