Minimalist Living: 7 Steps to Simplify Your Home

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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

Source: libertygrace0 on Flickr.

This is usually true for me… Source: libertygrace0 on Flickr.

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.

-Josh

My Life Goals

This list is far from complete, but I’ll be adding more to it soon!

Short Term Goals

1. I want to get a start on minimalist living by getting rid of 20% of my belongings:
-Television
-Furniture we don’t use
-Equipment/Gear I never use: Paintball gun, old fishing gear, etc.
-The totes in the basement (Must not be too important since we’ve left them there for months now)
-Everything else I don’t use

2. Build cashflow and hammer down expenses – the simple way: I’m not saying the process will be easy, but if i do it right, it’ll be easy to manage in the future.

-Write an ebook to publish on Amazon. This may not bring in much, but hey, I love to write anyway, it can’t hurt!
-Become a YouTube partner (Passive income potential).
-Start a Freelance Writing business

Earn no less than $50 per hour writing and content marketing

Earn no less than $100 per hour writing and content marketing

Earn no less than $150 per hour writing and content marketing

Earn no less than $200 per hour writing and content marketing

Earn no less than $250 per hour writing and content marketing

Earn no less than $300 per hour writing and content marketing

3. Develop a successful Blog to organize my goals and share what I learn with other people

4. Make a list of people I want to spend more time with, and make time to build our relationships.

5. Quit my job. This will be either the most effective or most detrimental action I take in my journey toward the minimalist lifestyle.

-Stop working 50+ hour weeks.
-Find a career that will give me the flexibility to travel, spend time with my family and friends, and still earn a good living.

Long Term Goals

1. Travel the world: When I say travel the world, I mean that very literally – I want to set foot on every continent and live with the locals in a variety of places. I’ll go into more details with my bucket list.

Ecuador

Malaysia

India

Japan

Germany

Scotland

France

Ireland

Peru

Colombia

Australia

Russia

Israel

Jordan

Egypt

Iran

Iraq

Africa

2. Build a Ranch: My wife and I love horses, and nature in general. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it does need horses, a pond or creek to fish in, and woods to hunt in.

3. Create a self-sustained homestead: NO BILLS – no electric bill, no gas bill, no water bill, no food expense, no entertainment expense, NO TAXES. Okay I’m not sure if I can pull that last one off, but one way or the other, we’ll figure out how to build a self sustained ranch that we can either choose to live on, or just have as a back up in case we want to go on a mini-retirement or something.

4. Buy a fishing boat in Ecuador: Deep sea fishing is some of the most fun I’ve ever had, and I’d like to have a nice, simple little fishing boat for that precise purpose: Fishing.

Well that’s all I can think of for now, but I’ll keep adding to this when I think of more (because there definitely is more).

Josh

10 Ways to Simplify Your Life

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By Josh Rueff on April 23, 2013

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

-Confucius

Our lives get complicated quickly. With society’s high-paced and complex forms of work, habits, and communication, it can become a nightmare to keep up while staying sane. This list of things to simplify will help you gather your thoughts and minimalist ideas in a way that will hopefully inspire goals that will improve your life.

10 Things to Simplify

1. Things: This is probably the most popular place to start, and with good reason! This is a concept that gets repeated over and over. And it’s time to start listening to it: The things we own often own us. Mortgage debt, credit card debt, car payments, boat payments, our golfing green yards. A good rule of thumb is this: If it causes more bad than good, get rid of it. Simple enough. More on owning less here.

2. Money: When my wife and I received marriage counseling, our pastor told us that money is one of the top 3 causes of problems in marriage. If you’re not married I’m sure you can still see the importance of good money management – it’s how we buy food and shelter. It’s how we support our sports and hobbies. It’s how we get gifts for people we like. From personal experience I can say that the most freeing experience was simplifying my finances. It can seem intimidating, but it’s really just a mole hill. Read “Minimalist Living: The Simple Budget” to learn one way to simplify your finances.

3. Time: Ever heard the saying “Time is money”? Time is a scarce resource in a finite, and it’s infinitely valuable. Plan your life in a way that cuts the excess fat off of your day. Do a time “audit” on yourself. If you find that you’re wasting 10 minutes each day on a long route to work, and take the short route, you’ve just added an hour a week to your life! 4 extra hours a month can make a world of a difference. And I’d bet you can find more than that 😉 Here’s 100 other simple ways to simplify your life.

