If you’re like most people, then you’re probably living a lifestyle that is a long way from minimal right now. Chances are that every single surface is covered in unneeded clutter and that you have a long list of things you want and that you intend to spend your money on and feel like you can’t quite afford the quality of life that you want or feel you deserve.
You’ve learned why this is a problem and how it can make you unhappy. Now it’s time to start doing something about it!
Follow these steps to begin your journey toward a truly minimal lifestyle…
Reduce Your Clutter
We’ve used the word ‘clutter’ a lot already and that’s because it really is one of the biggest problems. Minimalism doesn’t mean not having nice things, it means not having the things you don’t really need or want.
As an experiment, I want you to head into any room in your house and go over to one of the surfaces – whether that’s a bedside cabinet, a desk or a windowsill. Now, take a look at those items on display and remove 60% of them.
This is going to feel wrong at first. It will feel as though you’re getting rid of things you really like or that you’re leaving that surface too sparse. But go with it.
What you’ll find, is that far from looking worse, removing those items actually makes your surface look a LOT better. That minimalism provides space for your possessions to breathe and it makes them stand out more. What’s more, is that it reveals the actual surface underneath and removes the visual ‘noise’ out of the corner of your eye that can actually end up creating a lot of stress.
What’s remaining is now the top quality 40% of your items. That means that what you’ve left behind will be things that you really love. It means that the average quality of what’s on that surface will go up significantly, as will the average value. And those few remaining items will say much more about you and will attract much more attention – instead of just blending into a crowded mess.
The best part though, is that when you then come to clean that surface, you will be able to do so by simply removing 3 or 4 items and then wiping. This has now become a 3 minute job, as opposed to a 10 minute job. And imagine what will happen when you apply that same logic to all the other surfaces in your home!
Now go and do the same thing for all those other surfaces in your room!
The reason that removing clutter is so powerful, is that it provides you with mental space. Our brains are designed to pay attention to contrast and things that stand out and they do this by releasing small amounts of stress hormone. The more clutter and noise there is in a space, the more there is for our brains to process. This can be overwhelming and after a long hard day at work, it makes it very hard to relax and unwind.
The fact that they also create more work only further enforces the fact that an abundance of items doesn’t add to your space.
The same goes for a number of other items that you probably don’t realize are causing you stress. Case in point: boxes that you are keeping under your bed or on top of your wardrobe. This probably seems like a great place for storage, that will be out of the way and help you to keep more items. But the reality is that it will again create visual clutter and work.
For starters, boxes under the bed and on the wardrobe get badly dusty unless they have a lid. But more importantly, they once again will play on your mind by taking up room and by removing those crucial areas of ‘space’ that make a room feel much bigger and much lighter.
Just try taking the boxes out from under the bed and on top of the wardrobe and see if this creates a more relaxing and clean looking environment. Do the same for things on top of bookshelves, under coffee tables and stuffed behind sofas.
And again, just think how easy tidying and cleaning is going to be…
It’s time to start thinking about the negative space in your home as being just as important – if not more important – than the clutter that surrounds it.
Another important tip is to think about your cable management. Right now, you probably have cables running under desks, across the floor and just about everywhere else.
Can you guess what these do? That’s right: they create more visual clutter! And they make your home seem much more untidy and disorganized than it probably is. There are a great many different cable management solutions, which range from using boxes to store your cables, to attaching them to the underside of desks and the backs of monitors. Get creative and you can create a lot more space!
One In, One Out Rule
One of the best things you can do to maintain an uncluttered home, is to introduce rules that will help you to maintain a more minimalist décor.
One such rule is ‘one in, one out’. This simply means that every time you buy a new item, you need to choose one to get rid of. This will help you to keep a sensible number of items in your home that never become overwhelming and it will help you to save money – especially seeing as you can sell the items that you don’t need in order to get money off of the new item. It creates a space for your new item immediately and it also forces you to think much harder about the things that you truly want.
This sounds like a harsh rule to make with yourself but once you start to see and feel the benefits of living a more minimalist lifestyle, you’ll be happy to do it!
Getting Rid of Things
If you follow all of these tips, then you’re going to find that you’re disposing of a lot of things. This can be a painful process but there is an art to getting it right.
To begin with, you are going to do a big ‘de-clutter’ and get rid of a lot of items quickly. This will help you to reset your life so that you have a good starting point to work from.
The first step is to throw out boxes of items that you’ve been keeping in storage that you never use. The rule that is often given here is to throw out any box that you haven’t gone into in the last 3 months (you’d be surprised how many that includes!). Remove anything that is sentimental or worth a lot of money of course – but everything else can be replaced if you need to!
Likewise, remove clothes that you haven’t worn in 3 months from your drawers.
Another tip is to get rid of these things swiftly. If you have items you think you can get a lot of money for, then these are worth selling on. But everything else you should give to charity shops or throw out.
It’s a mistake to leave items in bags, to let friends and family go through them, or to try and sell every last item. This not only creates a lot more stress as you have to go through all the items you own (thus meaning a lot of people will put it off and not do it!) but it also creates the temptation to change your mind and take items back. This is not the aim of the game!