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In this post: People are flocking toward a simpler, low-impact lifestyle. Here we answer the question, “Why minimalism?” and discuss getting started as a minimalist by creating a minimalist house.
Are you considering downsizing your life, simplifying, and reducing the stress around you but unsure of how? Take a peek into the world of living simply and implementing a minimalist approach to your life. Then decide if creating a minimalist house is right for you.
To give you a simple answer, minimalism is the decision to live a meaningful life with few material possessions.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be able to fit everything you own into one suitcase though, so don’t panic!
Minimalism is the idea of simplifying your life, surrounding yourself with the things you love and enjoy, and finding your freedom away from consumerism.
A Minimalist House Has the Perfect Amount of Things
People equate minimalism with having as little as you can possibly stand. You might have a picture of someone eating rice and beans from the only bowl in the house while sitting on the floor. Who needs furniture when the floor is perfectly fine, right?
This might be the approach of some people to minimalism, but it’s not the only approach.
Instead of viewing minimalism as the minimal amount that’s tolerable, view minimalism – and a minimalist home – as having the perfect amount. No more, no less.
Let’s use an example:
If you live alone in the suburbs, you probably only need one car. But, suppose you’re a real estate agent and also work in construction. You might need one nice car for driving your clients around and also need an old pickup truck for your construction job. Now, imagine that you also like to drag race on the weekends. That will require a third car.
There is an ideal amount for everything in your life, and that amount can vary dramatically between you and someone else.
Consider these ideas to determine the perfect amount of everything in your life:
1. What is your life’s purpose? When you know the primary focus of your life, it’s a lot easier to determine what you need and don’t need.
- For example, if you’re a politician and your ultimate goal is to become a senator, you might need a large home in an urban setting for entertaining. If you’re an artist, you might work better out in the country in a simple home.
2. What do you actually need versus what do you want? There are very few things in life that you actually need. There however are many things you want. Minimalism is about having all the things you need and putting the brakes on accumulating a lot of things you simply want.
3. How does having more cost you? This is an important question to ask yourself. Having more than you need is expensive in many ways.
Items, people, and obligations either help you to live your life more fully, or they detract from your ability to live your best life.
- Consider your time and your life to be sacred. Carrying excess baggage slows you down.
- Clutter is more detrimental than you probably realize. It limits your ability to concentrate and is always weighing on your mind.
4. Minimalism allows you to accomplish more. Most of the things you desire get in the way of accomplishing your goals.
- For example, if your purpose is to create a software company, owning a boat doesn’t help you to accomplish that. It gets in your way by taking your time, attention, and financial resources. (Unless you LOVE boating in your downtime.)
5. Minimalism may speed up your success. When you’re less distracted and have fewer things cluttering your life, you can accomplish more each day. Success may come faster and easier.
6. What is the perfect amount? Ask yourself this question constantly. What would be the perfect number of employees? What is the perfect size couch for my living room? What is the perfect number of dinner plates for my situation?
- When you’re looking for the perfect amount or number, you’ll avoid acquiring more than you need. That’s minimalism.
The idea of being a minimalist doesn’t appeal to a lot of people, because they think they have to limit themselves to one bowl, one spoon, sit on the floor, and stare out the window for entertainment. This is unnecessary.
A more reasonable view of minimalism is pursuing the perfect amount of something. It’s not about making do with the minimum you can tolerate but avoiding having more than you need.
The end result is more time, peace, money, and even success.
Is Minimalism For You?
Minimalism and simplicity are commonly used terms today. Are they the same thing?
We’ve talked about my idea of minimalism. But there are varying degrees and definitions of minimalism.
Many view minimalism as the modern equivalent of living in a cave and eating berries by a fire, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
If you feel like your life is too hectic or lacks meaning, minimalist ideas might help you create a life that’s more centered and enjoyable.
- Simplifying your life is a matter of reduction.
- But, minimalism goes further. It also includes elimination. You’re literally removing things from your life.
Signs that a minimalist house might be a viable idea to enhance your life:
- You have items in your way that you rarely use. Unnecessary clutter has a negative impact on your life. It weighs you down emotionally and wastes your time.
- Box up those unneeded items and then sell, donate, or toss them. If you need more help with this grab a copy of my second book, The Clutter Fix.
