So You Want to Be a Minimalist
So you want to be a minimalist, do you? Admittedly, getting started is the hardest part. Many people become overwhelmed when they start researching the “rules” and fall victim to an all-or-nothing mentality. But rest assured that minimalism doesn’t need to be complicated! You can adopt a practice that works uniquely for you and your lifestyle. Here are a few tips to help you get started on your journey to reduce and simplify.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is all about adopting a less is more mentality. In other words, it stresses the importance of aligning the “things” in your life with what matters most to you. With that being said, can you see how everyone’s version of minimalism can differ? For example, perhaps you love being surrounded by a litany of houseplants, or maybe it’s a wall full of books that brings you happiness. Either way, think about your “Why.” Why do you want to be more minimalist? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- I want to free up the mental energy I’m currently spending sifting through clutter.
- I want to be more environmentally conscious by being a more thoughtful consumer.
- I want to practice intentionality in my decisions.
- I want to be surrounded by only high quality things that bring me happiness.
Your own Why will serve as a North Star if things get overwhelming during the decluttering and organizing process, and will also help you maintain your minimalist lifestyle afterwards.
Now it’s time to choose a strategy. You can organize your items by category, like the popular Konmari method, or you can take it room by room, or even drawer by drawer. At the very least, make three piles when decluttering: keep, donate, and toss. Whether you do it all over one weekend or one drawer at a time, the important thing is to have an end goal.
An easy way to start the decluttering process is to throw out all trash. You might be thinking, “I don’t have trash in my home!” - but take a closer look. People often have empty boxes, wrappers, packaging, or broken items that simply no longer serve a purpose. Another more nuanced way to declutter is to get rid of duplicate items. For example, do you truly need four umbrellas? Do you need five phone chargers? Challenge yourself to keep only your favorite and most useful items. If you find yourself on the fence about an item, put it in a box and set it aside. After thirty days, if you have not used it (or even remember what’s in the box at all), donate or toss it.
A Note on Sentimental Items
It’s totally okay to get all mushy over certain mementos. Make a memory box to keep all of your sentimental items in one place. Having a designated box will not only keep items safe and prevent them from getting lost, but also help encourage your future self to be choosy about what makes the cut to be placed in the special box.
Create a Capsule Wardrobe
When you tackle your closet, consider creating a capsule wardrobe - a staple in many minimalist households. A capsule wardrobe is essentially a small, purposeful, curated closet filled with items you absolutely love. Imagine reaching into your closet everyday and being confident that you can’t make a bad choice! Build your own stylish capsule wardrobe by following these simple rules:
Donate or toss:
- Anything that you feel uncomfortable in
- Anything that you don’t believe flatters you (in terms of color or fit)
- Anything that you haven’t worn in 6 months
- Anything that doesn’t fit the body you have now (unless you are pregnant, etc.)
- Extremely similar items (such as duplicates)
- Clothes with blemishes (unless you will immediately fix them)
Since a capsule wardrobe is a much more consolidated version of a regular wardrobe, try to keep your clothing a neutral or similar-color palette so you can easily mix, match, and maximize your closet.
Now that you have reduced the items in your environment, treat yourself to an aesthetic and thoughtful organization system. After all, having an organized space not only allows you to efficiently find your belongings, but also provides a visually appealing and less chaotic environment overall.
At the core of thoughtful organization is making sure everything has its own permanent space. This could mean getting hardware to hang items up or containers to sort things in drawers and closets. A goal of your organization should be to keep surfaces clear of clutter so you can use that precious space for items you regularly use and enjoy seeing.
Many people end up with a junk drawer filled with a myriad of papers, letters, and receipts. To solve the paper overload problem, go paperless. This means calling your bank or credit card company to request email correspondence instead of letters. You can also remove yourself from mailing lists, or switch to digital subscriptions instead. Consider scanning papers you can’t discard, such as business cards, receipts, etc., into a digital format to store on your computer. Using less paper not only results in a cleaner living space, but also is better for the environment.
Limit What You Bring In
After all of your hard work, maintain your progress by reducing the physical items you bring into the home. For example, if you need something new, swap it out with an older item. For special occasions, opt to spend money on experiences instead of possessions. Maintaining a lower quantity of items in your household can save you decluttering time and hard-earned money.
If you fall into a rut, inspire yourself by consuming minimalist content. I highly recommend watching The Home Edit on Netflix while simultaneously doing your own cleaning - talk about motivation!
The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe Guide by Leya Daniels
- The Joy of Less by Francine Jay
Minimalism is about so much more than having less physical items. It is also about being clutter free mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, so you can live a more intentional life. Remember that you do not need to take an all-or-nothing approach, and becoming minimalist doesn’t always happen overnight. Take it one step at a time, and before you know it, you will be a minimalist living your maximum life.