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Minimalism seems to be popping up everywhere these days. You see it online, even Netflix has a few documentaries on it. Heck, I was even reading a book Know Your Self Know Your Money (read my review here) and it mentions it there too.
Having come across this topic over and over in the course of a few days, my spiritual side took that as a sign to dive deeper into Minimalism. After all, it was showing up in my life repeatedly over the last few days.
So I did just that, and I’m here to tell you that it’s about more than just living with an empty house, no decorations, and bare walls.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
It’s more than just owning fewer things. Rather it’s about asking yourself, does this object bring any value to my life? Does this align with my purpose? If you’re familiar with Marie Kondo, then it’s like asking the question, does this bring me joy? In minimalism, the question is, does this add value to my life, and if it doesn’t, it gets donated, recycled, or sold.
Marie Kondo is based on the organization; Minimalism is based on eliminating the things that do not provide value to your life. You start to learn that you’ve become burdened or are carrying a heaviness from acquiring essentially material stuff.
Being a minimalist means living with only the items you need. Take that in. Need not want or like to have around items in your daily life. That can be keeping only the cookware you love and use every day. Get rid of the extra pots and pans you have stacked on top of one another and never use anyway.
Condense your items and remove the duplicates of things you don’t need or use. Really why are you hanging on to those things? It has no use other than taking up space in your home. I know I need every bit of space in my home. But after going through everything in my home and getting rid of things that don’t add value to my life, don’t need or don’t use, all of a sudden, I have all kinds of space.
The core philosophy of minimalism is that the excess stuff takes away from your life. You now have time to focus on things or people that do matter. There aren’t distractions of things, having to clean up and organize your house constantly.
I rolled over the Minimalist lifestyle into other areas of life too. Once you get going, you feel so much lighter and start to look around your life and wonder where else I can simplify?
Other Ways to Apply Minimalism
Yup, you can even practice minimalism with your finances. How?
Can you cancel some subscriptions? Ask yourself, do I really need this, or is this just stuff? Take the time to figure out how much you spent on Amazon in a month or even a week. What were those purchases (see shopping below), and are you using them as you planned, or were they an impulse purchase? Who hasn’t succumbed to the one-click purchases?
Another way is to go through your credit card statements (if you have credit cards read about going debt-free here) or bank statements. Go line by line and start reading what you’re actually spending your hard-earned money on.
Get rid of the unnecessary charges that automatically hit your card and that you may have forgotten about it. If you have 10 credit cards, you go through each monthly statement for each until you’ve eliminated all the frivolous charges that are not bringing you any value.
So yes, minimalism in your finances can be done.
Buying Clothes – Shopping
Well, first, you can start by really understanding the question of “does this add value to my life?” Especially when you’re out shopping. By doing so, you’re breaking the pattern of just buying something on impulse and habit. Thus, saving your hard-earned money and keep yourself from accumulating more stuff.
Stuff that will probably sit in the back of the closet, be pushed back in a drawer somewhere, or stored in the garage. All to be discovered one day again when you decided to clean things out. Eating up your precious time.
That is unless you’re a minimalist, in which case you’re not really going to have those weekends of cleaning out the garage. You’ll only own things that add value to your life or need. Think of it as only keeping your favorite things.
Think about it if all you ever bought were the things you really loved or are your favorite, you would use them all the time. And never have anything you didn’t love. Imagine walking into your closet and loving every piece you have looking back at you. No more digging through every hanger and pushing it aside cause you don’t like it, but of course, you’ll keep hanging on to it just in case.
The feeling of only having your favorite clothes in your closet and drawers make it a lot easier to get ready. You always love what you have on, so why not? You’ll start to realize you don’t really need 20 different shirts or tops, 30 pairs of jeans (you know you only wear your favorite 2 pairs anyway), 50 pairs or more of shoes. You get the idea.
Simplify your wardrobe with only the outfits you need and love.
You may think that everyone will notice if you only wear the same 5 outfits over and over. They won’t. Most people are too wrapped up in themselves to pay that close attention to what you’re wearing. And for those who do notice. So What!? This is about you and your life value, not theirs. Less is truly more.
I cleaned out or purged my clothes and felt so much better about doing it. After learning about Minimalism, I knew that material stuff isn’t providing anything of value to me. I’m not too fond of some of this stuff I’m hanging on to anyway. It hurts to think of all the money wasted and lost on stuff you never really wanted to begin with.
