4 Baby Steps to Approach Minimalism As a Lifestyle Today

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For anyone who is not acquainted with the trend, let me give you a quick overview. In recent years a crowd of authors and bloggers revived this very old philosophy, which is based on the principle of living more conscious with less possessions and distractions. Sites such as Zen Habits, The Minimalists or Becoming Minimalist suggest that we should declutter our stuff, calendars and personal life to get rid of unnecessary possessions, busy time, overwhelming goals and fruitless relationships.

By doing so we redefine our needs and also eliminate complexity, stress and frustration to achieve a simpler and more fulfilled life.

Or to say it in the words of one of the leading minimalist bloggers Joshua Becker:

“At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

Sounds great? Well there is one problem.

Implementing these principles into your everyday routine will most likely be everything but simple. That is, especially if you grew up in a capitalist society that values abundance and associates minimalism with times of war. We are surrounded with the consumerist mantra of always wanting more, an economy that is built on obsolescence and a distractive media culture. We know that all that clutter in our wardrobes is mostly unnecessary. We know that busy time is unproductive, yet we always hurry. We know that social media makes us increasingly depressed but open the app first thing in the morning. Therefore minimizing your possessions, goals and schedule can feel like swimming against the stream.

There is also a psychological issue, namely negative association. Here a few examples. When someone suggests us to reduce our stuff, we immediately think of all the things that we don’t want to part with. That’s because the junk that we don’t need tends to not be on our mind. Many things we own we probably forgot, which is exactly what makes them useless.
Reduce your goals? No, that does not mean that you have to cut down your bucket list. It means that you focus on fewer projects and finish those instead of starting many and finish none.

Good news is there are a few tricks and baby steps I would like to share with you to get started today, have fun and see the benefits immediately.

1. Go to the dark corners. Cellar, boxes, attic or your bottom shelves. You will find things you probably didn’t know you own or forgot a long time ago. The more stuff we accumulate the less overview we have. This leads to a lot of time waste searching for things or double purchasing them. If you don’t want to get rid of it just yet, as a baby step, organize your clutter and make sure you know what you own. It will prevent you getting more of it.

2. Give and donate. That shirt you bought three years ago but never worn, well chances are high you won’t wear it in the next three years either, but you also can’t throw it away. Give it to friends, charities and use local sharing sites. Especially when you receive gratitude and a big smile, giving things away can feel as good as getting new stuff.

3. Pick one important thing for the next day. Write down the most important task before you go to bed. Complete it the next day, tap yourself on the shoulder and relax a bit. Knowing that you have completed the most important thing will keep you motivated for the rest of the day. You won’t feel frustrated or underperforming, but learn to focus on the essentials.

4. Get active on social media. It is not Facebook that makes us feel depressed and lonely but our passive consumption of it. Instead of sharing and communicating we browse other people’s walls, pictures and wait for messages. Think of what you want to do before opening it. Answer, share, post or search for something. Focus on using, not checking. That sense of purpose will automatically reduce the time you spend on social media and increase the quality of the remaining use.

Try a few of these little steps for a couple of days or even longer. You will get more organized with your possessions, receive gratitude; feel less stressed and more productive. That is exactly what minimalism is trying to achieve, reducing the quantity and complexity of life to increase quality. It is NOT the ability to survive in a spartanic home.

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Author: Marina Popzov

Helping others helps me. Giving advice guides me. If you are curious for more ideas on how to handle choices and simplify your life, visit me here: marinapopzov.wordpress.com

One Response to 4 Baby Steps to Approach Minimalism As a Lifestyle Today

  1. Peter Ewin Hall July 25, 2014 at 4:27 am #

    Marina, I think you've made some great points there. The minimalist approach is hard because of the media pressures and associations. There's a lot of clever psychology out there trying to get us to buy more stuff. I agree that taking action rather than being passive is the way forward. Last week I took three bags of books to the local charity shop; the last step in tidying two bookshelves. It was win for everyone – the house looks better, the shop has some valuable stock and someone else has a chance to enjoy the books. Getting a buzz from something so simple is a great antidote to the buy more messages around us.

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