To be minimalist you need to live with less than 100 objects, you cannot have a house, a car or a TV, you cannot have a career, you have to live in weird places around the world, you must be single and you cannot have children.
OK, aside from the joke, minimalism is not about those things – well, it can be if you prefer to live like that.
Minimalism is a tool – and it does not exclude consumption, only compulsory consumerism.
Have you ever felt that emptiness that you didn’t know where it came from and decided it was because you didn’t have that latest cell phone? You went there, bought it, felt fulfilled for a moment and then everything went back to normal – to emptiness. This is called hedonic adaptation and it is not the answer to your problem.
Minimalism is the tool that can help you break that cycle and get more freedom. There is no problem in having material possessions, the problem lies in the meaning we give them: the reason for our existence and the result of our work.
Minimalism is about giving meaning to what we have.
If something is not useful to you, does not do you good or does not serve you, why do you still cling to it?
Minimalism is to reduce to have more; it is making conscious choices, rather than being driven to a decision by external factors or marketing.
It is about reducing to what really matters – what something means to you – in order to have more: more time, more experiences, better relationships, more space, a more meaningful life because it now does not depend more than is overflowing from your wardrobe.
Minimalism is not a radical precast lifestyle, but a system that can adapt to your needs.
And like everything in life, minimalism is a process. To start your journey, a 22-day challenge: 22 suggestions to start freeing space in your home and in your mind.
1 Separate 33 essential items from your wardrobe
This idea, also called Capsule Wardrobe, was proposed by Courtney Carver – I suggest reading the website for all instructions.
Most likely, you wear the same clothes, the same accessories, the same bags over and over, even if you don’t realize it. Your jeans? Chances are that you use only about 5 of all you own.
So, what clothes do you really feel comfortable wearing? Which ones do you really love?
Separate these clothes on one side of your wardrobe, the rest you put on the other side or in a suitcase, the important thing is to get them out of your way. If you feel the need for another piece that has not been chosen, there is no problem in exchanging it for something you had previously selected (exchange, do not add!).
By selecting only 33 pieces, you reduce the stress of choosing what to wear, are able to check what you really wear and don’t wear and take inventory of everything you own.
2 Define your style
How many clothes do you have in your wardrobe that you never used or regretted buying? How many shirts did you buy because they were on sale and not why you would like to wear them?
Defining your style facilitates the process of cleaning your wardrobes and keeping your house in order – without unnecessary decorations, without something that doesn’t match the rest. This will also make you more aware of the items you plan to buy and whether or not they suit what you already own.
3 Time to clean: wardrobes
If you managed to make the Capsule Wardrobe, then cleaning your wardrobe will be an easy task.
First, as Marie Kondo suggests in her book The Magic of Tidiness, separate your items by categories: pants, shirts / t-shirts, jackets / coats, shoes, accessories, bags … Do you have shoes scattered in various parts of the house? Bring them together in one place, this saves you from having to repeat the process.
Then, start analyzing piece by piece. (Hint: now, don’t review items that have any sentimental value.)
Check if the garment is similar to something you already have or if it serves the same purpose (do you really need these 7 jackets?), But more importantly, make sure you like this garment. Otherwise, what do you keep it for? If you haven’t used it in the last 12 months, you won’t use it in the next 12 months.
As you analyze, separate into: keep in doubt, donate or trash. What you really like is going to “keep” (and it is useless to say that you love everything or have already sabotaged the entire process). Doesn’t it fit you anymore? Donate. Not in good condition? Trash. Stayed in doubt? Store in a box and hide for a few months, if you don’t miss it, donate. It’s simple, but you need to be honest.
4 Clean all surfaces in your room
Remove all objects, all books, all decorations from the table, chair, nightstand. Leave all surfaces free. Start from scratch. If you live alone, try to do this in the whole house.
Just as you did with your wardrobes, keep only what you like and which is useful.
If there’s something on your table that you don’t like but don’t discard, what you’re doing is just distracting your mind and sabotaging your concentration. The same things that occupy your table also occupy your mind and prevent you from working properly – think about it, just removing that jar with the weird plant can help you focus.
But if you like the weird plant, then put it back, no problem.
5 Check your credit card statement
Most likely you receive your card statement, pay and forget, but there is a better approach.
Take your card statement and check all the payments you’ve been making. You will probably see a lot of things that you pay for, but don’t use – you’re losing money and don’t realize it.
For example, you subscribe to Office 365, but use Pages and Keynote, so what did you subscribe to? You pay for Spotify Premium, but hardly use the app, so why not go back to basics, even if that includes some commercials?
When you need it, subscribe it again.
Read also: how to save money.
6 Time to clean: pantry
If you want to be more aware of your choices, the kitchen is also included in the process.
You can reduce your expenses, decrease the amount of clothes and other belongings, but still act reactively when it comes to your own health and eat any nonsense. Or, if you spend the whole day away from home, why do you have a pantry full of things you won’t be using?
So, go to your kitchen, clean your pantry and your refrigerator. Throw away any food that has passed its expiration date and select what you don’t need to keep – someone can make better use of it than you would.
7 Unsubscribe to emails you don’t read
You may have lost your interest in cooking, but you still receive that newsletter from a cooking website you visited in 2012.
