Minimalism is a lifestyle that rejects the consumerist and materialistic culture of modern society and embraces the simplicity and freedom of living with less. Minimalism is not about depriving yourself of joy or comfort, but about finding it in the things that truly matter to you. Minimalism is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but a personal journey that empowers you to align your actions with your values and purge everything that distracts, stresses, or burdens you from living your best life.
In this guide, you will learn how to define your own version of minimalism, and how to apply its main principles to declutter your physical space, simplify your digital life, streamline your finances, optimize your time and energy, and maintain your minimalist lifestyle. You will also learn how to overcome challenges and setbacks, and how to enjoy the benefits of minimalism. By following this guide, you will be able to transform your life from a chaotic mess of clutter and stress to a peaceful oasis of clarity and joy.
1.1. What is minimalism and why is it beneficial?
Minimalism is a lifestyle that focuses on the essentials and eliminates the excess. It is about living with only what you need, use, and love, and getting rid of everything else. Minimalism is not about counting your possessions or living in an empty white room, but about creating space for what matters most to you.
Minimalism has many benefits for your well-being, such as:
- Reducing stress and anxiety by removing clutter and chaos from your environment
- Saving money and time by avoiding unnecessary purchases and maintenance
- Increasing happiness and satisfaction by appreciating what you have and expressing gratitude
- Enhancing creativity and productivity by eliminating distractions and focusing on your goals
- Improving health and wellness by adopting healthier habits and routines
- Supporting environmental sustainability by reducing waste and consumption
1.2. How to define your own version of minimalism
Minimalism is not a rigid set of rules or a competition, but a flexible and personal choice. There is no right or wrong way to be a minimalist, as long as it works for you and makes you happy. You can define your own version of minimalism based on your preferences, needs, goals, values, and circumstances.
To define your own version of minimalism, you can ask yourself questions such as:
- What are the things that bring me joy and fulfillment?
- What are the things that cause me stress and frustration?
- What are the things that I need for my survival and comfort?
- What are the things that I use regularly and enjoy?
- What are the things that I don’t need, use, or love?
- What are the things that I want to achieve or experience in life?
- What are the things that align with my values and beliefs?
- What are the things that hinder or distract me from my goals?
By answering these questions, you can identify what is essential and what is excess in your life, and decide what to keep and what to let go.
1.3. The main principles of minimalism
Minimalism is based on a few core principles that can help you simplify your life and live more intentionally. These principles are:
- Quality over quantity: Choose quality over quantity in everything you own, do, or consume. Quality means having fewer but better things that serve a purpose or bring joy. Quality also means doing fewer but more meaningful activities that align with your goals or values.
- Less is more: Less is more means having less clutter, less stress, less waste, less distraction, less complication, less obligation, less regret, less guilt, less comparison, less dissatisfaction. More means having more space, more time, more money, more freedom, more peace, more happiness, more satisfaction, more creativity, more productivity, more health, more wellness, more purpose, more fulfillment.
- Intentionality: Intentionality means being mindful and deliberate about everything you own, do, or consume. Intentionality means asking yourself why you want or need something before buying or keeping it. Intentionality means asking yourself if something adds value or meaning to your life before doing or consuming it. Intentionality means making conscious choices that reflect your true self and support your vision.
2. How to Declutter Your Physical Space
2.1. How to sort your belongings into categories
The first step to declutter your physical space is to sort your belongings into categories. This will help you see how much you own and make it easier to decide what to keep and what to discard. The categories are:
- Clothes: This includes all your clothing items, such as tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets, coats, underwear, socks, shoes, accessories, etc.
- Books: This includes all your books, magazines, comics, newspapers, etc.
- Papers: This includes all your papers, such as bills, receipts, documents, letters, cards, notes, etc.
- Komono: This is a Japanese word that means miscellaneous items. This includes all your other items that don’t belong to the previous categories, such as kitchenware, toiletries, cosmetics, electronics, tools, hobbies, etc.
- Sentimental items: This includes all your items that have sentimental value or emotional attachment, such as photos, gifts, souvenirs, trophies, etc.
To sort your belongings into categories, you need to gather all the items that belong to one category from throughout your house and make a huge pile on the floor. For example, gather all your clothes from your closet, dresser, laundry basket, coat rack, etc. and pile them up on the floor. Do this for each category until you have five piles of items.
