Do you want to spend less time cleaning, feeling anxious or paying off debt?
Embracing a minimalist lifestyle could help you do just that.
But it doesn't mean your apartment has to be all white with a lonely mattress on the floor.
Minimalism is both a philosophy and a set of practices that affect everything from how you think about shopping, to how you spend your time and choose your goals.
The central idea is to live more intentionally. By simplifying your life, you’re making more room for the important things.
Here are sixteen minimalist living tips you can use to give you more time, mental clarity and money to spend on the things you truly value.
Minimalist Living: 16 Ways To Embrace A Simpler Life
1. Keep Your Surfaces Clutter-Free
Researchers at the University of New Mexico have found that living in a cluttered home can negatively impact how you feel about it and decrease your sense of well being and satisfaction with life. Another study has found that women in particular are more likely to have high levels of the stress hormone cortisol if they live in cluttered spaces.
One simple way to start minimising clutter in your home is to make an effort to turn your surfaces like countertops and coffee tables into clutter-free zones. Find a new home for the things you usually leave there and practice putting them away for a few days to get used to your new habit.
2. Decorate with Intention
Approach decorating like a curator and choose items that invoke positive emotions or remind you of something important.
I have a picture frame hanging above my desk with photos of my best memories from the past year. Looking at it keeps me inspired when I need to buckle down to finish a project and helps me be more grateful throughout my day.
3. Create a Capsule Wardrobe
Putting together a capsule wardrobe with well-made classic pieces can help you spend less money on clothes and look great in the process.
If you're a woman looking for a 101 guide to creating a capsule wardrobe, check out Unfancy. The site has everything you need to experiment with a simpler wardrobe, from downloadable planners to inspiration for every season.
This post by style consultant and former menswear designer Peter Nguyen is a good primer for guys who want to create a stylish minimalist wardrobe.
4. Practice Single Tasking
Have you fallen prey to the myth of multitasking?
Think about it.
You’re not doing actually multiple things at once. You’re just moving from one task to another really quickly. This switching between tasks uses up precious mental energy and creates unnecessary anxiety.
The Pomodoro Technique is a proven way to break the multitasking habit and get more done in less time.
It’s simple: choose a task, set a timer for twenty-five minutes, work until the time is up and then take a five-minute break.
You can learn more about it here.
5. Unplug Often
- “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” — Anne Lamott
Best-selling author and technology investor, Tim Ferriss, recommends building deloading phases into your life, a term often used in weightlifting. One of the practices he’s implemented to reduce his anxiety is screen-free Saturdays.
Give it a try next weekend.
6. Choose Quality Over Quantity
This phrase might be a cliché, but it’s popular for a reason.
It’s smart to invest in goods that will last the test of time, even if that might mean giving up some comfort in the short-term. This is especially true when it comes to furniture, shoes, clothing and everyday carry items.
7. Try Regular Journaling
A regular journaling practice can help you get clear on what is important to you.
Blake Mycoskie, social enterprise pioneer and founder of TOMS, has been journaling daily since the age of 15. The simple act of writing things down has been a game-changer for him, helping him focus on his goals, become more self-aware and ultimately start a global movement.
It could help you do the same.
8. Create an Enough List
Feeling like you’re always busy but not getting anything important done?
Experiment with trading your daily to-do list for an Enough List. This is a list made up of the three most important tasks you want to complete that day. After doing those, you’ve done enough. Anything beyond that is a bonus.
This exercise can help break the cycle of constant busyness. It teaches you to consciously decide what is enough for today, even if you leave some tasks for tomorrow.
9. Stop Impulse Buying
Buying new things on a whim releases dopamine in your brain, a hormone which gives you a feel-good rush.
But when the rush is gone your impulse shopping habit still affects your budget, fills your home with unnecessary things and often leads to feelings of regret.
Practice delaying a purchase by taking a photo of it and waiting seven days before checking out. This cooling-off period can help you evaluate your reasons for wanting the item.
10. Start Saying No
If you feel like you can’t escape the overflowing commitments crammed into your schedule, it’s time to re-evaluate your approach.
Try using the “hell yeah! or no” rule created by entrepreneur and practical philosopher, Derek Sivers.
The rule is simple - if you’re not saying “Hell yeah!” about something, just say no.
While it might sound radical, using this approach can help you free up time to say “Hell yeah!” to amazing experiences.
If you really struggle with saying no to people, here are a few great hacks you can use.
11. Let Go of Guilt About Gifts
Getting rid of something you received as a gift can be tough. It’s often easier to keep it in the back of your closet for years because you feel too guilty to give or throw it away.
Luckily, the best-selling author and world’s most popular minimalist, Marie Kondo has some sage advice on how to deal with this issue:
“After the joy of the gift-giving moment is through, you can donate the gift without guilt. It has served its purpose.”
12. Reward Yourself For Clearing Out Clutter
If you don’t enjoy decluttering, try using what Harvard Business Review calls a concurrent reward. This is something you do while completing the task you’re dreading to make it more bearable.
Why not reward yourself by listening to a great podcast while you clean out your closet? Here are some of our favourites:
13. Turn Off Notifications
The ping from an incoming email or new Instagram comment might seem harmless, but Dan Ariely from Duke University says the cumulative cost of these tiny interruptions is much higher than you think. A recent study has shown that we make more mistakes and don’t pay full attention to our main task when we are interrupted by our phones.
For great advice on how to have a more mindful relationship with your phone check out these recommendations by the Center for Humane Technology, a non-profit founded by Tristan Harris, a former Design Ethicist at Google.
14. Cook Simple Meals
There are a few ways to approach cooking and eating like a minimalist.
If you have a lot going on in other areas of your life, experiment with eating the same lunch every day. This might sound boring in theory, but these five food-lovers have found it to be an awesome way to streamline their day.
15. Get Outside
When you’re less caught up with material possessions and you’ve cleared your schedule of unnecessary commitments, it’s time to get outside.
It’s hard to underestimate the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors.
Researchers have found that time spent in nature can help with everything from boosting your memory, lowering stress hormones, reducing anxiety and even helping you perform better at creative tasks.
16. Become a Conscious Consumer
One of the fundamental principles of minimalism is being more intentional with your purchasing decisions. This goes further than evaluating whether you need something before you buy it. It extends to consciously deciding which brands to support.
Before handing over your hard-earned cash for your next purchase, take the time to ask whether the brand uses ethical practices, looks after the environment and takes care of their workers.
At Benny’s Boardroom, we’re working hard to create a place where you can find high-quality gear from responsible brands. We’re on a mission to be ‘Champions of Good’. This means we curate our collection of products from socially and environmentally aware brands that you can feel good about supporting.