This guest post is by Rocio Espinoza of Porch.com
In today’s world, we’re bombarded with responsibilities, relationships, purchases, possessions, and clutter, both physical and mental. There’s so much noise and chaos around us that our minds and bodies are in a constant state of overdrive and stress.
It’s time to do something about that. By adopting a minimalist lifestyle, you can make the switch from stressful for serene, from frustrated to focused. We have some advice to help you on your journey to a more simple, more peaceful life.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is not extremism – it is not denying yourself things that bring you pleasure. Minimalism is centered around embracing self-control, and an approach that’s not dependent on material possessions that bring no real joy.
This “live with only the things you need” philosophy covers more than just decluttering your home (but that’s a great start). It can cover your job, your wardrobe, your possessions, your social media life, your relationships, and finances. Minimalism allows you to focus on the most essential things in your life.
Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle
Once you commit to living a minimalist lifestyle, there will be an adjustment period as you start releasing unneeded things and habits. But after that, you’ll discover you’re living in an atmosphere of greater happiness, peace of mind, and confidence. You’ll feel a weight lift from your shoulders and notice a greater sense of freedom to pursue your passions without being dragged down by unnecessary “stuff.”
You’ll find the space around you more expansive as you let go of physical things that merely clutter up your rooms, your closets, and your life. You’ll find more time to invest in activities and relationships that really matter.
Minimalist Lifestyle: How to Start
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle isn’t an immediate, overnight change. It’s an ongoing process with missteps and forgiveness, setbacks, and progress, all enveloped in self-love and acceptance. We’ll show you ways to start tackling some of those stressors in your life.
Define your Vision: Why, How and What
Before you jump into simplifying your life, take some time to reflect: why are you doing this? Is it for better health, less stress, better control of your environment or your mind? Do you want to lessen that emotionally exhausted feeling, akin to a computer with too many tabs open, unable to process?
Make a list of the things in your life causing stress. Are there things you can do to start reducing the stressors in your life? Would you like to “declutter” both physically and emotionally? Set concrete, but attainable goals and then post your list somewhere visible, and reflect upon it daily. Some people like to create vision boards, complete with words and pictures, of how they see their future life of minimalistic simplicity.
Change your Mindset
Embracing the life of a minimalist will involve both time and effort as you change your mindset, and you may find yourself slipping back into your previous thought processes. But simplifying your life will slowly become an everyday attitude and automatic activity.
Prioritize essentials. What’s important to you? What do you care about the most? For you, this may be the people you love, or a specific activity you’d like to explore more, a new skill you’ve yearned to learn. What are those things you care most about? As you zero in on your essential priorities, it becomes easier to set aside things that aren’t as important.
Eliminating some of the complexities in your life can become rewarding. Life has a way of throwing curveballs at us. There will always be challenging situations, but keep an awareness that these difficulties won’t last forever. Focusing on your priorities and gratitudes may help challenges become more bearable, allowing space to embrace and enjoy the here and now.
As a budding or experienced minimalist, make it a practice to reduce your stressful schedule. Try thoughtfully building a more intentional, reachable daily routine, which is mindful of what you want accomplish each day. A planner helps with this.
Manage your Expectations
We all want what we want. We have high expectations for ourselves, and society expects that we pursue it all, at great cost to ourselves. The pressure can be intense as we push on toward all those goals, causing distress and discontent.
When you take on a minimalist’s outlook, you can reduce the number of “wants” to a manageable level, especially when you keep your essentials in mind. It also helps usher in peace and an appreciation for what you have already.
How to Apply a Minimalist Lifestyle at Home
Home is where the heart is, and it’s also often where our stress-inducing clutter resides. Transforming your home into a simpler, minimalist atmosphere can enhance your life in so many ways. Paring down your possessions can help your peace of mind blossom.
Building good habits and keeping only the essentials can help you create a peaceful oasis, right in your own space. These suggestions are perfect for beginners or those already enjoying a minimalist life.
Banish Stuffed-Closet Stress
Closets can conceal our clutter, like an uncomfortable secret. We’re professionals at rationalizing: “I’ll “deal with it later” as we shove more stuff in those closets. But all that approach does is churn up stress and frustration. Let’s change that.
Grab a box for donating and a trash bag for disposal, open those closet doors, and start sorting. If an item taking up space is connected to a memory, take a photo before discarding or donating. Your goal is to keep only what you need.
Your goal: create organized closets that offer easy access to the contents. Have you neglected to wear those pumps for the last few years? Toss or donate. Can’t fit in that skirt from 20 years ago? Donate it to a vintage thrift shop. Closets aren’t meant to be a junk disposal place, and seeing them choked with possessions does not foster contentment.
Minimize Your Kitchen Items
Now, let’s take a look at your kitchen. How many cracked dishes do you own? You keep intending to fix them, but have you? Take that “I’ll do it someday” mental clutter out of your mind and out of your kitchen: pitch broken items, pare down to the essentials, and simplify your life. Keep only necessary dishes, glasses, mugs, and silverware so you don’t waste your life rummaging around for what you need.
Take a critical look at your kitchen table and countertop. Clear them of the piles of bills, kids’ old homework assignments, and random catch-all items. Pitch unimportant items and find an organized space for the rest.
If you use the countertop appliances less than daily, find a place in the cabinets for them so your countertop looks more streamlined. If you haven’t used the appliance in a while, donate it. All it’s doing is taking up valuable real estate.
Next step: open the cupboards and refrigerator and toss expired food. On future grocery trips, make out a list and try to stick to it, only buying the foods you need. This keeps cans and boxes from languishing in your cupboards, unseen until they expire.