2.2. How to apply the KonMari method of tidying up
The KonMari method of tidying up is a revolutionary technique that changes the way you think about your possessions and transforms your relationship with them. The KonMari method is based on two simple rules:
- Keep only what sparks joy
- Store everything in its place
To apply the KonMari method of tidying up, you need to follow these steps for each category:
- Pick up one item at a time and hold it in your hands
- Ask yourself: Does this item spark joy? Joy is a feeling of happiness or excitement that comes from within. It is not based on external factors such as price, brand, or popularity. It is not influenced by guilt, obligation, or fear. It is not rationalized by logic, reason, or practicality. It is a pure and intuitive emotion that you feel in your heart when you touch something that resonates with you.
- If the item sparks joy, keep it and thank it for serving you well. If the item does not spark joy, discard it and thank it for teaching you something.
- Repeat this process until you have gone through every item in the category
- Store the items that spark joy in a way that makes them visible, accessible, and tidy. Use boxes, baskets, or dividers to organize them by type, color, or frequency of use. Fold them using the KonMari fold, which maximizes space and prevents wrinkles. Arrange them vertically so you can see everything at a glance.
By applying the KonMari method of tidying up, you will be able to eliminate all the clutter from your physical space and create a harmonious environment that reflects your personality and values.
2.3. How to donate, sell, or recycle what you don’t need
Once you have decided what to keep and what to discard, you need to dispose of the items that don’t spark joy in a responsible and respectful way. You have three options:
- Donate: You can donate your unwanted items to a charity, a thrift store, a shelter, a library, a school, or any other organization that can use them for a good cause. This way, you can give your items a new life and help someone in need.
- Sell: You can sell your unwanted items online or offline and make some extra cash. You can use platforms such as eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Poshmark to list your items and find buyers. You can also host a garage sale or join a flea market and sell your items in person.
- Recycle: You can recycle your unwanted items that are not suitable for donation or sale and prevent them from ending up in landfills. You can use services such as TerraCycle, Recyclebank, or Earth911 to find out how and where to recycle different types of materials.
By donating, selling, or recycling what you don’t need, you will be able to reduce your environmental impact and contribute to a more sustainable world.
3. How to Simplify Your Digital Life
Your digital life is an extension of your physical life and it can also benefit from minimalism. Your digital life includes all your devices, apps, accounts, files, emails, notifications, messages, social media, online subscriptions, etc. These things can also clutter your mind and distract you from your goals if you don’t manage them well.
By simplifying your digital life, you can:
- Protect your privacy and security by reducing your digital footprint and avoiding data breaches
- Boost your mental health by avoiding information overload and negative influences
- Enhance your focus and productivity by minimizing interruptions and multitasking
- Save money and space by canceling unnecessary services and deleting unused apps
- Enjoy more quality time with yourself and others by reducing screen time and social media usage
3.1. How to unsubscribe from unnecessary emails and notifications
One of the easiest ways to simplify your digital life is to unsubscribe from unnecessary emails and notifications. These are the messages that you receive from various sources that you don’t care about, such as newsletters, promotions, updates, reminders, etc. These messages can clog your inbox and drain your battery, as well as waste your time and attention.
To unsubscribe from unnecessary emails and notifications, you can:
- Go through your email settings and turn off or customize the notifications that you receive from different senders or categories
- Go through your device settings and turn off or customize the notifications that you receive from different apps or functions
- Go through your social media settings and turn off or customize the notifications that you receive from different platforms or features
By unsubscribing from unnecessary emails and notifications, you can reduce the amount of noise and clutter in your digital life and increase the signal and value.
3.2. How to organize your files and folders
Another way to simplify your digital life is to organize your files and folders. These are the documents, photos, videos, music, etc. that you store on your devices or online. These files and folders can accumulate over time and take up a lot of space and memory, as well as make it hard to find what you need.
To organize your files and folders, you can:
- Use a cloud service that syncs your files across all your devices and offers backup and security features, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud
- Use a naming system that makes sense to you and helps you identify your files easily, such as using dates, keywords, categories, etc.
- Use a folder structure that groups your files by type, topic, project, etc. and avoids nesting too many subfolders
- Use a file manager app that helps you sort, move, delete, or compress your files efficiently, such as Files by Google, File Manager, or Documents
- Use a duplicate finder app that helps you locate and remove duplicate files that take up unnecessary space, such as Duplicate File Remover, Duplicate Cleaner, or Gemini
By organizing your files and folders, you can optimize the use of space and memory on your devices and improve the accessibility and usability of your files.