4. Relationships: Some people are better at this than others. Those of us who try to have meaningful relationships with too many people often find themselves hurting the friendships and acquaintances they value the most. Make a list of you most valuable friends, family, and business relationships, then weed out the lower priorities until you get to a manageable number. I realize this sounds a bit Machiavellian, but it’s worth it to save your relationships and see them thrive. More on simplifying relationships.

5. Work: In a capitalist economy (for better or for worse), we have to compete. I personally love to compete, but in the workplace that often means exerting myself beyond what I should in order to stay competitive (and beat the competition). Higher priority values such as time spent with family and friends, helping people, and/or traveling (or whatever other activity you place a high value on), should never suffer because of your work habits. If they do, it’s time to cut back. If you can’t cut back because you’ll lose your job, well that’s one of the joys of living in America – find a new one! One quick tip: The less money you need to live off of, the more freedom you have in your career decisions. Read how I got out of the rat race completely.

6. Studying: For many people, studying is one of the main avenues of self improvement. Both students and non-students alike benefit from simplifying their study habits. Mold your study habits around the Pareto’s Law; the 80/20 rule – 80% of your success comes from 20% of your studying. Find out when and how that 20% occurs, and shape your study strategy around the when/what/where/and how of that 20%.

7. Fitness: The same goes for fitness. You can almost certainly achieve the same workout goals in less than half the time you normally spend at the gym using the 80/20 rule. This is an area I’m seeing good progress in – I haven’t achieved all of my goals yet, but I decreased the amount of time spent working out from 1 hour and 40 minutes to 30-45 minutes by setting up a home gym (cutting out time spent on travel) and cutting my hour workout to a half hour (by spending less time on warm up/cool down/breaks). Here’s one of my 30 minute home workouts.

8. Eating: As Confucious says “all things in moderation”. There’s a number of things you can do to simplify your diet and increase you’re health. This is be something I plan on diving into in more detail on in the future, but for now my best strategy is the IIFYM diet: “If it fits your macros, eat it.” This method helps you simplify your diet to the bare minimum, while keeping you healthy and fit.

9. Drinking: One of the most overlooked areas of health is hydration. All it takes is this simple calculation for your daily water intake: Body Weight/2 = Ounces of water. So if you weigh 200 lbs you should be drinking 100 ounces of water a day.

10. Sports/Hobbies: Again, Pareto’s principle and the rule of thumb I mentioned earlier apply: If it causes more bad than good, get rid of it. My dad made a tough decision about watching sports that I admire him for – he realized it hurt his relationship with my mom when he spent too much time watching the games, so he cut back. Way back… He listens to the Royals/Chiefs game on the radio every Sunday and that’s it. Kind of an extreme example, but it’s all about priorities – He placed a higher value on his wife than the things he enjoyed, and I hope to do the same for my wife. Read more: “100 Minimalist Hobbies!”

Josh

The Top 10 Minimalist Fishing Tips

Minimalist fishing is my favorite pastime – well, fishing in general really, but since I’ve been introduced to a more simple, headache-free approach to fishing, I’ve been converting my gear, strategies, and every fishing-related activity to fit into the “minimalist fishing” standards.

There’s one rule I apply at all times: The minimizing process is only applied if the overall enjoyment increases.

For example: I own a huge, clunky tackle box full of lures I’ve been collecting since I was 6, and I take joy in the sentimental memories of catching bluegill and rock bass with my dad using the lures in that tackle box.

Applying the concepts of minimalist living means that overall, my fishing habits should simplify in some way, but I refuse to replace that tackle box with a smaller one, filling it with only the lures I actually use.

I realize that for many people, organizing their tackle to simplify their fishing experience is a good idea. But not for me.

If minimizing takes away from the overall experience, it’s not really minimalist living.

So take these tips with a grain of salt – if it will benefit you, do it – if it won’t, don’t waste the time and effort. As a side note, I’ve started fishing with less and less, even as it initially takes me out of my comfort zone. The results are surprisingly good (but I still have my tacklebox :)).

The Top 10 Minimalist Fishing Tips

1. Bigger isn’t always better: If you’re not like me, cutting down on the size of your tackle box and other fishing equipment will take a lot of the stress out of fishing (pretty sure the words fishing and stress should never be used in the same sentence again).

