When you decide you want to start to live a minimalist lifestyle, it can be difficult to know where to start. Do you throw out everything you own? Keep one set of clothes and sleep on the floor? Are you hoping this amazing transformation will be done by the end of the week?
It can all be a little too much to deal with, and for a lot of people, it’s that exact overwhelm and feeling to ‘do minimalism the right way’ that has them retreating and putting it all into the too hard basket.
But it’s not like that at all. The way minimalism is portrayed is not how most people who consider themselves minimalists actually live their lives. In fact, the wonderful thing about minimalism is that there are no rules and you can create your own version of a minimalist life in any way you want it to be.
Which, can also be overwhelming. So, if you’re looking for a place to start, and some guidance to help you life a minimalist lifestyle, these are the top tips to help you get going:
1 – Clear Excess
The best way to kick off your minimalist lifestyle is to clear the excess, after all that’s what minimalism is right? Less excess.
This isn’t just about decluttering though – this is about taking stock of your life and working out what is excessive, what is there too much of, what feels overwhelming and over the top, what makes you feel uncomfortable.
Perhaps you own 2 cars but actually only need one, you’ve just never considered the idea of only owning one car. Or maybe you have a bunch of acquaintances that you see all the time but they don’t actually add value to your life, they may be nice but they aren’t the first ones you call when you need a friend. Or maybe you look around your home and you see things that just take up space but don’t bring you any joy…
The first step is to really evaluate your own life and where you can clear that excess.
2 – Reduce, Reuse or Recycle
This is such a great mantra when it comes to anything food related, but can also be used in many areas of our lives.
For us, we tend to focus on this when we are thinking about how we plan our meals for the week, and how we do our grocery shopping.
In practical terms, by planning out our week we can reduce the amount of food we buy as we only buy what we need, we can reuse ingredients for a meal we may have had left over, and we can recycle parts of our food and use them as compost or grow more vegetables from our scraps.
In addition, we then use the same mantra for the packaging we have – we reduce the amount of produce we buy that is prepackaged and buy more fresh of what we need, we use reusable bags when we can, and we recycle whatever we can too.
This is such a simple little mantra that you can start using today and slowly work it into different areas of your life.
3 – Strive For More Clear Space
As a whole, we are a society that likes things. We like big things, things to fill up space, then we like getting more space, and filling that space up with more things. Oh, and we want those things now… Amazon Prime, deliver it to me now. Then we work more to be able to afford the bigger space filled with bigger things… and the cycle just keeps going.
But in our quest for more, we feel more empty…
One of my favourite perks of living a minimalist lifestyle is the space it creates. I strive for clear space in my home, not every corner needs to be filled. I strive for clear space in my schedule, where I can do whatever I want in that time. I strive for clear space in my mind, where I can journal, or schedule, or write lists, and get all of those thoughts and things running around in my head out on paper and planned.
It’s taken some time to do, but a question you can ask yourself today about anything that you’re doing, is ‘does this take up space, or clear space in my life?’
4 – Downsize Your Wardrobe
Your wardrobe is such an easy place to get started when it comes to decluttering and creating a minimalist lifestyle, and because it’s easy, you get a quick win under your belt and it motivates you to keep going!
While you’re at it, think about the previous points, especially about excess. Do you really need 10 pairs of jeans, 32 pairs of shoes, and 11 basic white shirts?
Another one of my favourite things about minimalism is that because I don’t buy an excessive amount of clothes, I feel like I can easily justify (not that I have to… but still) spending more on the clothes I do buy because I buy better quality that is going to last.
5 – Create Routines and Systems
It might seem a little weird to think that routines and systems fit into a minimalist lifestyle, but again, it’s not just about what you do or do not have that makes up your minimalist life, but about what you do with your life that matters.
Creating routines and systems means that you don’t have to take up as much mental space making decisions about your day because you have the same routine every morning – you don’t have to decide if you’re going to have your coffee before your shower, or if you’re going to workout before or after work today… you do the same tasks in the same order every day so you don’t have to think about it.
The same thing goes for creating systems. You don’t need to think about what you’re going to cook for dinner tonight because you’ve already meal planned for the week and you know that it’s Taco Tuesday (and hubs night to cook… yay!).
We resist routine because we like the idea of living life in the moment, but it’s actually the routines that allow us to live more happily and be more present in the moment. Just because you put Taco Tuesday on your meal plan doesn’t mean you can’t switch it up and have pasta. It just means that on the majority of days when you don’t want to think about what you have to cook for dinner, you don’t have to.
