40+ Best Tips on How to Become a Minimalist, According to Real Life Minimalists

According to Oxford Dictionary, a minimalist is one who advocates and practices minimalism. Do you want to become a minimalist?

We have collected over 40 useful tips that can easily start your journey towards a minimalist lifestyle.

John Monte

John Monte

Interior Designer, Elegant Simplicity

Identify what matters most

When you have too much stuff on your mind, you’re always distracted. You’re never able to spend time on the things that matter most to you.

Remove the excess and organize the rest

De-clutter regularly by asking these three questions:

  • Do I use it?
  • Do I love it?
  • Do I need it?

If the item doesn’t fit into one of these categories, then it’s excess or can be donated for others to use and cherish, or if it’s torn then, trashed.

Once you’ve de-cluttered, organize what is left so you’ll always know exactly where to go when you need something.

Have gratitude

Having a sense of appreciation for everything you already have or own in life is incredibly important to becoming a minimalist. You’re looking at the people and the things you surround yourself with – with a perspective of how good they are instead of why you need to buy something new. This controls the influx of stuff into your home.

Caitlin Fisher

Caitlin Fisher

Owner, Born Again Minimalist

Minimalism doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach

You define what minimalism means to you. You don’t have to pare down your belongings to one hundred things, sell your car, only have black and white decor, etc. I’m a minimalist with mismatched furniture and bright decor and art everywhere. But I’m still a minimalist because I carefully choose what stays in my space.

There’s a vast difference between a minimalist design aesthetic and a minimalist lifestyle. Lifestyle minimalism is about boundaries and saying no to the things you don’t need or want in your life so that you have more space, time, and energy for the things you do enjoy.

Try reading a few different books by minimalists and see what resonates for you:

You don’t have to apply a single person’s formula to your own life and try to make a perfect fit, because your life is different and has different needs. Marie Kondo and Dana K. White helped me form my sense of minimalism because I understood I could keep the things that were “frivolous” as long as they had a place that made sense in my home.

Related: Best Books on Minimalism and Simple Living

Anna Liszka

Anna Liszka

Blogger, Anja Home

First, start with something actionable like de-cluttering your wardrobe because nothing happens unless you make it happen

Then, you can create simple rules make a minimalist journey lot easier, like:

  • I only buy a new T-shirt after I get rid of the old one
  • I only buy four makeup items a month including restocks
  • I won’t buy any clothes within the next three months

Write down anything you’re tempted to buy in a notebook

Close it and then wait 30 days. After a month, open this page and ask yourself if you still want to get it.

Also, do the hanger trick. Turn all your hangers backward. After you wear an article of particular clothing, flip the hanger. Every six months, check which clothes you haven’t worn and donate them.

Get thrifty. It’s a great trick, especially for events like parties, weddings, etc. Instead of buying a new dress (which you probably wear only once), borrow clothes.

Being a minimalist also means to live a more intentional life. Start a bullet journal, take time for yourself, learn to limit social media, and be in the present.

Robert Ingram

Robert Ingram

Minimalist | Creativity Coach | Real Estate Photographer

Realize it’s all in your head

Minimalism starts in the mind. Without making a conscious choice, you’ll never become a minimalist. Meditation helps with this because it teaches you to be focused on one thing and to be observant without being judgemental.

That’ll be monumental in your journey to becoming a minimalist because you’ll be asking yourself, “what do I really need?” That answer comes from deep within you.

If you want to have a minimalist experience that’ll also help you figure out what’s important to you, try an isolation tank session.

Float therapy is the act of utilizing a “flotation tank,” also known as a “sensory deprivation chamber.” It is most often used as a method for relaxation and to boost creativity. It can allow one to engage in a deep meditative state, regardless of meditation experience.

Tunnel vision

Think about your primary goals and ask yourself, “How bad do I want this?”

Knowing the goals that are most important to you will make your journey to becoming a minimalist a lot easier. It’ll help you move forward as you realize that all the other things in your life that aren’t essential and are slowing you down.

Visualize yourself living your ideal life as a minimalist

See yourself living your best life as a minimalist, whatever that looks like to you. While you’re living this life, you’ll have to say no to a lot of things because you’re doing the best things for you.