That’s where asking yourself the question of does it bring value to your life comes in handy. It breaks up your automatic pattern of just mindlessly buying stuff. You become more intentional with your purchases.
Clear Your Mind
Listen, I’m not one that likes a lot of clutter, to begin with. Everything has its place in my home. I’m organized and can only function when my home is organized. Sounds crazy, right?
Think about it. If you look around your home environment and there is just stuff bursting at the seams and unorganized, do you feel like you have things in order in your life, or are they more reflective of your environment and in disarray?
Sometimes my desk becomes a drop-off area for everything laying around like mail, papers, I-pads, tablets, and the like. When I sit down to write for this blog or do other things on the computer, I cannot mentally function. Meaning I can’t concentrate and am constantly bothered by the mess.
There is a psychological barrier.
My brain cannot work with a mess lying around me. So I often have to clean my desk area and put stuff up, then 20 minutes later start to do what I originally sat down to do.
Now Imagine, if your whole life had been deconstructed to a minimalist lifestyle. The 20 minutes it took me to clean the stuff off my desk, I could have utilized doing something else more valuable. That could have been 20 minutes of writing for this very blog, 20 minutes I can spend with my girls, 20 minutes playing with my dogs outside (they’re my other children who require playtime).
Seriously, think about it. Once I stopped and let that sink in, I realized stuff does take away from my life. It’s not needed or necessary, yet we get wrapped up in buying things or stuff accumulation for the immediate endorphins and dopamine release that we get addicted to with consumption.
Minimalism Isn’t Just Physical Stuff It Can Be Digital Too
Don’t get stuck into thinking that stuff is just physical items. They can also be digital too. I canceled all kinds of stuff like apps we don’t use often, apps I don’t like for my blog, switched from Hulu to Sling to save money, and subscriptions we forgot to cancel.
It may take you some time, in the beginning, to go through every line item, but once you’ve canceled digital stuff, the next statement will be less or minimal.
Another digital item that will save you some money indirectly and clean out your junk items is by unsubscribing from your emails. This one does take a while if you get inundated with promotional emails regularly. They’re so annoying.
You ever open your inbox and have all these emails waiting for you to read through, and you feel the weight of having to go through each email. Ugh, like the wind, got knocked out of your sails. Well, try minimizing that by eliminating email junk and unnecessary email stuff.
Just like you went through your bank statement line by line, go through your email line by line. Saving money means eliminating the temptations to buy stuff, which contributes to not acquiring it, to begin with: Good-bye promo emails and good-bye temptation.
It feels good to open my emails in the morning and not have 50 emails to scroll through; most are promotional emails. Again, in the beginning, it takes some time to go through and unsubscribe from the email list, but once it’s done, your inbox looks and feels so much better.
Minimalism in Your Kitchen and Pantry
Do you really need 3 of everything in your kitchen? 3 types of pots 3 types of pans, 3 types of 9×12’s, 3 8×8’s or 3 bread pans, or perhaps the number is higher? For me, it was 3 types of these things, and I only use the same one over and over. You know I used my favorite. I bet you have a favorite pan or cookware you like too. So why do we need multiples of these things? They take up space and don’t add any value to my cooking. LOL
Going through your kitchen can feel quite liberating. Suddenly, you have space, and everything feels lighter, and you can focus on cooking in the kitchen. Rather than fighting with the pots and pans every time you go to grab one. Then they all fall over cause you’re trying to move things around, and there is no space. You know what I’m talking about.
Get rid of that junk drawer that you know holds no value other than to hold random stuff that you’ll never use anyway.
The same goes for your pantry. When is the last time you went through every item in your pantry? Do you have expired canned goods or other items that have been sitting there for years? Are stale boxes of chips or crackers still sitting on your shelves?
Clean it out and organize it so that you use what you have available. The same philosophy applies as it does to shopping, only buy what you know you will eat, meal planning helps a lot. This will save you money too.
Minimalism in Your Home Decor
Now, this is a hard one for me as I love buying things for my home. I love to change the decor at least every few months or with the seasons. Overall, I love a well organized and cozy home. Clutter and knick-knacks aren’t my things, so that part is easy.
Buying more home decor items is my downfall. But after changing my mindset about things and buying stuff. Well, I second guess whether or not a certain decoration is really bringing value to my life or home. Most of the time, it’s not, so I pass on the purchase, thus saving that time and money.
