Discover seven quick and easy steps that will teach you how to adopt a minimalist lifestyle.
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Learning how to adopt a minimalist lifestyle and attaining a life of balance need not be supremely difficult. Chris Chalk, gives his seven-step formula for beginners that will help you with the transition.
Chris Chalk is the Co-founder and CEO of Jungle Straws, a sustainable products company. Hailing from England originally, he now splits his time between the UK and Vietnam. An avid traveller, he continues to explore new destinations when work permits. When he’s not working, Chris enjoys running, and exploring new and exciting destinations by motorcycle.
At heart, I’ve always leaned towards minimalist tendencies. Even before I knew what minimalism was!
Minimalism is fundamentally a way to simplify your life and make it more manageable, physically and mentally speaking.
Ever since I condensed my life into a backpack six years ago and launched my location independent business, I’m a self-declared minimalist – loud and proud!
Minimising your life doesn’t necessarily mean chucking everything out of your house. Nor does it mean wearing the same outfit and cooking the same meal for weeks on end.
The lifestyle is customisable.
Decide what it is about minimalism that appeals to you. Do you want to downsize? Spend less money? Boost your wellbeing? Focus on the stages of minimalism that will help you achieve your personal goals.
You can minimise in one swoop, or take a gradual approach. My first tip for the minimalistically-curious – start small.
If you’re 100% onboard with minimising, then definitely go ahead and purge. Treat minimalism like a swimming pool and plunge right in.
But, if you’re nervous, it’s fine to take baby steps and test the water. There is no set criteria to being a minimalist, it’s purely a lifestyle!
To help you on your way, I’ve prepared a step-by-step guide on how to become more minimalist, based on my own experiences.
A step-by-step guide on how to be minimalist
This guide features quick and easy tips that will help you adopt a minimalist lifestyle. From shopping habits to decluttering to creating new habits, check out our step-by-step guide here.
Tip #1: How to minimise your…shopping habits
Two quick things you can do to adopt a minimalist lifestyle by minimising your shopping habits would be to a) pause before buying something and b) start a minimalist savings account.
Think before you buy
If you surf online shops in your coffee break and scout the high street daily, chances are you’re shedding a fair few pennies each week.
I’m not saying stop buying new things forever, but hold back from impulse buys. This applies to all products; furnishings, clothing, jewellery, toys for your cat (that she never plays with).
If you already have one of something, you don’t really need another, do you?
When something isn’t broken, it doesn’t need replacing.
And if something is broken, the odds are it’s more cost-effective to fix it.
Start a ‘minimalist’ savings account
Why not open a new ‘minimalist’ savings account where you can track your savings?
Whenever you are tempted by something that you don’t need, rather than charge your debit card – slide that amount over into the account. See how much you’ve saved after 30 days!
Ultimately, the essence of a minimalist way of life is about saving money.
Minimalist principles are founded on buying only what we need.
We invest in durable, sustainable products that will offer us a long life. Token trinkets we do own offer us a real purpose or are extremely sentimental.
Tip #2: How to minimise your… home
This is the most common way people try to minimise when adopting a minimalist lifestyle.
There are many different ways you can minimise your home but the top two would be: a) decluttering prominent living spaces and b) avoiding hoarding clutter.
Declutter your prominent living spaces
The obvious starting point for any budding minimalist!
You don’t have to go full-on Scandi in the beginning.
Consider which room you spend the most time in and start there. That might be your lounge or your home office. Scale back that room and see how it affects your mood to start with.
As you’ll no doubt know, minimalists are defined by the phrase ‘less is more’ so rather than having lots of ornaments, only display those with personal sentiments.
Once you’ve minimised one room, move onto the next.
Avoid hoarding your clutter
As you’re going around minimising – you’re going to end up with bags and boxes of all kinds of things! Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to shove it all in the garage, loft, or under your bed.
You need to get it out of the house, or else it will eventually wind up back on your shelves.
Divide your pre-loved goods into three piles.
One, for items that you can sell via eBay or a carboot sale. Another, for charity. The final bag, things that you might be able to pass over to a friend, family member or neighbour.
Tip #3: How to minimise your…kitchen
Happy enough with your home and already frugal? You might want to adopt a minimalist lifestyle by minimising your kitchen.
Not the decor per se but the food and drink that is made in your kitchen. To minimise effectively, you can a) streamline your meals, b) avoid over-buying and c) clear your surfaces.
Streamline your meals
Reducing the number of ingredients in your meal is a great way to start your culinary minimisation. Rather than throwing in every veggie under the sun, pick two or three that really complement each other’s flavours.
As much as I love to cook, I’m a big fan of batch cooking too.
By cooking a meal that will give me enough leftovers for a couple of lunches it frees up my mind to think about other things!
Minimalists lead a more conscientious life when grocery shopping.
Try picking up only what you need for a few days rather than stockpiling.
That way, when you open the fridge you have less decisions to make. Less veggies will end up in the bin.
Oh, and the quickest way to minimise your kitchen? Audit your spices! We all lose track of what we have on the rack.
