7 Easy Ways to Become a Minimalist
While reaching for your coat in the closet, three shirts fall to the floor instead. You’ve run out of room for your sneaker collection. And you can’t find your mascara anywhere underneath all that eyeshadow. Sound familiar?
In today’s world of constant advertising and same-day delivery, it’s easier than ever to accumulate stuff and get caught up in a “more is more” mentality.
But research shows it’s actual experiences, not goods, that make us happy.
This may be why many people are rejecting materialism and turning to minimalism. Don’t worry – you don’t need to swap your walkup for a camper to call yourself a minimalist. You might just need to reevaluate your relationship with stuff.
Here are seven easy ways to become a minimalist, whether you’re going all in or just testing those hyper-purified waters.
Make a list
Write down all your valued possessions – without actually looking at them. As writer and minimalist Rosie Leizrowice points out, “If you cannot even remember you own something, the chances are that it matters less than you think.”
Use your list as a starting point. The items you’ve written down should stay for now. Consider removing the objects you’ve forgotten.
Get five boxes ready
Set aside containers for the following categories:
- Donations: From old textbooks to your ex’s iPhone 5, you can find a new home for almost everything.
- Duplicates: How many mixing spoons do you really need? Do you have multiple copies of a book or CD you really loved? Give extras away to friends, or add them to the donation pile.
- Recyclables: Keep in mind that some items, such as batteries and light bulbs, require responsible rehandling.
- Storage: Items such as seasonal clothing or equipment can be stored until you actually need them.
- Trash: This should be your last resort. Remember, anything you toss into landfill-bound bins will be cluttering Mother Earth. Which kind of defeats the purpose.
Some people like to get rid of everything in one go. Others find it best to break the chaos down into rooms, then conquer each one when there’s time.
Build your support system
Invite a friend to join you for a month-long elimination challenge. On the first day, you both get rid of one thing each. On the second day, get rid of two items. Continue in this pattern for an entire month.
You could also make a group challenge of it. Invite friends and family from all over to join in, then share your progress via Facetime or Google Hangouts.
Participants can choose anything – clothes, electronics, toys – to get rid of. Just make sure to remove each item (via donation, recycling, or whatever method is most sustainable) by midnight of each day.
Another option is to pack literally everything you own into boxes. Invite friends to help – call it a packing party, since “everything is more fun when you put ‘party’ at the end.” Take out only what you’re using over the next few days.
After three weeks, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you really “need.”
Invest in better, fewer choices
What sounds ironic at first – spend more money, become a minimalist! – actually makes total sense. Invest consciously on durable items that offer multiple returns in the long run. Here are a few examples:
Instead of Teflon, use stainless steel or cast iron. These materials both last longer and pose fewer health hazards.
The next time your lightbulb fizzles out, replace it with an LED. LED light bulbs last up to five times longer than their traditional incandescent counterparts, and waste far less energy.
For your wardrobe, streamline your style. Then put more money into staple pieces you’re comfortable in and that boost your confidence. This will also make your morning routine a breeze, not to mention laundry day and packing for trips.
Bonus: Fewer choices = less decision fatigue.
Borrow, don’t buy
Get your literary fix at the library, rather than purchasing books you may not even read. Donate or sell old DVDs, then revive your Netflix queue. With these two switches, you’ll also have consistent access to a wider range of options.
Amateur cyclists may even consider swapping out their space-swallowing bicycle for a bike-sharing membership instead.
Keep these habits consistent
Moving forward, come up with some personal ground rules to keep your home free of clutter.
Toss junk mail into the recycling immediately. Make a personal pact to put clothes away immediately after wearing them. Designate spots in your home for items that consistently enter, such as paper, coins, or your children’s toys.
Keep countertops, nightstands, and other flat surfaces clear. Kitchen appliances in particular may not seem like they take up much space – until the first time you cook dinner after clearing them.
Hold yourself to a 30-day rule: If you want to purchase an item, write it down on a list and wait 30 days. If you still really want it, go ahead and buy it. More often than not, you’ll lose the urge (while also saving money and space).
Having trouble getting your S.O. or roomies to stick with your new simplified lifestyle? Here are four approaches to get them on board.
Accept your own version of minimalist living
At the end of the day, minimalism – especially at its most extreme – isn’t practical for everyone. But the underlying takeaway is universally true: You, and your family, are more than the sum of your belongings.
Plus, there are multiple ways to approach the minimalist lifestyle. Many of these methods transcend minimalism’s contingency upon objects. This 10-step challenge from Hip Diggs, for example, is all about eliminating negative forces beyond objects – things like screen time and junk food.
And whether you’ve decluttered or not, you can always give your home an energy reboot by purifying it with white sage.
This post was written by MakeSpace, a full-service storage company that picks up, stores, and delivers your stuff so you never have to visit a self-storage unit.