For instance, in your ideal life, you may have the funds to buy a new car, but instead, you use that money to help create that nonprofit organization for homeless youth that you’ve always dreamed about since you were 12.

Realize living as a minimalist can be highly profitable

While you’re cleaning everything out, you can sell those items to make a quick $3,000-$5,000. Plus, you’ll be saving money from not buying things that you don’t need, and you’ll be saving time by not spending it on things that don’t matter.

This could really be life-changing because most people are just $6,000 in startup capital away from leaping jobs or occupations they’re passionate about (if they’re not already doing what they love).

I got into minimalism because of a book called Sell Your Crap by Adam Baker. It talked about how you can earn extra cash by selling all of the things you don’t need. I found the book because, at the time, I was broke and needed to make some money.

His whole philosophy was that once you start getting that extra cash in your pocket and you start using it only on the things you are genuinely passionate about, you will have a shift.

I ended up selling $3,300 worth of my things (with the help of some other guides like How To Sell on Craigslist: Full Guide from Prep to Purchase), and once I was living the minimalist lifestyle, I started coming up with my ideas about minimalism.

Get rid of social media

Every time I think of social media, I remember that Tyler Durden quote, “We buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like… the things end up owning you.” Similarly, people post on Facebook to get like from people they don’t really like, and then they end up becoming addicted to social media.

Scientists have found that hearing the notification noise triggers dopamine in some people’s minds. Some of the original programmers for Facebook have confirmed this saying that the scrolling feature of your newsfeed was meant to simulate the way a slot machine operates.

If you’re operating a business where social media is necessary, I would suggest having a social media person who does all of your posting and responses for you.

If that’s too expensive, you can use a service like Hootsuite or a buffer, which is an outside platform where you can create content and schedule it to be posted automatically without having to ever go to Facebook or Instagram.

A third option would be to download a chrome extension that blocks your newsfeed. This has been working great for me because it allows me to log in and post for my business without getting distracted by having ten posts thrown in my face when I open Facebook.

Cut people off

It’s sad to say this, but some of the people that you think care about you don’t. Hardship will help you figure this out real quick. Too many people subscribe to the sunk cost fallacy, where they feel like they need to get something out of the time that they spent with someone.

No, if that person isn’t helping to move you towards your goals, they’re taking you away from them. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t about, “what have you done for me lately,” because one of your overall life goals should be about having some healthy relationships.

However, you know certain people who don’t contribute to your life at all and may even be pulling you in the wrong direction. It’s not your job to “save” them. Cut them off.

Clear out your phone

This can be a bit similar to cutting people off, but also a little different, because we have our phones with us 24/7.

Start by looking at your home screen and clearing out any apps you don’t need. If your home screen has 15 apps on it, every time you look at the screen, you’re being pulled 15 different directions. You don’t even realize it.

You could be messaging a business partner, but then see the Candy Crush icon and be reminded that you have that bonus that expires at the end of the week. After sending the message, you go back to work, but the seed was already planted. Two hours later, you find yourself playing Candy Crush for an hour instead of working.

This clearing applies to all other parts of your phone (apps, photos, games, etc.), especially your contacts.

Get an ad blocker

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we don’t need.” – Tyler Durden

About four months ago, I was with a friend and said the infamous Tai Lopez quote, “You know what’s better than this Lamborghini,” and he just stared at me blank-faced. “You don’t know Tai Lopez, the internet marketer who pops up before every YouTube video with his Lamborghini?”, I exclaimed.

He told me that he hadn’t seen an ad in 10 years. He explained the different ad blockers he’d been using for the last ten years. It stuck with me when he said, “I take ads as a personal attack, think about the crap they put in your mind that you’re not consenting to.”

Wow. I immediately downloaded the Brave Browser and have been ad-free ever since. Advertising is one of the main enemies of a minimalist, and it’s so effective. Think about it. They still have ads on TV for CDs.

CDs! Who buys CDs anymore? Somebody is buying them though, because they wouldn’t be spending thousands of dollars on advertising if it was wasn’t working.

Write your goals daily

Keep a journal about your experiences and write your minimalist goals down every day. People who write down their goals are exponentially more successful than those who don’t.

