by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 25th September, 2019
Why are you interested in a minimalist lifestyle? What drew you to simplifying your life and reducing your baggage (mentally and physically).
Finding and clarifying your why will help you to stay motivated and on track with your minimalist journey. Changing your lifestyle and spending habits isn't easy, so you'll need something to keep you focused as you learn and grow.
Your "why" is what will keep you going. It could be that you want to save money, or reduce stress, or live more sustainably. Whatever it is, write it down and stick it somewhere that you'll see it every day (this could be your phone wallpaper, on your fridge or even on the side of your favourite coffee cup).
The first step to simplifying your possessions is to figure out what you already have, and which of those possessions are unnecesary. Even if you feel like you don't have a lot of stuff, you probably have more than you realise, and quite a bit of it may be unnecessary junk you don't need to be keeping in your space.
Go through your clothes, books, entertainment, food, kitchenware, tools, junk drawers, old presents, accessories, electronics, and anything else hanging around in the house. Write it down, and catagorise it, so you know exactly what you own, and where it is.
Start of simple by getting rid of all your duplicate items. Whether it's two pieces of clothing that are very similar, old phones you'll never use again, DVD's that have been lost under the couch or a duplicate set of spatula's you received for christmas that one time.
You may well find that you have a lot more duplicates than you think, and by simply throwing out or donating these excess items, you'll clear up a lot of space in your life.
The idea of sorting through, organising and clearing out your entire life can be pretty daunting at first, if not overwhelming. Rather than swamp yourself with work to do, start with one room and focus on this room alone.
Record everything that's in there, and decide what you really need, and really don't. If you're not sure about some items, put them in a box, to be left untouched for 2 weeks. If you don't miss them in those two weeks, you can probably throw them out.
Once you've successfully finished one room, continue with the next room, and the next one, untill eventually, you'll have cleared your entire living space.
If you only live in one room, you can take it even further and start with one area of your room, such as the desk or wardrobe, and slowly clear out bit by bit.
One of the best ways to learn and adapt to a minimalist lifestyle is to travel light. Backpacking in particular lends itself to a minimalist travel approach, since you can only travel with whatever fits in a backpack.
If you're feeling trepidatious with regards to adopting a minimalist lifestyle, trying it out whilst on vacation is a great way to ease yourself in. Travel becomes so much easier when you have less to worry about, so you'll be able to fully appreciates the advantages of a minimalist lifestyle, and get some experience in reducing your clothing and packing strategically.
Some minimalists like to go very extreme with their wardrobe options, limiting themselves to a certain number of items or a certain number of items in each catagory of clothing.
There are no hard or fast rules to minimalism, it's completly up to you how many items of clothing ultimately end up in your wardrobe. However, you probably do have some unworn items and neglected clothing pieces hanging around in there somewhere that can be recycled or donated.
An important step many people forget is to simplify your pantry as much as possible. Food isn't always easy to catagorise and simplify, since ingredients you may only rarely use can still be worth keeping for the odd occasion that you need them.
However, there are steps you can take to simplify your kitchen and make your cooking a lot easier. Dump the duplicate utensils and cooking appliances you never use, and simplify your storage systems by transferring produce to containers. Evaluate what you do and don't use in the kitchen in order to better prepare for shopping and create a schedule of what you need to buy and when.
When we think about minimalism, we often jump straight into throwing away old belongings and junk that we know longer need, without paying attention to the digital junk that's taking up space in our brains and computers.
A great way to detach from your phone/computer and social media, is to try a digital detox - limiting your screen time to a few minutes a day, and deleting social media apps so that you can no longer impulsively pick up your phone and start scrolling through Instagram.
Make an effort to sort through your digital files, old photo's documents, emails and online accouts that are clogging your laptop or phone. Getting rid of these and organising what's left might not seem like a lot, but it will go a long way towards simplifying your digital experience.
Placing limits on yourself might sound scary, but putting in your own boundaries can help you to stay disciplined and on track with your minimalism journey. This could mean simply sticking to a budge or a certain number of clothes in your wardrobe.
Living minimalistically isn't something that happens overnight, and likewise it isn't something that you can do one time and then forget about. By making minimalism a part of your everyday routine and lifestyle, it will become a lot easier to keep up.
Try setting aside a few hours a week, or even just 10 minutes a day, to evaluate your habits, your belongings, and your lifestyle and to see what's working and what's not. Minimalism is all about getting rid of the unnecessary, in order to enjoy the necessary, more.
One of the most difficult parts of living minimalistically, for many people, is gift-giving and receiving. If you are trying to get rid of all excess clutter from your life, having friends and family good-naturedly fill your house up with even more stuff you don't need can be pretty frustrating.
The solution to this problem is to talk to your friends and family, even if it feels rude or awkward at first. Explain to them why you are trying to live more minimalistically and offer suggestions for things you really would appreciate that they could buy you, or perhaps some experiential gifts rather than material gifts. Let them know that you love and appreciate them all the same, no matter what they get you.