4 essential steps to successful minimalism
At this moment you may be a bit curious, keen to start but also overwhelmed and just a bit intimidated. Questions going through your mind: Where do I start? What to do? How much do I need to get rid of? What is the point of this? Do I want to give up shopping? Will I be giving up fun?
Read this post if you are contemplating minimalism https://www.thiscitything.com/home/minimalism
You may also feel overwhelmed by stuff, information and distractions. It may be, you are constantly busy but can’t really see the point of it all. Your days may be a blur without any direction. Unable to concentrate you find yourself distracted by mindless conversations and social media. You may be tired, unable to focus and yet, unable to sleep.
A cycle continues where you buy things to make you feel better and complain about the lack of space. You lack time, yet find yourself spending hours on your phone, distracted by the news and social media and doing things to please others.
And sometimes when it all becomes too much. We just need to stop. Take a break and reflect on what it is we really want. This is when minimalism, decluttering and mindful living come into play. So…
What exactly is minimalism?
At its core minimalism is simplifying life, by decreasing clutter and excess. A conscious shift to less. From the outside it may seem like a tidying exercise, but at its core it’s a shift to making conscious decisions about our stuff, time and energy. A way of reconnecting with our values, priorities and joys.
Why is it so difficult to start and maintain a minimalist lifestyle?
The reasons are many…we live in a society that values more, bigger and better. A society that has lost touch with how consumer choices impact the environment. We are inundated with cheap, fast, replaceable fashion, quick fixes and status symbols.
We are told that success equals busy. Success equals money and so we fill our lives with activities chasing this status.
Technology is constantly changing. We are constantly connected and information has never been so easy to access. But this means we are constantly bombarded with things, clutter, information and expectations.
How do you start to find your less in all of this chaos? Here are my steps to start the journey. Follow this and then repeat as necessary.
4 steps to start your minimalist journey successfully:
1 Find your why
Soooo, so important! Without finding your WHY, reducing your clutter, will be a fleeting exercise. A bit of cleaning, a tidy up but ultimately you will fall back into your old habits.
So start questioning. Why minimalism? Why now?
It may be that you are tired of stuff, tired of mess and information cluttering your home and your mind? You may want to get out of debt, or travel the world. You may have realised things don’t bring you happiness!
For me it is a way of getting back control of how I spend my money and my time. By reducing my clutter , I have become aware of the impact excess shopping has on the environment. I have been horrified at how I have contributed to this and it shapes all the choices I now make.
2 Find what you love
Want to spend less time…. shopping, scrolling the internet or watching tv. Find what you love doing! Plan it into your day, your weekends and holidays. Do more of it!
For me this has included getting back into yoga, cooking up a storm, reading, going to gigs and discovering new artists. It means long walks and catching up with friends. I have taken up writing again and am looking into volunteering opportunities.
This has also meant that I don’t really have time to go shopping, watch mindless tv or sink into the black hole that is social media and google. And yet on the days that I do go shopping it is with a real purpose, researched and fun. I now choose programmes I really want to watch and schedule it in.
3 Break the shopping habit
The best way to own less is to buy less!
So logical and easy and yet…so, so difficult. For those of us who have fallen into the trap of mindless shopping this habit can be hard to change.
So take a break. Start with a no shop day, increase that to a weekend or week. Go for a month, 6 months or a year. The thing is, most of us…have too much stuff. Things we don’t use or appreciate. Stuffed in a cupboard, drawer or shelf.
I have been playing around with shopping breaks/ shopping bans and no shop sessions and it has really highlighted my areas of excess. For me this includes, clothes, beauty products books and stationary. A shopping break gives you time to reflect and analyse shopping habits, triggers and the emotions around it. Once you work with this, these habits can be broken and changed.
Read more about my reasons for going on a shopping ban here : https://www.thiscitything.com/home/no-shop
4 Slowly reduce your stuff.
I am such a believer in slow and steady and this is how I am reducing the physical clutter at home.
I could do it all at once but I have been there and done it. Quite a few times…and it did not work for me. So I have done quite a few things since the start of the year that have made a difference.
Declutter one area at a time. Start with the easiest area first and work your way to the hardest (I started in the kitchen and am working my way to my books.)
Start by assessing what you have, what you use and what you don’t. Get rid of multiples first. Look at items that are out of date. Assess what you need. Repeat. Repeat and then repeat again.
Simplify beauty routines and meal preparation.
Only replace items that are finished and used often.
Get into a routine of tidying as you go along. (Such a game changer!!)
5 Simplify your time
Once I started decluttering, I found myself questioning how I spent my time. I realised, I was still chasing ‘busy’. Filling my time with mindless activities, tiring myself out, not taking any breaks to recuperate. I was still tired all of the time, prone to illness and lethargy. I have started doing the following to make space for ‘less’ in my day (At first it felt wrong and I felt guilty, but I also became more productive, have heaps more energy and have time to dream about my future. I am excited to start new projects. I have started wake up with energy, excited by what the day has to offer (after my first coffee that is)
So what can you do:
Find your inner calm. For some, this will be meditation or yoga. For others it will be a long run or a swim. For you it could be gardening or sitting in the sun. Find it and make it part of your daily/weekly schedule!
Slow down, stop multi tasking and put your phone away!
Be in the moment.
Create simple systems for grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning and bills and other essential tasks
Have a plan. Our lives can quickly fill up with mundane tasks. By having a plan you are actively deciding what is important and what you want more of and scheduling it into your day, weekends and holidays. It means that you do book that holiday, write the job application and organise to see your friends.
Rest (This may be a nap, going to bed earlier or having a lie in. It could be, time out for a cup of tea, a relaxing walk or reading a good book. It may be cancelling all your plans to have a day at home…).
…and remember all of this takes time. Practice kindness…lots and lots of kindness. Stop. Reflect. Start again!