This post is a little introduction to minimalism and simple living, with some thoughts on how to slow down and add a little simplicity to your life. If you are interested in the topic, read the post and then try to answer the questions at the end, on paper or even in your head.
What is minimalism?
Minimalism is a lifestyle and philosophy that emphasizes simplicity, purposeful living, and the elimination of excess things and distractions. The idea behind minimalism is that by reducing clutter and distractions in our lives, we can focus on what’s really important and find more fulfillment and happiness.
The key idea of minimalism is this: remove what doesn’t add value to your life to make room for the things that are.
clutter, time commitments, negative thought patterns, and toxic relationships
time, space and energy for the things that are really important to you
Essentially, minimalism is about figuring out which things, people, and activities are important to you and which are not. Sounds pretty simple, right? The problem is that too often we are too caught up in the day-to-day to pay attention to what we want in life and what we think we should want (according to society, our environment, or our own beliefs). We lose touch with our values (or are never aware of them) and then try to fill that void in the best way we know how: more things, more things to do, more people around us. We fill our schedule to the brim, buy more than we need, stay glued to our social media feeds for fear of missing out, and go event after event even when we want nothing more than to spend the evening reading on the couch.
Minimalism is a way to get back to making conscious choices and living with intention, rather than letting everything add up or letting others dictate how we spend our time.
Isn’t minimalism mostly about getting rid of things?
No, but your stuff is a good place to start!
The things you have, big and small, are not just things. They represent your history, aspirations, habits and values.
Practicing minimalism can include organizing your physical space by getting rid of unnecessary things, simplifying your daily routine and schedule, and being mindful of what you bring to your life. It can also mean reassessing your values and priorities and making changes to align your life with them.
That’s why sometimes it’s so hard to get rid of something as simple as an old high school T-shirt. For you, it’s not just a t-shirt, it represents an important stage in your life and is associated with a whole lot of feelings and memories. Going through your stuff and getting rid of anything that no longer has a place in your life can be very therapeutic as it forces you to carefully evaluate and deal with these kinds of emotions.
The state of our living space is also a fairly accurate reflection of the state of our mind. Psychological research has repeatedly shown how physical clutter overwhelms our senses and stresses us out. We need a nice, clutter-free environment to feel rested, calm, and content. And usually, once we’ve dealt with the mess, it’s easier to move on to the bigger things in life that we may have been struggling with.
Get rid of my stuff? But I love my stuff!
Minimalism is not a numbers game. It’s not about having as little as possible or doing as little as possible. It’s about having and doing exactly what you need or want. So if you want to have 20 sweaters because you love each one and wear them all, great! But if your closet is a mess that makes getting dressed a chore, that’s a different story.
Being a minimalist can mean many different things to different people. What one person might consider “too loud and busy” may be the perfect minimalist living space for someone else, as it contains everything they need to live and want to have around them.
It is a common misconception that minimalism is all about LESS, subtracting what is possible. But it’s really just about subtracting the bad stuff, the stuff that drains your energy. And then once you’ve made some space, just add it back in.
Some benefits of minimalism may include:
- Greater freedom and flexibility
- Greater concentration and productivity
- More time and energy to pursue things that really matter
- Matters to you
- A sense of calm and tranquility resulting from the reduction of clutter and distractions
- Greater financial stability thanks to less spending on unnecessary things
- More respect for the things you have
- Reduced environmental impact
It’s important to remember that minimalism is a personal journey and what works for one person may not work for another. Also, keep in mind that minimalism is not about deprivation, but about making conscious choices about what to bring into your life.
Types of minimalism:
There are several different types of minimalism that people can practice depending on their personal goals and values. Some of the most common types of minimalism I’m presenting you here
Lifestyle or philosophy that emphasizes simplicity and the reduction of material possessions. It involves decluttering and getting rid of unnecessary items, and focusing on owning only what is essential and brings value to one’s life. The goal of physical minimalism is to simplify one’s life, reduce stress and distractions, and create more space for meaningful experiences and relationships. Physical minimalism also often coincides with environmentalism and sustainable living as it advocates for less consumption and waste.This may include getting rid of excess clothing, furniture and other items that are no longer needed or used.
Philosophy and approach to technology use that emphasizes the use of digital tools and devices in a mindful and intentional way. It involves reducing or eliminating the use of technology that does not bring value to one’s life and focusing on the use of technology that is necessary and beneficial. The goal of digital minimalism is to simplify relationship with technology, reduce distractions and information overload, and create more time and space for meaningful activities and relationships.
