Written By Julie Paiva, CHHC
What is minimalism? It is intentionally living with only the things you need. The thought of this might sound good to you, or it might feel scary. Know that it doesn’t mean that you need to throw away all your stuff, sell your house, and move into a tiny home. You can still embrace living a minimalistic lifestyle without living in a 300 square foot home. It is possible to take some of the main ideas of minimalism and incorporate them into your life. Living with less things can aid in less stress and more joy.
Becoming a minimalist isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. What one person defines as “quality over quantity,” or “less is more,” may not be the same for another person. Perhaps you don’t have any intention of being a minimalist, but just want to declutter some of your living space. Take a good look at how much your life is currently cluttered – from your bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and office. How many of your drawers, cabinets, closets and counter tops are packed with items. You’re bombarded by so much, and extra stuff doesn’t have to be one of them. Take the time to decide what’s most important, and it will help you stress less and spend more energy actually doing what you love.
Here are some simple steps to help you achieve a minimalist lifestyle:
Use it or lose it
How many times have you looked through a closet or drawer and seen something you haven’t used in weeks or even months? We’ve all been there before, which is why it can be helpful to implement this “use it or lose it” rule. Try tossing (or donating!) items you haven’t used in the past three months. Try the hanger method. Turn you hangers backwards on the bar. If you wear something when it goes back on the hanger turn the hanger facing the regular way. After 3 months anything that is hanging on a backwards hanger gets donated. If it is a seasonal item you can think about if you used it at all last season or wait till that season arises and do the hanger method then.
There is no reason to have 6 new shampoo bottles in your linen closet. Go through one room in your house over the next several weeks. Take inventory of what supplies you have so that you’re not purchasing more of the same thing each time you’re at the store because you are not sure if you have extra at home. Create an inventory list on your phone of everything that you are stocked up on so that you can reference it when needed at the store.
Bring in less
One in, one out! Limit what you bring into your home by removing one item for every new item you bring in. If you’re really feeling inspired, you could set a dollar amount each month that can be spent on new items. This rule may be harder for the kitchen or living room, but you can definitely apply it to your closet!
Discard the duplicates
Walk through your home with a box and fill it with duplicates of non-consumables. If you have two sets of measuring cups, put them in the box. Copies of the same book or DVD? Put one in the box. Once you fill the box, label it “Duplicates” and put it out of sight for 30 days. If you don’t need anything or don’t remember what was in the box, donate it.
Declare a clutter-free zone
This area could be a kitchen table, your nightstand, a countertop, or a drawer in your kitchen. Use that clutter-free zone as inspiration to live with less. If you enjoy that clean, clear environment, expand the zone a little bit each day. A clutter-free countertop can become a clutter-free room and a clutter free room can become the clutter-free, minimalist home you’ve been thinking about. Clutter can be very stressful. Remove clutter, remove stress!
If you find yourself struggling with deciding if an item should stay or go ask yourself; Is it useful? Is it the only one I have? Does it bring me joy? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then keep it. There are no hard rules here. You are the final judge.
Enjoy implementing some of these strategies in your life. Remember, what works for someone else may not work for you, so explore what resonates most with your unique lifestyle. Start small on your path to becoming a minimalist, and figure out what’s truly important to you! When things in your home are simplified you will have more time to focus on doing what creates happiness in your life.