Minimalism can mean different things to different people. But in essence, it is a way of life that encourages one to live a more fulfilling life with less. The lifestyle follows less is more philosophy that is meant to be incorporated into one’s daily life be it in their living space, workspace, schedule, or even financial plan.
There is no one formula into adopting a minimalist lifestyle. To some, it can be extreme like living with just one hundred items. Some interpret it as de-cluttering for a less stressful atmosphere. To others, it can mean downsizing their wardrobe to just a handful. Some simply apply a ‘donate, sell or dispose’ process for items that no longer serve their purpose.
Minimalism is a conscious, purposeful decision that anyone wanting to lead a simpler lifestyle could adapt. But quite frankly, it may not work for everyone. Before you do anything else, it is important to understand your motivations first. What do you want to achieve? What problems are you trying to solve? What kind of changes are you willing to make?
You do not want to rush the process. Make sure that you are adopting a new way of living that still fits your personality and needs.
If you do not adjust to change easily, take things one little step at a time. Ease yourself into the lifestyle slowly but surely. Focus on one area of your life where you really think you need to declutter. You can start in the more common areas like your living space or workspace although it doesn’t always have to be incorporated into a tangible part of your life. You could organize your schedule for example.
The idea is to adapt minimalism in a way that is right for you. Minimalism is not simply about getting rid of things. It is about removing items you no longer need or care too much about so you can focus on what matters more in your life.
Think of the things that are non-negotiable in your life and think hard about it. What can’t you really get rid of? What aspects of your life are most important? When you have a list of those most important things, make them the center of your decluttering process.
Whether it’s for your décor or simply cleaning out your closet or fixing your budget, those things on your “most important” list should be your focus. But again, don’t get too overwhelmed. Start small and start simple and find your focus. What aspect of your life needs decluttering the most? Is your problem that you’ve been spending too much? Focus on incorporating minimalism into your financials. Are you always “too busy”? Focus on decluttering your schedule. Or do you think you have too much stuff or you always can’t seem to find your important documents? Focus on making minimalistic changes in your living space or workspace.
When you know what to tackle first, go back to your “most important” list and center on that when you begin the process. For example, if you’ve chosen to focus on your budget or financials, look at what you spend on that has nothing to do with your list. Those are the things that need to go. Don’t be stingy when it comes to crossing things out too. You need to look at things that might actually be hindering you from living your best life. Is spending too much on little trinkets or treats impeding your expenses for your family life or career improvement? Think hard about what’s really important. Make a list. Declutter. Repeat.
Of course another way to adapt the minimalistic lifestyle is to go cold turkey or do it all at once. There are those personality types that need to see immediate results or progress. Finishing a job or task quickly once it’s begun can help ensure some that it will get done. It really depends on your working style. If this is the case for you, still remember not too get too overwhelmed and to focus. You can tackle multiple chunks of your life at once, but still have a focus and use a systematic approach to it.
Assess yourself if you are the type of person who doesn’t finish a project unless it’s done in a short amount of time. If so this sprint approach might be what you need. To tackle it all in one go however, make sure there are no distractions. Set aside enough time, like a whole weekend maybe, to purge.
Again, for this method, make sure you have a focus. It is still no matter your personality type it is still important for you to make a list of the non-negotiable things in your life and juxtapose it to a list of what you do have. Then you can cross out or throw out the things you don’t need or the things that stand in the way of improving the most important things in your life.
If you need to do the quick method on something less tangible like a schedule, set aside time for to make a detailed list. Then ask someone to help you maintain it. Accountability can be a great help to making sure you stick to your guns.
Lastly there is also the maintenance approach or technique. This is obviously something you apply later. But it is key to keeping up with the minimalistic lifestyle. This is an especially crucial thing to learn for those who live with other people and need to incorporate their habits into their schedule or living space. In maintaining minimalism in any part of your life it is important to refer to the lists you’ve made as you incorporated minimalism. These will help you keep track of your habits. Then you need to make more lists. What are the primary and most consistent habits of those around you? How do they affect your lifestyle of minimalism or even just your own habits? Assess, list then adjust. It isn’t fair to make others conform to the minimalistic lifestyle just because you decided to. Try and work around their schedules and habits where you can. If you can say ‘no’ to an activity to help free your schedule than do so. But if it’s too important then maybe you should re-adjust your priority list. Where you can’t compromise however, don’t. But gently tell those involved that you need the extra money, time or space for something that is important to you and your goals. Once they understand, the people in your life will be able to adjust to the changes you’ve put in to make your life a less cluttered one.
So in order to find out if the minimalist lifestyle is for you, simply assess the way you tackle a problem or a task. Look at your sources of motivation so you can find out what approach will keep you going to the end. Assess, list, declutter, adjust. Repeat. You can learn so much about yourself and those around you in the process. If it ever gets too daunting, remember what Aristotle said: “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”