I’m not a huge fan of the word minimalism. I prefer, intentional ownership. But I’m also a reasonable blogger, who understands nobody is searching for the term, “intentional ownership.”
Minimalism is a word that encompasses the idea of decluttering, downsizing, living intentionally, and so much more. That’s why I use that word.
If you’re new to the concept, or at least to practicing it, these are some easy steps you can take today to start the journey… and it is a journey, not a destination.
1. Stop Bringing More Stuff In
It’s just like getting out of debt: the first step is to not get any more.
If you get rid of 100 items, while simultaneously bringing in 200 items, you’re worse off than you were when you started.
I get it. This seems obvious. But it’s not.
New things are always exciting. We never think of something we just bought as clutter. We weren’t thinking of the pile of things in our garage as clutter when we bought them.
First, be intentional about every single purchase from here on.
If it’s not essential, and not something you really love, don’t buy it.
2. Get the Minimalist Mindset
As I’ve learned in life, and taught throughout all of my books and articles, mindset is possibly the most important piece of success in anything. This ranges from finances, to business, to parenting, to minimalism.
Stick to the new idea of intentional ownership with every purchase, and let intentional ownership reign when you look at each item you own.
This starts with knowing why you’re doing it in the first place…
3. Know Your “Why”
Why do you want to minimize?
Do you feel like a hoarder? Or is it because you just want to be intentional with your life?
Whatever your “why” is, don’t forget it.
Decluttering and minimizing isn’t easy. You have to make a lot of decisions, which gets tiring quickly. Remembering your “why” in those times is what gets you through.
4. Find Your System
You have options when it comes to decluttering and simplifying your home.
There’s the KonMari Method, which is now the most popular one. Thanks, Netflix. It’s a great system, but it’s not for everybody. There are all kinds of games and strategies, and they all work, but using all of them at the same time can be overwhelming.
Figure out which one(s) works for you.
The easiest of all methods is to simply get four boxes. Label them as:
- Put away
- Give away
- Throw away
- I don’t know a way… yet (or, undecided)
This will get you started. Here are three more resources to keep you going:
5. Convert to Digital
A great first step to declutter, without really getting rid of anything, is to go digital.
You can do this with plenty of things, here are the most common:
- Documents – First off, you probably have a lot of old documents you can get rid of entirely. For the ones you still need, convert them to digital.
- Music – If you still own a huge CD collection, put your entire library on your computer, and donate or recycle the physical CDs. Or just use Spotify.
- Photos – Scan in your photos, or take high-quality pictures of them, and completely convert your photo library to digital.
- Recipes – Do you still use cookbooks? Plenty of people do. Why not convert them to digital? Or just use the internet for endless recipes.
6. Downsize One Room
The idea of downsizing your entire home is daunting.
So start with one room.
If you’re feeling completely engulfed in clutter, start with an easy room, like the guest bedroom. If you’re feeling bold, start with your kitchen. This is a great place to get rid of a thousand things.
You don’t need as much as you think you do for your daily cooking, and you can combine uses for much of it, but we’ll talk about that next…
7. Combine Things
Find things with multiple uses, and donate the other items.
The kitchen is the best example of this, but it applies to your clothes, electronics, furniture, and honestly… the rest of your house.
Plenty of things have multiple uses. Use them.
8. Get Rid of Duplicates
On the same lines as finding multiple uses for things, you likely have two or more of things when you only need one.
Do you have multiple dress shirts in the exact same color? Do you have backups of things that don’t need a backup? Do you have 15 coffee cups when you could easily get by with five?
Find the duplicates and eliminate them.
9. Implement the 5-Year Rule
We often keep things because we think we may need them later.
This is one of the hardest habits to break when minimizing, but you can start with the easy stuff.
If you haven’t used it in the last five years, get rid of it.
I understand there will be a few things (seriously, like 1%) you haven’t used in five years that you actually still need. This is the exception.
And you’re probably lying to yourself.
10. Stop Reading and Do Something
Finally, just do something. You have enough ideas.
Do something now. Take a small step today.
Even if you just get rid of one thing. That’s a step.
Decluttering is a habit and habits are best formed when you start tiny.
“Make it so easy you can’t say no.”Leo Babauta
Action creates motivation.