The concept of minimalism has been largely popularised. While some people have understood it completely, some are still trying to find ways to adopt it. The modern culture has led many of us with the tendency of possessing a lot of stuff. Advertisements have made us believe that things make us happy.
To what extent do they make us happy?
I have started to read more about the concept of minimalism like 2 years ago. I was so motivated by it that I tried to make big changes in my life, and I failed along the way.
What is minimalism?
For those who are new to minimalism, I would like to define the concept of minimalism as a process where you try to own items that make you happy. Minimalism is intentional living.
The reason I call minimalism a process, it is because I believe it is not something that once we adopted it, we become a master at it immediately. You can also always improve.
As a common human behaviour, I was attached to my possessions. I am quite a crafty & creative person and I always like to make, recycle or up-cycle items. So, I always keep "things" that I might use in the future. In my wardrobe as well I always had some pieces of clothes that I was either emotionally attached to it or I kept them just in the hope that it might fit me better in the future.
Upon learning about minimalism and how it fits my life goals, I started to adopt the minimalist lifestyle. Last year, I was successful at starting my minimalist lifestyle and I have made a lot of sustainable changes.
During my process of adopting minimalism, I learned that we do not have to make big changes, we should start with small changes.
I am still new in practising this concept, but I would like to share with you some of the benefits I have experienced at the very early stages of this lifestyle.
My Minimalist lifestyle
Minimalism has allowed me to connect with my possessions better. I am happier with fewer things. I wear the clothes that I feel comfortable and own the pairs of shoes that I like to wear not those occasional shoes that are not comfortable. I possess items that I like.
It helped me save money as I invest more in quality than quantity.
It has given me the opportunity to make someone happy. While downsizing my items, I gave some of my possessions to a friend and I donated some to a charity store. My friend was happy to have them. I am sure that the items I have donated will serve someone else better and fulfil its purpose.
It helped me to live a less stressful life as I do not spend a lot of time thinking about what to wear in the morning. Choosing my outfit has become easy.
"Almost" all my items has a place and only one place.
I possess things that I need, and I am happy as I can make the most of it.
I have more time to invest in activities that I really like. Cleaning a clutter-free house is easier.
A minimalist lifestyle promotes cleanliness and less clutter. It saves time and money.
3 key elements of a minimalist lifestyle
1. The minimalist mindset
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle requires a minimalist mindset. Once you have understood the concept of minimalism, you can apply it to anywhere in your life.
I believe this is a very important part of this lifestyle.
When you think like a minimalist, you behave like a minimalist and then you become a minimalist.
A proper mindset makes the process and journey sustainable.
Decluttering is also key to the minimalist lifestyle.
Decluttering should not be daunting. Once you have cultivated the correct mindset, the decluttering process will work like a therapy for you.
It did for me. I feel lighter whenever I enter a room which is filled only with items that I like and need.
Decluttering should not be about what to throw, rather it should be about what to keep.
Like the organisation expert, Marie Kondo said - What is sparking joy for you?
"Your house is living space, not a storage space"
- Francine Jay
3. Surround yourself with what you love
When I often tell people to declutter their house or any section of a room, they often think of it as throwing the things they like. However, it is completely the opposite.
The minimalist lifestyle is a choice we made to live with the possessions we love. It is not a competition or a way of depriving us from enjoying things.
When we did an honest decluttering, we are surrounded by things what we love. We are able to enjoy them better. At this stage, you must have an abundance of stuff that matters to you and you can make the most out of it.
10 steps to follow for a minimalist lifestyle
1. Stop shopping
This step sounds hard to adopt but I am not asking you to stop shopping forever. I would strongly advise you to stop shopping until you are not fully done with your decluttering process.
While you are still in the middle of editing things out in your life, you need to put a hold on the incoming things in your life.
2. Go at your pace
A lifestyle change is and can be emotionally draining for some people especially when the decluttering deals with sentimental items.
It is okay to do it at your own pace.
There is no deadline but do not procrastinate. It is very important for you to understand why you chose this lifestyle. You need to keep going. Some areas of the house or office might take a longer time than you anticipated.