2. The best equipment can be the worst: If your entire fishing day is ruined because you lost an expensive fishing lure or broke a pricey piece of fishing gear, you might want to consider the benefits of simplifying your tackle to less expensive options. The more I do this, the more it surprises me that I still catch the same amount of fish as before.

3. Make your own lures: This is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable hobbies I’ve taken up as a result of my transition into minimalist fishing. I’m not even that good at it yet! But the satisfaction in making a lure for less than 50 cents and actually catches fish is great. There’s tons of great DIY information about making your own fishing lures (Read my Minimalist Fishing Lures Series to learn how to make ridiculously cheap fishing lures), and you may be surprised to see how much equipment you can make on your own for a fraction of the store-bought price .

4. Make your own sinkers: Pouring lead into a mold can’t be that hard right? I haven’t tried this yet, but I will – and of course I’ll write about it here 🙂

5. Tie your own flies: If you’re a fly fisherman (like I’m trying to be), tie your own flies and cut your lure expense in half or more! But don’t buy your materials from flyfishing stores. They sell them to make profit of course, and that usually means a 100% mark up or more. I’m not saying their cheating us, but you can find all of the materials you need for next to nothing. It sounds crazy, but visit a nearby dollar store, and I’ll guarantee you’ll find about 3/4’s of the material you need.

6. Cane pole fishing: I like to compare cane pole fishing to Henry Thorough. If you’re an extreme minimalist, you may end up living in a self sufficient cabin in the middle of nowhere, living off the land, becoming one with the mosquitoes and doing whatever other transcendental activities you can think of. But that’s not for everybody. Same goes for cane pole fishing. It’s simple, and a lot of fun actually. And of course the cost and complexity of your hobby are kept at a happy minimum. 1 12-14 foot cane pole, 1 line, 1 hook, and 1 can of bait. That’s all it takes and you’ll be pulling in your next fish fry!

7. Try handline fishing: In Costa Rica, many people fish with nothing between them but the line itself. This is something I’m very excited about trying. You can find all sorts of handline fishing videos on Youtube if you’re interested.

8. Find a nearby fishing hole: Not everyone lives near a lake or creek, but if you do, don’t bother traveling to the hotspots – take a little extra time to learn everything you can about the lake, creek, or pond nearest to you. This saves time and gas money, and it’s much less demoralizing if you don’t catch much. The closer the better – the less of a travel you have to make, the better your minimalist fishing will be!

9. Resist the urge to multitask: One of the worst habits most people develop is trying to do more than one thing at a time. Yes, this is necessary when you’re working, but not when you’re fishing! I used to bottom fish with one pole while working a spinner or spoon nearer to the surface. After changing my multitasking method to the more minimalist approach of one pole at a time, I realized I could enjoy things like the nature around me without having to spend most of my focus bouncing back and forth between the two rods.

10. Expand your approach: In our world of specialization, we tend to hone in on a single area of expertise in order to remain competitive. But this mindset shouldn’t dominate your leisure and sport activities. Often, trout fishermen hold their noses up at bass fishing, and bass fishermen look down on catfishing, and catfishermen despise carp and especially trout fishing. But fishing isn’t a job – liven it up! Be an opportunistic predator. If you practice catch and release, you’re there for the fight – carp are the best fighters out there (there’s a reason Japan’s symbol of strength is the carp/koi fish). They’re also quite delicious – they win blind taste competitions in America against trout, salmon, crappie and other “delicacy” fish. Bream (Drum, Buffalo head) can fight just as hard, and even shad are fun to catch. And here’s a secret: No one wants to fish for these “trash fish”, so that means you basically have your own personal stock of wild fish, free of competition. It’s worth considering. Variety is the spice of life after all! 

Good luck fishing!

-Josh

 

Quotes of Frederick II

“He who defends everything defends nothing.”

“The greatest and noblest pleasure which we have in this world is to discover new truths, and the next is to shake off old prejudices.”

“All religions must be tolerated… for every man must get to heaven in his own way.”

“I begin by taking. I shall find scholars later to demonstrate my perfect right.”

“If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one of them would remain in the army.”

“My people and I have come to an agreement which satisfied us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please.”

“Religion is the idol of the mob; it adores everything it does not understand.”

“What is the good of experience if you do not reflect?”

 

Image Credit (Photo originally uploaded by Trondheim Byarkiv)