Here’s the funny thing about minimalism. It’s all about you—it’s your art and your practice, so you’re in control of your own minimalist destiny. At the same time, it’s hard to know where to begin! It takes a tremendous amount of willpower to be able to set lofty goals for yourself and stick to a schedule that will help you reach those goals. With minimalism, it’s easy to fall into the trap of running around in circles with no start or end.
That’s why it’s a good idea to follow a set of guidelines to help you in your journey. There are all kinds of ways to practice it, but we’re here to help you out with a beginning, middle, and end. You’ll get the hang of it afterwards! Without further ado, here are five steps that will help you with becoming a minimalist.
1. Document it and stick to it
Goals are always better when they are written down. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do something, but having it in writing solidifies your goal as a promise to yourself. In the context of minimalism, it’s helpful to document your reasons for becoming a minimalist, the steps you’ll take, and what you’re hoping to get out of your practice.
For instance, let’s say you’ve decided to become a minimalist because you began to develop hoarding habits. You realized your life (and your bedroom!) was too cluttered, so you wanted to simplify your environment via minimalism. Instead of just thinking about minimalism, commit to it. Write down a list of these reasons, and hang your list in places where you’ll see it on a daily basis. Some people lean toward creating multiple lists or “documents” of your minimalist goals—perhaps a sticky note with an encouraging quote, or a laundry list of reasons why minimalism is important to you.
2. Get rid of duplicates
The idea of having duplicates around your house may sound crazy, but you’d probably be surprised to find out that you have tons of duplicate items! Dedicate one or two days to go through all of your things and sift through your duplicate items. If you have two vases and you only need one, get rid of one. Perhaps you have more blankets than you’ll ever need—you know what to do!
You get the point. Not everything has a rightful place in your home. As you accumulate more things, you should check in on your “inventory” and make sure that everything you have is necessary. It’s always difficult to say goodbye to your material possessions, so emptying your house of duplicates is a great place to start. It won’t feel like an emotional goodbye, because you know you already have a similar item.
3. Define a clutter area
Wait, what?! Bet you thought we were going to tell you to declutter, rather than the opposite. As you’re developing new habits, moderation is key. You don’t want to get so swamped with decluttering and purging that you end up hating minimalism. It should be a fun and exciting journey for you, not one that you dread. Often, people immerse themselves 100% into the minimalism practice, and they end up getting overwhelmed. We’re here to say, “Don’t do that!”
Set up a physical space where you will allow yourself to keep some clutter. Don’t get us wrong—
you shouldn’t trash the space, but it’s helpful to have one area where you can let loose. It allows you to focus the rest of your attention on simplifying your lifestyle, so if you need to drop off a few items on your clutter area, you’re free to do so. Eventually, as you become more accustomed to the minimalist lifestyle, you’ll be able to let go of the clutter area and trade it in for a clean space.
4. Whittle down your spending money
Credit card swipes may be satisfying, but it’s no way to live a life of minimalism. Minimalism is about simplifying your life, not adding more stuff to it! Keep an eye on it and try to cut out the excessive spending habits. Here are a few ways to whittle down your spending money without taking a drastic approach:
Refrain from dining out at restaurants for a week
Swap your soda or other beverages for water (it’s cheaper and healthier)
Set spending parameters for yourself every time you go shopping
Try to buy groceries in bulk
5. Pack a suitcase
Have you ever lived out of a suitcase for a week and realized you have way more than you need? If you really want to see how much of your items are necessities, pack a suitcase and live out of it for a week. Think about all of the clothes you never even touch! After your week-long suitcase living endeavor, re-evaluate which of your clothes or toiletries are totally necessary.
That doesn’t mean you need to get rid of anything that wasn’t used that week, but it’s a great eye-opener to see how much you truly need on a daily basis.