Tips for Becoming a Minimalist

Updated on March 23, 2018
Availiasvision profile image

Ever since I became a minimalist, I've been more productive and have felt more relaxed. More importantly, I know where everything is!

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Why Minimalism?

Over-consumption, materialism, and greed are out, and minimalism is in. Minimalism is a design and lifestyle movement that focuses on simplicity and removal of items that do not have versatile functionality. It prioritizes function over fashion and quality over quantity.

The general benefits of adopting a minimalist lifestyle are less cluttered work and living spaces, more mental clarity, more time to do what you absolutley love, a smaller environmental footprint, and a healthy relationship with your possessions. It is a choice to not go through the endless cycle of desiring more, consuming more, and wasting more.

If you make money only to consume disposable products, if your 4000 square foot house is bursting to the brim with junk, if your car no longer fits in the garage because of your pile of trinkets, and if you're constantly searching for your missing spatula, then let me offer you a few tips decluttering your life.

Tips for Starting Your Minimalist Journey

Clutter can cause a lot of stress. Reduce any visual noise for a more peaceful space.
Clutter can cause a lot of stress. Reduce any visual noise for a more peaceful space.

Wardrobe

  1. Go through your closet and give away everything you haven't worn in one year.
  2. Give away any clothes that don't fit.
  3. Sell designer clothes on eBay.
  4. Give away anything you wouldn't take on vacation during each of the four seasons.
  5. Take all remaining clothes out of your closet, select the number of hangers you wish to remain and throw away the rest. Hang up the items you can't bear to live without until all hangers are full. Now, you can't buy more clothes unless you get rid of an equal number of items.
  6. Throw out every sock that has a hole or is missing its mate.
  7. Select no more than a week's worth of socks and undergarments and chuck the rest.
  8. Pare down your shoes until you have only one or two pairs for each category: dress shoes, boots, sandals, sports, hiking, and workout.
  9. Buy a shoe organizer, and give away anything that doesn't fit.
  10. Reduce your wardrobe so that it only takes one to three loads of laundry to clean.

Using a shoe organizer will help you find items easier and limits the number of shoes you can have.
Using a shoe organizer will help you find items easier and limits the number of shoes you can have.

Bedroom

  1. Declutter your surfaces. Clean lines are refreshing.
  2. Don't EVER throw dirty laundry on the ground. Put it in a hamper!
  3. Choose up to three or four of your most prized possessions to highlight.
  4. If you haven't participated in a hobby or sport in the last three years, sell any affiliated items.
  5. Create a filing system for important papers. I have found that a box with well-labeled folders is sufficient.
  6. Choose up to four furniture pieces and sell the rest. Fewer items make the room look bigger and feel like a clean hotel room.
  7. Take pictures of sentimental items, or turn them into something new.

I couldn't part with the map I used in Paris, so I cropped and framed it, positioning my hostel at the center. A piece of junk has turned into my greatest treasure.
I couldn't part with the map I used in Paris, so I cropped and framed it, positioning my hostel at the center. A piece of junk has turned into my greatest treasure.

Bathroom

  1. Throw out all cosmetics, lotions, and shampoos older than a year.
  2. Dwindle down items by category: shampoos, shaving creams, lotions, lipsticks, polishes, etc. Try to only keep as few of each as possible.
  3. Toss anything that is not your absolute favorite item.
  4. Create a daily hygiene routine, and keep all of those items together.
  5. Keep items rarely used (i.e. only for special occasions) separate from items used daily.

Kitchen

  1. Give away duplicates of any kitchenware.
  2. Give away seldom-used appliances that have limited uses: Waffle makers, snow cone makers, popcorn machines, etc.
  3. Most recipes can be made with just one large pot and a cast iron pan. Give away unused pieces of pot and pan sets.
  4. Select your ten (or fewer) favorite mugs, and give away the rest.
  5. Throw out old sauces, condiments, and expired packages.
  6. Organize your fridge so that all items are visible. This will decrease the stress of finding items, prevent you from buying something you already have, and will remind you to consume them before they expire.

Maintaining Minimalism

  • Follow a one-item-in-one-item-out rule. If you purchase something new, pass along something old.
  • Focus on finding just one item you can get rid of. Repeat.
  • Deal with clutter as it comes; don't let it pile up.
  • Find a use for anything you bring into your home. If this isn't possible, you probably don't need it.
  • Follow other minimalists for constant inspiration. Watch their videos, read their blogs, etc.
  • Find creative ways to display the items most used and important to you. Pinterest can be your friend.
  • Break down large projects into small pieces. Look at every item you out the door as an incredible accomplishment.
  • Try living for a month without buying anything except the absolute necessities, e.g. food, water, and medication
  • If you were vacationing in Europe for three months, what would you take with you? Consider the importance of every item left behind. If you can do without it for three months, can you live without it now?
  • Don't buy anything on a whim or an emotional high or low. Plan out purchases in advance.
  • Move towards paperless and automated bill payments and banking to avoid accumulating a bunch of papers.
  • Clean everyday. Don't let dishes, cat hair, or dirty towels crash your minimalist state of mind.

