Have you ever been sitting in your home and suddenly been struck by just how many things you own? Sometimes it seems like my clothes, books, and furniture are closing in on me! We all crave for a simpler life sometimes—we like to believe we’re the type of people who could be happy with very little. Well, maybe you can. You don’t need to totally isolate yourself from society to become a minimalist in a maxed out culture. Here are 10 simple steps to do it.
When you’re shopping, and you can’t decide between a few items—maybe you love a jacket, and it comes in three colors and you want them all—and you imagine all the times you’ll wish you had each of those colors, keep in mind that, nobody else notices. For the most part, we buy apparel and aesthetically pleasing items to please others, but we forget they don’t look at us and think, “That jacket/laptop cover/dog leash would have looked better in blue.” They just think, “Nice jacket!” Buy just one of the colors: you’ll forget about the other two, and the general public never even knew the other two existed.
Since we live in a consumerist culture, let’s look to other cultures for some tips. If you were to walk through a busy town in nearly any French city, you’d see people walking their groceries home. That’s right—walking them home! Because they only have one or two bags. Most other countries shop once or twice a week, buying mostly fresh, perishable products. Their kitchens are never over-stocked and over-stuffed: they just eat up their fresh fare, and then return to the market. Instead of packing your cupboards and pantries with non-perishable cans and packages, try eating mostly fresh food, and shopping more frequently.
Sorry but, if you’re dedicated to a minimalist lifestyle, having a treadmill, medicine ball, several weights and barbells filling up your home won’t make the cut. Not to mention those items just stress you out: every time you see them you’re reminded that you’re not working out. Sell them online, and purchase a gym membership.
You heard me right: sometimes in order to cut down you need to pay up. Instead of walking away from the $200 jacket only to then buy 10 $20 items, let yourself buy the nice quality, pricey items you love, and use that as your reason not to buy anything else.
As tough as it is to let go of your hundreds of drawings you did between preschool and high school, keeping just one or two will instantly bring back memories from that time. Same goes for photos. You’re probably guilty of keeping 10 print out’s for every 1 shot. All that changes is you’re squinting a little more in one, or turned to the right a little more in another. Pick your favorite and toss the rest. The point of memory-associated items is to help you remember the past. You don’t need 10 of every item to do that.
Usually when we’re getting rid of things, we only think about how that item does or doesn’t fit into our lives. We ask, “Is there maybe one time I’ll need this item?” But instead, ask yourself this, “Is there somebody out there who could use this item every day?” You know your home is filled with things that you don’t need—you just like them. But there are plenty of people who are just struggling to get things they need! When you think about them, and place your decision as to whether or not to keep something on that thought, you’ll be getting rid of things quickly.
What’s the one thing keeping you from getting organized/donating clothes/cleaning your home? Time. Being a minimalist is a daily commitment. You need to put aside time every week to evaluate what you have and what you need, or don’t need. Consider being a minimalist another activity, just like a book club or a tennis match. Give the boot to some of the activities you only feel lukewarm about and don’t fill up that timeslot. Consider it your time to upkeep your minimalist lifestyle.
There’s no reason for you to still have a flat screen TV and a desktop monitor. There are plenty of stunning, lightweight monitors that can serve as both your television and your computer, by being hooked up to a modem. There’s no reason to have an iPod and an iPhone—your phone holds your music! And there’s really no need for an e-reader and a laptop. An e-reader is a little smaller, sure, but you know you end up bringing both devices when you travel anyways, even though you can do all your e-reading on your laptop.
Need to fill a prescription, deposit a check and pick up a bundle of bananas? Instead of getting in your car, walk or jog to all of these places. You might say, “But that will take two hours…!” Fine: that’s about how long it takes to drive to the gym, find parking, workout, shower and drive home. But now, you got errands done and exercised in that amount of time. More importantly, when you don’t have a car to load up with purchases, you think very carefully about the purchases you make.