Living a minimalist life means to get rid of all the dross that accumulated in your life. It means to eliminate the unessential from your life. Doing so will help you to make room in your life for things, people, and experiences that add true value to your life. It feels liberating to finally have made the decision to become a minimalist. You know that you’re going to trade in chaos, noise, and hectic for peace and mental clarity. You might even imagine how becoming a minimalist will help you to spend much more of your time with the really important things in life. Yet, at the same time, becoming a minimalist can be quite overwhelming. There are so many things to get rid of, you may not even know where to start with. Minimizing your life is not always simple. For this reason, it’s important to take small steps towards the right direction. Minimalize your life one step at a time. The following will present you 11 essential steps to become a minimalist. It will help you to understand how exactly you can become a minimalist and how to live a minimalist life.
The beauty about minimalism is that you gently turn your life upside down so that only the essential remains. Minimalism is not about getting rid of things that you hold dear. It’s also not about denying yourself certain experiences that add joy and happiness to your life. Instead, minimalism is a (sometimes radical) way of focusing on the most important aspects of your life. It means to let go of things of little to no value. In doing so, you make room in your life to enjoy more of the things that add true value and meaning to your life.
“Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter.”
In this sense, minimalism is not about self-restriction. It’s all about liberation. It’s not about getting rid of the clutter in your life because material things are “bad and evil.” Quite the contrary, minimalism is all about learning to be happier with less. If you’re more comfortable with having less, you’re less likely to feel a deep craving for the pursuit of more. A simple life can help us to free ourselves from the tight grasp material possessions exert on our lives. Minimalism therefore signifies the liberation from materialism.
If you’re interested in living a minimalist life, the following is a great place to start with.
11 Essential Steps to Become a Minimalist
Once you’ve met the decision to live a more simplistic life, you’ll be confronted with the question how you’re going to approach this huge task. You want to simplify your life, but the complexity of the task is terrifying. There are so many things that accumulated throughout the years that you don’t even know where to begin with. At the same time, so many difficult questions need to be addressed. Minimizing simply can feel in these situations too big of a challenge. The sheer size of the minimalism challenge can be quite overwhelming, especially in the beginning.
But worry not. You don’t have to minimalize your entire life from one day to the other. While there are extreme cases of people who get rid of everything they have from one day to the next, this might not necessarily be the best option for you. When it comes to minimalism, it’s important to simply just start. It’s not so important to reach the destination (i.e. a minimalist lifestyle) immediately. Instead, minimalism is a journey. Take small steps and start doing one thing after another. Get rid of one unnecessary possession at a time. Eliminate one distracting activity after another. This way you will make the transition to a minimalist life much smoother.
The basic idea and process of minimalism can be summarized in two steps. The first step consists of identifying what is important and valuable to you. The second step consists of getting rid of basically everything that is not essential and does not add value to your life. As easy as this sounds, this can be quite a complex process. For this reason, it’s helpful to split the entire process of minimizing your life into easier steps that can be addressed one after the other.
Here are the essential steps you can take to simplify your life and to live more minimalistic.
1. Assess your life. Set priorities. At the root of becoming a minimalist lies an analysis of your life. It’s the first and perhaps most important step towards simplifying your life. In fact, this step is so important that it must not be neglected. What you want to do during this assessment of your life is to identify what’s most valuable and important to you. Find out what elements of your life add the greatest value, happiness and meaning to your life. Doing so will help you to set your priorities straight. With a clear understanding of what’s truly important to you, it’s much easier to begin the process of minimizing. Prioritizing helps you to understand the benefits of making room in your life for the essential. Without this kind of understanding, you might not feel all too comfortable with getting rid of unimportant things you’ve grown used to. For instance, if you seek to stop watching TV, you might have a difficult time when you don’t know precisely why you’re doing it for. However, if you understand that you give up TV to have more time to spend with an activity that truly fulfills you, you’ll be more likely to see things through. You can start assessing your life by making a short list. Write down the most important things in your life and concentrate on these first. Focus on gradually making more room in your life for your priorities.
2. Evaluate your possessions. After you’ve set your priorities, it’s time to address your material possessions. Think about everything you own and find out if these things align with your priorities. Leave no stone unturned and question everything. Figure out if the things you own add value to your life or if they simply distract you and create mental noise. It’s often difficult to admit, but the evaluation of your possessions may highlight that you own far too many things of little to no value. These possessions may be fancy or entertaining “nice-to-have’s,” but deep down ourselves we know that they don’t add any significant meaning or purpose to our lives. All they do is waste our time, drain our energy or empty our bank accounts. Compile a list with all your possessions that are redundant and no longer of value to you. Start slow by eliminating one or two of these things per week.
3. Evaluate how you spend your time. Becoming a minimalist is not only about de-cluttering physical objects, but also about getting rid of time-wasting activities. The third step is therefore all about figuring out how you spend large parts of your time. Ask yourself the question if the activities you engage in add value to your life. Doing so will help you to spend less time with unproductive or even time-wasting activities. This in turn will give you the freedom of having more time for the activities you really enjoy. Look at everything you do and every activity you regularly engage in. Write down how much time you spend with more or less purposeless activities. Find out if there are activities that add absolutely no value. Identify if your commitments are in line with your priorities. Once you’ve got a good understanding on how you spend your time, see if you can reduce unbeneficial activities. Start slow by addressing the most pressing issues, one at a time. It’s better to rid your life once and for all of one negative activity than trying to fight several ones halfheartedly.
