Being a minimalist isn’t complicated. It means that you have chosen a life where you have less: less clutter, less distractions, less stress. This way of living simply allows you to rediscover who you are and where your passions lie. Minimalism can change your life.
What can you gain from being a minimalist?
Even though you have less, there is a LOT to gain. After the hard work in these baby steps, you’ll find that you have less stress and anxiety. You’ll have more time put back into your day because you won’t be running around the house looking for something you misplaced or picking up random clutter. That time can (and should) be used to figure out what your passions and goals are in life.
Looking back several years from where we were to where we are now, I can confidently say that we are less stressed by our home and happier. Yes we still fight occasionally and have sleepless nights (babies do that to ya) but the feeling of peace fills our home.
Below you will find the baby steps to becoming a minimalist. To read more on minimalism and how to get there, check out these top posts >>>
A Simple Guide to Purge Your Whole Home
4 Tips to Help You Declutter in 2019
Why I Constantly Declutter and Why It Needs to Stop
How to Eliminate Over Half of Your Wardrobe
Why I Choose to Live a Minimalist Life
18 Things We Won’t Buy in 2019
Write down goals with minimalism in mind.
Write out your goals for the next year, five years, and then ten years. As the time span gets longer it might be harder for you to visualize what you want your life to look like. But keep in mind that this is just a general idea of what goals you want to achieve for yourself and your family – with minimalism and in general.
With minimalism in mind, keep your goals simple and achievable. They should also not revolve around owing an item, car, etc. If your goal is to buy a house, that’s great!
After you have completed the baby steps below, please revisit these goals as they may have (and probably will have) changed!
Commit to having less.
Being a minimalist is a commitment to a lifestyle change. This isn’t going to be some trend for you, it should become a complete lifestyle.
As I talk about in my 4 Tips to Help You Declutter in 2019, it is important to have your whole family on board. Not only to help with the decluttering (and then cleaning) process, but to also embrace this new mindset.
Remind them that this new lifestyle isn’t meant to only live with 12 things, but to relieve them of what is weighing them down. Whether that is the amount of clothes in their closet or amount of toys in the playroom, everyone has a part of their lives that is filled to the brim with items they don’t need and it’s holding them back.
Minimalism is living with less and is not living with nothing.
Now that you’ve talked about minimalism with your family and friends, it is time to get right down to it. It is time to declutter.
Decluttering is talked about a lot and there are a couple of ways to go about it:
- Declutter by room: this is my preferred method. You go room by room and get rid of the things that don’t fit within the questions you’re going to ask yourself (more on that below).
- Categories: In this method, you will pull everything of one category out and declutter just that one category of things. For example, you could choose to do cosmetics, grooming, and other personal care items (things found in bathrooms). You’ll pile it all together and sort out what you don’t need.
After you decluttered everything, you’ll have a better understanding of just how much you have gotten rid of. This amount is different for everyone so don’t compare yourself to me or to the other bloggers out there. For us, we have rid ourselves of over half of our possessions of the past two years.
When decluttering, there are several questions you will ask yourself:
Is it broken or damaged?
The rooms this most applies to are the kitchen, kids’ rooms, and living room. If a piece of electronic equipment hasn’t worked in years and you haven’t bothered fixing it – it needs to be disposed of. Your kid’s toy that is at the bottom of the bin in a thousand tiny pieces should hit the road. They probably haven’t played with it in months. Kitchen gadgets break and non-stick coatings get scratched off. Things that do not work as intended can add stress when you’re trying to whip up a meal for your family.
Do I have duplicates?
If you have a duplicated item, do you use both of them? We were most guilty of this in the kitchen. We realized we don’t actually use both pasta spoons or colanders at the same time or even close together. Another big area of offense is the bathroom. I had many beauty products that were half used and duplicated. My excuse always was that I lost the first one so had to go buy a second one.
Am I using this item?
If it isn’t broken and it isn’t duplicated, do you actually use that item? We had storage containers, coffee mugs, single dishes, odd pillows, and decorations that all sat around our house in an “organized” manner. They were all put away but just not being used. Everything that we weren’t using currently and wasn’t a seasonally used item went away.
Does it fit?
This applies strictly to clothes and uniforms. If it doesn’t fit, then why keep it? If you’ve recently lost weight or gained some, ill fitting clothes can be very unflattering to your body.
Does this item bring me joy or make my life better in some way?
Not all items have to bring you happiness, but do you enjoy using it or does it make your task easier? We have eight coffee mugs and each one is from a different place. Not only does the coffee and tea we put into it each morning bring us joy, but remembering where we got the mug or how we got the mug puts a smile on our faces.
It is very important that you organize your paired-down belongings in a way that works for you and for your family. If you make things too hard to reach or too out of the way to put back, then your home may not stay organized.
For us, my husband Dan is very against his grooming and other products that are stored in the bathroom being in a basket. I learned this the hard way as I was getting frustrated as to why everything would always be on the bathroom sink. When I asked why he said “I just really hate my stuff that I use every day being in a basket. I can’t see it and it is hard for me to put back.”
To fix my organizing conundrum, I made sure that all of my things and the extra bits and bobs were stored and contained appropriately so he could have all the space he needed on a shelf in the cabinet.
For inexpensive bins, I highly recommend going to the Dollar Tree. They have sturdy plastic bins and boxes in an array of colors and in just about every size. If you don’t want to purchase plastic, next time you are at the grocery store, ask an associate if you can have a few of the cardboard flats or boxes. In the case of Aldi, you can just take empty ones from the shelves!
As a minimalist, the most frequent store I visit is the grocery store. After that it is the thrift store. I know, it’s super exciting. But after all, shouldn’t a minimalist shop less? Yes!
I highly recommend using a 72 hour list for when you shop for non-grocery items and a grocery list when you shop for your weekly meals. Each list requires planning and thought as to avoid impulse purchases and over spending. Both lead to ultimately unwanted items and too much cash missing from your wallet.
Other than having a list, a way to buy less is to avoid the places where you like to wonder around to kill time or places that trigger your overspending. For me places like Target and Hobby Lobby are avoided at all costs. I also try to avoid Wal-Mart and the mall.
When you shop always remember that it should be quality over quantity that you look for. I know those advertised sales pull you in and tell you to buy six new shirts! But resist and purchase a higher quality item that will last much longer than multiple of the cheap version.
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Look at the savings.
After you have started mindfully shopping and are well along the way of decluttering your whole home, I urge you to take a look at your budget. Apps and websites like Mint or Personal Capital categorize spending and can provide you with spending reports over time. I bet you’ll be surprised at how much you start to save with your new minimalist mind set.
Declare one part of your home clutter-free forever.
In one part of your home that you have already decluttered and is a well-used space make a declaration that it is to remain clutter free – forever! The one thing that motivates me most to not bring new items into my home or to get
disorganized lazy is the one minute rule.
The clutter all over my counters in the kitchen drove me nuts! So I tackled it and the rest of my house. I told my husband that the kitchen should be clutter free in the morning and at the end of the day – no excuses. With the one minute rule, I am able to more mindfully keep that area free of mess.
Revisit your goals – often.
Remember those goals you wrote down at the beginning of your journey? Come back to them and reassess. By downsizing your belongings, I can figure that you may have different goals for your life than you did before.
The weight of your home and its contents is no longer on your shoulders. You have new found room to breath. Write down new goals or modify old ones. Every quarter, twice a year, or yearly go back and revisit your goals and make adjustments.
As you progress through minimalism, like we are, your goals and frame of mind might change. That’s okay! Goals change as often as our life does. Now you have the mental clarity to keep up with them and realize them before it is too late.