No doubt you’ve heard of minimalism, but what does it really mean? The visual aspects of minimalism are probably more well-known than the lifestyle, but a white room with a white couch and a single plant doesn’t explain what minimalism really is. In brief, the minimalist lifestyle is really nothing more than living simply with more purpose. By having only items that serve a function in life (even if the function of the item is purely bringing you joy), the emphasis on these items is strengthened, creating a simple life of more purpose.
If you’re not already a minimalist, you’re (hopefully) probably now thinking about minimizing your belongings. So, where to begin?
The process of adopting a new lifestyle is best done at a short pace for three reasons.
- To avoid mistakes – it’s easy to get tunnel vision and accidentally get rid of an item you might want later. (Bonus tip: put all items from decluttering into a storage box for about a month. If you need an item from the box, take it out! If you didn’t use or even think about one or more of the items, odds are you don’t need them.) Remember that you can always downsize again, but you can’t get a specific item back after it is gone.
- To know exactly why you’re doing it. Why do you want to live a more minimalistic life? There are plenty of reasons, all of which are ultimately valid, for wanting to live a minimalist lifestyle. It’s just that you definitely don’t want to just get caught up in the moment and ultimately get rid of stuff for all the wrong personal reasons.
- To really enjoy the process instead of feeling overwhelmed or like the process of downsizing is a chore. The process should not only be fun, it should be liberating. Don’t let yourself get so caught up in becoming a minimalist that you end up feeling like you don’t really want to do it.
Start with an easy category
If you’re a makeup enthusiast who has invested hundreds into your collection, I wouldn’t start with the makeup as it’ll prove difficult for you. The best category to start with would be one which you’re not particularly attached to and you know you have more than you need. Some examples that are really easy to start with include cleaning supplies, books, old paperwork, and dishes. What these all have in common is that they’re categories which most people have too much of but never really think about it. Or, you could be bold and start with a big category! I tackled all of my belongings including the big categories in one go and do not recommend it – but also do not regret it. One of the most popular big categories to start with is clothing, which I’ll be making a more detailed post about this topic and others concerning downsizing and minimalism in the near future (follow this blog or any of my social media platforms to be in the know when this happens!).
I’m ready to get rid of stuff now, what are the actual steps?
Once you have your category you’re going to tackle, the steps to actually pick what you’re keeping and what you’re getting rid of is extremely simple.
Pick up an item. Think about it for a second. Does it serve a purpose? Does it make you happy? Keep it. If it doesn’t, sort it either into a “maybe” pile or a “definite no” pile. Once you’re done sorting, go through the maybe pile again and put more thought into it. Then put the “yes!” items away as needed and the no items into a storage box. The bonus tip mentioned earlier comes into play here – put the no items away for a week, a month or more to see whether or not you need it. If you completely forget about an item it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever need it.
What do I do with the items I get rid of?
Items with value can be sold especially if they’re like new, but the best and easiest option for appropriate items is to donate them. For items that can’t be donated, try to repurpose them (Be creative! Save paper for campfire fuel, make old shirts into a reusable bag, use old dishes in the garden..) before anything else. Ultimately if you need to recycle or just throw away some items which can’t be saved, that’s okay too. Just treat throwing items away entirely as a last resort.
Congratulations on starting the path to minimalism! The first purge of items is the most difficult and you’re on your way. These simple steps simply need to be repeated on multiple categories of objects until, eventually, the only items you own are the ones you truly want or need. What will you minimize first?