Fundamentals of Minimalist Living
Whenever people say minimalist living or minimalist fashion, you imagine a monochromatic dress stripped off of any prints and frills. In architecture, a minimalist setting would entail a simple patch of landscape, with all the other details kept to a minimum.
Similarly, a person practicing minimalist living is someone who has less things to use, less things to do, but is seemingly comfortable despite all of the “lesser things in life”that he has. With these descriptions, you probably have a slightest idea on what minimalism is.
Simplicity is Beauty
In a nutshell, minimalism is being simple. You do not yearn for unnecessary things when you talk of minimalism. Case in point, if you already have enough clothes for the month, then what’s the point of buying more?
Minimalism wants you to see that keeping only your favorite things, in this case your frequently-used clothes, is already enough. And in having only those things that bring you ultimate happiness, you can have more room to lavish yourself in these enjoyments that you chose.
There is beauty in less, as most minimalists say. Applying this to life, if you have fewer activities to do, it makes you less stressed. You have more time to recuperate your energy and this can translate to better health. A more happy, positive, and healthy you is indeed a sign of beauty in itself.
Shopping is a Temptation
For a minimalist, shopping is the most important activity to avoid as it tempts one to acquire and consume more. People are attracted to colorful packaging, unique designs, enchanting sounds, and fragrant scents. Thus, even if you keep telling yourself that you are strictly window shopping, you can’t be totally sure that you won’t buy anything. More or less, once you have zeroed-in on one item that you like, you’ll definitely go back to get it.
Clutter is Poison
A sleek and tidy house radiates of peace and calmness. The application of this principle isn’t confined to your homes; you can use minimalism among your relationships too. By focusing on a small set of close friends, you can create more meaningful relationships with others.
On the contrary, if you choose to be friends with everybody, you wouldn’t be able to accommodate every single one of them and eventually, your relationship with those left out will suffer.
10 Easy Steps To Declutter Your Home with Minimalist Design
Cleaning is an easy chore; you simply wipe out the dirt and grime in your belongings then you’re done. Decluttering is another matter. Besides cleaning your mess, you assess all the items that you have and expunge everything that’s unneeded. That’s a tough job to do especially if you’re not aware of which things are really useless. As such, below are the guidelines on how you can proceed to decluttering.
- Decide on which area you should start.
You can’t possibly proceed in decluttering places all at the same time. More often than not, that’s a sure way of how you can easily misplace things. So instead of being able to focus, it will just cause you to work harder. It’s understandable that you’re excited about decluttering, but getting ahead in the process without much thinking will get you nowhere.
To start, in which areas should you start decluttering? Where are you usually working? Determine the places which you usually frequent to; that should be your starting place.
- Remove everything in the area.
It’ll be much easier if you work on a clean slate rather than work in parts. For instance, if you’re going to declutter your cabinet in this way, it would be hard for you to reorganize things since it’s already full.
- Make a quick decision on the item: Do you really need it or not?
When you say declutter, you’re not going to take all items out then put them back in, albeit in an organized way. That’s like putting all your belongings in the same place as the garbage.
So before you put your stuff in its rightful place, decide if you still need it or not. Here are a couple of questions to help you in your choice: Is it a valuable item (e.g., jewelry)? Can you survive without it?
- For those items with a sentimental value, take a picture.
Usually, it’s these types of items that end up in your storage unmoved for a long time. That’s why minimalists don’t hold into physical things and they’d much rather cherish these items in a more practical way.
Scrapbooks usually end up in the attic, and people wouldn’t have noticed it at all if they didn’t clean the area. Now that you’ve found your own scrapbook in the attic (thanks to this book!), is it even economical to store it again for a couple of years more?
Here’s a great alternative: take a picture of it. Once you store it digitally, you can now easily retrieve it for your personal use. Or better, you can share it with your friends in popular social networks such as Facebook.
- Throw any item that you haven’t used within the past six months.
After doing steps 1 and 4, you still find yourself with a considerable amount of possessions that you think can still be whittled down. Here’s another tip: if you haven’t used an item within six months, throw it out.
Chances are you probably wouldn’t need it in the succeeding months ahead. For seasonal items such as winter clothes, you can probably extend the time to one years, i.e., have you used it for the past year?