Routines and systems save so much mental space, which ties right back into our previous point – strive for more clear space.
6 – Reduce Your Storage Space
Did you know one in 11 American’s rent offsite storage? Despite our homes being bigger and our storage space getting larger, we still need more.
Reducing the amount of storage space you have does one thing – forces you to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ you have. If you don’t have the storage for it, you can’t have it…
But this doesn’t just apply to offsite storage. Nowadays, homes have walk in pantries, walk in wardrobes, walk in linen cupboards, kids play rooms, store rooms…. we build homes purposefully to store more and more.
When you think about it, it’s kind of mind boggling. We’re getting to a point where our storage space in our homes is larger than our living space… which is more important?
7 – Make Mindful Purchases
I have to admit, I’ve been one of those people who makes mindless purchases, heck I still do it. But it’s something I’ve become hyper aware of, and once you realise you’re doing it, you’ll be hyper aware too!
How many times have you gone to a shopping centre and NOT purchased something? For most people, it’s a rare occasion. We buy things impulsively because they’re on sale, or because we want it now, or because it has free delivery, or simply because we can… but do we really need it…?
Have we lost the ability to understand if we actually want something, or if we just want everything?
Like I mentioned, I’m now hyper-aware of this and it took me giving up buying new clothes for a year to realise just how often I would make these mindless purchases. I still make the occasional late night shopping binge, but it’s so rare because I now understand what I was doing.
Think more about your purchases… do you need it, or simply want it because you can have it? You don’t have to buy something just because you need it, it’s okay to buy things because you want them – but it’s important to understand why you want something.
8 – Opt For Experiences Instead of ‘Things’
As a parent, one of the most humbling moments is when you’ve spent so much time coming up with the perfect gift for you child, you spent hours sourcing it, got it shipped from the other side of the world, assembled it, wrapped it… then you finally get to give them this amazing gift… only to find they are more interested in the wrapping paper and the box it came in…
Kids are easily distracted by shiny objects, as we are, but what really sticks are the experiences you have. We don’t always remember the things we have, but we remember the experiences, the way we felt, the people we were with.
One of the big factors we have tried to focus on in our minimalist lifestyle is to have less things and experience more together. To stop spending time on our devices and spend Sunday afternoons around a fire eating marshmallows. At the end of the day, things come and go, but our memories and experiences are what teach us so much and stick with us in life.
9 – Express Gratitude For What You Already Have
Again, this is one of those simple tips that is often so easily overlooked, especially because (as we have mentioned a few times now) we are a society that puts value in ‘more’ rather than contentment with what we have.
But, showing gratitude for what you already have works all kinds of magic on a neurological level.
Not only is it good practice and our Mamas would be proud, but it also reminds us that what we have is amazing, and it is enough, and that we can be and we are happy in our world right now.
If you are always wanting more, striving for more, needing more, never happy with what you have, then you won’t really feel happy in your home (it’s too small), in your car (it’s not new enough), in your job (it doesn’t pay enough), in your clothes (they aren’t brand names), in your skin (I’m not skinny/pretty/fit enough).
However if you show gratitude for what you have (and you don’t even need to mean it for this to work in your brain), then you’re already automatically going to be happier. Instead of creating a stress response and kicking off that cortisol (stress hormone), you’re going to boost your serotonin (the feel good hormone). If you do that enough, you’ll actually start to feel the difference.
Our brains are pretty darn powerful.
10 – Create Your Own Rules
Last but not least, remember, there’s no ‘right’ way to be a minimalist. There’s no rule book that says in order to declare yourself a minimalist you must only possess x number of items. While the term minimalist is used to describe a type of person, it’s more accurately used to describe a mindset.
You create your own version of minimalism. For you, it might just be that you choose to declutter on a regular basis and are more mindful about your purchases. Or maybe you purge everything you own and reduce your possessions down to a fraction of what you have now.
There are no rules other than the ones you make for yourself.
You may also find that you move through your minimalist lifestyle at different levels, choosing to be ‘more minimalist’ at times and more relaxed at others. Again, there are no rules. It’s all up to you.
Hopefully these 10 tips have given you some guidance and inspiration to create and live a minimalist lifestyle that works for you, makes you happy, and allows you space to enjoy what you have in this world. Have fun creating your amazing minimalist life.