Minimizing Kids’ Toys
Your kids’ room is a major hotspot for clutter. Gather a trash bag, take a deep breath, and enter the space. Ask your kids to help in the process. This can help them work toward a minimalist lifestyle, too. Let them keep some items that are precious, zero in on toys your kids don’t play with anymore, that they’ve outgrown or lie forgotten in toy bins or under the bed. Donate them, and pitch broken toys. Explain to your kids that those toys can bring joy to other, younger children.
After you’ve cleared out the chaos, remember in the future to resist the urge to buy lots of toys. Instead, buy fewer, but quality toys. This will cut down on the excess junk.
Get Rid of Bathroom Clutter
Your bathroom harbors a plethora of peace-stealing items. Open the drawers and cabinets and start sorting, keeping essentials, and pitching or donating the rest. Give away or pitch hair appliances or accessories you no longer use frequently.
Go through your toiletries. Do you have half-consumed bottles of shampoo, conditioner, deep cleansers? Is your shower cluttered with so many bottles that you waste time choosing among body washes or shampoo? Clear those out and keep only the necessities. Open your medicine cabinet and pitch medicines that are expired. Medicines lose their effectiveness when they’re expired anyway.
Open your linen closet and take stock of your towels. How many do you really need? Do they just languish in the dirty laundry, waiting to be washed? Pare down to the essential bath towels, hand towels and washcloths, and a one or two extra for guests.
Resist the urge to buy more at the store. Frugality is a pleasant side-effect of minimalism, so you’ll be glad to find more money in your bank account as you resist filling your house with more “stuff.”
Go through your makeup and beauty products. Do you need five compacts of bronzer? Makeup, including eyeshadows, mascara, eyeliner, and lipliner should be tossed every year because it harbors bacteria, which can cause infection.
Eliminating non-essential stuff is your goal in this minimalist’s journey. When you clear the clutter from your bathroom vanity, from your drawers, and from your life, you’ll be amazed by how it lightens your load.
Minimalist Tips for your Living Room
Does your living room inspire peace and joy? If not, make a list of things to change. Eliminate excessive seating areas, furniture or piles of books or papers. Limit the knick-knacks on your bookshelf. Donate the books that you don’t love that are just taking up space.
Incorporate plants for an aura of nature. Research types of houseplants that help clean the air, like spider plants, pothos or ivy, or plants that are considered soothing, like lavender, jasmine or aloe vera.
Try to minimize cord clutter. If it’s possible, go wireless so you don’t see the frenzied look of cords. If you can’t go wireless, organize the cords, keeping them out of sight if possible.
Digitize your music and movies, and donate those CDs and DVDs that are just taking up space on your entertainment center.
Create a Calm Sleep Space
Take a long, critical look at your bedroom. After a long day, can you walk in and feel your muscles relax and anticipate a peaceful night’s sleep? Or, are you met with chaos from misplaced items, a cluttered dresser drawer, and clothes draped on the back of the chair? Donate or dump the items that you don’t need and create an oasis of calm.
Clean up Daily
Once you have your rooms cleared of extra stuff, make sure you keep it clean. Once a day, do a sweep of the house, putting things back in place and throwing away junk mail or other items that come in your house. You don’t want to go down that clutter road again.
Ditch the Digital Clutter
We often overlook the vast amounts of digital clutter in our lives. Everywhere we turn, there are notifications from a social media site, new emails to read, or new message chimes. It’s like we’re tethered to the world, and it adds to our stress.
Consider how many emails clog your inbox. Reserve a chunk of your time to go through and delete those you no longer need (which may be most of them).
If you’re always looking down at your phone, jumping every time you receive a message, you’re not being present for yourself or for your children or significant other. Make a goal to put the phone down and walk away, checking messages only once or twice a day.
For a few days, keep a diary of the time you spend online each day. You may be stunned by the results. This may be an area of your life – internet and social media clutter – that you can jettison in favor of a more in-the-moment presence.
The less time you spend on social media, the more you can be present in your own life. You can do a digital detox of sorts. Announce on social media that you’re taking a break, and then put it aside for that appointed time, whether it’s a week or a month or more. When you return (If you decide to return), be mindful, and limit the time spent on social media.
While you’re decluttering your life, go through your Facebook page and unfollow or unfriend those people who litter your timeline who aren’t bringing something of value to your life. You don’t need to be surrounded by negativity, complaints, and unkind thoughts. That kind of energy will only erode your progress.
Take Time to Invest in You
No matter the stress of the day, the demands coming from all directions, don’t forget to carve out some “me time” out for – well, for you. It’s too easy to forget ourselves as we attend to the needs of others. You deserve to invest in yourself, to recharge, re-center, and re-balance. You can use this time to meditate, do yoga, read, relax with a drink, or soak in the tub.
Get your Finances in Order
Finances can spark a tremendous amount of frustration. While you’re bringing peace to your world, don’t forget about finding ways to streamline your finances. Instead of spending time writing checks, sealing them in envelopes and mailing them, try paying them online through your bank. If your account balance allows it, consider setting up automatic payments. This will ensure more time “banked” for higher-priority activities.
Embrace the Transformative Change
Clearing out the clutter from your life will help put into motion a steady, transformative change, one you’ll nurture and appreciate.
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle isn’t the secret to endless happiness and contentment, though. It’s a journey you’ve started, freeing up more time, space, and money for more meaningful pursuits. As you find balance in your day-to-day life, the benefits of a minimalist’s life will become clear: simplicity, focus, and peace.
The longer you maintain a mindful, self-improving, self-loving mindset, the easier it becomes to keep your life full of both freedom and purpose, and free of clutter and frustration as you focus on your gratitude!