Everything You Need to Know About How to Be a Minimalist—Including What You Shouldn't Do
Leigh Weingus •
Becoming a minimalist is something many of us strive for these days, and luckily, the question of how to be a minimalist is relatively easy to answer. Minimalist living essentially means letting go of possessions and material things that don't serve much of a purpose and don't bring you joy.
As you start your minimalist journey, we're here with all the information you need to become a minimalist—including what not to do (because that's important, too!) Here's everything you need to know.
How to Be a Minimalist
Learning to live minimally may require a bit of a shift, both mentally and physically. If you're someone who lives with a lot of clutter, you'll have to become comfortable with the idea of clearing that out. And if you're someone who constantly finds yourself bogged down by plans and other obligations, it's important to understand that minimalism means living with the less — and "less" will also mean a clearer calendar, which will translate to a clearer mind.
Ready to get started? Here's are step-by-step guide or how to be a minimalist.
1. Visualize your ideal minimalist home
While minimalist home designs are typically characterized by clean lines, neutral colors, and little to no clutter, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case for you. Adopting minimalist as a lifestyle doesn't mean you're ditching the characteristics that make you who you are.
If you love color, great! That can be an element of your minimalist home, as long as it's not too overwhelming. If several objects in your home have meaning to you, that's also great. Living a minimalist lifestyle mean getting rid of quality items you love, it's just clearing out the clutter and releasing the things you don't love.
As you visualize your minimalist home feel free to make a mood board, a Pinterest board, or do anything else you need to do to get a clear picture of what your home will look like once you've incorporated the concept of minimalism.
This minimalist home incorporates color, but stick with yellow and green hues.
2. Consider a capsule wardrobe
Do you have a lot of clothes? Welcome to the club! Most of us own far more clothes than we actually wear, and minimalism introduces the concept of a "capsule wardrobe," or owning a few items you really love that work for almost everything. This can include a pair of sensible sneakers, a few pairs of pants, tops, a jacket or two ... and that's it. Yes, really. So as you start your minimalist journey, be prepared to do a wardrobe purge.
3. Think about emotional clutter
When we talk about clutter, material things are what come to mind. And while it's true that a huge element of minimalism is letting go of possessions, minimalism also means shifting your priorities so you're spending your time in a more meaningful, less cluttered way. Start by looking at your social calendar: Have you committed to a lot of things you don't actually care about? If so, you may need to work on saying "no" more. Do you have alone time scheduled, or hours (or days!) blocked off for self-care? That's going to be important in your minimalism journey, too. Minimalism means living simply, and that will translate to how you spend your time.
4. Start clearing out stuff
So far, your minimalism journey has consisted of thinking and planning. Now, it's time to start doing! But know that becoming a minimalism isn't something that will happen overnight—it's going to be a long, sometimes arduous journey.
Pick a realistic time frame, like a month, during which you dedicate a decent amount of your down time to clutter-clearing. Be prepared to shred and recycle paper clutter, and find a nearby store that accepts donations. As you get rid of objects, clothing, and other excess clutter, it will be very obvious that some items have to go, but other times it will be less obvious. When this happens, ask yourself Marie Kondo's famous question: "Does this spark joy?" If it doesn't, say goodbye to it.
As you work on evaluating how you spend your time, you might have to have some hard conversations in which you set boundaries with people who are taking up too much of your valuable time. If it helps, you can explain to them that you're working to live a simpler life, and this means clearing up your schedule.
Get ready to say goodbye to clutter.
5. Start living a simpler, more meaningful life
Here comes the fun part: You get to actually reap the benefits of all the work you've put into your minimalism journey! Hopefully your home is clear of clutter now; and if you're looking for more color, go to a paint store and pick out a paint color for your accent wall. If your capsule wardrobe is complete, enjoy just how simple getting dressed in the morning is now. If you've stop jam-packing every night of the week with plans, really lean in to the quiet moments that come with living simply, which probably include healthy dinners, earlier bedtimes, and a lot of self-care.
What Not to Do
While becoming a minimalist can take hard work, it's generally a simple process —but some people get tripped up along the way. Here's what you shouldn't do on your minimalist journey:
1. Don't try to replicate someone else's idea of what minimalism is
Minimalism is going to look different for each of us, so just because your friend is now exclusively wearing black clothing and has a house full of light wood and white walls doesn't mean you have to do that. Your minimalism journey should feel personal, and not like anyone else's, so make sure you get a clear vision of what minimalism means to you before you start clearing out clutter and changing your style or home design.
2. Don't put off getting started
The sooner you wait to start your minimalism journey, the more daunting it will seem. Why? Because you'll just end up accumulating more stuff. So the sooner you get started, the better.
3. Don't get rid of things you actually love
Anyone who has ever been on a minimalist journey will probably tell you a story of getting rid of something and regretting it later. That's why it's important to really take your time as you work to declutter: If you're really intentional as you get rid of things, you won't end up tossing something and later realizing you need it—or that you just miss it.
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