- You have excessive debt. The only material goods that are necessary are food, clothing, and shelter.While there’s no reason to get too carried away with limiting yourself to the bare essentials, if debt is making your life miserable, you’re likely purchasing too much.
- Prior to any purchase, ask yourself if it’s something you genuinely need or if it’s just a want.
- You’re upset that you don’t own a nicer car, house, or other items. If you have a car that breaks down all the time, of course, you’d like a more reliable car. But if you already own a decent, reliable car, it’s different. Is obsessing about owning a $100,000 car really conducive to a happy life? Certainly, you can find more meaningful things to occupy your thoughts.
- You’re busy, but your life lacks meaning. We’ve all had days filled with activity, which ended with feelings of emptiness. Minimalism can help remove the excess from your life to make room for more meaningful activities.
9 Reasons to Give a Minimalist House a Chance
So you may be considering having a minimalist house now, but who would choose to be a minimalist?
You might have visions of living in an empty room with little more than a chair and a bare light bulb. But as we’ve discussed already, that’s not what minimalism is all about. It’s not about reducing everything to the minimum you can barely tolerate.
It’s about getting rid of the extra things and commitments that don’t mean much to you.
The extra items and obligations in your life cost more than you realize in terms of dollars and peace of mind.
Discover how minimalism can alter your life for the better
Adopting a few minimalist principles could go a long way towards bringing you greater fulfillment and life satisfaction.
- You’ll spend a lot less time cleaning. Half of the time you spend cleaning is actually spent decluttering. It’s easier to clean the floors, the counters, and the furniture if you don’t have to spend time moving things around and putting things away first.
- You’ll feel better. Less clutter uplifts your mood and outlook on life. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel without all the stuff that’s commonly in your way. You’ll also be surrounded by the things that mean the most to you.
- Minimalism is inexpensive. It only stands to reason that you’ll save more money if you buy fewer things. You might even make a few bucks when getting rid of the things that aren’t meaningful to you.
- You can own higher quality items. With more money to spend, you might be able to buy a nicer car, TV, or clothing. Or you might want to save the money, but at least you have the choice. What would you buy if you could? Minimalism could make this possible for you.
- You have more free time. With fewer things to take care of and less time spent on cleaning and decluttering, you’ll have more free time to enjoy the rest of your life. You also have fewer distractions which makes it easier to enjoy the other parts of your life.
- Less stress. A cleaner home, more money, more free time, and more space result in less stress. Just look at a picture of a minimalist home and notice the feeling of serenity that comes over you. Now imagine coming home to that same feeling after a long, stressful day at work.
- Clearer sense of purpose and greater motivation. By limiting your activities and possessions to the most important, you’ll find it easier to focus and make decisions. Your commitment to those remaining activities also increases.
- Relationships are enhanced. When you and everyone in your home are less distracted, happier, and have more free time, you can enjoy each other more. A comfortable, stress-free environment benefits everyone in the home.
- You could live in a smaller home. You certainly don’t have to, but you have the option of moving to a smaller and less expensive home. A house is the most expensive thing you’re likely to ever buy. You’ll have the chance of reducing this expense if you decide to give minimalism a try.
PRO TIP: Pick one room and pretend you’re a minimalist. If you’re apprehensive, put all the items you remove from the room in boxes and store them. If you don’t miss the items after a month, get rid of them.
10 Amazing Advantages of Minimalism and a Minimalist House
Striving to live with less is counter to the typical Western way of thinking. Most of us live lives of collecting the latest items, whether it be the latest cell phone, a new car, or a new appliance.
Being free of the need to accumulate things brings real peace. Consider becoming a minimalist and enjoy the benefits it brings.
Becoming a minimalist can change your life in positive ways:
- You’ll have less debt. It’s not easy to find someone that isn’t worried about debt. Enjoying a large salary doesn’t seem to make one immune. As a minimalist, you’ll avoid the temptation to buy those things you don’t need. If you’re already in debt, you’ll be in a much better position to deal with it effectively.
- You’ll have more free time. One interesting side effect of minimalism is an increase in free time. By keeping your commitments to the precious few, you’ll have more time to enjoy the things in your life that really matter to you.
- Discover more about yourself. The whole idea of minimalism is to strip away that which is unnecessary. Focusing on learning more about yourself becomes more interesting. Without the clutter of a job you dislike, excess possessions, and non-meaningful activities to get in the way, you can discover thoughts, feelings, skills, and talents you didn’t realize you had.
