As an amateur myself, I’m not here to boss you around. Rather, I’m here to share some of the tips I’ve learned about minimalism over the past year to hopefully get you started toward the lifestyle you want to live.
When most people think of minimalism, they often think of the extreme version: no car, no furniture, one outfit, and so on. In fact, I would not be surprised if most people’s image of the minimalist lifestyle was that of the hippie hobo, the privileged kid trying to be superior by rejecting the “capitalist agenda”.
However, like every lifestyle choice, there is a happy medium and a way to personalize it to the individual. For example, I will always have physical books. Sorry, not sorry! That’s a deal-breaker for me. Yet, a year ago I had an epiphany — or maybe my friend’s constant teasing finally broke through my stubborn head — that the large quantity of books I owned wasn’t making me as happy as I thought it was. Sure, I like books, and, sure, I like to keep my favorites on hand, but I had more books than I had space for, more books unread than read.
So, what happened a little over a year ago that made me have this epiphany, you might ask? I had to move. Moving, for those who don’t know, is like spring cleaning on crack. Nothing motivates you into realizing you have far too much stuff than trying to put all the items you have collected over the years into cardboard boxes.
Thus, I began to rethink my life and my own materialism. Of course, I still have a long way to go with minimalism; in fact, if you were to look at my room right now, you might think: minimalism where? (I won’t provide a picture of my room; just take my word on it.)
Still, over the past year I have gotten rid of bags of trash as well as boxes of clothes, books, stuffed animals, and other trinkets. Furthermore, in the past year I’ve bought less stuff. I’ve taken a hard look at what I own and what I want to buy.
My progress — though small to some — feels great. I feel less overwhelmed by clutter. I feel happier when I know where things are and can enjoy the things I love more because I don’t have to wade through a sea of stuff to find them.
And I want to share that happiness with you. And so, here are some easy tips to starting a minimalist lifestyle from an amateur to an amateur.
- Tackle one set of items at a time: This might be setting a day to evaluate everything in your dresser and/or having a day where you evaluate all of your books, clothes, documents, or makeup. This way you have a manageable, identifiable goal that will hopefully keep you on task and less distracted or overwhelmed.
- The Time-out Box: Not sure if you will regret getting rid of something? Put it in the Time-out Box. Set the items in the box aside for a designated amount of time like a week or month, and if within that time, you do not need the item or even think about the item, then you can rest assured that it’s time for that item to go.
- Sell or Donate Your Items: Once you have decided what items you no longer want, you need to get rid of them. Do your research on what places buy or take used items. For some, the warm, happy feeling of donating to Goodwill is enough, but personally nothing motivates me more than getting some extra cash for the stuff I wanted to get rid of. Most people already know about Ebay and Craiglist, but if you have fashionable clothes, try Plato’s Closet; if you have books, look for stores like Half Price Books; and for just about anything else, check out local swap and sell Facebook pages.
- Beware of Used-Once or Untouched Items: Remember that magazine or book that you read once and have never picked up or thought about since? Remember that movie you watched once? Remember that shirt that still has the tag on it? For magazines, you might have a recipe or article you like in it. Then cut it out or scan it! Having one magazine doesn’t take up a lot of space, but especially those who hold subscriptions know how quickly they can multiply. For those used-once books and movies, think about why you are keeping them. Most will find they are keeping just to keep and might do better just selling or giving those items away.
- Make Smart Purchases: Spending that extra minute to analyze why you want to purchase something can save you money and the headache of extra clutter. Think about how often you will use said item and whether or not you have something similar at home already. If you think about it and realize that you just have the urge or craving to buy something, then dig deeper. Why? How can you fix it? You might find that you were covering something up through shopping.
Now there are many more tips and tricks to minimalism, but those are a few to get you started. Hopefully they were helpful!
Let me know in the comments below what you think about minimalism and what tips, if any, will you incorporate into your own life.