Minimalist Resources

Here are some of my favorite sources of minimalist inspiration. Each one of them has contributed immensely towards my decision to adopt a simple, joyful, and minimalistic lifestyle.

The Four Hour Work Week is a must-read for all aspiring minimalists. Timothy Ferris will teach you how to automate and simplify your lifestyle, top to bottom, so you can set your goals in motion. He's an Einstein of this generation and will make you think differently about the way you live.

Tumbleweed Tiny Houses builds space-efficient living spaces and offers floor plans for minimalists who want to build their own custom tiny house. As home prices and energy costs rise, living in a 200 square foot home is becoming an increasingly attractive option. If you only own around 100 items, a studio apartment-sized house shouldn't be an issue.

The Minimalists do an incredible job of discussing minimalism as a philosophy and offer helpful tips to get you started.

Here is a primer I wrote on how to emotionally detach from your objects and create a healthy view of your possessions.

How Minimalist Are You?

All of my possession would fit......

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Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Jennifer Arnett

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      • Deborah Demander profile image

        Deborah Demander 9 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

        This is a great article. I love the idea, although I'm not sure I'm quite ready. I'm getting there. I'm planning a large move and lifestyle change as soon as my youngest graduates. Until then, I'll begin weeding out the garbage.

        Thanks for the tips!

        Namaste

      • lsmith131 profile image

        Lanecia Smith 9 months ago from Ohio

        Excellent Article!

        For a while I have been very guilty of buying things that I truly do not need. However, I am trying to focus on being more frugal and living a more minimalist lifestyle.

        I am in the process of cleaning out all of my junk to get rid of any baggage I do not need. American society puts this pressure on our culture to buy more and spend more in order to be happy, when in reality this is not the case.

        Thank you for the information and great tips, excited to begin my journey.

      • Tea Whitfield profile image

        Tea Whitfield 11 months ago from New Orleans, LA

        Such a great article. I am well on my way. I had a storage and a house full of stuff. For what? Letting go and cleaning house literally is freeing. Thanks!

      • profile image

        Tamara Moore 11 months ago

        Yes, I am a Minimalist, and am always attempting to reduce even more "things". Thank you for this excellent post!

        Tamara

      • profile image

        Carol-Ann Lamothe 12 months ago

        I enjoy the freedom of having less STUFF (which suffocates).

      • Sam Shepards profile image

        Sam Shepards 18 months ago from Europe

        I don't think minimalism is really about in what kind of space all your stuff fits. It can be a good indicator though. :)

      • profile image

        Krista 2 years ago

        My husband and I just started doing a minimalist life. Thanks!

      • livingelysian profile image

        Elysia Valdivia 2 years ago from Loveland, Colorado

        I love these tips! I have been trying to whittle things down in my home and life. Thank you.

      • profile image

        Sonya 2 years ago

        Etc. Not ect.

      • Availiasvision profile image
        Author

        Jennifer Arnett 2 years ago from California

        Victoria, that's fantastic! I'm not 100% on board for monk-like minimalism, but rejoice that it can help anyone feel more free and less clutter-stressed. If a reader felt the compulsion to clean out their sock drawer, I'd call it a good start.

      • livingelysian profile image

        Elysia Valdivia 2 years ago from Loveland, Colorado

        Thank you for this. I am always looking to minimize. This seems a bit painful but doable. I appreciate the challenge. Namaste.

      • profile image

        Andrew Ah 2 years ago

        Thank you. I 'd like to practice and practice to be minimal.

      • Victoria Lynn profile image

        Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

        Great tips! I have no desire to be a total minimalist, but I'm downsizing so I can move from my 1800 house to 800 sq ft!My perspective is changing. Great hub!

      • Availiasvision profile image
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        Jennifer Arnett 2 years ago from California

        UlrichGanz, Glad to see another minimalist on here.

      • profile image

        UlrichGanz 2 years ago

        I agree with these things, these are very helpful to start a minimalism life. Don't buy the unnecessary things is very good way for start a minimalism life. We save our money, time and don't need unnecessary cleaning.

        http://minimalismus.ch/

      • Availiasvision profile image
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        Jennifer Arnett 3 years ago from California

        Thanks Victoria, glad you found it useful.

      • Availiasvision profile image
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        Jennifer Arnett 3 years ago from California

        Heidi, that's an awesome attitude. Happy de-cluttering.

      • Availiasvision profile image
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        Jennifer Arnett 3 years ago from California

        Kerlund, I'm glad this helped you out. I think the key is to start small--clean out one drawer or one shelf. Even one item to charity should be a victory.

      • Victoria Lynn profile image

        Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

        Great hub! I do like a lot of stuff, but I have been downsizing and getting rid of the junkier stuff, extras, etc . . . . My goal is not to be a minimalist, but somewhere in between that and a pack rat. I have antiques and collections that I do enjjoy, but there are other things I can part with. Your hub helps me keep moving toward that goal. :-)

      • heidithorne profile image

        Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

        I hate clutter and stuff! I hold an "If in doubt, throw it out" mentality. This is a great hub for the New Year. Voted up, useful and sharing!

