Open and diaphanous spaces, with just the right amount of furniture and hardly any accessories or decorative elements. Sound familiar? Minimalism is in fashion and not only in the field of decoration. More and more people are signing up for a minimalist lifestyle. Do you want to know if it’s for you?
Lately, through social networks or in person, many people ask me how they can lead a minimalist life, where to start. So at your request, I summarize what for me are the keys to lead a minimalist life.
Table of Contents
- What is minimalism?
- How to start and practice minimalism?
- 20 Tips to starting a minimalist life
- 1.- Remove from your life everything you don’t need by asking 3 simple questions.
- 2.- Buy fewer but higher quality items
- 3.- Take care of your health
- 4.- Don’t get emotionally attached to objects, at least not to all of them.
- 5.- Bring order to your home
- 6.- Apply the rule: One object in, one object out.
- 7.- Accumulate experiences instead of accumulating things.
- 8.- Travel with the minimum
- 9.- Decrease information consumption
- 10.- Minimize the use of social networks.
- 11.- Reduce your consumption of energy and resources
- 12.- Simplify technology
- 13.- Avoid hoarding spaces
- 14.- Do an annual general cleaning at home
- 15.- Learn to value your time
- 16.- Select your appointments
- 17.- Say goodbye to duplicates
- 18.- Reduce your debts
- 19.- Calm your mind
- 20.- Enjoy life
- Conclusion. Minimalism in 2 steps
What is minimalism?
After the previous example, it is easy to think that minimalism means giving up everything, living with just enough, and even becoming a kind of a hermit. Nothing could be further from the truth. Having a minimalist attitude is more than just living with only what you need. In fact, a better definition of minimalism would be to live with what you really care about, use, and need.
The very term “minimalist” already offers many clues about what it is to have a minimalist attitude: limiting the number of things you have. Accumulating stuff serves no purpose other than to take up space and take away your time and freedom. You may never think about it, but having a house full of stuff will cause you to spend a lot of time cleaning, tidying, and maintaining that stuff, in addition to the time it will take you to find it when you need it. Before you know it you can end up like Diderot, a slave to your objects.
Minimalism is a solution to that Diogenes syndrome that we all carry inside us to a greater or lesser extent. Before you keep accumulating, stop and think, do I really need it? What does having this object at home do for me? Start there and it is easy that your own answers will surprise you.
How to start and practice minimalism?
If you have ever moved in your life, you already know where to start in order to lead a minimalist life. Moving is a time that many people use as a turning point to get rid of things. The reason is that anything you want to take with you to the new house is going to be an effort. First, because you have to move it (more boxes to do) and second because you have to find a place for it (more boxes to get rid of and more work to see where to put it).
The quick solution is to get rid of what does not matter, things that you have been keeping by inertia but that is not really important to you. Minimalist living is very similar. The main difference is that instead of doing it once every few years you will have to do it constantly.
These are the three steps we recommend to start a minimalist life:
- Stop and think about what relationship you have with your stuff and what is truly important to you. Before you take action, take a moment to reflect on your stuff. Think about what you have in sight, but also about what is in boxes in the storage room, in the top of the closets, or in drawers that you haven’t opened for months. Think about what would happen if those things were no longer there and the concrete benefits you would have, for example, much more space.
- Set aside at least one day to get going and give your life and home a makeover. Search and rummage for those things you thought of in the first step. If you prefer, you can do this exercise in rooms of the house, although it is more effective applied all at once.
- Let go of your stuff and start a minimalist life. Once you have located those things that you haven’t used for months and that only take up space, let them go. You can throw them away, donate them or sell them, you decide. The important thing is that they don’t stay with you. In this sense, if you are thinking of selling, set a deadline because otherwise, you will only be postponing the problem.
In other words, identify what is important to you in your life, avoid buying unnecessary things and let the rest go. This is what in finance is called conscious consumption.