Kaitlin Moose

Kaitlin Moose

Actor and Filmmaker

Get creative and rethink what you need

I’m an actor in Los Angeles, and rent is expensive, so I have a studio apartment like many of my fellow creatives in the city. This means you only have so much space, and usually, it’s all taken up by a bed. After doing some research, I came up with a creative solution to use a Japanese futon instead of a traditional bed.

Now I have a $100 bed that I can roll up and stick in the closet when I have guests over, which maximizes the space. Plus, it’s been shown to help alignment and relieve back pain, which has been my experience as well.

It’s admittedly a little on the strange end. Still, it fits my current lifestyle. Mobility is a higher priority, and it certainly gives you an idea of significant items in your life that you can rethink whether you really need them or you’ve just been told you have to have them.

Rent vs. own (or use the library of life!)

There’s a section in Tony Robbin’s bestseller MONEY Master The Game that changed my mindset on how many things I needed to own. He asks the audience at one of his seminars what is the price of their dream lifestyle, and one member says he would need $1 billion.

His billionaire lifestyle dream included owning his private jet and his private island, but Tony walks him through the price difference of renting vs. owning.

They look up how he could charter the private jet he would need for him and his family at $2,500/hour as opposed to buying a Gulfstream at $65 million or even a used plane at $10 million, which is not also covering fuel, maintenance, and crew costs.

Then they do the same for the private island and find how much cheaper renting an entire resort, including staff for a vacation, would be than buying and maintaining your own year-round. That might come in handy for people looking to buy a beach house – it all truly depends on how often you’re going to be using the thing in question. But there are tons of rental sites for everything from home equipment to film production to entertainment.

In my life, I use this principle for much smaller items: books and movies. As much as I’d love a Beauty and the Beast library of my own, I started going to the library to rent my books.

Most people think I’m crazy, but I started bringing library DVDs to movie nights, and one friend finally commented that they might need to rethink this whole library card thing if there’s a free Blockbuster inside each one! The library is an excellent resource, plus your taxes are already paying for it. Might as well use it!

Organize items so you can see them

Like many minimalists, I started by following the trend of Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Most people are familiar with its most famous concept of picking up each item you own and seeing what “sparks joy.”

However, my favorite takeaway is to take those items that remain and organize them in a way so that you can see each piece at all times and know what you have.

For example, the KonMari folding technique allows my drawers to be beautiful clean rainbows with each shirt standing up vertically where I can see it, as opposed to hiding on top of one another and rummaging through to find the shirt I want.

Organizing your drawers, cabinets, and spaces with this principle in mind helps you see everything you own and not fall into a clutter trap. I even started packing this way and find that it saves space, helps avoid wrinkles, and makes things easy to grab and go!

Tara Caguiat

Tara Caguiat

Freelance Writer and Yoga Teacher, She Needs Less

Becoming a minimalist doesn’t have to be as extreme as fitting all your possessions in a cardboard box.

Becoming a minimalist means removing everything that does not add value to your life

This entails that you’ll have more room, time, and mental capacity for the things that do. Minimalism often comes through in the form of minimizing your possessions because owning a lot of stuff is exhausting—plain and simple.

The following are a few simple tips on how to become a minimalist and transform your life from one of quantity to quality.

  • Identify the things that add actual value to your life and what you need to do to maximize those things
  • Stop buying new stuff for a set amount of time (three months, six months, one year)
  • Clean out your closet and home and get rid of anything you do not use
  • Anytime you buy something new, get rid of at least one thing

Minimizing with kids

For grown adults, the decision to reduce can be easy- even exciting. When it comes to our kids, however, we have to take quite a pause. Is it fair to ask, have them get rid of their “stuff” and live a more minimal life?

Will they understand why we want to downsize? Will they feel as if they’re being punished for some unknown offense? Will they be irreparably damaged due to the loss of Barbies Dream Beach House, or the Kid-Sized Jeep Renegade?

In 2014, we decided to sell everything and live full time in an RV, traveling, and exploring the US as a family. Our kids were 4 and 5 at the time, so the decision didn’t come easily. All of the questions above and many more jumped into our heads as we pondered the change.

We knew we needed to do this now, but we also needed to make it palatable and acceptable to our kids.

