Minimalism is a way of living with less so you can experience more. It usually begins, however with wanting to live with less and de-clog or de-clutter one or more aspects of one’s life. But for some this seems a daunting task. It can also seem like a callously insensitive way of getting rid of things that may not have much use but do have sentimental value. However, the goal of minimalism isn’t simply to get rid of something. The goal of minimalism is to make room for something better. It is meant to help one live a life untethered so that they are not held back from their full potential.
Still, the actual process can seem or feel like a tall order. It’s a basic fact of life that making a mess is easy. But cleaning up a mess is much harder. That isn’t to say minimalism is all just about getting rid of a mess. It’s simply re-organizing and re-prioritizing. That being said, how can it be done?
You may find yourself stuck with incorporating the minimalistic lifestyle. Or maybe you are simply starting out and at a loss at what to do. Here are some tips that will hopefully help ease you into the minimalistic lifestyle slowly but surely.
1. Research, read, review
In tackling anything new it is always best to do your homework. Read up on minimalism learn how you can make it work for you. There are authors out there like Meg Wolfe or Joshua Becker who have inspired others to live with less. Read credible authors on the topic as well as testimonies from those who have been able to make minimalism work for them. Reading about real people, who have had real struggles and overcome them can be a great source of encouragement and inspiration.
Learn about different methods of starting and maintaining the minimalistic lifestyle. After you’ve done your research on minimalism, take a look at a mirror. At least, figuratively speaking. Look at yourself and assess the different areas of your life. What needs decluttering the most?
Then make a list. Or more accurately, make some lists. List down what you have or what you do and spend your time on. Also make a list of the things you cannot touch or are non-negotiables in your life. It may be a necessary expense or a certain time period set aside for important things or people like friends or family. Make these lists and see what your research revels about them and how you can reduce these lists. In reducing it would help to refer to your non-negotiables so you can better gage what items to cut out.
Also assess the parts of your life that blend in with others’ time or things and bear these in mind when reducing. If you are using minimalism to clean out your garage, for example remember to ask permission. Respect family items and don’t get rid of them without a consensus.
2. Set up a masterplan
After you’ve done your research both on yourself and on minimalism, it’s time to form a plan. Once you understand WHY you are doing this; WHAT you have to work with, and HOW to go about it, it’s time to determine WHEN. Give yourself some time but not too much time to adjust. You may be the type of person who can focus on a task a little at a time. Or you may be the type who needs to keep going once you’ve gotten started on a task. Either way, momentum is key in making sure you see this through.
Still, make sure you are true to yourself. Only you can tell when and how you will handle change best. Just be focused and intent on the task ahead and stay true to your purpose. Write it all down and map it out.
3. Keep your eyes on the goal
Remember your list of non-negotiables? The things you can’t and shouldn’t get rid of because these are the things that bring the most value to your life. Make sure you stay on track with your tasks by going back to this list. The center of your focus and the why you are doing this should help you in de-cluttering.
When you begin discarding other items, make sure you leave room for the things that affirm and would help strengthen the things that give you the most value. A certain expense may look like an indulgence to others, but if you are certain it is necessary to achieving, say a career goal, then it may be a necessary investment. Just make sure that is what you really want to focus on and make room for it.
Also helpful in keeping your focus is getting rid of the things you are sick of looking at or doing. It’s easier to begin trimming your belongings if you start with these things. Also write down what has kept you from discarding these things. You might find they are superficial reasons and it will then be easier for you to get rid of them. Also remember what you value and see if these things you want to discard are a boon or a bane to them. If they are more a hindrance than a help to your goal, throw or cross it out.
4. Do not Compete
Remember minimalism is NOT a competition. Having less than someone else does not necessarily mean you’ve embraced minimalism and they have not. The purpose of minimalism is de-cluttering so that you have more time, energy, space or resources to give to what really matters to you. Challenge yourself but also have fun.
5. Be kind to yourself
Take a moment to write down why you desire to live a simple or minimalistic lifestyle. Is it because you are over-worked or simply don’t have space in your home anymore? Or maybe there are deeper reasons like anxiety, envy or frustration. Exploring your reasons honestly can help fuel your practice.
Once you’ve done this, allow yourself to dream of what your life would be like once you’ve de-cluttered it. Minimalism is meant to allow you to live your life without distraction so you can follow your dreams.
Lastly, don’t be too harsh on yourself when you begin your introspection and the process of de-cluttering. Find ways to encourage yourself to keep going without being a nag. Focusing on your dreams and writing down your goals will be the like watering the seeds you’ve already planted.