5 Ways to Begin Your Minimalist Journey

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Woman relaxed reading a book in an ebook reader in a bar or at homeHave you heard of the term, “minimalism”? Many people think to be a minimalist you must give away all your possessions, never buy anything new, bike everywhere, become a vegetarian or vegan or live in a tiny house, but that doesn’t have to be the case. So what IS 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

“It’s simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.” –Leo Babut

“Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff — the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities — that don’t bring value to your life.” –Exile Lifestyle

Reclaiming your time, ridding your life of excess “stuff” and reducing debt are just some of the benefits of a more minimalism-focused lifestyle, so how can you work towards it? Here are some tips:

Don’t Just DeClutter. De-Own

Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist explains, “We take in more and more, but rarely find opportunity to discard of it. Our homes fill up with more and more stuff, and because we believe the best solution is to find organizational tools to manage all of it, we seek out bigger containers or more efficient organizational tips and tricks. But simply organizing our stuff (without removing it) is always only a temporary solution. By definition, organizing possessions is an action that must be repeated over and over and over again.”

Consider how you would rather spend your Saturday: cleaning out the garage or spending time with friends and family, reading a book or enjoying one of your hobbies? So often, we accept these chores as unavoidable parts of adulthood, but reassessing your possessions means you don’t have to spend so much time organizing (and spending money on organizational tools!) when the clutter builds and builds. However, minimalism is not about getting rid of every possession, especially things you love. Try the KonMari Method, explained in the bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Pick up an item and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is yes, keep it. If you hesitate or answer no, donate the item or throw it away.

Overhaul Your Wardrobe

The concept of donating clothes you don’t wear anymore isn’t new, and it’s something most people are comfortable doing, especially during spring cleaning season. Consider taking it up a notch with Project 333 from Be More with Less: Every three months, choose 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes, excluding your wedding ring (or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off), underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear this to workout). You’ll find that you end up only wearing clothes you love, and that you do not need nearly as many items as you thought. Curious? Check out the #Project333 hashtag on Instagram and the Project 333 Community Board Pinterest Board.

Get Rid of the Guilt

It’s easy to hang on to possessions when there is guilt attached. “The dress was SO expensive—I have to find somewhere to wear it.” “I don’t really like this, but so-and-so gave it to me.” Sound familiar? Make Space says, “Minimalist living has no room for the unattractive thrift-shop tea cups your aunt bought you, let alone the massive guilt that comes with wanting to get rid of them” and Born Again Minimalist limited herself to one box of truly sentimental items.

Take a Break from TV

According to Nielsen, the average person watches 4 hours, 35 minutes of television each day. The same KonMari Method can be applied to this as well: if a TV show brings you joy— you look forward to watching every week with a bucket of popcorn and your spouse, or it’s a guilty pleasure you enjoy with wine and your girlfriends— keep it on the agenda. But most of us are guilting of “Netflix binging” and spending hours haphazardly watching an “OK” show to pass the time. Spend a week tracking how much TV you watch each week, then consider what else you could be doing with that time. One Netflix exception you may want to make? “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”.

Simplify Your To Do List

If you have too many tasks on your to-do list, you tend to end up feeling unsatisfied, unaccomplished, and more stressed by the end of the day. Jen Jacobs recommends starting your day off by building a list of around five essential errands, or tasks you must accomplish. Which of these is of highest priority? Get to that one first! Then, continue moving through your day based off of your priorities. With time, you’ll begin to understand you’re becoming much more efficient with your work, and will eventually be able to complete more.

Thinking about applying minimalism to your own life? Becoming Minimalist recommends finding a “rational minimalism” that works for you, Be More with Less created a helpful list of  “7 Tiny Steps for the Beginner Minimalist” and “25 Ways to Simplify Your Life in 10 Minutes or Less”. Best of luck!

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