- Less stress and pressure. Living the life of a minimalist reduces the amount of stress in your life. You’ll have less debt, have fewer possessions to get in your way, and you’re free of the need to impress others.
- You’ll avoid many of the pitfalls of chasing possessions and power. Western society is obsessed with big houses, fancy cars, beautiful people, and power. While having these things isn’t inherently inappropriate, the maniacal pursuit of them can be. An overemphasis on money and power are the root of many personal issues.
- Minimalism is good for the environment. All the energy required to heat and cool large homes comes at the expense of the environment. Everything that goes in the trash impacts the environment. Luxury cars tend to be less efficient and produce more exhaust per mile. When you consume less, you impact the environment less.
- You’ll be more focused on others. With your added free time and less need to impress others, you can start doing more for those you would like to help or spend more time with. Your own life will be easier to maintain, which results in an excess of resources that you can share with others, such as your time and energy.
- You can pursue more meaningful employment. When your need for income is decreased, a whole new world of opportunity is opened to you. That lower-paying job that seems so satisfying can become a real possibility. The more you consume, the more you have to earn just to survive.
- Your life becomes filled with people and activities that are meaningful. Eliminating the unnecessary creates more space for the things that matter. You’ll have more time and space for relationships and activities you enjoy.
- The items you do own can be of much higher quality. You’ll find that by limiting the number of shoes, books, tools, and other things you own, you’ll acquire items of higher quality. More isn’t better. Better is better. There’s something satisfying about owning and using a high-quality item.
Luckily, there are many strategies that can help you embrace a life of minimalism. You just need to know how to get started.
How to Introduce Minimalism into Your Life
Here’s a really quick way to begin to minimalize:
- Get clutter off the floor. Not only will your home and office look cleaner, but you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel! Put it on a shelf, in the closet, or get rid of it altogether.
- Now hit the countertops, tables, and shelves. Go through all those items and ask yourself if you’ve used them in the last six months. Do you truly need them? Clear off those spaces as much as possible.
- Go through your clothes. Most people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time, while the other 80% of your clothes just take up space. Let it go if you don’t wear it or it hasn’t fit in for over a year.
- Make a list of all the optional activities in your life. Include all the organizations, clubs, team sports, happy hours, etc. Eliminate one. In a couple of weeks, eliminate another. Now fill some of that free time with activities you really love. You can free up a lot of time by learning how to say “no.”
- Repeat this process on a regular basis. Just a couple of cycles of minimalizing will dramatically reduce the complexity of your life.
How to Create a Minimalist House
Set Your Intentions
Which items do you own that truly add value or bring happiness to your life? There’s a reason you’re considering minimalism, so what is it? Is it to reduce stress? Save money? Simplify your cleaning routine? Save time? To have freedom?
Sit down and think about this. Write it down and stick it somewhere you’ll see it so you don’t forget. Make a vision board of how you want your space to look and keep moving towards that goal. It will be worth it when you put your feet up and admire your progress.
Whatever your reasons are, having them front and center by way of a vision board is an awesome way to stay on track with your minimalism journey, even when it gets difficult.
Clear Out the Clutter!
To get started on your path to minimalism, you’re going to need to block out some time to declutter.
This will be the most time-consuming task in the process. However, it’s not a race. You can block out an hour at a time when you know you’ll have the spare time, or spend as little as 15 minutes a day working through this process. As long as you can stay focused and minimize your distractions, the process will go fairly smoothly.
You’d be surprised at what we hold on to. Holding on to something that needs fixing, but you haven’t got around to it yet? If you haven’t noticed a massive hole in your life without this object, do you really need it?
The key here is, to be honest with yourself and really reflect on what you love and what you’re just holding onto. If you find yourself hanging onto clothes that you haven’t worn in the past six months or more, it’s probably time to let them go.
You get to make those decisions yourself, but the idea of minimalism is to get the absolute most out of everything you own and to let someone else find joy in the things you don’t.
Try the ‘4 Bag Method’ to Declutter
- Bag 1 – Trash: anything that you’ve decided not to keep and can’t be given away, sold, or recycled.
- Bag 2 – Recycle: anything you’ve decided not to keep doesn’t need to be in the landfills.