3. Have a vision plan
For each space or room, make a plan. It is important to know clearly what is the goal of each space.
Some questions to help you with the plan:
What do you want to achieve with the space/room?
How do you want to feel in the space?
Do you want to multi-purpose a space/room?
How long it might take to declutter and organise the space/room (approximately)?
Can you ask someone to help?
4. Start with a section or category first.
It is easier and fast rewarding when you start with a section of the house compared to a room. Start with an easy section which is not emotionally draining such as under the sink cabinet or the cleaning supply cabinet.
Tip 1: I like to organise my cleaning supply per category such as floor product, window product, kitchen product and also always keep a caddy available so that you can take the cleaning products you need to move around the house.
Tip 2: Washing all your cleaning clothes or brushes and keep them back in their designated place so that they are all good to go whenever you need to clean.
5. Edit the items out
Remove items that you are no longer using such as expired items.
When editing the clothes section, you might end up with these 3 main categories:
1 pile of clothes/items that you absolutely like
1 pile of clothes/items that you instantly want to remove
1 pile of clothes/items that you are not sure if you want to keep or remove
With the 3rd pile of I want you to ask yourself these 3 questions:
When did I wore/used them the last time?
If I see them in the shop, will I buy them again?
Is it sparking joy? (The KonMari method)
While you are going through the 3rd pile, you can separate the item you need to throw or donate.
Tip1: Keep a donate basket. Whenever you need to donate an item, keep it in the basket and whenever it is full, you can drop them to a charity shop.
Tip 2: You can also sell items which are in good condition on platforms such as Marketplace or eBay.
6. Declutter first and then organise
Once you have removed all the unwanted things, organising the space will be an easy and a fun experience.
I would strongly advise using organisation baskets and drawer organisers. Use labels to identify the baskets. These organisation tools allow each item to have a place and only 1 place.
7. Make it a habit
Decluttering is a big part of the minimalist lifestyle. Whether it is your purse, closet or inbox. A constant habit of editing out items is very important. This process is very similar to mowing a lawn.
You need to constantly pick up the wild grass once in a while.
I normally like to declutter every season but this is up to you. Keep it 4 times a year is practical for me ( We are 2 people living in a 2 bedrooms apartment).
The key to maintain the space, is to make it a habit of editing the place and putting the item to its designated place.
8. Keep the place clean
Having a good cleaning routine is essential for a minimalist lifestyle. A clean and organised space provides clarity of mind, reduce stress level and promote productivity.
Use cleaning products which are friendly to the environment and animal. I do not like using a store-bought cleaning product in the kitchen. I normally use a mixture of vinegar, water and baking soda to clean my kitchen countertop and oven.
You can find a cleaning checklist here.
My top 5 minimalist cleaning habits:
Wash the dishes once you are done cooking and eating.
Make your bed every morning once you get up.
Keep the kitchen countertop clean and empty.
Do 5-10 min cleaning every evening/night before going to bed. I normally clean the kitchen countertop, put the shoes back onto the shoe racks, pick up any things I need to throw and arrange the cushions properly on the sofa.
Whenever during the day, you are moving from one room to another, see if there is any item in the current room that you can take to the room you are going. If you do this 5 times a day, you can get a lot of tasks done faster. Encourage your partner or kids to do the same.
9. Do conscious shopping
Do not purchase an item because you like the price. Purchase it because you like the item. I have adopted a way in which I find very helpful when it comes to shop for clothes. If I like an item in a shop, I normally do not buy it directly. After three or four days, if I am still thinking about the item, then I may go and purchase it.
3 shopping tips that I use:
I invested more on items which I used on a daily or regular item, such as your work shoes or bag.
I choose quality over quantity. Quality items last longer.
I do not buy clothes that have a particular trend or fashion. Once the trend or fashion is over, we normally do not like to wear that particular outfit.
10. Be gentle with yourself
I believe when you want to change your lifestyle, you can't make drastic changes. Habits take around 30 days to build similarly leaving out your old habits and replacing them with new ones will take some time.
Going harsh on yourself will make you less likely to stick with this new lifestyle.
What benefits did you got from your minimalist lifestyle?
Do let me know in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you.