Bring them into the decision

The first thing we did was to bring the kids into the decision. That way, we could discuss the process with them, showing them what they could expect along the way. We always emphasized experiences vs. stuff.

For us, there were many exciting things that this new life could offer, so looking online at the National Parks, awesome beaches, historical sites, helped to get them excited. Even if the decision didn’t include travel, there are many fun activities to be found in a given location.

Our favorite local activities are parks (for playgrounds and hiking), libraries, and pizza. Depending on where you are, these things are pretty much always available. We look for local sporting events and weekend activities that we can attend. Trips to local theaters, museums, science centers can replace lawn mowing and cleaning.

Let them earn their way

Another thing we did was to let them be a part of the sales we did to get rid of our stuff. The things that they sold put money into a kitty that they could use to buy other things that they would want to have while traveling like electronics, car games, hiking shoes, camping stuff, etc.

Getting into some new gear got them excited about making the change.

Listen to them

Kids always find a way to let you know what is on their minds, so listen. When you’re explaining the changes to them and hyping all of the positives, your kids may not speak up right away. As you go through the process, the cracks will emerge.

Make sure to be listening so that you can intercept their concerns early and help get them through the difficult periods.

Lauren Tingley

Lauren Tingley

Blogger, Simply Well-Balanced

Start small

Like many others, I was inspired to explore minimalism just over four years ago after reading a very popular book on decluttering: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Upon finishing the book, I was sure that the decluttering strategies Kondo gave were the answer to my feelings of overwhelm and frustration when it came to the never-ending struggle to keep my house clean.

Unfortunately, I struggled with her methods right from the start. Specifically, the recommendation of “taking everything out.” As a busy, full-time working mom with young children, I didn’t have enough time to gather, sort, and organize my clutter without being repeatedly interrupted.

It was a lot of work, and it was difficult to make progress. Initially, I felt defeated and thought maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a minimalist. And I have heard from hundreds of others who felt the same way.

However, I tend to be stubborn, and I decided that there had to be a way for me to be successful.

Taking inspiration from Dave Ramsey, a financial guru who has a popular Debt Snowball Method that helps people pay down debt, I decided to start small and build from there. This minimalist strategy allows you to have instant gratification in the form of quick wins and visible progress.

These two things will keep you motivated to move forward and continue to declutter more and more of your belongings. Now, I teach others this method and encourage them to get started with just 20 items to kick start their minimalist journey.

I also encourage others interested in the benefits of minimalism to create your version of minimalism that works best for your lifestyle.

There are people out there that will say, “you aren’t a minimalist until you only have X, Y, and Z,” but that isn’t true. You can define what minimalism is for you and your family, and the best way to get started is to live with less than you currently have.

Jessica Wood

Jessica Wood

Founder and Creative Director, Discourse NYC

As a minimalism enthusiast myself, I have a few amazing tips to help embrace your inner minimalist. Most importantly, minimalism is about reducing waste and minimizing your footprint. It’s a lifestyle that helps the environment and creates a more peaceful existence by keeping your living space clutter-free.

Be conscious of your wasteful habits

Becoming a minimalist isn’t hard. It just requires thinking before purchasing and becoming aware of your wasteful habits, no matter how small they may seem. Purchase high-quality products that will withstand the test of time, and focus on items that you’ll get a lot of use out of.

It’s okay to have special items in your closet, but strive to have more staple pieces in your wardrobe than trendy things that may go out of style quickly.

Create a list of your “dream minimalist closet”

Complete this with your absolute must-keeps and donate items you never wear. Consider the effects of packaging. Avoid making many online purchases to prevent excessive single-use plastic packaging from piling up around your apartment.

Andrea Travillian

Andrea Travillian

Life Coach

I love being a minimalist, and I can’t think with too much clutter, so keeping things simple help. However, it’s still easy for things to get out of hand. Here area couple of things I do to help:

Purge at least one space every two weeks

This helps things from getting cluttered. For me, space can be as simple as a drawer or closet. I decide if I need everything in it. Then determine if I can reorganize the space for better use.

Before I buy anything, it goes on a list for at least a couple days

This allows me to avoid emotional or in the moment purchases. Thus I only bring into the space stuff that I genuinely want.

