Leah Gernetzke
How to make minimalism work for you

Written for Southern California-based professional organizing company

What is minimalism? You might think of it as a lifestyle for millionaires who own high-rise condos, live in stark white rooms, buy expensive art, and eat at fancy restaurants. Or maybe that it’s for austere monks who don’t own any material possessions at all …

Either way, you might think it’s just not for you. But you’d be wrong! Minimalism is actually a simple philosophy and lifestyle that anyone can practice, not just millionaires and monks. Leo Babauta from Zen Habits describes minimalist living as:

… a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.”

In other words, minimalism means uncluttering your space, buying less and doing less. In return, you get more time and less stress. It sounds pretty simple, and it is – but it takes time to develop new habits. Here are some easy ways to get started (no high-rise or fancy restaurant reservations required):

Define your priorities

First, identify why you want to simplify your life. Maybe you never get to see your family because you’re too busy trying to keep up with the culture of “too much.” Maybe you don’t have space to do your favorite hobbies because you have too much stuff. Maybe you want to travel more but you have too much debt. Write down your reasons for wanting to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, whatever they may be, and keep them in a visible place as a reminder of your priorities and goals.

Purge your possessions

Spend a day (or several days) de-cluttering and downsizing your possessions. Use whatever organizing method works best for you. If you don’t have one, try the four box method. First, get four boxes: label them trash, donate, keep and relocate. Place every item in the room in one of those boxes. As soon as your donate and trash boxes are full, take them to the garbage bin or to your car so you aren’t tempted to pick anything out. You can also check out more organizing methods here. