Minimalism is something that a lot of people are turning to as there is a backlash against consumerism and big corporations telling individuals where to spend their money or how to live their lives. It takes a while to get used to the minimalist life, however.
For some people, learning how to be a minimalist means learning how to rethink their relationship to materialistic possessions. If you’re hoping to incorporate minimalism into your life or adopt a minimalist lifestyle, here are ten tips you can use as a guide on how to be a minimalist.1,2
If you aren’t ready to throw everything out yet, start by bringing less “stuff” into your home. The fewer things you buy, the easier it is to clear out later, so decluttering won’t feel overwhelming.
Organize Your Life
One common reason that people acquire too much stuff is that they keep rebuying extra of things that they already own because they lost the first version of that item. Take some time to create a place for everything. When you know where your tools, utensils, stationery, and cosmetics are, you won’t feel the need to buy duplicates so often.
One Spot at a Time
If you have been living in a cluttered environment for a long time, you might struggle to tackle all the clutter at once. Instead of trying to take on the entire house, start with one room or even a part of a room. Do the laundry up and clean the sink, put everything away, and then get in the habit of not letting the laundry or dishes pile up. Throw out the bath products you never use, and keep just the things you really need. Clear your dressing table. Work on one area each day, and eventually, you’ll run out of things to work on and have a minimalist, clutter-free home.
Evaluate Your Wardrobe
Consider building a capsule wardrobe. Pick a few high-quality garments for smart and casual wear that will go with other things that you own. Discard low-quality clothing or clothing that no longer fits you. Stop buying cheap, fast fashion, and pick up items that are better-made instead. You’ll find that you worry less about what to wear each day, and you’ll have a less cluttered closet—as well as a more manageable laundry load.
Buy Once, Buy Well
Your parents may have told you that if you “buy cheap, you buy twice,” and that’s often true. Whenever possible, try to buy the highest quality items you can. It’s better to buy a really well made manual coffee dripper than it is to buy a cheap coffee machine that will break, inevitably, just as the warranty runs out. As you move towards becoming a minimalist, try to make sure that when you do invest in new things, they are items that are worth the investment.
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You may not have the funds to do that for everything right away, but if you do it for the things that you can, even if that means starting small, then you will reap the benefits. Over time, you’ll be able to do it for more and more things.
One way to stay motivated as you experiment with minimalism is to save money. Whenever you opt not to buy something that you would have bought before your foray into minimalism, put a portion of the money you would have spent on that item into a savings account.
Keep some money to have fun with as well. Many people maintain two “pots” worth of savings—one for fun and one for practical items. Focus on experiences for your fun rather than material possessions. Go somewhere new, attend a concert, or spend some time with friends. Overall, use the extra money that a minimalist lifestyle can provide to enjoy life more.
Find Your “Why”
You’ve been spending time thinking about how to be a minimalist but have you thought about why you are doing it? Do you hate clutter? Do you want to save money? Are you rebelling against commercialism? Do you want to save the planet?
For some people, the benefits of minimalism are broad, but for others, there’s something specific that they’re trying to achieve or change. Your reasons for becoming a minimalist could differ from other people’s but that doesn’t mean that one set of reasons is more correct than another. Work out what you want to achieve, and remind yourself of that if you ever feel like you’re struggling.
Make a Routine
Minimalism can extend to all parts of your life, from the stuff you buy to your schedule and social life. Try to clear your mind and your schedule. Wake up at a certain time each day so you aren’t rushing around in a panic. Switch off from work at a certain time each day as well so that you can clear your mind.
Build habits that make you more productive. If you like to study in the evening, use FOCUS as a nootropic that can enhance your focus instead of stimulants that will keep you awake at night. If you need help relaxing before bed, try Zen or Sleepy.
Block out time to exercise, socialize, and practice self-care. Minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself, but rather about making sure that you do the things that are important to you and have the chance to do them well.
Keep What Brings You Joy
When you’re decluttering, be honest about what you like and want to keep and what you’re clinging on to out of habit. Throw out things that you will never use again, or give away the things that are still in good condition. If there’s anything with resell value that you don’t need, selling it could be an option as well. Things that have sentimental value to you can stay if they do bring you joy. Minimalism does not mean depriving yourself.
Do think about scanning old photos or giving heirlooms to other family members that may be able to love and appreciate them more. Just think: if you have the memories in your mind, do the objects really matter so much?
Get Your Friends and Family On Board
Tell your friends and family that you are trying to declutter. If you exchange gifts on a regular basis, suggest that in the future the gifts be vouchers or something like food that will not end up sitting around unused and forgotten. Try to get people to agree to meet up and celebrate special occasions by going to a nicer restaurant or going to see a concert or a movie instead of exchanging gifts. If budget is a concern, host a get-together instead.
However, don’t evangelize too much. It’s easy to alienate people when you make a lifestyle change if you talk about it to excess. Simply practice minimalism, and if people ask you why you aren’t buying certain things, explain your logic.
The minimalist lifestyle may take a while to get used to, but it is rewarding once it becomes a habit. In the long term, you will hopefully reduce financial stress, be more relaxed, spend less time coping with clutter, and ultimately be happier.
Minimalists can still buy things that are important to them, but imagine if instead of going into debt for a smartwatch you never use you were able to spend that extra cash on a graphics tablet to focus on your artwork hobby? Imagine having a savings account so that when the washing machine breaks down you can repair or even replace it immediately instead of stressing about going to the laundromat every week.
It’s that change in outlook that minimalism supports, and that makes your life so much easier. Learning how to be a minimalist can take time, and there is more to it than just throwing out things that you don’t use anymore, but as your outlook shifts, you’ll notice the benefits.
It’s only relatively recently that consumerism has become such a huge part of culture, but you don’t have to subscribe to it. Right now, opting out is becoming a popular choice, so there are plenty of people out there who would support your decisions. So, if you want, take this chance to reclaim what really matters in your life.
Photo credits: NewAfrica/shutterstock.com, DeanDrobot/shutterstock.com, AKaiser/shutterstock.com