Just as objects on your desk hinder your concentration, unread emails in your inbox can also take up space in your mind. What doesn’t interest you anymore? Open the email and click unsubscribe. It is quick and painless.
8 Turn off notifications on your phone
We live in an era of instant gratification. We don’t know what boredom is anymore and we live distracted. A quick fix: turn off mobile notifications.
You don’t need to know that 3 seconds ago someone liked your most recent photo. You don’t need to know that someone just gave RT to your last 140 character joke.
What you need is to live in the present moment – the notifications you can see later. As soon as the initial anxiety goes away, you realize that you are not missing anything.
9 Eliminate paper bills
Make your life easier: inhibit the printed invoice and receive the PDF in your email – it will arrive on the date and has no congestion problem in the inbox.
Keep your patience, avoid inconvenience and save some trees in the process.
10 Reduce your goals
Every year end, you probably do an analysis of what happened, it stopped happening and you make plans for the next year – but if you set 15 goals for the next year, you’re self-sabotaging yourself.
You don’t have to have more than four goals – one in each important area of your life – and they can’t be dysgenic.
Simplify your life, stop running in all directions. Minimalism can be applied to many areas in your life.
11 Scan old statements and other documents
If you are like my mother, then you have folders and folders with old payments and receipts that you will probably never need. As a result, you lose space.
Take these old statements and bills and scan them – enjoy and do it with other documents like contracts, floor plans… Free up your physical space by turning them into a digital version.
12 Time to clean up: books
I’m a bookworm and it’s really hard to let go of my books, and it’s okay if you also love the books you own. But it is likely that, like me, you have several that you have never read and will never read. Or books you read and found to be a complete crap.
Organize your books into categories, just like day # 3, and decide which ones you really like and donate the rest, they can be useful to someone else.
13 Time to clean up: cell phone
If you don’t play Jetpack Joyride anymore, why keep the app? If you no longer invest in the stock exchange, why not delete the stock exchange application?
Too many apps make us waste time on cell phones, time that could be spent doing more productive things or meeting new people.
Delete everything that no longer serves you, if you ever need it, you can download it again.
14 Time to clean: bathroom
Three types of shampoo, four different moisturizers, dozens of free samples. Some things are probably out of date and you didn’t even notice.
Plus, you don’t need it all (or do you have three heads?). Free up space in your bathroom by reducing your beauty and hygiene products.
15 Time to clean: wardrobes (again)
It is likely that you had not been very honest when cleaning your wardrobes the first time, so you have a new chance!
Again, separate your stuff into categories and ask yourself if you like (and need) what you’ve kept.
I personally repeat this around every 6 months.
16 Plan the next week
Want to have a productive week? So plan everything you need to do in advance.
Deciding what to do during the day is a reactive way of handling responsibilities and you lose focus on what’s important.
17 Unfriend / unfollow
Okay, you can call me mr Frozen Heart, but I unfriend and unfollow people.
Superficial contacts only consume energy, energy that could be redirected to important and relevant relationships. It also makes no sense to maintain a Facebook friendship with someone you haven’t talked to in years – it’s just more noise to distract you.
Don’t be afraid to delete a Facebook friendship, especially if it ceased to exist in the real world.
18 Don’t use social media for a day
This is also a form of minimalism! In the same way that our body needs to rest after a day of work, our mind also needs to rest.
But, in our spare time, we are constantly disturbed. These stimuli do not let our mind rest, so spend a day away from social media. Better: turn off your cell phone for an entire day.
Enjoy your free time to do something you want and have been procrastinating.
19 Set up a system to manage your days
It doesn’t matter if you are going to use an application like Google Calendar or Mac OS Calendar, or if you are going to use a notebook, have a way to manage your activities.
Over time, you become more aware of the things you say “yes” to, the things that just occupy your time instead of contributing positively.
As a result, you learn to say no and to appreciate the only currency that really matters: time.
20 Time to clean up: sentimental items
This is perhaps on the most difficult areas of minimalism.
Do you keep the object because someone gave it to you or because you really like it?
If you don’t like it, it makes no sense to occupy your space with something that is not important to you, even though it was a gift. Gather items that have some sentimental value or gifts that you have earned and decide if they are worth keeping. It is difficult to let go, but it is necessary because what matters are the memories we keep, not the things we think will keep that memory.
And you can always take pictures of things – a memento while freeing up your space.
21 Be grateful
There are two ways to be rich: having everything you want or desiring everything you have.
Instead of trying to fill a void by buying more stuff, fill it by being grateful for the things you have – and I’m not just talking about material objects. List 10 things you are grateful for and you will see that there is much more than you imagined.
Remember: Epictetus said that conditioning happiness to something you don’t have is crazy. You can be happy now.
Read also: How to be happy.
22 Emotional Minimalism
You can also be minimal and meaningful in your relationships:
- Reevaluate the people you keep in touch with.
- Who are your friends, who are your colleagues?
- At what level of importance can you classify them?
- Who is good for you and who is bad for you?
- What are your true friends?
- The people around us influence our behaviors, so choose well who will be by your side.
As you can see, minimalism is not a competition, it’s a philosophy that can be applied to many areas in our lives. Let go of unnecessary stuff, stop trying to impress other people and be happy!