Over the past 5-months I’ve been sorting and selling everything I own to travel the world. I’ve gone through owning excess to owning what will fit into a few tupperware bins and my backpack. This process has taught me so much about how to minimize my belongings and realizing what is more important in my life. Most of the items in my house hadn’t been used in over a year (some several years) and it’s easy to say that I only used 20% of my items 80% of the time. There were so many items that I rarely used and could easily do without. Our lifestyles allow us to value convenience rather than practicality.
In the beginning, I thought that becoming a minimalist was about narrowing down your items to the bare minimum for the existence you’re most comfortable with. Since I started this process, I’ve learned that it’s much more than that. It’s a way of life. A way of thinking. It’s more than what’s in your house or in your backpack. It’s also about the clutter that fills your mind, the things vying for your attention, and the things that take up your time.
- Don’t buy anything you don’t actually need. Don’t fall into the trap of buying stuff. If you do that you’ll end up with a house full of things, you’ve never even used or rarely used. Before you head to the check-out ask yourself, “Do I really need this item or can I do without it?”
- Reuse towels. Towels don’t get dirty after using them once. Try using 1-2 towels per week. This not only minimizes how many towels you need to have in your house, but it saves on laundry detergent and water as well.
- Sell or donate any clothing that has not been worn in the last 6-months. After you’ve done that try 60-days. You’ll end up with a closet full of clothes that you do wear. Re-evaluate every 6-months. Nina wore the same outfit for 7-weeks straight at her corporate job.
- Clean your desk. When your desk is clean and clear so is your mind. Clear your desk at the end of every day. That way when you arrive in the morning, you’re ready to focus on your work and being creative.
- Be Present. Nobody wants to be talking to someone when they are busy checking their cell phone, e-mail, or watching their surroundings. This is sending a message that you don’t care and they’re not worth your time. So be present. Give the person you’re talking to your full attention. If you can’t give your full attention, apologize for needing a few minutes (or whatever time frame you need) and then give them your undivided attention. Listen.
- List an item on Craigslist everyday. Becoming a minimalist doesn’t have to be an overnight change. Start slowly. Since 80% of our belongings are not use regularly begin narrowing down those items to the bare necessities. Go through and list all the items you use every month and begin selling the rest. It’s hard to give away gifts that we’ve gotten over the years, but in the end, it’s a thing. If you can replace it, you can get rid of it. If it’s sentimental and irreplaceable, then make careful consideration.
- Unsubscribe to any e-mail lists you no longer read or want to pay attention to. A full in box can be extremely overwhelming. If you can narrow down the e-mails you get to only the ones that you care about, you’ll save time and energy. On that same note, unsubscribe from any store mailings. Ignorance is bliss. You don’t need to know that Macy’s is having a 20% off sale when you already have enough clothes. Don’t let advertising control your impulse to buy things.
- Improve your diet. We’re so busy running around that we don’t have time to create good wholesome meals. By eliminating the things that waste our time, we have more time for the thing most important to us, our body. Our body is what keeps us alive and in this world. Take care of it. Think of food as fuel and educate yourself on what your body needs to stay healthy. Get in the best shape of your life.
- Focus on one thing at a time. Give that one item your full attention. Rather than spend time working on several things at once doing them half-assed. Focus on one and do it awesome.
- Kick your old-friends to the curb. Say Whaaaa? Sometimes we outgrow people. Sometimes we just need certain people at certain point in our lives. If there are people in your life that you don’t relate to anymore or the relationship has dissolved, move on. Unless that person is worth (to you) having and cultivating that relationship, move on and focus on the ones that do. Why waste energy on someone that is meaningless to us. Focus that energy towards the ones that do. We live, we learn, we grow, we move on. Destroy your past life and start-over.
- Do meaningful work. This one is the most important one (and why I’ll never have a job). We all spent the majority of our lives working. Doing work your passionate about, doesn’t feel like work. You enjoy it, you look forward to going everyday. Doesn’t that sound a whole hell of a lot better than drowning in a job you hate just waiting for 5 o clock to come around? Why waste most of your existence doing something you hate. If you want a certain job make the decision to go after it. Take a step everyday towards your goal or start your own minimalist business.
These aren’t huge lifestyle changes. However, they are small changes to become a minimalist and the beginning towards living a more fulfilling life. Life is about experiences, not about how much crap you have in your house. Begin making these small changes, then once you get comfortable and confident move onto bigger more bold changes… like perhaps selling everything to travel the world.
Now take that money that you used to spent on useless crap and put it into a savings account. Use this savings account to save towards one of your dream goals. Is that to travel to Australia for a month? Is it to learn how to salsa dance in Argentina? Is it to get your SCUBA license? What is your dream? Do you have a bucket list? (If not make one) These are experiences of life that are worth having. By not spending money on needless things, you’ll now have more money for the things that are important, experiences.
Love this list? Here’s 103 more ways to simplify your life.