If shows like “Hoarders” can teach us anything, it’s that needless clutter rarely contributes to a happy and fulfilling life. It's not that surprising, then, that “minimalistic” trends like Nordic decor and... honestly, anything that Marie Kondo suggests are becoming massively popular.
The minimalist aesthetic encourages people to eliminate items from their homes and lives that don’t actively serve a purpose, therefore helping participants decide what they need, what they want, and what they can easily lose. It's an approach that can extend outside of physical items, too, to include uses of time and even relationships.
Interested in giving minimalist living a try? These eight behavioral shifts can set you off on a path of less noise and more contentment.
1. Keep a running tally of your possessions, so you won’t feel overwhelmed when it’s time to pare down.
One of the most daunting aspects of house cleaning happens when you’re forced to face down a giant pile of stuff that you don’t even remember acquiring in the first place. If you don’t make a point of keeping track of everything you bring into your house, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the quantity when you do finally decide to minimize. Having a running count already in your head simplifies the cleaning process, especially if you, as The Everygirl recommends, “make a number goal of things to get rid of.”
2. Don’t hold onto unusable items “just in case."
We’ve all fallen victim to the tempting trap of the “just in case” item. A pair of jeans you’ve long since outgrown? Maybe it’s worth keeping, just in case you return to the same size you wore in high school. Well, in truth, you’re better off getting rid of items (and by that, we mean donating them!) that aren’t being used and repurchasing things on a truly as-needed basis going forward.
3. Haven’t used it in three months? Bye bye.
If you’re not sure how to distinguish your “unusable” items from your “still in use, but just not regularly” items, The Everygirl has a simple solution: if you haven’t worn or utilized the item in some way in three months, it’s probably safe to let it go.
4. Can you replace an item for $20 or less at a shop less than 20 minutes from home? Feel free to give it away.
A similarly simple theory applies to ditching less-expensive items that are cluttering your house. If something costs $20 or less to replace and can be found at a shop 20 minutes or less from your home, it may be a better use of your space to donate the item and reacquire it (used, ideally!) if you ever truly need it in the future.
5. Do a merciless purge of your subscriptions.
In this age of streaming video and online newspapers, paying monthly dues for subscriptions can easily spiral out of control. In fact, many of us dole out for subscriptions that we’re not even using regularly. Therefore, it’s a smart idea to take a fine-toothed comb to your subscription list and to cancel what you don’t need.
6. Need to ease your way into minimalism? Start by winnowing down your travel luggage.
While a minimalist lifestyle sounds inherently easy, it can prove really challenging to pare down your possessions and prevent clutter from re-accumulating. If you know that you’ll struggle with this but want to give it a try, applying minimalist practices to your vacation packing can be a low-pressure way to dip your toe in the pond. Be More With Less offers the following suggestion: “The next time you take a trip, pack for 1/2 the time. If you are traveling for four days, pack for two. You can wash and hang clothes if you need to or wear the same things twice. See how it feels to carry less baggage.”
7. Invest money in quality items that can last for years.
One major downside to buying inexpensive items involves the ease with which they can pile up in your home. If you’d prefer a minimalist life, do as Apartment Therapy advises and “splurge on high-quality items that are meaningful for you. Remember that it might be nicer to have a sparse home filled with dreamy designs you adore versus full of things you just sort of like.”
8. Allow yourself to keep what really matters to you.
Some people misunderstand the tenets of minimalism, assuming that they need to purge everything but the bare essentials in order to fit the aesthetic. However, even KonMari guru Marie Kondo recommends holding onto items that “spark joy." Yes, minimalism calls for losing superfluous items that don’t positively contribute to your lifestyle, but there’s no harm whatsoever in keeping sentimental pieces that genuinely make you happy.