In our consumerist culture, the average American owns 300,000 objects, works at least 50 hours a week and feels regularly overwhelmed by busyness. Americans are overstuffed, overworked and overstressed.
It’s no wonder the minimalist living movement is the latest lifestyle trend. Simple living is making a comeback as people embrace a clutter-free existence complete with less objects and more “me” time. Though it may seem out of reach to you now, a minimalist lifestyle is actually easy to adopt. Here are our top tips for how you can get started.
1. Toss It
Embrace the minimalist lifestyle first by decluttering your life and getting rid of those things you no longer need.
Start with duplicates. If you have doubles of anything, keep the nicer one and sell, throw away or donate the other. Duplicates are often items you bought when you couldn’t find the original, and there’s no practical reason to keep both of them. Things like cookware and beauty products are major duplicate culprits.
Assess what you’ve used in the last year. If you keep telling yourself you’re going to use it, but you haven’t given it a second thought in a year, you’re probably not going to use it in the next year, either. Don’t hang on to books you’re hoping to eventually read, for example, and instead make your bookshelf a catalogue of your favorites. Get rid of clothes you don’t wear, and stop feeling guilty about a gift you’ve never used or any items that are too outdated to use again.
Ask: Does it spark joy? If an item in your home doesn’t have a useful purpose, does it bring you joy? Get rid of any items that don’t spark happiness in you. Marie Kondo introduced this method in her bestseller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” She promotes simplifying your home by keeping only the items you love. If you wouldn’t go to the store and buy the item again now, it has run its course and you should get rid of it.
2. Keep It
Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of the clutter. It’s also about keeping those things that have real value — but doing so in the most sensible way.
Go digital. There’s no need to store shoeboxes full of old photographs when you can scan them instead and keep digital copies. The same goes for kid’s artwork and other paper clutter. Take a look at your electronic items, too. You can easily digitize your CD and DVD collections and get rid of the bulky cases.
Give everything a place. Every item in your home should have a place (not a pile), and you should put it away right after using it. Practice the “One in, one out” rule, too. Every time something new enters your home — whether it’s piece of clothing or a child’s toy — pick something you already own in that category and get rid of it.
3. Buy It
Minimalism doesn’t mean you can never buy anything ever again. It just means that you need to think more critically about what you buy.
Be thoughtful about future purchases. Consider each purchase before making it, and never buy on impulse. Buy home goods that are simple and useful. Plan for your purchases, and don’t put things on credit. Run errands with a shopping list — and stick to it.
Evaluate your spending. Do you find yourself falling into the cycle of buying things simply because they’re available right now? If you can’t get a strong hold on the minimalistic lifestyle because you keep buying things you don’t need, it’s time to reassess your spending habits. A 30-day spending hiatus can motivate you to maintain a minimalistic budget that is used to purchase only things you need, while the rest is saved for the things you love.
4. Live It
Minimalism isn’t just about decreasing the amount of stuff you own, it’s about simplifying your habits, too.
Change your habits. There are many small, easy ways you can practice the art of minimalism right away. Stop being a perfectionist, do one thing at a time instead of multi-tasking and meal plan so you have to grocery shop only once a week.
Utilize technology wisely. Turn off push notifications on your phone and stop checking social media every five minutes. Instead, use your mobile device to streamline your life. Home automation can simplify your technology usage by allowing you to control your home’s features effectively and efficiently. Networking your appliances is not only convenient, it can save on your energy costs, too.
Prioritize your time. If you feel there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done, embrace time management techniques. Spend time every morning looking at your schedule and prioritizing tasks before starting your day.
If beginning your own minimalist journey sounds overwhelming, start small. Write down your minimalist mantra — the reason you want to embrace this new lifestyle — for inspiration. Then begin by just spending 15 minutes a day decluttering your home. Commit to leaving work at the office rather than bringing it home. As you focus on clearing your home and spending more time doing what matters to you, you’ll minimize your life down to the things you really love.