Minimalism is a lifestyle, not a destination. It’s a journey you will be on every single day and some days you will be more minimalist than others. Some days you will be more successful than others, but just remember that it’s a journey. I’ve seen this to be true in my own life.
I turn around one day and realize that I have a ton of junk in my home. I think I’m being minimalist, but instead, I just keep buying stuff. It’s an easy trap to fall into and one that is even easier if you live in a developed country where it is normal to have more and more and more. If you live in surburbia, it’s even easier. We simply have more space to let things in compared to those who purposely live in smaller spaces or live in the cities where space is at a premium.
Minimalism is a daily struggle for me as well, because I live most of my day in the advertising and marketing world. I can’t escape social media if I tried and ads are becoming so pervasive in these spaces that it’s easy for me to stumble across new gadgets that I simply MUST have.
Minimalism is a daily struggle because we live in a world of comparison. We are keeping up with the Jones every day on Instagram. We are constantly reminded of how shabby our home is from interior design shows. We have reminders almost everywhere we turn that we are not enough. So, minimalism is not just the physical act of getting rid of our clutter. It’s a mindful act throughout our day to tell ourselves that we are enough. We don’t need more stuff, newer stuff, fancier stuff – to be better. We are wonderful just as we are.
As I consider this daily struggle, I realize that there are a few habits that minimalists keep to on a regular basis. This isn’t a hard and fast thing (remember it’s a journey), but as a general rule, these habits for a minimalist home are fairly consistent:
- One in – One out. When you get something new, you get rid of something else. This mentality helps you keep your overall quantity of items consistent, yet still allows you to bring new things into your life as you need.
- Do I NEED this? Minimalists get critical when they are shopping or considering allowing something into their home by asking the hard question of if you actually need that item.
- Do I LOVE this? Minimalists may not need stuff all the time, but often they will make exceptions if they truly love something. That raggedy stuffed rabbit may not provide any functional use, but it provides immense sentimental memory from childhood and therefore you allow it to stay. Sometimes we LOVE certain clothing items, jewelry, or accessories that really are not functional, but we enjoy them a lot. It’s okay to find joy out of some items.
- Use it up. Minimalists are focused on using items to their fullest capacity, whether that’s using up all of the toothpaste in a tube, wearing clothes out, or finding new uses for items once their initial use is done. The point here is that minimalism is all about not adding additional items that are unnecessary. If your current items still serve a purpose, there’s no need to buy more.
- Quick Cleanups. Minimalists are known for doing quick cleanups each day. Clearing off horizontal surfaces can go a long way
- Work as you go. You don’t have to do a huge declutter purge each year. Minimalists actually are always looking around their spaces at what they can get rid of on an ongoing basis. A good ideas is to keep a box somewhere in your home where you can place items you’re ready to get rid of. Make this a permanent place in your home and get in habits of taking small trips to the local thrift store drop-off instead of one giant one.
- Avoid shopping for fun. The less you go shopping “just for fun,” the less you buy. Minimalists often look to experiences rather than things for their entertainment.
- Borrow. Minimalism is all about having only what you need. When it comes to home projects, yard work, or other one-time projects, you may be able to get by with borrowing tools and equipment from friends. You may not need to buy a tile saw that you only use once; borrow it instead. Get in the habit of lending your own equipment out to others as well to help support this borrowing economy!
Here’s where I struggle:
People offering me free stuff that they’re getting rid of. Often, I will be good about only taking things I can use, but it’s still extra stuff that I hadn’t planned on. Sometimes I use it and sometimes it sits. I have to be careful about this!
Thinking to myself that I can take something into my home because I have the space. Living in the country, having a barn, and an unfinished basement, mean that it can be easy to say “yes” to items simply because I have the space and may use it someday. That’s not a good enough reason to say “yes” to bringing something else into my home.
- How often does the UPS truck stop by your home?
- How often do you run out of space for things?
- Does everything in your home have a “home?” Does everything have a spot where it belongs?
- Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you have?