At the first read, minimalism might be a scary concept for most of us. We tend to associate it with selling all our stuff, saying goodbye to any indulgences and living in a small cabin somewhere in the mountains.
This is minimalism taken to an extreme. There are a number of simple and practical ways to practice it. For all practical purposes, it is nothing but decluttering and downsizing your life to help eliminate the chaos around you.
Minimalism comes with a lot of benefits and many of them are life-altering, such as more time to travel, higher productivity, better relationships, more savings for your future, mindfulness, well-being and I could go on. If you still aren’t convinced you might want to read this.
For all you beginners out there, being a minimalist doesn’t have to be about making big sacrifices, it’s the little things like the 15 minutes you spend on deciding what to have for lunch every day. These little fixes are all you need to reap the benefits of being a minimalist.
Here are few simple and practical ways to embrace minimalism:
Learn to say ‘No’ to unnecessary social engagements
Remember all the social engagements you said ‘Yes’ to because you couldn’t really say ‘No’? Yeah well, you are going to have to let them go. If you don’t learn to say ‘No’ to all the unnecessary things in your life, you will less time for the important ones.
The first step to downsizing your life is to downsize your planner.
Cut off the financial resources available to you
According to research done by San Francisco State University, buying experiences, not possessions, leads to greater happiness. If you find yourself wasting money on stuff you don’t need just because you have money at your disposal, then find a way to make it unavailable to you.
For example, invest in something you really need, like a house for yourself may be and a huge portion of your salary will go towards paying the loan for the house; you will automatically learn to live with the left amount.
This way, you are planning for your future and at the same time are cutting back on unnecessary spending – a double win, I say!
Do a bit of digital decluttering
After going digital, we have so many tools, apps, software and just stuff sitting on our phones and computers; I, for one, have apps flooding my phone. This digital chaos has to go, here are a few tips:
Have a digital declutter day once every week – I promise it won’t take more than 20 mins.
Move all your old files and documents to Dropbox and empty your computer.
Use email management plugins and tools to make your inbox a productivity hub.
After you try a new tool, delete it if it’s not working for you.
Search for duplicate files, photos etc and delete them.
Design a system for everything
Streamline your life. Especially for regular tasks like paying bills, medical checkups etc. have a routine that you can stick to without having to spare much thought about it.
Have a laundry system, a bill payment system, email system etc to blindly follow every day. This can simplify your life to a great extent and it’s more efficient this way.
In fact, I would suggest that you even have a regular meal system to follow, that way you don’t have to spend time on deciding what to have for your meals every day.
Re-do your drawers and closets
If your drawers and closets are flooding with stuff, it’s time to make some space.
Simplify them by getting rid of anything that you actually don’t wear. Think of it this way, there are many people who would really need the clothes you haven’t bothered to look at since purchasing them. Pack it all up and drop it off at you local charity center. Trust me, you will feel freer and better.
Personalize your minimalism
Although many advanced minimalists say that we should learn to let our possessions go when they don’t serve much purpose, sometimes we are far too attached to some things to let them go. There is nothing wrong with that. For me, the idea of giving away my books is absolutely crazy, but I would consider replacing my car with a bike.
I would suggest that you sit down and list out things that are absolutely non-negotiable and things you would consider letting go. There is no standard way to be a minimalist – you can do it your own way.
Stay closer to work
Do you really want to spend a huge chunk of your day in the middle of blaring horns, road rage and annoyingly frequent red lights? Even if you forget all the time loss and money loss going on here, spending that much driving/traveling is frustrating and consumes a lot of your energy.
If you stay a mile or two away from your work, think of how many things you can get done in the time you would otherwise be spending honking.
Use the ‘One in One out’ rule
After you finish with decluttering and downsizing, you can’t have yourself go back to your old habits not, can you?!
A great idea to keep up living minimal is to follow the ‘one in one out rule’. Every time you get something new to your house something old has to go. You can use this to manage your smartphones as well, every time you download a new app, something else on your phone has to go.
Use technology to automate your life
You can have some tasks completely automated so that you don’t have to waste your time on them. Here are a few tips:
Install home and office automation. Remote-controlled front doors, smart LED lights etc.
Automate your bill payment using apps like Mint.
Set your computer maintenance in auto mode.
Make use tech gadgets like Fitbit to keep track of your health.
Downsize your time spent on media
Media today presents us with a wide variety of distractions to choose from. If it’s not the news, then it’s the Facebook post from your friend, or the new episode of your favourite TV show.
While it’s practically impossible to shut ourselves down from all this, setting time limits on how much time we spend on media is a more realistic way to go.
There are many tools out there, like Rescuetime, which allow you to block out these websites for some time every day.
See, you don’t have to become a monk and sacrifice everything to become a minimalist. The only purpose of this practice is to make you more productive, more efficient and live a fuller life.
Remember, minimalism is not a practice, it is mindset. You can only stick to it if you can make yourself see the many benefits you gain from it. For example, get excited about the time, energy and resources you are saving by practicing minimalism and that will motivate you to stick to it.
‘There is a certain majesty in simplicity which is far above all the quaintness of wit’ – Alexander Pope