January 7, 2016

5 Easy Ways to Become a Minimalist

"People are made to be loved, things are made to be used.  
In our world, people are being used, and things are being loved." - Unknown 

If you haven't heard of minimalism, do yourself a gigantic favour and get yourself involved.  Minimalism is all about living with only what you need so you can have more money, time, energy, and better health to do the things you really love to do.  Minimalism might seem incredibly daunting or unbelievable, but I've been a minimalist for almost four years now, and my only regret is that I didn't start sooner.  

For some, getting rid of things is easy, but for others it takes greater motivation.  Here are five tips I have learned from my own experience to help you become a minimalist and avoid getting stuck.

Start with something easy. 
Think of a place in your home that is cluttered and likely doesn't have items in it that you're sentimentally attached to.  It could be a junk drawer, a counter top, or under your bed. Throw out or recycle anything that's legitimate garbage (ex. food wrappers, junk mail, packaging), and donate or sell anything in good condition that you no longer use or want.  If you find things that are broken, fix them now or get rid of them (if it's been broken for years, you likely don't need it since you've been living without it just fine).  If you're not able or wanting to do one giant purge, try getting into the habit of getting rid of at least one thing each day for the next week. 

That item "you may need some day" won't be needed some day. 
Consider this: how long have you kept a particular item?  How many times have you used/needed it since you've owned it?  Does its financial value merit you keeping it in your physical space?  Does it help you achieve what you want to do in life?  I found that 99% of the time, my answer was no, so it disappeared. 

Say "no" to free handouts.
You can cut down a lot of clutter just by declining free handouts.  "Buy one get one free", "free tote bag with a $50 purchase", "half off fragrances with the purchase of jeans"- these "great deals" are everywhere, but unless by some rare chance you were actually going to buy both items, these free products are just more clutter in your life.

Question the purpose of items.
If an item doesn't help you achieve what you want to do in life, what purpose is it really serving you?  Clothes we don't wear or don't fit, books that we've finished or will never finish, music and movie discs we don't listen to or watch anymore, old technology that we've replaced with newer technology, gifts from past relationships, and equipment from previous hobbies/jobs are all items that no longer serve a purpose in our lives.  It might not seem like a big deal having these items around, but until they're gone, they're still things you have to store, clean, maintain, and look at. 

Exercise mental strategies.
For those tricky items where you're really not sure if you should keep or get rid of it, try using a mental strategy.  For example, if your house burned down, would you miss the particular item?  Would it even come to mind right away?  Would you replace it with a new one if possible?  If your answer is no to any or all of these, odds are you can pass it on.  Another strategy (that I learned from becomingminimalist.com) is to visualize coming across an item you own in its current condition in a store, but then, pretending you don't own it, ask yourself if you would buy it, and if so, how much would you pay for it?  If you wouldn't buy it, pass it on.  If you would buy it, determine how much you'd pay for it and see if that further merits keeping it, or if it suggests that you really don't need it.  

It's not always easy getting rid of things, but the reward of being amidst fewer things of greater importance is so much better than being amidst more things of lesser importance.