The Minimalist Lifestyle is an art, and just like any other discipline, it takes time to develop the habits that lead to success. Simplifying your things is one of the best ways to get acclimated to the lifestyle of minimalist living, not only because of the healthy habits you develop, but also because of the immediate rewards.
As you simplify your belongings, you’ll begin to notice the difference almost immediately – less clutter, more room to breath, additional space to move around in, and less distractions.
Here’s the basic steps to get started.
7 Steps to Simplify Your Home
1. Store away unused items: Storing these things out of sight will be easier than going all out and throwing them out immediately. If you feel so inclined, you can certainly throw them out, but it may be better to start out by simply storing questionable items before dumping them.
2. Start with the kitchen: You may be surprised how little you use the appliances taking up space on your counter. Briefly consider how often you use your toaster for instance. If it’s less than 3 days out of the week, store it in a cabinet nearby. If you find it unbearable it’s a simple fix to say the least.
3. Furniture in the living room: Do you have furniture you rarely use? Start by storing as much furniture as you’re comfortable with in the basement or attic. Keep in mind that you will have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to a certain degree eventually, but when you first start, it’s best not to overdo it.
3. Back to the basics bathroom: What are your hygiene essentials? Form your bathroom organization scheme around the basic essentials. You may find many things you’re okay with throwing out, but the things you’re not sure about can always be stored in an accessible location.
4. Simplify the bedroom: The bedroom should have nothing but bedroom things – I’m not saying strip it bare of all decorations, but if you have tools, gear, or anything else that doesn’t belong, it may help you to put those things in a more feasible location. Clean and organize the closest, throwing questionable articles of clothing to the side.
5. Throw out your clothes: Set a number of how many suits, shirts, jeans, you want to have. This number will likely decrease the more enthusiastic about minimalist living you become, but again, don’t push yourself too far out of the comfort zone for now. Make a pile of clothes you never wear and throw them out. Some people like garage sales, and that’s fine of course – I personally think it’s more of a hassle than it’s worth, but to each his own.
6. Guilt-free garage: The garage can be the most intimidating area to simplify, which is why I bring it up last. Hopefully by this point you’ve built up momentum and morale – if you haven’t, don’t bother just yet. Give yourself a break if you need to – motivation is key, especially for the garage. The best thing to do is start in the most manageable corner and throw everything you want to get rid of in a pile outside. After you’ve decluttered your corner, organize it until you’re satisfied, then move to a manageable space adjacent to the corner, and repeat. You may want to use one of the corners for a temporary storage place for the tools and equipment you want to sell on craigslist. As long as it doesn’t stay there log, that’s a feasible option, but I prefer to just get it all out of the way at once.
7. Attic and Basement: These are the rooms that I consider optional in the first stages of minimalist living – they’re out of sight and mind, and don’t really cause any headaches unless you have a finished attic or basement that you spend time in, in which case you may want to focus on those rooms as well.
4 Minimalist Guidelines
1. If the process of simplifying causes more problems than it fixes, don’t do it.
2. For the first steps into your minimalist lifestyle, keep things as simple as possible. Changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight.
3. The moment you become overwhelmed, take a breather and focus on the reasons you’re simplifying to begin with. Read “The Top 10 Advantages of Minimalist Living” to remind yourself why it’s worth it!
4. Even if you don’t like the idea of going room by room, it’s always good to break it down into manageable chunks. If you find yourself wondering where to start, go back to this mindset – gain ground and earn your territory piece by piece. If the area you’ve chosen is too much to focus on, make that area smaller until you can make things work.
Once you’ve simplified your house you’ll have a solid foothold in the minimalist lifestyle. Keep the momentum going and continue to gain ground and territory. It’s more than worth it.