Becoming a minimalist makes you live life with intention.
It forces you to consider what you really want to allow into your life based on how you want your life to be. It provides clarity and makes space for you to be more productive doing things you actually want to do, and decreases stress you may not have known you had. It's been demonstrated that clutter increases the stress hormone cortisol, which wreaks all kinds of havoc on the body if elevated for long periods of time.
Here are some starting points to becoming a minimalist:
Minimize your wardrobe
This is probably the most challenging area for me. I am still trying to minimize my wardrobe as I still spend too much time figuring out my outfits but I’m too scared to make the commitment to a capsule wardrobe. Here are some tips that took me from a disjointed, overflowing wardrobe with nothing to wear, to a more pulled-together wardrobe with (mostly) only pieces that I am excited about:
- Pull EVERYTHING out of your closet(s) and drawers
- Determine your style and colours, and how you would like your wardrobe to look
- Put away all the items that work with that style and fit you properly, and organize them by weight and colour
- Discard the items that don’t fit with your style, don’t fit, are too worn, that you haven’t worn in a year, that you are planning to fix, or that don’t go with anything
- If you love a piece but it just doesn’t quite fit right, actually take it to a tailor and have it altered, don’t let it sit in your closet forever. This way you will end up with a truly unique piece that fits perfectly.
- Until you get to that holy grail 30-piece wardrobe, or whatever you goal is, make a rule that every time you buy a new piece, you have to get rid of two. This will either make you think twice about whether you really need something new, or will help you de-clutter items that are no longer your style.
- No one really remembers or cares all that much if you wear the same thing fairly often. We all know we own a washing machine.
Minimize your home
De-clutter as you go: I have a friend whose place is always spotless, not a dish to be seen ever, because she does the dishes immediately after dinner. I used to always place the dishes in or by the sink to be dealt with the next day, which meant I always had a pile of dishes no matter what. I started to force myself a couple nights a week to do like she does and clean up right after dinner, and now I can’t stand the sight of a dish in the sink or on the counter. Now my mornings feel more peaceful and I can get straight to what I need to do instead of spending time cleaning. Throw things out, put them away, do the dishes, to prevent clutter from building up. Soon this will feel normal and will become a habit.
Remotes. Mail.Give everything its place so that you don’t have things cluttering up countertops waiting to be used. These spots should not be on the counter unless you want to display them.
In the office: Your computer counts- take some time each week to clear your folders of old files and programs. And use the “clean as you go” rule here too…if you come across a file that you can delete, delete it! Implement organization and storage solutions to keep your desk clear- drawer dividers, wall-mounted file folders, etc. This makes it much easier to start working when you need to and not have to spend 10 minutes tidying first.
In the kitchen: Keep small appliances that you don’t use every day in a cupboard. Consider what small appliances you really need. Our toaster died a while back and now we just make do with the oven to make toast which works just as well and we have one less appliance on the counter. See my post “Minimalist Kitchen: How to do a Kitchen Detox” on how to further minimize your kitchen.
In the bedroom: Make the bed every morning- I don’t mean perfectly place the sheets, blankets and pillows, but at least straighten the top blanket and fluff the pillows to give the room a clean look. At the end of the day, either put your clothes in the laundry or hang or fold them back up to prevent the never-ending clothes pile in the corner. I AM SO BAD FOR THIS. But getting better. It’s seriously so easy to just put your clothes away as you get undressed, there’s no reason for them to go on the floor. Especially when your closet is so tidy ;).
Minimize your spending
A great part of minimalism is that it lends itself well to saving money.
Set goals for your money and talk about your goals with someone else, like your spouse, to keep you accountable.
Find a way to keep your goals at the top of your mind so that you don’t get distracted into purchasing something else. An example could be a vision board by your bedside table, or a photograph in your day planner or as the background to your phone.
Have a saving system. Set up an automatic transfer of funds into a savings account, or send money to someone you can trust to hold it for you so it’s out of your hands.
Don’t go shopping for extraneous things and eat out less. Find other activities to take up your time, like hiking, cooking, participating in free community events, have friends and family over instead of going out.
Start making your own coffees and lunches. Check out my post "Two Ingredients You Need to Add to Your Bulletproof Coffee" to learn how to make a delicious cup of coffee at home.
Say “no” to people giving you things
But free things are great! Especially if you are trying not to spend money…right? The whole idea around minimalism is to STOP accumulating things.
People feel better when they can give things away instead of throw them out. And, though this is great for the environment, if it’s not going to add to your life in a good way, don’t take it.
My parents started cleaning out their basement, which I love because their cluttered basement gives me anxiety and it’s not even mine, but they have started offering me things from the clean-up which can become a slippery slope to accumulating clutter.
And I have a feeling, if and when I decide to have children, I’ll have a lot of baby stuff coming my way.
Thoughtfully consider if you will actually use items offered to you before taking them, or else you will have to deal with getting rid of them.
Hope these tips help you in your quest for minimalism! Comment any other great tips below!
- Dr. Annie