So you’ve heard about minimalism and think having a few less things might be helpful? Maybe you’re not quite ready to dive in fully and that’s okay. You don’t have to commit to owning less than 100 items to see serious benefits from reducing clutter and embracing aspects of a minimalist lifestyle. While a many refer to minimalism as ‘less’, I tend to think the opposite. Minimalism is about more. More free time, more of the things I’m passionate about with the people I care about. If you’re ready to give it a go, all it takes is some effort and a little intentional time and the results will be sure to follow. Here are 10 minimalism tips to kickstart your decluttering process.
1. Start small, start now.
The benefits of minimalism can start from the very first thing you decide to let go. Don’t expect to do everything at once or make massive progress in a single day. Start out by taking small steps in the right direction and the results will build. Find one to two things that you want to get rid of and make it happen. Remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint, but start today. Find one thing as soon as you finish reading this article.
2. Each successful decision you make will build confidence.
By starting small, your ability to make confident decisions will increase exponentially. An unexpected result of this for me, was an increase in self-confidence as well. As we learn to disconnect our own sense of self from the things we own, it empowers us to consume less and live more. Each time you successfully decide what is important in your life and what is not, you’ll make that decision faster and with more confidence than ever before. This makes the process easier as time goes on.
3. Start with yourself, don’t try to convince others.
The best way to begin seeing the benefits of minimalism is to start from within. Be a living example of the satisfaction that living with less clutter can provide and others will follow. Avoid jointly owned or shared items as you begin making decisions about what will stay and what will go. This can be difficult when living with a spouse, long-term housemates or other shared living situations. There will come a time when those things should be considered, so cross that bridge only when necessary.
4. It gets worse before it gets better, keep going.
A big part of the reason I suggest starting small is to avoid complete overwhelm. If an explosively full closet is emptied out and the contents placed out in the open, it will seem as though everything is worse than when you started. All of the clutter will now be visible and may cause a good deal of stress. At some point, emptying out that closet to organize it will be necessary – just know that if it seems like things are worse than when you started, it’s because you’re facing your clutter problems head on. It takes courage, motivation and dedication – but know that it does gets better.
5. If you get stuck move on to something else.
There’s going to be something that you struggle with. There are going to be things you’re undecided about and that’s perfectly fine. As opposed to getting stuck on one item and dwelling on it for hours, just move on to something else. If you don’t, it can really kill the momentum and energy in the process. There will be a time when you’re ready to confidently make a decision about that thing, it’s just not now. This process works in stages and the stage for that item will come. Move on, keep the momentum going.
6. Stay motivated by visualizing the desired outcome.
Have you ever heard of a visualization exercise? It’s super simple. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit with your eyes closed and mentally visualize your desired outcome. Imagine what your space could look like with less stuff in it. Think about how you might spend your time if you had less to organize, less laundry to do, and more energy to do what matters to you. Picture yourself doing the things that bring you joy with the people you care about. Visualizing your goal will help you accomplish it and stay motivated to keep going through the tough times.
7. Make a commitment or play a game to make it fun.
I’ve written about minsgame quite a bit due to the positive experience Amy and I had with it. Whether you decide to play something like this or create a commitment with your own rules, make it fun and make it something attainable. Try committing to donate one piece of clothing every day for an entire month. Get a bag started somewhere and add one item to it each day, taking the bag to a donation center at the end of the month. It’ll feel wonderful to give your clothing to someone who might be able to use it and lighten your load at the same time. Create a game that works for you and get started!
8. Find a supportive community of people.
The commitments and games mentioned in number six are exponentially more effective when you do them as a competition with a friend or companion. If you have an existing shared interest group, use each other as support to stay accountable to your goals. Find a community of people to give support and encouragement during your journey and your success rate will assuredly increase. You’ll find that there will be people who are not supportive of the changes you want to make and that’s okay: Find those that are supportive and help each other succeed.
9. Ask the right questions.
Making the right decisions about stuff comes down to asking the right questions. Here are some questions that I like to ask when evaluating the things around me:
- Where does this item belong and does it have a place to ‘live’?
- Does this serve a purpose isn’t covered by something else I have?
- Does this bring me joy? Does this get in the way of things that do?
10. Like exercise and dieting, results don’t happen overnight.
Embracing minimalism is a lifestyle change that will have seriously positive effects – but just like anything else, it takes time and dedication. There’s no magic pill, no weird body-wrap, injection or steam treatment that can get it done. There’s only real work and enduring satisfaction from the process and results. It’ll feel great to get rid of the obvious stuff, but the real results start to happen once you push yourself to take it a step further.
BONUS TIP: Evaluate and adjust.
There is no one style of minimalism that works for everyone. Whether all of your possessions fit into a backpack or you have a three car garage full of motorcycles and camping gear, it comes down to one thing: More of what brings you true joy and contentment, less of the clutter that does not. This life is yours to live, so continually evaluate and adjust to fit what works best. While it’s a moving target, the pursuit is a worthy and rewarding one. Use the tools available to you and do the best you can in this moment.
To wrap things up:
While it may seem that reducing clutter in your life is an insurmountable task, you absolutely can do it. Take small steps, start right now by addressing your own things. Find a supportive community and challenge each other to a minimalism game. If you get stuck, move on to something else and stay motivated by visualizing the outcome you desire.
Once you finish tackling these tips, grab the free downloadable guide below. It’s a seven page guide on what to do with those items you’re not sure about. It can be difficult to know whether you should donate, sell, recycle or trash the things you’re ready to get rid of. With the help of this guide, it’ll make it a breeze.