      • kerlund74 profile image

        kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

        I just love this, it's what I needed to read... I have so much things that have to be cleaned away or given to sharity. But I always prioritize other activities. A groving think that gives me a bit of a stress.

        Thank you for inspiring me and for shring this useful tips!

      • Availiasvision profile image
        Author

        Jennifer Arnett 3 years ago from California

        Thanks for sharing your experience. Living with less is such a freeing feeling. It's hard to start, but as you start living with less clutter, it gets easier to not be attached to your items. The movement is getting bigger and people are starting to realize that the American Consumer Dream doesn't bring happiness, it enslaves.

        I like selling my items on Ebay, at consignment shops, and used goods stores because it's fun to get money for space in your house. Best of luck with your new lifestyle. It sounds like you have a great start!

      • tsmog profile image

        Tim Mitchell 3 years ago from Escondido, CA

        Hello. hmmmmm I am very appreciative for this valuable information. I seem to be going through stages offering less anxiety of culture shock sort to speak. I did a keep, sell, give-away, donate, toss about 6 months ago. I have about 1/2 left. I acquired very, very few new since then. Now, I am ready for second phase as I see I still have too much to be simpler in lifestyle. It is challenging when you have 30 years of stuff to decide. The guidelines you have provided will be of great help. Thank you.

        tim

      • Availiasvision profile image
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        Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

        Isn't it lovely living with less? Thanks for reading, voting, and commenting.

      • breathe2travel profile image

        breathe2travel 4 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

        Voted useful, awesome & interesting. I just did this (well not as thoroughly as you instruct) when we moved, and again as I unpacked from the move! With six children, it's easy to accumulate "stuff". Great hub.

      • Availiasvision profile image
        Author

        Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

        Thank you for your kind words, Bill. You can definitely spot the not when it comes to the passion of writers. Only the brilliant are read when they're dead, right? Let's hope we don't have to wait that long.

        I know of one writer who describes finding a passion as opening hundreds of oysters to find a peal. I'd better get busy opening! I'm going to take the advice of Hawaiian Odysseus and do some "Creative Walking." It worked for the Romantics!

        https://hubpages.com/community/Creative-Walking...

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Then it seems to me that you know what your niche will be/should be. :) If a writer doesn't have passion about the subject matter it just ends up being so much regurgitated nonsense that anyone could write.

      • Availiasvision profile image
        Author

        Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

        I'll have to poke around for all of your writings on simple living. I'm so glad that we've connected on that level. What a fantastic goal! Here's a quote I love about the simple country life.

        “A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.” Leo Tolstoy, Family Happiness

        Adventure is what really knocks my socks off. Lifestyle design/simple living would be a firm second place. I want to go on adventures and then write about them. Eventually, I'd like to get into adventure fiction. I have this driving desire to explore and inspire.

        It's like watching a Polaroid develop.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

        So, is this your passion? Is camping your passion? Is the environment your passion? What really lights your bulb????

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

        You are speaking my language.

        I have written many hubs about Living Simple. You and I are on the same page my new friend.

        My wife and I have been living this lifestyle for some time now, and in two years we will get very serious and whittle things down more....then we will move to a small farm in the country and become self-sufficient....so yes, I liked this hub. :)

        bill

      • Born2care2001 profile image

        Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 4 years ago from Asheville NC

        Great thoughts Availiasvision!

        Then perhaps we can turn our personal energies to more constructive, necessary social issues. I'm with you on these fronts and am on my way of living consciously. After all, my generation is part of the problem, we should also be part of the solution!

        Thanks again and keep on writing!

        Bruce

      • Availiasvision profile image
        Author

        Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

        Bruce,

        Thank you so much for taking interest in this hub and thoughtfully commenting. I also thank you for pointing out that our unwanted possessions could serve better purposes. Whenever possible, it is very important to recycle or create another use for our possessions. For instance, I mentioned that you can turn a piece of garbage (a travel map) into a treasure or give away unwanted clothing.

        At it's core, minimalism is not a one time event, but a process of consuming less. My hope is that people will see the benefit of living with less and then choose to refrain from acquiring more possessions. I want to save the end product from the garbage dump, but I also am concerned about how much pollution and petroleum it takes to manufacture and transport an unnecessary item in the first place.

      • Born2care2001 profile image

        Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 4 years ago from Asheville NC

        Hey Availiasvision,

        An interesting hub about a burgeoning movement. Don't know that I'll every be a minimalist but I have friends who are and they are happy.

        I enjoy your many valuable tips for getting on the band wagon. I will say as a constructive point, I hope when you say throw out you mean environmentally friendly re-use in some way, be it giving it to someone who can use it and wants to or finding an alternative use that makes sense for you or a friend or someone else who needs it.

        I'm definitely with you on taking care of what we have, consuming less and being more aware of our living and our planet!

        Thank you so much!

        Bruce

      • tobusiness profile image

        Jo Alexis-Hagues 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

        A very useful hub, I'm almost there but not just yet! :). Thank you for this information congratulation on making a start. well done.

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