If you have a home filled to the brim with stuff, this may be a little harder for you. Take your time. There is no rush or timeline that you have to do this by a certain date.
You may be thinking, “Isn’t my house going to look so empty and bare?” It can if you go extreme with removing everything, especially if you do it all at once. I have to say that over time you get used to it and come to appreciate the look and feel of it all. Again, you do what works for you. There are no set rules that you must 100% follow. This is your version of Minimalism.
The Minimalists have a cool 30-day challenge that may be able to help you get going with this if you’re interested in pursuing minimalism further. Once you try it, it will be so liberating, and you will most definitely feel lighter. Your outlook will change, and you’ll be more open to maintaining the minimalist lifestyle.
Do you ever feel like your days are so busy and broken up with different things going on that you feel like nothing of value was accomplished? Productivity was stifled by all the interruptions and inconsistencies of the day.
That’s when I wondered if I could apply the minimalist ways to my schedule. Now I’m not saying to go and cancel your meetings and move things around here. But what if you can better create a minimalist system that allows for more productivity and less stress?
This may or may not work for you, but it’s something worth trying if you’re able. After reviewing my calendar, I realized I always feel pulled in different directions every day because there wasn’t any real planning.
Doctor appointments for a family of 4 are all over the place, random days and times, after school tutoring, Girl Scouts and Girl Scout prep work, dropping off a kid at grandma’s on random days, while doing home remote learning too. Not to mention working on my blog (there’s a lot to it) and being a mom and wife doing all the regular stuff.
Ugh, it’s the randomness and unnecessary stuff that’s weighing my days down. I need to simplify.
How Did I Simplify My Calendar and How Can You?
First, I eliminated one of the days my youngest was going to grandma’s. Unnecessary drop-off and pick-up took away about an hour in the morning and an hour in the early evening, thus taking away that much time.
Second, I assigned certain tasks for certain days. I’ve dedicated one day to doing preparations for Girl Scouts. It’s a very active troop with weekly meetings, earning badges, cookie and fall products. No more waiting until the last minute. This doesn’t mean it takes up the entire day. It just allows me to organize my time and not focus on Girl Scout stuff until that day. You can do this for any task that requires dedicated time and can be done routinely on the same day every week.
Third, I assigned one day for doctor appointments. This is a game-changer. I set a day like Wednesday as the day to schedule doctor appointments. No matter which one of us needs to go or for what, I’ll try to make it for that day unless it’s urgent, of course. This way, my week isn’t broken up with a random appointment.
Be sure to ask for Wednesday (or whatever day you choose) appointment when scheduling. Don’t just go with what the office tells you as the only option. Try to make the appointment based on your schedule.
You get the gist here. Minimize your calendar if possible, to offer you more consistency and organization. You’ll free up more time too.
A Funny Thing Happened…
Well, maybe not as funny as unexpected. I dove into the minimalist way as that’s my nature. And after a few days, I realized I felt lighter for some reason. Less cluttered internally. I enjoyed walking around our house more, and seeing things were not cluttered.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have 100% bare walls, empty countertops, minimalist type of house. I have a lot less than I did, though. What I have now feels more serene, and I’m happier with my Minimalist look.
You don’t know how much excess stuff and having things to have make you feel weighed down. That is until you clear out the clutter and make choices based on whether something brings value to your life.
Value of Being a Minimalist
The biggest value of becoming a minimalist or living a minimalist lifestyle is having valuable time. Will cleaning out your kitchen automatically give you more time with your kids. No. Not right away; however, once you look around and have your life less focused on stuff and buying things, you’re forced indirectly to reflect upon how to use your time. Spend that time with family or whoever it may be that brings more value and happiness to your life. Who doesn’t want that in their life?
Adopting this mindset is what happens when you make this minimalist lifestyle switch.
It becomes a way of thinking about creating a life of value that is not found in stuff.
I believe that my health philosophy of no two people are the same; therefore, no two people will have the same results, also apply to Minimalism. This is personal, and your decision on how much you want to incorporate into your life is your decision.
There is no wrong or right way. Simplify, don’t follow strict guidelines to achieve the benefits according to what is supposed to be. Or do what someone else is doing because you think you have to do it their way. Find what works for you. Start slowly and minimize your stuff over time. Or jump right in like I did. Do what you’re comfortable with and go from there.
Check out Minimalism and Less is Now on Netflix (not an affiliate, but I watched both) explore more about Minimalism.
I wish you peace and guidance on your journey.