- Bag 3 – Donations/things to sell: anything you’ve decided not to keep can be dropped off at your local thrift shop or sold online. (See below for ideas)
- Bag 4 – Keep: all the things that you’re going to keep in your life.
The decluttering process could take hours, days, or even weeks! Patience is key. Work through it and process your feelings and emotions as you declutter, room by room. Again, if you need more help with decluttering and getting organized, my second book, The Clutter Fix, can help you.
PRO TIP: Do you have bookcases full of books you’ve already read or know in your heart that t you never will read? Get yourself a Kindle Unlimited subscription! Even diehard “real book” fans can benefit from an eReader and Kindle Unlimited is awesome because you can check out tons of books – for free. Kinda like a library, right on Amazon! (Plus I love mine for reading at night and I love that I can make the font size larger for my poor almost middle-aged eyes!)
Once you’re happy with your new tidy home, the next step is to maintain it. Commit to doing a quick sweep through the house once a week to collect up any clutter that has accumulated and deal with it immediately. The need for a whole house declutter will never reoccur if you stay on top of it.
Research Charities in Your Local Area for Donations
So you’ve done the decluttering bit, now what? There are so many local charities who would be grateful for your donations.
Find them and ask what they’re looking for and if any of your things would be of use to them. This includes:
- women’s shelters
- homeless shelters
- foster facilities
And anywhere else locally you think your items would make the best impact. It’s always a good feeling to know you’re helping out others who really need it.
For a more extensive list of places to donate, recycle or otherwise get rid of your excess things, grab a copy of The Clutter Fix.
Cultivate a Minimalist Mindset
Minimalism is not a competition. Remember the purpose that drives your decision; it’s the reason you’re reading this right now.
- Do you strive for more time and freedom away from household chores?
- Why are you clearing your space?
- Do these objects really matter to you?
Keep that reason close to you as you start and as you continue on in your minimalist journey.
Deciding to invite more minimal ways of living into your life is your decision. This is a personal journey and does not allow you the right to judge others who continue to live as they please surrounded by any many material belongings as they like.
If you’re making these changes to become aware of what really matters to you, you don’t want to start pushing away your nearest and dearest with your opinions on how they should live their lives. This is a recipe for conflict; educate and inspire, but respect what brings others joy. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor!
The only way for minimalism to work is if you stick with it. This means no impulse buys.
There’s a reason stores put those huge red ‘SALE’ posters in their windows. Ask yourself if you would have gone into that shop if it wasn’t for the fact that they had a sale advertised? If the answer is no, just think of the money and space you’ll be saving by resisting temptation.
Love online shopping? Put things into your basket and review them in a week or two – do you still want them, or have you completely forgotten about them? This action will really help you to change your mindset which will benefit you on your journey towards living the minimalist lifestyle.
If you do buy something (like a new item of clothing), get rid of another. This tactic ensures that you’re never increasing your belongings and gives you the opportunity to decide whether you really want to make this purchase in the first place, knowing that you’ve got to throw something out when you get home!
Be (More) Strict with Yourself
When was the last time you used that appliance or wore that scarf? Here’s where you’ll find a good, honest friend very helpful. They’re the ones that will be the first to say ‘I’ve never seen you wear that’ and it will open your eyes to the reality of your closet. If you own something that still has the tags on or you don’t even remember buying it… you know the drill!
Breathe Through It, So You Don’t Get Overwhelmed
Remember your end goal and your reasons for considering minimalism in the first place.
You’re doing this to improve your life.
Focus, be determined and look forward to a more simple life surrounded by the things that matter the most to you. Make space for freedom, passion, time with friends and family, and most importantly, happiness!
More Organizing and Decluttering Ideas
- How to Start Decluttering When You’re Overwhelmed
- How to Declutter the House: The Complete Guide to Decluttering and Organizing Your Home
- 50 Things You Should “Throw Away” Today + Free Printable Checklist
- How to Get Organized: 10 Tips to Help You Organize Your Home
- 7 Best Closet Organizing Tips: How to Organize Your Closet
More Organizing and Decluttering Resources
You don’t have to live under a tarp in the woods to use minimalism to your advantage. It’s simply a matter of removing excess and meaningless things from your life. Use some of the extra time and space to introduce new, amazing things into your life. I bet you’ll be glad you did!
One of the best, most thoughtful articles I’ve read in a loonnnnggg time.
Very helpful for my cluttered mind and house.