Try topping up at your local zero-waste store (most offer delivery) to reduce the accumulation of glass jars or plastic packaging, it’s far kinder to the environment.
Clear your surfaces
Survey your cupboards. How many plates, mugs and spoons do you really need? Do you need special crockery for Christmas, or would someone in need get more use out of them?
I recommend keeping your surfaces void of clutter. Only leave out what you use on a regular basis.
Avoid unnecessary ornamentation in the kitchen. We all know that a tidy desk leads to a tidy mind. A tidy, decluttered kitchen can lead to tastier, more creative meals!
Tip #4: How to minimise your…wardrobe
Not very many people know that one of the ways you can adopt a minimalist lifestyle is to minimise your wardrobe.
We’ve probably all been there, standing in front of a full closet overflowing with stuff and still not finding anything we can wear.
Minimise your wardrobe by a) dressing with less and b) purging more frequently.
Dress with less
If your wardrobe is bursting at the seams, that’s not minimalist!
An overhaul of your clothes is one of the most important parts of adopting the minimalist lifestyle. See what duplicates you have and start there.
Maybe you’re a hoarder of black jeans or suede boots. If you have more than 3 of something, that can be first in the charity bag. Part with the pieces of clothing you rarely (or literally, never) wear.
If you’ve not worn it for 6 months, you don’t need it (unless it’s seasonal wear, like a winter jacket).
As you glide into minimalism, every week or so, open your closet and get rid of a few more garments.
Again, as much as I advocate having a big old clear-out – if you’re just starting your minimalist journey it’s fine to do it in stages.
One thing a newbie minimalist should never feel is guilt.
Tip #5: How to minimise your…morning
Another thing you can look at on your way to a more minimalist lifestyle is your morning routine.
To get things done efficiently and effectively, you need to a) simplify your wake-up routine and b) keep your head clear.
Simplify your wake-up routine
This is particularly important if you’re the kind of morning person who wakes up in a rush!
So, your personal circumstances will affect this one and you might need to juggle kids in the equation.
Some minimalists swear by a morning routine. This may or may not be for you – so experiment. But, all minimalists agree, the last thing we want is to stress ourselves out first thing in the morning.
Avoid waking up to a to-do list; prepare lunches the night before and thankfully, now your wardrobe is slimmer, there’s less time fretting over what to wear!
Keep your head clear
Avoid scrolling through social media first thing.
You’re only filling your head with clutter, which you’ve managed to sweep out of your house.
Replace your Instagram app with a meditation app for one week and practice 10 minutes each morning. Or tune into a podcast instead.
Many minimalists avoid having socials on their phone altogether.
Ti #6: How to minimise your…travel
Even when you love to travel, you can still adopt a minimalist lifestyle.
You don’t need to lug huge suitcases around, even (especially?) when you’re going somewhere and staying a while. Two things you can do: 2) pack like a pro and b) say no to non-reusables.
Pack like a pro
This is an obvious one, but if a minimalist has a light wardrobe, we also know how to pack light. Light enough to travel carry-on is ideal – although if you’re off backpacking for a month or travelling with kids, that’s not always attainable.
Keep a colour scheme so you can mix and match. Take shirts that may be worn with any trousers, shorts or skirts. Pack only one ‘dressy’ outfit. Wear clothes that you’re already comfortable in.
If you know your accommodation will provide toiletries, no need to pack travel miniatures.
Say no to non-reusables
Travelling made me realise how badly single-use plastic such as bottles, straws and carrier bags are polluting the world, especially in developing nations.
That’s exactly why I launched my sustainable products business.
When travelling, if you’re going to pack one thing (or maybe two or three!) make it a few reusable items. Take your own reusable water bottle, bamboo straw, tote bag, utensils.
These items are light enough to carry and will save you from chewing through plastic.
Tip #7: How to minimise your…diary
The ultimate aim of adopting a minimalist lifestyle is balance. We live in such a hectic world that makes it so hard for us to thrive and not just survive.
If you want more free time and more money, you’ll need to adopt minimalism in some form or other.
You can start minimising your schedule by making fewer appointments.
Make fewer appointments
Minimalism doesn’t only apply to physical things. After all, once you’ve cleared out your material items, you want to maintain that balance!
Constantly squeezing in social events and extra meetings?
Try to free up your agenda. Give yourself at least one evening a week which is exclusively yours. Alternate your weekends between social engagements and taking time for yourself.
Benefits of adopting a minimalist lifestyle
That’s essentially my 7-point, step-by-step guide for aspiring minimalists on how to adopt a simple lifestyle! You can follow all my tips, or pick one area of your life to start minimising first.
To tie things up, here are what I believe are the three major benefits of minimalism:
- You’ll save money. Once you stop making purchases that you don’t need – that money can be used towards, well, whatever you want it to be!
- You’ll have more time. Less ornaments to dust, less cushions to move whilst hoovering, less time cooking, less time deciding what to wear in the morning. More time for doing things that matter to you.
- More headspace. Any time that you save in a physical sense, the more you have to organise your thoughts, meditate, and focus on your mental wellbeing.