Minimalist Lifestyle Tips You Can Start Today
When I first started discovering this concept of minimalism, I watched as people lived out of 100 square feet, had less than a shoebox of trash in a year, and lived off the clothes they could fit in a suitcase. While these extremes are not bad in and of themselves, they did bring about a little big of shame that I couldn’t live up to that. I like having multiple bedrooms to have some alone time. I like shelves upon shelves of books that I’ve collected and learned form over the years. I like having tools and equipment I need to fix things and do basic projects. All of these (and more) are just a few ways how I felt I never fully fit into the minimalism movement.
However, over time, I’ve realized that minimalism is not about living up to this ideal and perfect life. Minimalism is not about having the perfect wardrobe of strictly 30 items or living out of a specific amount of space. Minimalism is actually more of a mindset that can be applied to any lifestyle, whether you live in suburbia, the city, the county, or even a van.
If you’re a real life person whose life sometimes looks messy, cluttered, stressful, and anything but minimal, here are just a few minimalist lifestyle tips for REAL people that we can all embrace.
- Stop Comparison. The first thing is to stop comparing your life to anyone else’s life. While social media has amplified the ability to compare, we still used to see the highlight reel of other people’s lives. Realize that everyone has stressful parts of their lives, whether we can see them or not. So, as you focus on minimalism, realize that everyone’s journey is also unique and different.
- Focus on mindset. Focusing on minimalism starts with a mindset and it has to follow you everywhere. It’s not just a hat you put on when you’re decluttering your home. It’s a mindset you put on when you’re making that quick run into Target to get a gift for a friend and choose to ignore all the shiny, beautiful decorations and knick-knacks you could bring home. It’s a mindset you put on when you’re walking through a farmer’s market or community event and say no to all the cheap swag that local businesses give out. It’s a mindset you put on when you need a new couch or a new suit for work and you choose one that is versatile and will last long rather than buying the latest passing trend. You take minimalism wherever you go. As you start thinking about it more, you will start to notice it popping up all over the place. Soon, you’ll realize your life isn’t full of so much excess stuff.
- Embrace the journey. Minimalism is a journey. You’re not going to wake up one day and simply be a minimalist. Just like we just talked through above, this mindset shift happens every single day and in different types of circumstances. You’ll find times when you gave into consumerism and the desire for more stuff that you don’t really want, and you’ll find times when you celebrate your decision to say no to more stuff. You’ll have ups and downs. You’ll also have seasons of life that are more minimal than others.
- Start small. The other day, I was pulling out my spice bins for a recipe and realized that I hadn’t looked at the expiration dates in a while. In less than five minutes, I had found six spices that were over eight years old to get rid of. It’s not a huge thing, but it was something. You have individual drawers, shelves, cupboards, bags, and more where you could sort small chunks at a time.
- Follow the One In, One Out Rule. This is one of my favorite principles in decluttering and minimalism because it helps me with my mindset, and also with the sheer quantity of items in my home. For every item you bring into your home, you get rid of one item. Often, I like to try to get rid of like items, but you don’t have to get that fancy with it. For example, when I get new t-shirts I want to keep, I do a look-through of my other shirts to see if there are any that need to be turned into rags or given away.
- Shop in color palettes. Odds are you already do this, but when you shop and decorate in similar color palettes for your entire home, you can mix and match your furniture and accessories without having to buy something new. Stick to a similar wood tone for the wood in your furniture, allowing you to move that side table in the living room up to your bedroom to use as a nightstand. Or, if you move, you might find that one room fits some furniture but not all and you can move a bookshelf or couch to other rooms without needing to completely redecorate. By doing this, I’ve been able to redecorate and reorganize the rooms in my home without having to go shopping for all new furniture, artwork, or accessories.
- Stop recreational shopping. One secret to not shopping is to keep yourself so busy that you don’t have time to go shopping “just for fun.” One way to replace that time is to go help out at a nonprofit or help a neighbor out. You could also go exercise or do one of those projects around the house you’ve been putting off. So many people go shopping recreationally and in turn, fill their home with stuff they really didn’t need. But, when you fill your time with other things, then you’ll find that your shopping trips are focused on things you need (groceries, hardware store, etc.) and are quicker trips in and out of the store.
- Stop Magazine Subscriptions. Oh, and while you’re at it, stop binging on things like HGTV and other websites that promote new products. All of these messages are fun, but they make you start to believe that your life isn’t as good because you don’t have stainless steel appliances or the granite countertops. You start to believe that your life will be better with that new smudge-proof makeup brand. The less you see of these things, the less you will be focused on getting more and more.
Will minimalism look like a stark white home with bare walls? Will minimalism look like a home that produces no trash and eats organic all the time? Will a minimalist home be quiet and zen all the time? I’m guessing the answer is no to most of these questions. Our home is full of noise, decoration, stacks of books, busy mealtimes, and more. BUT our home is starting to serve us better. It’s easier to find things and our home has more systems. We have excess storage space in our basement and we have mental space to live life in our home – even when it’s busy and chaotic. Focusing on minimalism has allowed us to do that.
To the journey!