Ultimate Guide to Minimalism: Part of our ultimate guide series.
Is a minimalist lifestyle on your radar?
I struggle with piles of clutter from time to time. My best year with minimalism was my first year at a condo where I followed a very simple rule: whenever I bought something new, I got rid of one item from my home (donating or recycling when possible).
With minimalism, I aim for something that feels right to me and my partner. While I admire the minimalist lifestyle of an ascetic monk, I know that it’s not practical for me at this moment in time and that it’s something that would make me downright miserable.
Still, there are plenty of ways to reduce clutter and wastage on a daily basis. This space you create gives you the freedom to use your time and space more purposefully.
Guide to Minimalism: Facts About Clutter
Before we continue, here are some facts about the negative effects of clutter.
Facts from Goodwill:
- We don’t use 80% of what we keep.
- Decluttering gets rid of 40% of housework in the average home.
- Half of homeowners consider their garage as the messiest place in their home.
- The average American spends a year of their life looking for misplaced or lost items.
Facts gathered by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist:
- There are close to a third of a million items in the average U.S. home. (LA Times)
- 25% of people who have two-car garages don’t park their cars inside the garage because there’s no room. (U.S. Department of Energy)
- British researchers found that the average 10-year-old owned 238 toys but played with just 12 daily. (The Telegraph)
- Some reports show that we consume double the amount of material goods as society used to do 50 years ago. (The Story of Stuff).
Grab our journaling sample worksheet inspired by Optimal Living Daily episodes! You'll get to download it in our private library 🙂
Beginner's Guide to Minimalism: How to Get Started
If you’d like quick and easy tips on how to live a more minimalist lifestyle, our list below is a great place to start.
The blog posts in this guide will give you actionable tips to declutter or downsize your home, get your family members into minimalism, and stay motivated with minimalism quotes.
We’ll also quickly go through the concept of minimalist finances.
1. Declutter Books
Decluttering books is every book lover’s nightmare!
But what was worse to me was being surrounded by books that I could let go off.
Whenever I prune my book collection (which is quite often, as I have a relentless habit to check out used or discounted books), I sit down and think about whether or not a certain book contributes to the type of life I’m living or want to live.
There are books that have been on my shelf since forever, like an Edgar Allan Poe and horror short stories anthology, while there are more recent purchases and additions that I’ve removed within a short amount of time.
Sometimes, a book turned out to be something else other than I expected. I try to donate the books I don’t want anymore to places like Goodwill, as they might be just the type of content that someone else might be looking for.
This article of ours has several tips on decluttering books. Personally, I favor the tip to constantly “reevaluate your bookshelf.”
2. Declutter Paper
Paper related stress is a real thing.
Some things that I do to keep paper from overtaking my counters and tabletops:
- I recycle and get through junk mail or weekly flyers as soon as I can, before the counter starts to look cluttered.
- I use spiral bound notebooks for activities like writing recipes down instead of printing them out on paper.
- I choose to go paperless whenever that option is available.
Learn more in our How To Declutter Paper post.
3. Declutter Toys
Research shows that clutter negatively impacts kids' daily lives. Children in more disorganized homes even have more trouble with emotional regulation.
The more clutter you have, the harder it is to maintain a tidy and relaxing environment.
Learn how to whittle down the avalanche of toys in your kids' rooms in our post on How To Declutter Toys.
You can also check out our parenting post for tips on getting your kids involved in age-appropriate decluttering and housework activities.
4. Declutter Your Wardrobe
How many times have you gotten a piece of clothing because it was too good of a deal to pass up?
The same goes for shoes, bags, belts, accessories…
A good deal is a good thing. But try to keep in it moderation so that you don't feel overwhelmed each time you look at your closet or piles of clothes on the ground.
After all, what's the point in having so many clothes if you're only going to stick to the few favorites that you wear consistently?
Our post on How to Minimize Your Wardrobe has tips on how “less is more” when it comes to your wardrobe.
5. Declutter Sentimental Items
Sentimental items are hard to let go of because of the strong memories we associate with them.
I have a small box of trinkets and knickknacks from my childhood days. It might look like a small pile of clutter, but it means a lot to me and I've made the designated space in that small box go a long way.
If you're struggling with this aspect of your possessions, our post on How to Declutter Sentimental Items shows you some ways to go about it.
6. How to Get Your Family Interested in Minimalism
It isn't much fun if you're the only one in your family who's interested in minimalism. It's doubly frustrating if you're the one cleaning up after others' messes.
While you don't want to incessantly nag your family, you do want to communicate the benefits of minimalism and why it's important to you. If your family has an interest in the environment, reducing wastage is a great way to make minimalism a team effort.
Learn more in our post on Raising a Minimalist Family.
7. Minimize When Moving
Moving can be a blessing or a curse. If you have lots of stuff, it's scary to think about how you're going to organize things and what you're going to take with you.
The silver lining is that you have this chance to decide what's most important to bring into your new home, and what you can live without.
Our article, How Do I Minimize when Moving?, explains how to take a minimalist approach when you're moving.
8. Minimalist Finances
What can minimalism do for your finances? A lot.
Being able to live on less means that you literally need less money to sustain your lifestyle. This is where budgeting comes in. You need to know where all of your money is going (debt, savings, retirement account, bills, basic necessities, food, etc.), so that you have better control over your finances.
In Episode 61, Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists breaks down what minimalist finances and budgeting looks like.
These two episodes cover the advantages of living frugally and how financial peace comes from owning less:
- Living Frugally and Loving It by Tynan on Frugal Life (OFD Episode 1307)
- A Minimalist and Money by J. Money (OFD Episode 281)
9. Minimalism Quotes
If you need a motivational boost, check out these minimalism quotes featuring content from the bloggers and minimalism experts featured on our podcast.
Our Pinterest board has a growing collection of minimalism quotes as well.
10. Free Course on Minimalism
We’re ending this guide to minimalism post with a link to our free decluttering email course. Each day has a small action step you can take for immediate results.
You can also sign up in the box below. Feel free to share your before and after pictures on our Instagram or FB group.
Here's to living a happier, lighter, and more intrinsically fulfilling life!