Updated: 4 January 2020
By Phil O'D
I am not a minimalist. I have too much stuff I want to keep. However, my wife and I have started on a journey in that direction. These tips will give you an idea of how to get started like we have.
List of tips.
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1. Pick your level of minimalism.
First, let's clarify what minimalism is and what it is not. If you have just heard of the term minimalist, then you probably automatically think of people in an incredibly sparse house with white walls and wooden furniture. Well, what if I told you that while those people do exist, they are at the far end of the spectrum?
Less extreme minimalism can just be about clearing through your stuff and realising that you actually don't need half of it. It is more about being aware of what you have and living with only the things you love and use, not the things you store or regret purchasing. I would suggest reading, The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker to learn more.
2. If you can’t see it, does it exist?
Our toddler had a box of toys. She hardly ever went into it and would just play with the same toys that were on top. We ditched the box (and half the toys) and put up a little shelf unit where all the toys could be seen. She now plays with all of them.
It is the same when we grow up. If you have things stored away out of sight, you are unlikely to use or wear them. So if you decide you want to keep something, dust it off, get it visible and make use of it.
3. Take your time.
Going through your possessions is a lot more time-consuming than you realise. Make it an ongoing project. Allow yourself to keep any items you are undecided about, and come back to them again in a few weeks or months. You might even take a year to get through the whole house.
4. Pick one area.
Pick an easy area to start decluttering. Choose somewhere that won't have things you are emotionally attached to (Hint: Not the closet. Even we guys have our favourite jackets we don't wear but love). The spare room or a hall closet are easy places to start.
As you work through your belongings, sort them into piles: Keep, Maybe Keep, Toss, Donate/Sell.
Put these things back where they were or move them to a better place in the house.
After you finish, go back through this pile a second time. By then you will have a better sense of whether you actually want them or not.
Throw these in the rubbish or recycle them.
Try selling these items online (somewhere like Trade Me) or find a worthy cause to donate to.
6. Find a home.
Everything should have a home. If you are keeping an item, is it in the right place? If not, move it to a place where it can live.
7. Don’t guilt yourself.
Even if you don't use something, if you love it… Keep it! You've had it up until now anyway. You might even want to move it so it is in a better place to be seen and utilized. Or be happy just to keep it because you like it. Either way, don't feel guilty that you are keeping something you love.
On your second or third decluttering spree, you might change your mind - But, for now, keep it.
8. Don’t do it alone.
If you live with someone, it is best to have them on board. It's more fun, and it can also be super helpful to have someone say, "You should keep that" or "I have never seen you use that."
If they are not so keen then get a friend to help you. Two always makes it more fun.
9. Buying something new.
Once you start to clear things out of your house, you realise that if you buy something new it is going to need a home too! Thinking of where something is going to live in your house before you buy it is going to save you a lot of money.
You may decide you need to get rid of something first so there is space for the new item - or perhaps you realise you don’t actually need to buy it at all.
On a side note, purchasing less means throwing out less down the track, which is great for the planet.
10. Enjoy it!
Minimising is a lot of fun. It can save you money and time, give you space, and allow you to enjoy what you actually own. If at any stage it starts to cause you stress or create tension between you and your spouse, then pull it back a notch. It is your life - No one is forcing you to follow any strict minimalist guidelines.
This process is about realising that you actually need a lot less than you have. And it's about enjoying what you do have rather than have it sitting in a box in the garage.
Have fun and enjoy the freedom of having less!