Kait Schulhof

Kait Schulhof

Writer, A Clean Bee

Stop buying stuff, if it can be borrowed or rented

The best tactic for keeping “stuff” to a minimum in my house is to stop buying it. If an item can be borrowed or rented (think library books, camping gear, power tools, formal wear, baby gear, and more), we use that option first.

If we can’t find a way to borrow or rent what we need, we try our best to buy second hand. It is no secret that shopping second hand is a budget and eco-friendly alternative to buying new. What is talked about less is how low-cost second-hand purchases are also very quickly re-donated or re-sold with little to no guilt.

A lot of folks hang on to items that they no longer want or need simply because they paid a lot of money for them. They feel an obligation to “get their money’s worth” out of the item before passing it on. In my experience, shopping second hand eliminates this feeling for me, making things easy to let go of when I no longer have a use for them.

Pablo Solomon

Pablo Solomon

Award-winning Designer

Be true to yourself

Minimalism has its roots in Zen philosophy and Japanese Design. In America, the Shakers lived minimalist lives and created minimalist furniture. In the early 20th century, the modernists were basing their designs on minimalist principles.

Study the history of minimalism. Some of the philosophical arguments may appeal to you. Much of the minimalist outlook is especially helpful in countering the current materialism, chaos, and social clutter.

Also, minimalism promotes simplifying life both in your mind and in your surroundings. It promotes your growth and your dwelling being in harmony with Nature and your natural setting.

On a strict design level, minimalism is grounded in horizontality, which connects you to the earth as opposed to vertical Design, which removes your connection. This is true for both structure and décor.

So in general, becoming a minimalist in your mind and spirit will guide you into your design elements. On the other hand, living in a minimalist setting will reinforce your life as a minimalist.

Be true to yourself. If you enjoy a lifestyle other than minimalist, admit it, and live that life. One can be a good person in any design setting. And one can have a rotten soul sitting in a tea garden.

Georgina Caro

Georgina Caro

Creator and Blogger, Gypsy Soul

Surround yourself with things that make you truly happy

Before you begin trying to live a more minimalist lifestyle, you first have to get rid of anything that no longer serves you. That can be anything from physical clutter in your home to old relationships that no longer fit with your values.

A minimalist lifestyle aims to only surround yourself with things that genuinely make you happy. It’s about quality rather than quantity.

Spend some time reassessing your life. Think about what currently makes you happy, and what doesn’t? What changes would you like to make? Then start to formulate a plan to put your new lifestyle into action.

Living a minimalist lifestyle is not something that you can achieve overnight; it’s going to take time and effort on your part. But as you begin to make changes, you will start to notice the positive effect a minimalist lifestyle can bring.

Adriana Dikih

Adriana Dikih

Vegan Food and Wellness Blogger | Head of Content, Willamette Transplant

Embrace the journey

To begin adopting principles and philosophies of minimalism, you need to be at peace with where you are and slowly start your journey towards minimalism.

As this movement has grown in popularity and practice over the last few years, it has attracted many individuals through smooth, calming visuals and clutter-free approachable spaces. When I began my journey, I was reading books and following influencers who classified themselves as minimalists.

I then realized it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap―craving and desiring an organized, minimalistic space, and jumping into executing the change 100%, full steam ahead. That isn’t minimalism.

After an initial bout of going gung-ho and manically reorganizing my possessions with haste, I learned to take pride and enjoy the small changes and measures I incorporated into my lifestyle and home.

Minimalism truly can become an immersive facet of your routine, life, relationships, and psyche, and the process of pruning and growing is vital to experience minimalism successfully!

Here’s an example: instead of cleaning and organizing your entire kitchen, you can start with your cooking utensil drawer. Think about each item present, when and how you use it, and donate or gift those utensils you don’t need or want.

As you cook and prepare meals in your home over the next few weeks, you can embrace that one small change you made and feel the shift of opening your kitchen drawer to find the exact spatula you are looking for, exactly when you need it!

Minimalism changes your physical space and mental space. Rejoice in the journey to discover how a minimalist approach can benefit and complement your life.

