Minimalism DOES NOT mean get rid of everything but the basics. It is an individual journey to being intentional with what you surround yourself with.
I will be honest, when I first heard the word ‘minimalism’ I imagined bare walls, a couple of pieces of furniture, and this hospital room feeling of a sterile environment. So I immediately said to myself that minimalism is not for me. I like my house to feel comfortable and lived in – and not have the feel of a museum.
Fast forward a couple of years when I started my journey with decluttering. I realized at that point that minimalism looks different for each of us. What is minimal for you is not the same as minimal for me. You basically discover what things you want and what things you really don’t care for and could live without.
While I’m still on my own journey, let me share some tips that I have learned along the way. Tips on how to gradually transition to your own version of minimalism.
START WITH GRADUAL DECLUTTERING
If you have started to think about minimalism but don’t know where to begin, start with decluttering. I strongly suggest starting with one space or types of items at a time. Don’t make it feel overwhelming because that will lead to discouragement.
Start with your closet, pantry, or office desk. I would pick a space in your house that simply drives you crazy. Because this will get you a quick win. You will see how much better you feel when that particular area is in order.
And this will give you motivation to keep going. The excitement that you will experience from getting one area of your house under control will get you hooked. You will want to keep going.
As the first go around, get rid of anything that you are no longer using. I was a queen of keeping things ‘just in case’. I would keep things because one day I might need something like that. And I might need it right away. You know, the emergency situations when an item is needed right that second HAHA!
The truth is that rarely ever happens!
And even if it does, you just come up with a way to make things happen. You become creative and use what you have. Now this is something that took me awhile to learn. So if you encounter items like that, and have a hard time letting go, start small. Get rid of a few items that fit that category and see how you feel without them.
Once you start doing that, you will realize that the next time you come across an item that you ‘might need one day’ you will have a much easier time getting rid of it. Because you will think back to the item that you threw away last time and did not miss it one bit:)
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DECIDE WHAT TYPES OF ITEMS YOU ENJOY
You might discover that you do love to have a good amount of clothes but you could care less about a variety of coffee mugs. Therefore, what you want to do is be very minimal with the coffee mugs, but have more flexibility with your closet. You still want to keep only the clothes that you actually wear, but it would be unfair and counter productive to try to get rid of most of your clothes. Simply because someone said you should only have 10 items wardrobe, which is a popular trend right now. Capsule wardrobe is not for everyone (but if that is you, go for it!). But that does not mean that you cannot be more intentional with your clothes.
I have learned that when it comes to minimalism you really have to find your happy balance. If you go too drastic, especially with things that you enjoy the most, it may backfire. For example, you will get rid of a lot of clothes only to go back to the store a couple of week later to buy some new ones.
So don’t go for all or nothing approach when it comes to minimalism. Concentrate first on the categories of things that you don’t really care too much about. That is the area where you can be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of things. And be more flexible with the things that you enjoy having.
HAVE A ‘I’M NOT SURE’ BOX
The next tip that I have for you when it comes to gradual transition to minimalism is to have a ‘I’m not sure’ box. This is the idea I got from The Minimal Mom. It is basically a box or a bin that you use to put in things that you are not sure if you should get rid of.
This is happening all the time when we declutter. We have a pile of things we get rid of and the things we keep. But there is also the unspoken pile of things that we are not sure about. Think about decluttering of clothes. There are usually clothes that you have not worn in a while but you think you will wear them now.
What you do with those items is place them in a plastic bin and put them somewhere like your basement or the garage. Out of sight and out of mind. You give yourself six months. And at the end of that period you get rid of box or bin. Most likely, you will not even remember everything that you have put in there.
The idea is to see if you will actually miss those items. If you will actually need them again. This technique has been working so great for me and I strongly recommend you give it a try. It will make the minimalism process go much smoother.
It works because you are not throwing things away, you will have a much easier time getting it out of your closet of whatever space you are decluttering. You know that they are within reach if you decide you actually need them.
But guess what?
I have not needed ANY of the items I have put in the bin. Getting rid of it was easier as well because by the time it was time to toss or donate its content, I was no longer attached to anything that was in there.
STORAGE SYSTEM HELPS WITH MINIMALISM
One of the things that I have noticed on the journey towards minimalism is that you gradually start liking clean surfaces. What I mean by that is that a few years back I liked to have a lot of things on my dressers and shelves. Now I like to have more clear space.
Clutter on tables, kitchen island, or on the floor is bothering me now. And while I don’t mind it when we are cooking or playing, at the end of they day, I like to have that clutter free space.
And that’s where a good storage system comes into place. Having a dedicated space for each of the items makes the minimalism so much easier. First, it makes it easy for you to clean. Second, things that don’t have a permanent home can be either tossed or a new ‘home’ needs to be created for them. And three, if you have limited storage, you will automatically limit the number of things that you have.
Think about your kids’ toys. If you organize their playroom and have dedicated bins for the type of items they have, it will keep the mess contained. But it will also make you declutter on regular basis when bins get too full with new toys. If the bin with dolls gets too full, you declutter and get rid of the ones that are not longer played with. It makes it so much easier for the clutter to not get out of control again. And keep things to the limits that you have established.
The great thing about minimalism is that it is like a snowball. You start small, gain momentum, and become huge.
When I first started decluttering I had a hard time getting rid of things. I was always leaning more towards keeping something versus throwing it away. But after a few months, I found that it became easier. You can see that in my recent video about decluttering my office closet.
So don’t get discouraged when you think you are not making a lot of progress towards your minimalistic lifestyle. It will all come together after a while. But in order to live to embrace minimalism you have to discover what that looks like for you. And that will take both time and practice. And that is the best way to ensure effective gradual transition towards minimalism – going at your own pace.
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Are you a minimalist? What does that look like for you?
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