20 Tips to starting a minimalist life
Taking the first step towards a minimalist life is the easiest thing to do. After all, we all have located things that we would have little trouble getting rid of or that we clearly do not want at home. The tricky part is going the extra mile and maintaining a lifestyle that follows those patterns.
These tips will help you embrace minimalism in your daily life.
1.- Remove from your life everything you don’t need by asking 3 simple questions.
Deciding what is useful and what is not is a problem for most people because of emotional attachment or the feeling that at some point in life they will be able to use that object. Go through each of your belongings, small and large, and ask yourself. These three questions will make it easier for you to get rid of things:
- Do I really need it?
- Has it been more than six months since I last used it?
- Does it add something to my life?
If the answer is yes to all three questions, you keep it. If the answer is no, you already have a candidate to disappear from your life. Donate it, sell it or throw it away. Start by simplifying your closet, then your home, then everything else.
2.- Buy fewer but higher quality items
Once the cleaning is done, stick to the “one in, one out” rule, so you don’t accumulate again. By buying less, you can be more selective about what you buy. You will study the quality and durability of your purchase, as well as whether it is sustainable. Be ethical in your consumption. Learn how to shop on sale.
3.- Take care of your health
Start with your diet. Eliminate from your life the foods that harm you, such as processed foods, refined sugar, white flour, margarine, sunflower oil or other refined oils, animal fats, or caffeine.
Drink enough water. Eat pesticide-free food, or plant your own vegetable garden. Reduce the amount of food you eat: eat only what your body needs. Get enough rest. Get up early instead of staying up late. Play sports. Meditate. All this will make you feel better and with more energy to enjoy your day-to-day.
4.- Don’t get emotionally attached to objects, at least not to all of them.
Things are still things. We are attached to objects because of the memories they bring us and we keep them because of a mixture between affection and fear of forgetting that feeling. In other words, we are not attached to the object, but to the memory.
Memories do not disappear by getting rid of the object related to it, but if you are not yet ready to separate both concepts, you can opt for an intermediate solution: take a picture of it.
5.- Bring order to your home
Clutter and chaos are natural enemies of minimalism. Order will help you lead a minimalist life and the way to do it is simpler than you think. Start by simplifying the decoration inside your home. The fewer things, the easier it will be to keep everything tidy and in order.
From there practice this simple rule: every object should have a use and a place in the house. Once it is used, it goes back to its place.
6.- Apply the rule: One object in, one object out.
If you are minimalist with what you already have, why not be minimalist with what you consume? Adopting minimalism will also help you control your purchases. The easiest way to do this is with a rule that parents know very well: “one in, one out”.
Basically, in order to bring one item into the house, another item must go out. For children, it applies to toys and you can use it for clothes, for example, or for technological devices.
In reality, this rule is just a trick. The important thing is to be more careful with your purchases so that you don’t have to constantly throw things away or refill the space you’ve worked so hard to empty.
7.- Accumulate experiences instead of accumulating things.
A study of people on their deathbed concluded that a high percentage of them had no regrets about what they had done or what they had not done.
What would you like to do? Do it! From learning to tango to mountaineering in the Himalayas. Experiences make us grow as human beings, objects do not.
8.- Travel with the minimum
Travel is one of the greatest experiences there is one of the most rewarding. If I had to name the 100 best moments of my life, many of them have happened while traveling. But travel is for enjoyment, not for carrying a heavy load. Minimize your travel suitcase, especially when traveling with children.
9.- Decrease information consumption
Stop watching or reading the news. Don’t worry, you’ll find out what’s important. Stop watching TV (I sold it). Review subscriptions to magazines or blogs and leave only those that bring something positive to your life. Spend all this time reading books that interest you, helping others or doing other things that are important to you.
Reduce your use of social networks. Check them as little as possible, once or twice a day. Eliminate friends from Facebook, stay with those who really are your friends. Belong to groups that really interest you, skip all the others. Do the same with Whatsapp, Line, and Telegram. Turn off your cell phone. You will gain peace of mind and time, lots of time. You’ll have so much time that you’ll even be able to meet up in person with your friends.
