With increasing frustration among the masses with our busy materialistic lives, more people are turning towards a minimalist lifestyle. Minimalism is not just a passing fad, like a diet. It is a way of living. Most people associate minimalism with becoming a modern-day hermit. But the truth is far from that. Living a minimalistic life just means that you eliminate all those things from your life that do not add value to it. Minimalism, hence, has a very subjective definition. Everybody has different priorities and different preferences. A minimalistic lifestyle simply means that you are confining your life to only the highest priority things in your life. It simplifies your life, declutters it, and makes you happier. After all, who wants to have to worry about a thousand unnecessary things every day?
So if you too, want to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, here are a few tips on how to do so-
Know why you want to do it
If you are doing this because its the new talk of the town, you are going down the wrong road. Embracing a new lifestyle is not as easy as it sounds. Humans of today place a lot of value on materialistic things. We may not admit it, but we are way too attached to things that people a hundred years ago had never even heard of. You cannot live without internet even for an hour, and most of us have a hard time giving up donuts. So make up your mind, and ask yourself why are you looking to change your lifestyle.
A minimalistic lifestyle is for people who are more focused on finding their true purpose in life, or people who just want to simplify their life. Make sure that you are doing this for yourself, and not because it is “the cool thing to do”. Minimalistic living is tough, so you need to be mentally prepared for it.
Start with your smartphone
Okay, so many die-hard minimalists actually give up their smartphone and buy a small handset instead. If you can live without smartphones, kudos to you. But let’s face it, most of us here can’t. So instead of sacrificing your smartphone completely, just make a few changes to it. Get rid of the extra apps on your phone that you hardly ever use. You don’t need gaming apps on your phone, or ten newsletters and blog apps.
Declutter your phone, and delete all the extras that you don’t absolutely NEED. If there is an app on your phone that will be of no use when you are in a sinking boat, delete it. Apps just take up space on your phone. Get rid of them. And use app blocking apps to block your social media apps for times when they’re a distraction. I would suggest getting rid of social media altogether, but that’s advanced minimalism. Baby steps, folks!
Declutter your wardrobe
All of us have a ton of clothing items that we never wear. We buy these clothes because of their visual appeal, but never actually wear them. Get rid of clothes like these. Don’t think about all the times that you can wear clothes like these. If you haven’t worn them till now, chances are you won’t in the future either. Donate the clothes that don’t fit you, that you don’t wear, or that are worn out. Your wardrobe should only have clothes that you wear regularly.
Also, reduce your clothes collection. Have a few basic articles of clothing for every season. Buy clothes that can be worn at all occasions. Modify your wardrobe in such a way that anything can be paired with anything in it. If you reorganize this way, you will find that you will save a lot of time while getting ready to go out. Also, you will never be bored with wearing the same clothes again and again.
Get rid of everything excess
Excess clothing, excess utensils, excess apps, excess furniture, basically anything that is excess, get rid of it. You don’t need a 3BHK apartment if you are the only one living in the house. Shift into a smaller apartment that can accommodate you and your needs without any extras. This will save money too.
Get rid of excess furniture, keep only enough that is required for your existence in the house. The lesser number of things you have, the less you will have to worry about a robbery in your house. In fact, get rid of excess money too! By this, I mean that after you are done with your existential expenditures, put aside the rest of the money in a savings account. Don’t spend it on useless things, or let it lie around the house like a free commodity.
Also, get rid of too many subscriptions. You don’t need Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO all at the same time. One will suffice. Unsubscribe to newsletters, they only clutter your email. DECLUTTER AND DISCARD!
Change your food habits
You eat to live, you don’t live to eat. Food is just nutrition, so it’s important to treat it that way. Simplify your meals, and don’t eat out unless you are traveling. Learn how to cook, and cook simple, wholesome meals for yourself that don’t require many ingredients. Also, try eating similar things every day. Stop yourself from drooling over junk food. It is bad for both your body and your wallet. Junk foods are addictive, and only provide temporary gratification to you. They do not add any value to your life. In fact, these highly processed foods may just make you feel bad later on (bloating, nausea, skin break-outs, etc).
Eliminate such cravings from your life, cook for yourself, and eat simple, healthy meals. Eat just enough to keep yourself energized. If you lead an active lifestyle, have one big meal post workout, and light ones before. But if you spend your entire day sitting on a desk, you don’t need heavy meals. Eat and spend (on food) only as much as absolutely necessary.
Have at most two bank accounts
Most of us are guilty of having not less than five credit cards in our wallets. We keep fumbling around in our wallet for a different credit card everytime we go out shopping. Discard this habit, and stick to having only one or two bank accounts- one for expenditure and one for your emergency fund. Having only one credit card for expenditure will not just simplify transaction handling, but also help you save money. If you don’t have a horde of credit cards to save you from useless shopping sprees, you will naturally stay away from them. Simplify your life and your finances by limiting yourself to two bank accounts.
Actually, this advice is also for those who AREN’T minimalists. There is no reason for you to lug around a year’s worth of luggage when you are only going somewhere for a week. Most of the things that we often pack in our travel-bags are completely useless. Make a list of things you want to take, and prioritize them by need. Then only pack the top 15 things in that list. I mean, you should realize that traveling with a ton of luggage is never fun anyway. And minimalism is all about giving importance only to the highest priority things in your life. When traveling, keep the essentials, and discard the rest.
Here is a tip for you- buy one backpack and one moderate-sized trolley bag. Have only these two in your house for traveling purposes. Use the backpack for short trips, the trolley bag for longer trips, and both for even longer trips. If you don’t have a lot of travel bags, you won’t pack too much for any trip. This is a trick I personally use when I am traveling, so I know it works.
Get rid of emotional and social clutter too
Minimalism is not just restricted to the physical things in your life, but also the emotional and social things. Limit yourself to a small circle of friends who really matter to you. You don’t need an entire crowd of people you call “friends”. A small circle of people that you can truly and completely depend upon will suffice.
Let go of friends you only meet for drinks over the weekend. This will save you time, energy and money. Don’t be rude to people, but don’t give too much priority to people who don’t matter to you much. Saying no to hanging out in a pub with people you only know by name will not make you a jerk. Save yourself the unnecessary headache of excess socializing.
Getting rid of emotional clutter means to let go of the negative aspects of your past. Move on. Let go of past regrets and painful memories. Sort things out with the involved parties, and bury the past. Unburden your heart and free your mind of all negative thoughts that are holding you back from living a happy and content life.
Focus on quality over quantity
Minimalism is all about focusing more on quality than quantity. Apply this principle everywhere in your life. For example, buy just one article of clothing that is good quality and will last you years from now. Do not invest in ten articles of clothing that you will either only wear once or that are cheap quality. Eat foods that will nourish your body and make you look and feel good. You don’t need as much food as you think you do, but make sure what you eat is healthy and good for your body. As for junk food, it’s just not good for you. I’m not asking you to completely give up junk food, but don’t make your life revolve around it.
In short, everywhere you can, apply the principle of “quality over quantity”. Have a less number of possessions, but have good, sturdy and reliable ones that will last you more than a decade.
I myself am a minimalist by nature, which is why I am more financially stable and mentally happier than many of my peers. Minimalism doesn’t just save you time and money, it also makes you a happier person. When you have fewer things to worry about, you automatically become a happier person.
We are so focused on running after the useless materialistic things in life that we often cannot enjoy simple pleasures in life. Our ancestors were way happier than we are because they didn’t feel the need to have a ton of materialistic possessions. They only owned what was needed for their survival, and focused more on their purpose in life. So take things in your own hands, and do away with all the unnecessary headaches in your life.