4. Evaluate who you spend your time with. The people you spend most of your time with have a great influence upon your life. It’s therefore only logical that you want to nurture relationships with positive and encouraging people. At the same time, minimalism is about identifying people who are nothing else but toxic. Identify the people who drain your energy and waste your time. Start by spending less time with those who do nothing but drag you down and discourage you from pursuing your dreams.
5. Set limits. When becoming a minimalist, you will find that there are certain activities/things you simply cannot or don’t want to get rid of. We all have activities we do regularly and cannot do without. You may need your phone to make important business calls. You may need your computer and internet access to write emails and to stay informed. Similarly, you may still be interested in reading inspiring RSS feeds or listening to inspiring podcasts. The key to all these activities is to set appropriate limits. Don’t let these activities interfere with your life. Don’t let them interrupt your workflow. Instead, focus on engaging in these activities only during specified times. Set clear limits to the frequency you check your emails – twice daily is more than enough. Set limits for everything you regularly engage in. It will help you to be more productive and focused.
6. Stop multitasking. There is no such thing as multitasking. It is a myth, a fairytale. Many people believe in it and pride themselves of being excellent multitaskers. But all they do is to fool themselves. Strongly believing in something does not necessarily make it true. Scientific research has shown countless times that the human brain is not capable of multitasking. All you do is to switch from one activity to another, which can drastically decrease your productivity. Don’t clutter your workflow and life by pursuing various activities simultaneously. Instead, focus on doing only one thing at a time. Do whatever you do with the greatest care and attention. Eliminate distractions and try to overcome the temptation to multitask. “Singletasking” will help you to be more productive in what you do. It increases your concentration and will have a dramatic impact on the output of your work. Minimalism is about focusing on what’s really important – with greater attention.
7. Evaluate your goals and ambitions. We all have goals. They make us get up each morning to continue the pursuit of our dreams. Our goals and ambitions greatly shape the lives we are living. But not all goals are beneficial. Not all ambitions are compatible with a minimalistic lifestyle. It is therefore important to evaluate if your goals are still in line with the priorities you set in step 1 of this list. Question if the pursuit of your goals will add true value to your life. Take yourself time to reflect upon the outcome of your goals. Is it the outcome worthy of your time and effort? At the same time, it’s important to reduce the amount of goals you pursue. Don’t clutter your life with a wide variety of goals that you pursue only halfheartedly. Focus on setting yourself a limited number of goals and pursue these with your greatest attention and diligence. You could even go so far as to minimalize to only one goal. It will help you to greatly reduce stress and to concentrate on the goal with the highest priority.
8. Start small. When it comes to simplifying your life, it’s important to maintain a gradual level of change. If you set yourself the ambitious goal to de-clutter your entire house or flat within two weeks, you might be overwhelming yourself. Instead, start small and work yourself gradually towards a more simplistic existence. Instead of purging an entire room, focus on smaller areas of the room instead. Do one area at a time until the entire room is less cluttered and more minimalistic. For instance, focus on de-cluttering one section of your shelf after another.
9. Live deliberately. Another important aspect of becoming a minimalist is to live in the present moment and to live more deliberately. To do this, it’s important to shift your attention from the past or future to this very moment. Try not to blame yourself for what happened in the past and try to stop worrying about the future. When you live in the past or the future, you deprive the present moment of its joy and power. Realize that you can neither make things that happened in the past undone nor can you influence what happens in the future. Instead, use the present to build the fundament for a brighter future. Similarly, use the experiences/mistakes you’ve made in the past as important lessons. Living more deliberately will help you to spend your time in a more valuable and meaningful manner. Simplify your life and explore the happiness living in the moment has to offer.
10. Limit screen time and media consumption. The time we spend on technological gadgets adds unnecessary noise to our lives. Similarly, the thoughtless consumption of media adds more complexity than it helps to simplify. If you spend a great deal of your time consuming various forms of media (TV, movies, Internet, newspapers, etc.) then these things will greatly shape the way you think and feel. The more time you spend with media, the more influence it will exert over your life. If media consumption dominates your life, your thoughts and actions will be dominated by it as well. It can greatly affect your beliefs and your general outlook on life. The big problem, however, is to fully grasp the influence of media on your mind. This is especially difficult if your thinking is still greatly influenced by media. There’s only one way to discover the negative impact of all these things on your life, which is by consequently eliminating them from your life. It’s relatively easy to shrug the above off as nonsense if you’re still heavily influenced by media. But you will be amazed of the profound difference disconnecting and turning things off can make.
11. Ask yourself: Does this help to live more minimalistic? You can greatly contribute to the minimization of your life by making decisions that are more in line with a minimalistic lifestyle. If you are able to do this, your buying habits will greatly change. This in turn will help you to avoid de-cluttering your life in the first place. So whenever you’re going to meet a decision, ask yourself if it will help you minimalize or if it simply adds unnecessary noise. Pose yourself the question if the decision you’re going to meet will simplify your life or not. If it does not contribute to a minimalist lifestyle, reconsider if it is the best option for you.
If you cannot get enough of excellent steps to minimalize your life then have a look at our 40 Practical Tips to Simplify Your Life.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the most essential steps towards becoming a minimalist.