11.- Reduce your consumption of energy and resources
Reduce consumption of water, electricity, gas… Always recycle, both at home and at work. Buy food with as little packaging as possible. Sell your car and use public transport. Walk or cycle to work. You will feel better, and you will help to have a more sustainable planet.
12.- Simplify technology
Today’s cell phones can do everything. You probably don’t need an MP3 music player or even a tablet if you have a cell phone. Take advantage of technology to simplify your life and not the other way around. Remember that the more gadgets you have, the higher the maintenance costs will be.
You can apply the same to all your digital files.
13.- Avoid hoarding spaces
There are things you don’t want to throw away but don’t want to keep in sight. When this happens we resort to drawers and cabinets. Their mission is to store things and they are really useful, as long as they are used properly.
If you want to keep something just because you don’t want to see it around the house, maybe it is a sign that this object should not be with you.
Along the same lines, be careful about filling the house with accumulation spaces and watch where you leave things. For example, I have a friend who had two sofas in the living room, one for him and one for his wife; they thought it was a good idea to watch TV more comfortably and have space for visitors until they realized that one of the sofas had become an accumulator of coats, backpacks and everything they brought from work, plus clothes after washing. This is a hoarding space.
14.- Do an annual general cleaning at home
This is what some people call a Spring Clean, which is basically a thorough cleaning of the home, including the places you don’t usually clean.
With spring comes the good weather and it’s time to put away the winter clothes and change them for summer clothes. The change of closet is the ideal time to do it and re-evaluate your progress in your minimalist life.
15.- Learn to value your time
Just as we are addicted to spending money, we are also addicted to spending time. An essential part of minimalism is reconnecting with yourself and your needs, which also applies to your time.
Your time is limited and that’s why you must learn to say no and structure it around what really matters. The first step is to know what your time is really worth.
16.- Select your appointments
Learn to say “no”. You can’t be everywhere, and you have to prioritize. Commit yourself to the people who are really important to you, who bring something positive to your life. Attend events, courses, talks… that direct you towards your goals and your mission. Spend time with the people you love.
17.- Say goodbye to duplicates
We often keep all kinds of spare parts and duplicate items or accessories just in case. In the end, it’s very easy to not use them. If you can give them away or sell them.
18.- Reduce your debts
Leading a minimalist life automatically means reducing your debts, since you consume less, buying only what you need. Having debts is a constant worry in our mind, so make a plan to reduce them. In your new purchases, don’t buy anything in installments.
19.- Calm your mind
What are you thinking about? If you are one of those people whose the mind doesn’t stop, welcome to my club. Try to keep your mind calm. Reduce stress, stay in the here and now. Be present, don’t let life pass you by and you don’t even know it. Whenever possible, have direct contact with nature. Use techniques such as meditation or yoga to find balance and peace of mind.
20.- Enjoy life
Enjoy the little things in life, live intensely. Do what you really like. Work on what you are passionate about. Do new things that enrich your daily life. Enjoy with your people, with those you love, with those who love you. Leave problems behind, don’t worry too much about the future. Life is to be lived. Live it.
Conclusion. Minimalism in 2 steps
These are the keys that work for me. Surely for you, they will be others.
Leading a minimalist life is easier than it seems. Just follow these two steps:
- Identify what is important to you.
- Eliminate everything else from your life.
Follow these two steps in any aspect of your life: with your belongings, your hobbies, the way you spend your time, your thoughts, the way you eat… and your life will be simpler and more pleasant, a full life, a minimalist life.
Minimalism can change your life and also your financial life. It is what we can call financial minimalism. Among the tricks that we have proposed to you to have a minimalist life, there are already several that will help you save, but it is possible to go further.
Financial minimalism involves changing your relationship with money and the way you perceive it in order to live in abundance. Living a minimalist life will take you away from the consumerist world and allow you to save more money to live the life you really want and achieve financial freedom.