Digital minimalism can involve practices such as:
- Unsubscribing from unnecessary emails and social media accounts.
- Setting limits on the amount of time spent on certain apps and websites.
- Being intentional about when and how to check email and social media.
- Keeping technology out of certain spaces, such as the bedroom.
- Prioritizing face-to-face communication and other non-digital activities.
Digital minimalism is often seen as a way to regain control over one’s use of technology and to avoid the negative consequences of constant connectedness and information overload.
The Digital Minimalism philosophy was popularized by Cal Newport in his book “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World”
Time minimalism is related to managing one’s time that emphasizes the use of time in a mindful and intentional way. It should include reducing or eliminating activities and tasks that do not bring value to one’s life. Insted of that keep focusing on the activities that are necessary and beneficial. The goal of that minimalism is to make schedule much more simple, reduce distractions and stress.
Time minimalism can involve practices such as:
- Prioritizing important tasks and activities over less important ones – read post about planning here
- Eliminating unnecessary meetings and commitments.
- Setting boundaries on when and how to work.
- Being intentional about how time is spent.
- Practicing mindfulness to be more present in the moment.
The goal of time minimalism is to make the most of the limited time we have and to avoid wasting time on things that don’t matter. It also aims to create a better balance between work and personal life, and to free up time for self-care, hobbies, and other activities that bring joy and fulfillment.
Financial minimalism is bringing us to manage our finances. To emphasizes simplicity, frugality, and the reduction of unnecessary expenses. This minimalism is decluttering one’s financial life, getting rid of unnecessary debt and expenses, and focusing on the things that bring value to one’s life. Financial minimalism goal is to simplify financial situation, reduce stress and distractions, and create more financial freedom and security.
Financial minimalism can involve practices such as:
- Living below one’s means.
- Reducing or eliminating unnecessary expenses and subscriptions.
- Paying off debt.
- Saving and investing for the future.
- Being intentional about spending and avoiding impulsive purchases.
- Being mindful of the long-term financial consequences of spending decisions.
Focuses on prioritizing experiences over possessions. Focuses on traveling, spending time outdoors and participating in activities that bring joy and fulfillment.
It’s important to remember that minimalism can be a personal journey, and different types of minimalism may work better for different people.
So how can I start living a simpler life?
Ask questions! What things, people, and activities are currently adding value to your life and which are not? What would you like to have more time for? A few questions to start with:
- Which 3-5 things are most important to you in life? Does the way you spend your time reflect this?
- What part of the day do you usually look forward to the most? Why?
- How do you feel in your living space?
- How many hours a day do you spend feeling rushed, stressed or anxious? What (or who) is causing this?
- What is your favorite place in your house/apartment? Why?
- How often do you do something for fun?
- What activities always make you feel fresh and energized?
- Which of your commitments (side projects, clubs, memberships, etc.) really add value to your life and which don’t?
- If this week had an extra day, how would you spend it? How good are you at refusing?
The key to tackling big, abstract goals like “living a simpler, more conscious life” is to break them down into concrete, manageable daily habits that you can incorporate into your routine one by one. Here you have also a graphic with 9 basic steps you can take to simplify your life and get started with minimalism.
If you’re feeling skeptical about all minimalism: try one and see how you feel in a week. Or if you’re curious: choose three to start with and gradually introduce the rest one by one. And if you’re very enthusiastic: use the momentum to get started right away, but don’t try to do everything at once to avoid burnout.
Other talkings about minimalism – where to find inspiration
There are many websites and resources available that cover the topic of minimalism and provide information, inspiration, and tips for those interested in adopting a minimalist lifestyle. Some popular ones include:
Website and podcast run by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who have been advocating for minimalism for over a decade. They share their personal stories and insights, as well as offer a wide range of resources and information on minimalism.
Created by Joshua Becker, who writes about minimalism, simple living, and intentional living. He shares his personal story and provides practical tips and advice for simplifying one’s life.
A blog by Leo Babauta that covers a wide range of topics related to simplicity, productivity, and personal growth. It includes many articles on minimalism and simple living.
A website that is all about tiny living and minimalism, with a focus on downsizing and simplifying to live a more fulfilling life. It provides a lot of information, tips and inspiration for people interested in tiny living.
These are just a few examples, but there are many other websites, blogs, podcasts and youtube channels available that cover minimalism, simple living and related topics.
Thank you for reading.
See you in next post.