9 Small Ways You Can Start Being a Minimalist ASAP
Minimalism can be super intimidating. Most people hear about it and assume that they have to throw out everything they own… immediately. You definitely can if that’s something that think is going to serve you, but I’ve found it a lot more accessible to do slowly. As I’ve mentioned before, 2018 was really the year that I decided to commit myself to mindfulness. The majority of this centered around creating a constant mindfulness practice, but part of my adventures in mindfulness also drove me towards minimalism. Our journey with less started as a mission to make more space in our home… and then took off. If left to my own devices I will generally hoard things. I’m hopelessly nostalgic and one of those people that will hold onto something that I never actually use just for the memories. Despite this, I’ve always been fascinated by minimalism and the idea of living with less. I guess I’ve always known that at some point I needed to start downsizing how many things I owned or they were going to bury me alive.
Conveniently, Dan just is a minimalist in the effortless way that some people are lucky enough to be born into. He has always believed in buying quality items and not having too much clutter. He likes living with less. He is organized, clean, and has a craving for a certain level of militancy that I admire. I could live in an explosion of color and never get sick of it, Dan is more by-the-book. Since we moved in together a few years ago, and since launching into my mindfulness practice earlier this year, I’m SUPER stoked to say that I’ve finally become a minimalist. It took almost an entire year to feel comfortable calling myself that. In the interest of making your life easier than mine was during this transition, I wanted to share some of the tips I found most helpful below!
There are so many great causes right in your backyard that are hurting for resources. Why not get rid of the items that you no longer use and give them to somebody who would be honored to have them?
Don’t feel bad about getting rid of gifts. For most people this is the hardest part about embracing a minimal lifestyle. It’s not even that you like that vase that your cousins-daughters-boyfriends-dog gave you, it’s the fact that somebody gave it to you. Here’s the thing- it’s OK to get rid of gifts that just aren’t your thing. The gifter won’t know, and you can donate them to a secondhand store where someone will fall in LOVE with it. If it helps, say “thank you” to the gifter in your head. Then get rid of that shit. You don’t need it, and there’s no point holding onto something that you hate.
Buy quality things that you really love. Give yourself time to think about your purchases before you make them. Instead of making spontaneous purchases, try creating an ongoing wish list. You can do this easily on Amazon. Whenever I feel really compelled to buy something, instead of immediately adding it to my shopping cart I put it on a wish list. If I still can’t stop thinking about it a month later and genuinely think that I’ll use it, I’ll pull the trigger. This has gotten me out of so many mindless purchases. More often than not I end up looking at the items on my wish list and thinking what? This has also helped me save a ton of money, so that when I do end up buying something I can make sure that it’s high quality and will last me a long time. It’s absolutely worth it.
Make a little cash off your clothes. You can be a minimalist and still make some cash-ohla here, people. I’m asking you to get rid of the shit in your basement, not to be a monk. From my personal experience, I really have enjoyed using both thredUP and Poshmark. thredUP is similar to a consignment store in that you send all of your items in and then thredUP decides how much they will pay you out. This is a great option if you have a lot of items you want to get rid of and don’t care how much you get. Poshmark is great because you pick your own pricing, but then you do have to hold onto the item until it sells, which might not be great if you want to get rid of things immediately. Either way, both are great options for making a little extra cash out of your home clean-out.
Clean out your makeup bag. Most women I know have way more makeup, facial products, and hair serums than they will ever possibly use. About a year or so ago I committed to completely cleaning out my makeup bag of all the things I didn’t use about a few times monthly. It was… almost 75% of my supplies! This made me realize both that I was spending a lot of money on things that I didn’t ever use and that I was lugging around a lot of useless crap in my purse. Cleaning out my makeup bag, my bathroom cabinets, and eventually the items I keep in the shower helped me cut down on random expenses and also has freed up soooo much more space in our bathroom.
Have a standing donation box at the ready. This has been the biggest game changer in our house. By always having a box for Goodwill, we get rid of SO many things. Rather than thinking oh, I’ll get rid of that later we just immediately toss things in our donation box. We always have one in our bedroom, and sometimes keep an extra in the dining room. Between the three of us, the boxes always fill up quickly. Once they’re full, I load them into my car and drop it off as soon as possible, that way I don’t have time to second guess anything. We use boxes that come in the mail as our donation boxes, which is also a great way to recycle. BOOM!
Donate to a good cause. Getting rid of stuff can be hard. It’s natural to feel some guilt about purging things, especially when you get rid of gifts or things that you spent a lot of money on. If you’re struggling to part with your belongings donate them to a great cause. You can donate gently used clothes to programs that are helping women find employment, give household items to families in need, and donate nonperishable food items to a food bank, etc. I’ve even donated things that Maxi no longer uses to an animal shelter. There are so many great causes right in your backyard that are hurting for resources. Why not get rid of the items that you no longer use and give them to somebody who would be honored to have them?
Invest in an e-reader. For me, this was actually the hardest transition. I have a thing with books. I love going to bookstores. I love reading. I am one of those readers who feels like each book I read is a dear friend, and I had a really hard time letting go of my attachment to physical books. Unfortunately, they were taking up a TON of space. I read about a book a week, so bringing them into my home just wasn’t sustainable, even if I was going to the library. I bought a Kindle a few years ago and, while it took me a while to get used to it, now I love it so much. I love having a bunch of book options on hand at all times, and I love knowing that I’m not contributing to more physical waste. I still buy physical books every now and then, but for the most part I buy books on my Kindle. Also, if you need a good book on minimalism to inspire you, I really loved The Year of Less.
Have hard conversations with your closet. I realize this sounds goofy, but hear me out here. Every few weeks I look at items in my closet that I haven’t worn in a while and I ask the question does this make me feel good about myself? This has helped me toss clothes that fit me awkwardly, clothes that I don’t fit into anymore, or clothes that are uncomfortable to wear. If they make me feel like shit, no matter how much I spent on them, I toss ‘em. We have enough crap making us feel bad about ourselves. Get those extra things out of your closet so that whenever you go to get dressed, your only options are things that make you feel like the radiant fucking unicorn you are.
You don’t have to get rid of everything. This is a big one. I feel like the common assumption with minimalism is that you have to get rid of all your shit and… that’s just not the case! You can (and absolutely should!) start small. Get rid of a few things at a time, but don’t pressure yourself to clean out your whole house in one swoop. Minimalism is a process. It’s a lifestyle change that takes a long time to fully grow into. If you have some things on hand that you truly don’t want to part with you don’t have to. I still have a whole bookshelf full of favorite novels that I have absolutely no intention of ever parting with. And that’s OK! Find a form of minimalism that works for you. Forget the rest.
I would love to know about your own journey and thoughts with minimalism! Making a big lifestyle change can be SUPER intimidating- trust me, I get it. If there’s anything I can do to make your life easier or to help you, please let me know!