3.3. How to limit your screen time and social media usage
The most challenging way to simplify your digital life is to limit your screen time and social media usage. These are the activities that involve using your devices for entertainment, communication, or information purposes. These activities can be addictive, harmful, or unproductive if you don’t control them well.
To limit your screen time and social media usage, you can:
- Set a daily or weekly schedule for when you can use your devices or social media, and stick to it
- Turn off your devices or put them in airplane mode at least an hour before bedtime, and avoid using them in bed
- Find alternative activities that are more fulfilling or enjoyable than using your devices or social media, such as reading, writing, meditating, exercising, hobbying, socializing, etc.
4. How to Streamline Your Finances
Your finances are another aspect of your life that can benefit from minimalism. Your finances include all your income, expenses, debts, savings, investments, etc. These things can also affect your happiness and well-being if you don’t manage them well.
By streamlining your finances, you can:
- Reduce stress and anxiety by paying off your debts and avoiding late fees or interest charges
- Save money and time by avoiding unnecessary purchases and fees
- Increase happiness and satisfaction by spending your money on things that spark joy or add value to your life
- Enhance creativity and productivity by investing your money in things that help you grow or achieve your goals
- Improve health and wellness by affording quality food, health care, or fitness services
- Support environmental sustainability by reducing waste and consumption
4.1. How to track your income and expenses
The first step to streamline your finances is to track your income and expenses. This will help you see how much money you earn and spend each month, and where it goes. Tracking your income and expenses will also help you identify any leaks or gaps in your budget, and adjust accordingly.
To track your income and expenses, you can:
- Use a spreadsheet or a notebook to manually record your income and expenses from your receipts, bills, statements, etc.
- Use a system that helps you categorize your income and expenses by type, such as the 50/30/20 rule, the envelope system, or the zero-based budget
By tracking your income and expenses, you can gain more insight and control over your financial situation and make more informed decisions about how to use your money.
4.2. How to create a realistic budget and stick to it
The second step to streamline your finances is to create a realistic budget and stick to it. A budget is a plan that shows how much money you have available and how you intend to spend it each month. A budget helps you allocate your money to cover your needs, wants, savings, and debt payments. A budget also helps you set and achieve your financial goals.
To create a realistic budget and stick to it, you can:
- Use a spreadsheet or a notebook to create a budget based on your own calculations and preferences
- Use a method that helps you create a budget based on certain percentages or rules, such as the 50/30/20 rule, the envelope system, or the zero-based budget
- Review your budget regularly and adjust it as needed based on any changes in your income, expenses, goals, etc.
- Track your progress and celebrate your achievements as you stick to your budget
By creating a realistic budget and sticking to it, you can manage your money more effectively and reach your financial goals faster.
4.3. How to save more and spend less
The third step to streamline your finances is to save more and spend less. Saving more means putting aside some money each month for emergencies, future plans, or investments. Spending less means reducing or eliminating unnecessary or wasteful spending that doesn’t spark joy or add value to your life.
To save more and spend less, you can:
- Use a strategy that helps you save money on specific categories, such as groceries, transportation, or entertainment, such as meal planning, carpooling, or library borrowing
- Use a challenge that helps you save money in a fun or creative way, such as the 52-week savings challenge, the no-spend challenge, or the pantry challenge
By saving more and spending less, you can build your financial security and enjoy more financial freedom.
5. How to Optimize Your Time and Energy
Your time and energy are your most precious resources and they can also benefit from minimalism. Your time and energy include all your tasks, goals, habits, routines, etc. These things can also affect your happiness and well-being if you don’t manage them well.
By optimizing your time and energy, you can:
- Reduce stress and anxiety by completing your tasks and achieving your goals
- Save money and time by avoiding unnecessary or unproductive activities
- Increase happiness and satisfaction by doing things that spark joy or add value to your life
- Enhance creativity and productivity by focusing on your priorities and eliminating distractions
- Improve health and wellness by adopting healthier habits and routines
- Support environmental sustainability by reducing waste and consumption
5.1. How to prioritize your tasks and goals
The first step to optimize your time and energy is to prioritize your tasks and goals. This will help you see what is important and urgent, and what is not. Prioritizing your tasks and goals will also help you allocate your time and energy accordingly, and avoid wasting them on things that don’t matter.
To prioritize your tasks and goals, you can:
- Use a spreadsheet or a notebook to list your tasks and goals by category, such as work, personal, family, etc.