Morten Storgaard

Morten Storgaard

Founder, GoDownsize.com

Live like a light-traveler

The wardrobe is typically one of the places we tend to stack up a ton of items we rarely need. I recommend cutting out your wardrobe for a month and only use the clothes you can fit in a piece of hand luggage.

You don’t need to go traveling to try this out. Just take whatever you would bring on a more extended trip (if you had to) and squeeze all that into a piece of hand luggage or a box.

Typically it will quickly become clear which items you prefer to use and which ones you can quickly get rid of after taking this simple little challenge.

Bri Bell

Bri Bell

Minimalist and Money Saving Expert, Frugal Minimalist Kitchen

Start with gratitude

A lot of people see minimalism as a visual, external state of being. Clean lines, few possessions, open and uncluttered spaces. Being grateful for what we have is the basic form of minimalism. When we practice gratitude for what we have, we become content and, therefore, don’t feel the need for more.

To truly be a minimalist, it needs to come from within.

If we start by getting rid of stuff without first working on the minimalist mindset, it can trigger a rebound effect where you get more stuff to fill the perceived void. You can de-clutter and sell everything you own, but the excess is going to come right back if you’re not in the right mindset to be a minimalist.

Liana Pavane

Liana Pavene

Digital Wellness Expert and Founder, TTYL

Becoming a digital minimalist doesn’t mean you can’t use social media, indulge in a reality TV show, or play video games.

Becoming a digital minimalist is a lifestyle choice that will lead you to find more space in your life to incorporate creativity.

In a world full of constant distractions, it’s difficult to shut out the noise to focus on ourselves. We tend to find comfort in rush hours and discomfort in the silence of our own company.

Look inward to yourself

To become a digital minimalist, we must understand why we are avoiding spending time with ourselves or isolating ourselves from society. We use technology as an emotional crutch and a distraction from our thoughts and feelings.

As a digital wellness expert, my five tips for becoming a digital minimalist and incorporating more play into your daily routine are recognition, awareness, alteration, implementation, and reflection.

Mitch Glass

Mitch Glass

Travel Blogger, Project Untethered

Go traveling for a long time

The easiest way to become a minimalist and cut the psychological connection you have with your possessions is to go traveling for an extended period. At a certain point, you get used to the simplicity of living out of a backpack, and your brain resets.

Living with the bare necessities becomes your new normal. You start to realize how crazy it is to jam your life full of meaningless stuff. This is precisely what happened to me during a year-long backpacking trip through South America.

When I got home, I realized there were boxes upon boxes of stuff I didn’t even remember I owned. Before I left on my trip, this was the stuff I couldn’t bear to get rid of.

After my trip, I couldn’t bear to look at it—everything had to go!

Thena Franssen

Thena Franssen

Blogger, HodgePodge Hippie

Becoming a minimalist isn’t a movement, but more of a conscious mind-frame that everyone involved needs to be on board with.

The simple way to start is to de-clutter your mind of all the thoughts that are weighing you down. Once you’re able to do that and move forward with a positive look at your minimalist future lifestyle, you can quickly start to get rid of all the physical clutter as well.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly your possessions disappear once you categorize them that way.

Clearing your mental clutter and your physical clutter are the first steps to becoming a minimalist. After that, you then have the chance to relearn who you are and find out truly what is important to you.

Timothy Carlson

Timothy Carlson

Blogger and Writer, Hike The Planet

Go on a hike

It can be any trail, but the longer it is, the better. Find a trail near you by looking on a map, or reading a local hiking guide. The important thing is that you get outside and go for a hike.

Hiking, in my opinion, is inherently minimalist. There is no better way to teach yourself the core tenets of minimalism than when everything you need is tucked away in a backpack. Hikers must strike a balance-hike with too much stuff, and you’ll overexert yourself.

Hike with too little, and you may find yourself unprepared for adverse situations. It has taught me how to weave a needle around the essential items that I need, and the ones that I don’t. Instead, I focus on the path ahead of me and not what I have in my backpack. At large, my hiking habits have influenced my journey into minimalism.

You don’t need a lot to go hiking. A comfortable pair of shoes, plenty of water, snacks, a map, a First Aid kit, and a reliable light source should see you through your trial. Maybe an extra sweater or jacket, just in case it gets cold. As you gain more experience, you can add or remove items as you see fit.