- If you’re not sure about whether to throw an item or not, you can put them in the “Undecided” box.
Don’t ever make the mistake of putting an “undecided” item along with your essential items; it will probably just rot in the storage. Just put them in the “undecided” box, but make sure that you’ve already decided within weeks’ time on these items.
If it’ll take you longer, that box might as well be another clutter in your room and you don’t want that to happen.
- Before you put everything back, clean the surface first.
Besides having a tidier area, you don’t want to trigger certain allergies because of unsanitary practices.
- Don’t simply put each item back, create a separate area for each
You’re done with segregating the unnecessary items from the essentials, as well as cleaning the place up. However, if you’re going to put these items back in whatever way you like, it will look like you just had the clutter back.
As such, be sure to separate each item and put them in their respective places. For instance, your clothes should be lined up according to kind. T-shirts and pants should be neatly folded, and is separately stored from your underwear. Once you’re done, you’ll see how neat and organized your decluttered area is.
- Repeat these steps again in another area.
Decluttering doesn’t stop there. Repeat these steps in the other areas in the house. Only then can you proceed to declutter outside your home.
- Either donate or throw your Unnecessary items.
As a saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Before you throw out all your unnecessary things, look for items which you can donate such as clothes and toys.
With these ten easy steps, decluttering will never be a daunting task any more. In the next chapter, you will also learn how to “declutter” other areas of your life.
10 Practical Steps In Simplifying Your Life with Minimalism
Now to the nitty-gritty part. Here are the ten practical steps on how you can simplify your life – the minimalist way.
Wait, is that even possible? How can you be a minimalist by just doing 10 steps?
Unfortunately, there is no shortcut towards a minimalist living. If that were the case, a lot would have become minimalist by now. Most people are unconsciously tied up to the habit of achieving more, thus making it impossible for one to turn into a full-fledged minimalist overnight. Instead of “steps”, you should rather take the following items below as “phases”.
Each phase corresponds to every possible facet of your life – your family/ home, your finances, your health, and so on. For every item, you will be reading recommendations on how you can further simplify each area.
- Turn your home into a minimalist heaven
Your home is your refuge. This is where you seek for inspiration and energy for you to last the whole day. However, if your home is too unkempt for decent use, it may not serve its purpose well.
As such, the minimalist living ensures that their home is neat and organized. With the number of rooms in your house, where should you start? It is recommended that you start in your room.
This is so that whenever you step into your personal space, it may serve as your inspiration to continue your journey towards minimalist living. Afterwards, you can proceed to the common areas such as living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.
It is indeed boring if the living room that once housed all your pictures, figurines, and furnishings were now removed. While minimalism wants you to remove the non-essentials, it also recognizes that aesthetics is indispensable.
Thus, for a minimalist setup, look for a simple yet elegant centerpiece that will be the focal point of room. The walls and floors then should be painted in a solid yet muted shade.
- Purge your closet.
You also apply the same rule as above, keep the essentials and store the rest. But what if you have so many clothes that you cannot discern which one is essential? You can use an outfit formula.
This considers the activities that you do on a daily basis. Let’s say that you’re a legal assistant at a major law firm. You wear corporate attire for five days a week. On weekends, you usually go to the mall to unwind, and you only don a casual getup.
In this scenario, you have two outfit formulas:
the Blazer + blouse + skirt/ pants and Blouse + short/ pants.
Now considering these minimalist numbers of clothing:
Work: 2 Blazer + 4 blouse + 3 skirt/ 2 pants (11 items) = 40 outfits
Casual: 4 Blouse + 3 short/ 3 pants (10 items) = 24 outfits
If you do the math, you can wear 64 outfit combinations in using these garments. And if you mix your work and casual pieces together, you can make at least 176 outfits. That’s like almost half a year worth of clothing! No one would even notice that you’re wearing the same thing.
- Create a minimalist workstation.
Are you familiar with the process improvement tool called 5S? Among its teachings is that in your office, you should only have five items on your work desk.
For instance, you can keep the following items in your table: mug, planner, a picture frame, a pen, and a pen holder. These items should be enough for you to do your work efficiently. All the other items beyond the limit should be kept in the storage area.
- Go paperless.
