How to Adopt a Minimalist Lifestyle (Even if You Love Stuff)
When you think of the word minimalism, what crosses your mind?
I asked this question on Instagram Stories the other day. Here were your answers!
- Keeping the essentials and nothing more
- Getting rid of items you no longer need
- Eliminating clutter, both visual and mental
- Less stuff in all areas of life
- Removing things that don’t bring you joy
These are good…and true.
Sadly, I find most people resist minimalism because they can’t wrap their head around “having less.” Scarcity and deprivation seem like synonyms to minimalism. They tend to equate minimalism with blank walls, white IKEA furniture, and decluttering everything in your home down to practically nothing.
Sometimes minimalists even live in an RV! Like me. 😉
But, while minimalism could be all that, this mindset misses the point. Minimalism is not only about “having less.”
It’s so much more than that.
The True Definition of Minimalism
Years ago, I was listening to an interesting podcast about minimal living (you know how much I love podcasts!), and for the first time ever, I heard a definition of minimalism that I could fully stand behind.
Minimalism is being fully aware of what you have, why you have it, and making sure that everything you own serves a purpose.
I LOVE THAT.
No Ikea necessary!
- Your kids can still have toys.
- You can love your big gallery wall.
- You can even hang onto sentimental items.
But when you’re a minimalist, you don’t fall victim to consumerism anymore. Because you’re more aware of which items truly add value to your life.
What to Expect When You Adopt this Lifestyle
If you’re a thrifty gal like me, it’s easy to hang onto items because you don’t want to see them go to waste.
- What if you might want to read that book again?
- What if you might use that deviled egg platter more than once a year?
- What if you might wear that top that has gone out of style and is a color you hate?
And yet, when you do get rid of junk you don’t need, clear out your drawers of items you’ll never look at again, and purge your closets until everything you own is something you truly love, you’ll never believe how refreshing it feels.
Like you’re not weighed down anymore by stuff that doesn’t matter. And once you start living with less stuff, you won’t want more as much.
Contentment is an amazing thing.
How to Become a Minimalist: Practical Ways to Incorporate Minimalism into Your Life
1. Clear your countertops.
The easiest way to start a minimalistic lifestyle is to clear flat surfaces of things that don’t belong.
Transfer everything to a bin or basket if you don’t have time to sort everything right now, then schedule time on your calendar to sort through what’s inside.
Keep countertops clear by doing a 10-minute tidy every day (because we all know they don’t stay that way!). I’ve made this part of my evening routine!
2. Declutter initially and regularly.
You can follow a detailed room-by-room plan to declutter your entire home. Or you can take a less strict (and less overwhelming!) approach by walking through your home and decluttering as you go.
Don’t overthink this step! Just grab what you don’t use or love and stash it in a box to donate. Also, keep this box handy (I have one in my closet!) for future sweeps when you come across items you don’t need anymore. You’ll always have a spot to put them!
Decluttering is, of course, a huge part of minimalistic living. But it’s not the only part.
3. Think before you buy.
Even if an item is a good deal (hello, Target Dollar Spot!), that doesn’t mean it needs to come home with you. Our clutter woes would be solved if we pressed pause before adding an item to our cart.
So if you want to be a minimalist, you need to cut off clutter at its source.
- Do I really want/need this item?
- WHY am I buying it?
- How much time and energy will this require me to maintain it?
- Will this serve me in some way or just add clutter to my life?
Quickly run through these questions before you buy an item, and before you know it intentional purchases will make a profound difference in your home (and your budget!).
4. Choose quality over quantity.
When you do buy something, you don’t have to grab the cheapest option available. Instead, practice intentional spending—make sure that what you spend lines up with your priorities—and go for quality items you actually care about.
For me, I could care less about buying brand-name pain reliever, sticky flags, or sugar. But I spend quite a bit of money on running and hiking shoes because staying active in gear that lasts a long time (and supports my body) is important to me.
Psst…here are six more items I buy brand name.
5. Add margin to your calendar. Minimalism doesn’t just affect the things you own. It affects your schedule too. Leave room in your calendar to breathe! Not just for your family, but also for yourself.
Days fill up fast, which is why I use time-blocking to block out sections of my day for important work. Once my hours are time-blocked, I very rarely shift them around.
I also limit the amount of social activities I say YES to. This is easier when we travel (we don’t see a lot of people!), but when we are stationary around family, every night of the week can fill up with something if I let it!
Maybe you love social activities. But if you are exhausted by them, limit them for your sanity.
If you’re ready to embrace the real version of minimalism (not just the “have less” version!), here are some books you’ll want to read and accounts to follow.
- The Minimalist Way by Erica Layne
- Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith
- Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
Own Your Own Journey
Regardless of where you are in your own minimalism journey, I hope you feel relieved knowing you don’t have to throw away it all to become a minimalist! But also I hope you take away a little food for thought too.
There’s probably a few drawers that could use cleaning out, a few closets that could look a little less stuffed. I want you to love everything in your home, not just hang onto it because it’s too hard to part with.
It’s not about having a certain number of things but about being intentional with what you’re keeping.
What are your thoughts on minimalism?
Would you call yourself a die-hard minimalist or do you take a more balanced approach?
Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.
Kaylyn, I have been “perusing” your blog… read a little of your history. Love the tattoo idea–but more so that you are breaking out of the box of being a people-pleaser, which inevitably leaves us drained emotionally. Your writing has been a blessing to me today. Enjoyed this blog on minimalism….I’m getting there. 🙂
Thank you for your encouraging words, they mean so much to me!
Once you start enjoying the freedom of living with less, it gets so much easier to leave all those bargain items on the store shelf for someone else!
Another great resource is Minimal-ish Starts Here by Diana Rene. It aligns perfectly with your definition of minimalism. She teaches not only how to achieve minimalism, but habits to help maintain it. I’m still at the beginning of the course, but really enjoying it.
I definitely agree! Thanks for the recommendation 🙂