On nearly all fronts, hiking is excellent for you. Your fitness and health improve, and immersing yourself in nature have been proven to boost your mood. By taking a page from the great outdoors, aspiring minimalists can better come to understand the essentials needed to not only survive but thrive.

Your hiking kit, when you think about it, is a bare-bone version of everything that you use daily. If you need to use something on a hike, the chances are that you often use a similar item when you’re not out walking in the wilderness.

Similarly, if you don’t need it on the trail, then it’s probably not essential to you when you’re at work or hanging around your apartment. In this way, hiking puts a great many things into a minimalist perspective.

I’m not saying that minimalist hikers must forsake all material trappings, and live in a tent out in the woods. I do not. I still love indoor plumbing, WiFi, and coffee maker. Instead, by detaching yourself from modern comforts for a few hours (or days), we can learn to be more mindful about our relationship to excess and consumerism in everyday life.

Geneva Bell

Geneva Bell

Minimalist and Digital Nomad

Trying to become a minimalist is like trying to start a diet. Your efforts will undoubtedly fail if you can’t get those closest to you on board. This doesn’t mean that they need to become minimalists with you, but they need to respect your decision to become one, and they need to support that.

Gift-giving is a part of many people’s love language, and they will often buy you things for no special occasion. This happens more often than we realize.

Pay attention, and you’ll notice people buying you souvenirs when they’re on vacation, or your mom buying you a pepper grinder simply because she got herself one. These little things add up, and they become clutter in your home.

No more receiving of gifts

So your first order of business is to let them know that you’re becoming a minimalist, and that means no more receiving gifts. Sound extreme? Trust me when I tell you that it’s an uncomfortable situation having to tell your aunt that you can’t accept that beautiful cashmere sweater she surprised you with after searching high and low to find the perfect one, especially for you. Don’t wait, tell them now.

The second order of business is wrapping your mind around that fact—no more gifts. At least not physical gifts. Minimalists don’t need a house full of stuff. If you don’t think you’ll be content with just a few necessary pieces of clothing and other essentials, then you might want to do a self-evaluation because this may not be for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What minimalism looks like?

Minimalism is a design and lifestyle concept that emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and the use of fewer elements. This approach began as an art movement in the 1960s and has expanded to influence various aspects of our lives, from architecture to fashion to home decor. 

Here’s a rundown of what minimalism looks like in different contexts:

Architecture: Emphasizes clean lines, simple forms, and unadorned surfaces for a spacious, serene atmosphere.

Interior Design: Focuses on functionality and purpose, using limited colors and streamlined furniture for a calming, uncluttered space.

Fashion: Prioritizes timeless, versatile, and high-quality clothing in neutral colors for a sustainable and stress-free wardrobe.

Art: Utilizes geometric shapes and clean lines to reduce artwork to essential elements, inviting personal interpretation.

Lifestyle: Simplifies possessions, routines, and priorities to foster mindfulness, reduce stress, and improve well-being.

Why should I consider a minimalist lifestyle?

There are several reasons to consider adopting a minimalist lifestyle, as it can offer various benefits for your well-being, finances, and the environment. Here are some compelling reasons to give minimalism a try:

Reduced stress and anxiety: By decluttering your surroundings and simplifying your routines, you can create a more peaceful environment, which can help reduce stress and anxiety levels.

Improved focus and productivity: Minimalism encourages eliminating distractions and prioritizing what’s truly important. This can lead to increased focus and productivity in both your personal and professional life.

Better decision-making: Having fewer possessions and commitments can make it easier to make decisions, as there’s less mental clutter to navigate.

Financial freedom: Embracing minimalism often means prioritizing experiences over material possessions, which can lead to reduced spending and increased savings. This can contribute to financial freedom and help you achieve your financial goals.

Environmental impact: By consuming less and choosing quality over quantity, you’re not only saving money but also reducing your environmental footprint. Minimalism promotes sustainability and conscious consumption.

More time and energy: A minimalist lifestyle can free up time and energy that would otherwise be spent on managing possessions or maintaining a cluttered home. This extra time can be spent on hobbies, relationships, or personal growth.