You can do away with the sticky notes and the hard copies of reports, as you can just message your co-worker through a personal messenger, or secure an electronic copy of the report through email. While it’s good for you to go paperless, gadgets such as cellphones and tablets are a big distraction to your work. To be more efficient in your workplace, better keep them away.
- Eat healthy.
Eating is a pleasurable activity. However, most people consider it to be their pastime instead of just an activity to nourish their body. In turn, they only harm their health in the long run by eating too much.
A minimalist only eats less, but he ensures that he is well-nourished. This is done through “clean eating”. If you eat food in its natural state, you preserve the vitamins and minerals that it contains.
Thus, your body is able to digest and absorb your food without the preservatives and the cholesterol brought about by cooking. Practicing vegetarianism is for extreme minimalists, and is not for everyone.
- Have time to exercise.
You don’t have to hit the gym in order to keep yourself fit. Besides paying for expensive fees, going to the gym will take away much time due to travel. Therefore, you should find ways on how you can exercise each day without resorting to the gym.
An example would be to go jogging for about half an hour. If your school or office is just blocks away from your residence, you can just jog your way towards home. To make your exercise more challenging, you can use fitness equipment such as dumbbell, jump rope, or a chin up bar for an overall body workout.
- Manage your finances well.
As you trim your needs and wants to a minimum, you now realize its huge impact to your finances. But if it’s not enough, you can do these three things to manage your money well:
1) Don’t go into debt. Having debt only induces stress on your part. Therefore, you should refrain from using credit cards and just use cash or debit card instead.
2) Save up. Your excess cash should not be spent further. It should be kept up in the bank or put under an investment for better use.
3) Use the auto-pay feature. There’s a facility in banks wherein you can automatically pay for your bills through your payroll, so that when you receive your net pay you will never have to worry about the bills.
- Keep your grooming products to a minimum.
Men are generally simple when it comes to grooming products. All they need is a shampoo and soap, a deodorant, and a shaver – and that’s it. They’re already covered from head to toe. On the other hand, women are much meticulous when it comes to their grooming needs.
For their face, they use a plethora of creams and powders such as moisturizer, foundation, blush-on, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, and so on. With the number of products mentioned, that does not even include their grooming items for their hair, body, feet, and nails, and other beauty products that they use at night.
It’s no wonder that women take a lot of time in preparing themselves for a day. A minimalist woman, however, focuses on taking good care of her body instead of concealing her appearance through makeup. As such, she can do away in using all these beauty products.
- Travel light.
Going to the beach is a perfect getaway to relax and unwind. However, you might not really achieve the “relax and unwind” especially if you’re bringing your whole closet with you. Isn’t it stressful if you were to carry such weight in your vacation?
Only bring the essential things with you, such as toiletries and clothes. You don’t have to bring your laptop with you, or your whole shoe rack.
Also, travelling light isn’t confined to your belongings, but it includes your itinerary. It’s understandable that you want to visit many landmarks and do many outdoor activities while you’re on vacation.
However, if you cram too much tasks in one day, wouldn’t that make you more stressed? A vacation should be a day where you don’t have to put on much importance on deadlines; your school or office work already does that for you. Therefore, make sure that you have a lot of leeway in your itinerary so that you can leisurely enjoy your planned vacation.
- Unclutter your computer desktop.
Most people usually prefer to save their files in their desktop for easy access. However, it might be too late when they realize that having a bunch of random icons in your desktop will only make the searching longer.
As such, it is better if you save your files in their respective folders in the Documents area. As for the programs, you can just pin its icon in the task bar so that you don’t have to put a shortcut in your desktop.
As you’ve noticed, there is no timeline given for each phases. What will you do first? How long will each phase take? Because people don’t have the same priorities and circumstances, there is no cookie-cutter timetable that can be applied to everyone. The best thing you can do is to create your own schedule for each phase, considering how much of a minimalist living you want to live. This 11 reasons to embrace and love minimalist lifestyle will further encourage you.
I hope this post was able to help you understand the fundamentals of minimalist living and how to you can apply this principle in every facet of your life – in your home, in your school or office, and even in your relationships.
The next step is to get started using this information and to hopefully live a stress-free and clutter-free life through minimalism!
Please don’t be someone who just reads this information and doesn’t apply it, the strategies in this book will only benefit you if you use them!
Please leave your thoughts on minimalist living below. Cheers.