Maybe you’re interested in minimalism, but you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’ve tried to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, but your old habits keep creeping back.
When you’re trying to simplify your life, it’s often easier to start with small steps than it is to change all your behaviors overnight. Here are 12 simple things you can do to create – and maintain – a more minimalist lifestyle.
Know Why You Want to Downsize
Why are you interested in minimalism? Do you want a cleaner house, a less hectic schedule or more time with your loved ones? Spend some time thinking about your goals before you actually make any changes in your life. When you know what you want to achieve, you’ll have an easier time staying motivated.
Get Rid of Any Obvious Junk
Most of us have some things sitting around the house that we just don’t need. In fact, a lot of clutter is just junk. Go through your house and throw out anything you don’t need or want anymore. If someone else might be able to use an item, put it in a bag for donation. Once you clear out the obvious clutter, your house will probably feel much more orderly and spacious.
Identify Your Trouble Spots
Maybe your bedroom is neat as a pin, but your closet is a wreck. Or maybe your kitchen is a clutter magnet, even though the rest of your living space is neat and tidy. Figure out which areas you have trouble keeping clean and why. Then you will be able to make an action plan for dealing with them.
Go Through Your Closet
Are you struggling to determine which part of your house to de-clutter first? Start with your closet, especially if you haven’t cleaned it out in months (or years). Sort through your clothes, your shoes and anything else you store in there. Keep the items you love and wear regularly and donate the items you don’t like or didn’t remember you own. You will feel accomplished when you’re done – and ready to take on another part of the house.
Focus on One Room at a Time
Don’t try to clean out your whole house at once. That’s a guaranteed way to end up overwhelmed. Instead, tackle one area at a time. Spend as much time as you need to on each room before you move on. It might take longer to get your whole house clean and clutter-free, but you will be able to maintain the change more easily when you do it bit by bit.
Get Rid of Duplicates
Do you really need three identical t-shirts or half a dozen kinds of shampoo stashed in your bathroom cupboard? If you really do use and enjoy all of your duplicate items, then keep them. There’s nothing wrong with buying several pairs of your all-time favorite jeans, for instance. But if you don’t use more than one of a certain item, donate the extras. You can always buy another one if you need to.
Re-evaluate Your Diet
Minimalism is about more than just your house. You can apply its principles to every area of your life, including your diet. Ask yourself what kind of meals you eat and how often you need to buy food. If you tend to waste food, spend too much time and money on your meals, or eat food that isn’t nutritious, you might want to tweak your habits. Health, simplicity and frugality are good diet-related goals for a minimalist.
Say No to Something
A packed schedule doesn’t mix very well with a minimalist lifestyle. If you’re in the habit of taking on every opportunity and invitation that comes your way, practice setting some boundaries for a better balance in your life. Turn down a request you know you don’t have time for or say no to an invitation you don’t want to accept. Reclaiming your time is just as important as reclaiming your space.
Track Your Spending
Minimalism is all about living within your means. If you haven’t done so already, create a budget for yourself and start tracking your spending. As you get more accustomed to managing your money, you can start setting financial goals, like saving a certain amount of money every month or paying down debt.
Adjust Your Sentimentality
It’s hard to get rid of stuff you’re emotionally attached to. Whether it’s old baby clothes, souvenirs from a favorite vacation or a gift from someone you care about, sentimental items tend to gather over the years. Even more, they just become clutter.
If you have a hard time getting rid of sentimental items, adjust the way you think about them. Those souvenirs might be a nice reminder of your trip, for instance, but they’re not as important as the memories you made. If you still can’t bring yourself to part with some of your mementos, there’s nothing wrong with putting them in a memory box.
Prevent Clutter From Returning
Getting rid of clutter is one thing, but keeping it away is another. If you return to your old habits after cleaning out your house, your living space will soon look just the way it did before. Prevent this by setting some new rules for yourself. If you want to bring something new into the house, commit to getting rid of something old first. It’s also a good idea to create some simple tidying routines, so you can take care of clutter before it has a chance to accumulate.
At its core, minimalism isn’t about owning a certain number of possessions – it’s about living mindfully. When you’re in a mindful state, you will naturally gravitate toward owning and using only what you need. You will spend your time and money in worthwhile ways instead of wasting them. If you want to maintain a minimalist lifestyle for the long haul, cultivating mindfulness is one of the most important things you can do.
Simplifying your lifestyle doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult. In fact, you will be more likely to stick with minimalism long-term if you take small, manageable steps to get there. Start putting some of these ideas to work for you today, and you will be rewarded with a life that’s less stressful and more meaningful.