Enjoying life with less sounds appealing especially in a world sunk in a system that brainwashes you into thinking that the key to happiness is to have more.
Minimalism is all about giving absolute attention to the concept of less so you improve your physical space and your mind.
To get on board with the minimalist ideas and to take advantage of the benefits it may bring, follow the steps on our minimalist checklist and use it as an introduction to minimalism (you can aid this checklist with the 30 days minimalist challenge).
Why do you feel the need to declutter? Is it because you simply have too much stuff or because you are moving out and can’t cope with having to move so much stuff around? Or is it because you feel like clutter is taking a toll on you?
There are many reasons behind changing lifestyles, and the first step towards minimalist – as for many other things – is to be self-aware and understand why you feel like decluttering is the answer to whatever may be troubling you.
Here, we’ll address both physical and emotional ‘stuff’. Look around you – look around your house, your office, your relationships, and your mind. Make sure you are fully aware of the things you own. Look at all the things that you use and don’t use, the ones that were shoved in a drawer because they’re broken or you no longer like them. Look for the things you still like but don’t seem to fit in any occasion.
Make sure you’re also aware of the relationships you maintain with people around you. It’s important to think about the people that are in your life and what you can offer each other. Finally, think about the relationship you maintain with yourself – make sure you are aware of the state of your mind.
Want vs Need
Learn the difference between want and need. This one is important – and it will be incredibly useful when becoming aware of your space.
We were made to think that wanting is an important factor in buying things because having what we want will make us happy. Well, it’s not quite true. According to minimalist principles, happiness comes more easily from having the things we need rather than the things we want. This principle applies to the process of decluttering. Understanding the difference between want and need will make your job a lot easier because the things you need are far less than the things you want – or, in most cases, wanted.
The things you need are always by your side while the things you want will eventually be set aside. In other words, the things you need are, essentially, the things that mean something to you – something associated with a happy memory or a loved one – whereas the things you want are just things that you should let go. Yes, let go – if they don’t ‘spark joy’ (in the words of Marie Kondo), then you have to let go because you don’t need them.
Owning only the things you need will make room for your mind to expand and walk away from patterns of consumerism. Moreover, it will improve your life in the sense that tidying up won’t be so difficult anymore.
Declutter step by step
After all the thinking of the first two steps, let’s move on to the action.
Decluttering isn’t an easy process, especially if you’re surrounded by clutter. Starting is quite simple because there’s that first pump of motivation that takes all the way to end of the process – the feeling of accomplishment. Yet, once you begin to open drawers, closets, and cabinets, that pump fades and you give in to the new feeling of difficulty and that pinch of fright that comes from facing the reality of simply owning too much stuff.
So, if you really want to become a minimalist and clear out your space, go step by step. Choose a part of the house – it can be a whole (small) room or just a drawer – and declutter it. The feeling of accomplishment will be there at the end, and then you can plan which part of your life you are going to declutter.
Simplify your days
Scheduling the everyday tasks is relaxing for those of us who are organized at nature, however, it can become a source of stress if your schedule is always full. Maintain only those events that are important on your schedule. Keep an eye for parties you could cancel, meetings you don’t really have to attend or free-time activities that only consuming your time and don’t bring any joy.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone, so feel free to use your time in a way that makes you satisfied with yourself without always thinking about what others might prefer you to do. In fact, go ahead and add a ‘me time’ activity in your schedule – here, you’re absolutely free to do whatever makes you feel good, be it painting, running, taking a walk or simply relax on the couch watching that movie you’ve been meaning to watch for months. It’s your time – it’s up to you to simplify it.
Be in charge of your life
Although this sounds too much like a self-help phrase, minimalism is about being in charge of your life, in a way. It’s easy to get tangled in the complexity of the modern world. It only takes a few seconds to fill your daily schedule with meaningless tasks; it only takes a few minutes to get your cluttered house in a giant mess; it only takes a few wrong words to drive a really good friend away.
And that, dear reader, will make you stress for hours, days, months, even years, in the worst-case scenario. Be in charge – less stuff and less stress equals more time and more freedom. Follow our minimalist checklist and enjoy the beauty of a life based on less.