Increased appreciation: Minimalism encourages you to focus on the essential aspects of your life, allowing you to appreciate what you have and find more joy and satisfaction in your daily experiences.

Can everyone be a minimalist?

While anyone can apply the principles of minimalism, the extent to which someone embraces minimalism may vary depending on individual preferences, circumstances, and cultural factors. Minimalism is a flexible concept, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

It’s essential to remember that minimalism is not about strict rules or deprivation; rather, it’s about being intentional with your choices and focusing on what genuinely adds value to your life. In this sense, everyone can incorporate some aspects of minimalism into their lives, tailoring the approach to suit their unique needs and priorities.

For some people, minimalism might mean decluttering their homes and adopting a capsule wardrobe. For others, it could involve simplifying their daily routines or being more mindful of their consumption habits.

What are the disadvantages of minimalism?

While minimalism offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to acknowledge that it may not be the perfect fit for everyone and that there can be some potential disadvantages:

Perception of austerity: Minimalism can sometimes be perceived as overly restrictive or austere, which may not align with everyone’s tastes or preferences. Some individuals might feel that a minimalist environment lacks warmth, personality, or comfort.

Initial effort: Decluttering and simplifying can be time-consuming and emotionally challenging, especially when it involves parting with sentimental or valuable items. It may require significant effort and determination to transition to a minimalist lifestyle.

Social pressure: Adopting minimalism might lead to feelings of isolation or judgment from friends or family who doesn’t understand or appreciate your choice. It may require patience and open communication to navigate these social challenges.

Limited options: Having fewer possessions or a pared-down wardrobe may result in limited options or increased repetition. For some, this simplicity is liberating, but others may find it monotonous or uninspiring.

One-size-fits-all approach: People’s needs and preferences differ, and what works for one person might not work for another. Adopting a rigid minimalist approach without considering individual circumstances can lead to dissatisfaction or impractical outcomes.

How many items should a minimalist have?

There’s no specific number of items that a minimalist “should” have, as minimalism is a personal and flexible concept that varies from person to person. The key to minimalism is not adhering to a strict item count but rather focusing on intentionality and surrounding yourself with items that genuinely add value to your life.

For some, having a certain number of items may provide a helpful guideline or goal to work towards. One well-known example is the “100 Thing Challenge,” in which individuals aim to limit their personal possessions to 100 items. However, this is just one approach and may not be suitable or practical for everyone.

Instead of focusing on a specific number, consider evaluating each item you own based on its utility, emotional value, and overall contribution to your life. Keep the things that serve a purpose or bring you joy, and let go of items that no longer serve or hold you back.

What’s the best approach to decluttering my belongings?

One effective decluttering method is the KonMari Method, developed by Japanese organizing consultant and author Marie Kondo. The method focuses on decluttering and organizing belongings based on what “sparks joy” and being intentional with the items you choose to keep.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using the KonMari Method for decluttering:

Commit to the process: Make a conscious decision to declutter and tidy your space, and dedicate time to complete the process.

Visualize your ideal lifestyle: Think about the lifestyle you want to lead and how your living space should reflect that vision. This will help you decide which items to keep and which to let go of.

Declutter by category, not by location: Instead of tackling one room at a time, the KonMari Method suggests decluttering by category. Start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, miscellaneous items (komono), and finally sentimental items.

Gather all items in a category: Collect every item in the current category from all areas of your home, and place them in one central location. This will give you a clear picture of how much you own and help you make more informed decisions.

Hold each item and ask if it sparks joy: Pick up each item individually, and ask yourself if it sparks joy or serves a valuable purpose in your life. If it does, keep it; if not, thank the item for its service and let it go.

Organize and store items with intention: Once you’ve decided which items to keep, find a designated place for each one. Store items in a way that’s easily accessible and visually appealing. Marie Kondo recommends using simple storage solutions like boxes and clear containers.

Maintain your tidy space: After completing the decluttering process, maintain your organized space by being mindful of the items you bring into your home and continually reassessing your belongings.

How long does it take to become a minimalist?

Becoming a minimalist is a personal journey, and the time it takes can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances and goals. For some, it can be a gradual process that takes weeks or months, while others might embrace minimalism more quickly, within days or even hours.

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