- Use a method that helps you rank your tasks and goals by criteria, such as the Eisenhower matrix, the ABCDE method, or the SMART method
- Review your tasks and goals regularly and adjust them as needed based on any changes in your situation, preferences, etc.
- Track your progress and celebrate your achievements as you complete your tasks and achieve your goals
By prioritizing your tasks and goals, you can manage your time and energy more effectively and reach your desired outcomes faster.
5.2. How to eliminate distractions and procrastination
The second step to optimize your time and energy is to eliminate distractions and procrastination. These are the things that prevent you from doing what you need or want to do, such as notifications, emails, social media, games, TV, etc. These things can also cause you to delay or avoid doing what you need or want to do, such as fear, boredom, perfectionism, etc.
To eliminate distractions and procrastination, you can:
- Use a strategy that helps you overcome the psychological barriers that cause you to procrastinate, such as the 5-second rule, the 2-minute rule, or the Seinfeld strategy
- Use a challenge that helps you eliminate distractions or procrastination in a fun or creative way, such as the no-phone challenge, the no-TV challenge, or the no-complaint challenge
By eliminating distractions and procrastination, you can restore your attention span and mental clarity, and accomplish more in less time.
5.3. How to practice self-care and mindfulness
The third step to optimize your time and energy is to practice self-care and mindfulness. Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Mindfulness is the ability to be in the present moment and pay attention to the task at hand. Practicing self-care and mindfulness will help you recharge your batteries, reduce stress, and improve your well-being.
To practice self-care and mindfulness, you can:
- Use a method that helps you practice self-care and mindfulness in daily life, such as gratitude journaling, affirmations, or meditation
- Use a system that helps you practice self-care and mindfulness in a structured way, such as morning routine, evening routine, or weekly review
- Use a challenge that helps you practice self-care and mindfulness in a fun or creative way, such as the no-phone challenge, the no-TV challenge, or the no-complaint challenge
By practicing self-care and mindfulness, you can nourish your body, mind, and soul, and enhance your quality of life.
6.1. How to maintain your minimalist lifestyle
Once you have simplified your life with minimalism, you may wonder how to maintain your minimalist lifestyle. The key is to be consistent and intentional with your choices and actions. Here are some tips to help you maintain your minimalist lifestyle:
- Review your possessions regularly and get rid of anything that no longer sparks joy or serves a purpose
- Avoid impulse buying and only purchase things that you need, use, or love
- Follow the one-in-one-out rule: whenever you bring something new into your home, let go of something old
- Set limits on how much you own, such as having a capsule wardrobe, a 100-item challenge, or a tiny house
- Seek experiences over things: instead of buying more stuff, spend your money on travel, education, hobbies, etc.
- Share your minimalist journey with others: join a minimalist community, start a blog, or write a book
By maintaining your minimalist lifestyle, you can preserve the benefits of minimalism and prevent clutter from creeping back into your life.
6.2. How to overcome challenges and setbacks
Even if you are committed to minimalism, you may face some challenges and setbacks along the way. These can include:
- Resistance from family or friends who don’t understand or support your minimalist choices
- Temptation from advertisements or social media that make you want to buy more stuff
- Guilt or regret from letting go of things that have sentimental value or cost a lot of money
- Boredom or dissatisfaction from living with less or missing out on things
To overcome these challenges and setbacks, you can:
- Explain your minimalist values and goals to your family or friends and ask for their respect and support
- Limit your exposure to advertisements or social media that trigger your desire to buy more stuff
- Remind yourself of why you let go of things that don’t spark joy or serve a purpose
- Find joy in simple pleasures and appreciate what you have
By overcoming these challenges and setbacks, you can strengthen your minimalist resolve and deepen your minimalist experience.
6.3. How to enjoy the benefits of minimalism
The ultimate goal of minimalism is not to have less, but to enjoy more. Minimalism is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Minimalism is not about sacrifice, but about fulfillment.
To enjoy the benefits of minimalism, you can:
- Celebrate your achievements and reward yourself for sticking to your minimalist principles
- Express gratitude for the things that spark joy or add value to your life
- Share your joy with others who appreciate your minimalist lifestyle
- Explore new opportunities and possibilities that open up because of minimalism
- Embrace change and growth as part of your minimalist journey
By enjoying the benefits of minimalism, you can live a simpler, more spacious, and more meaningful life.
Congratulations! You have completed this guide on how to be a minimalist. We hope you found it helpful, informative, and entertaining. Now go ahead and enjoy your minimalist life! 🎉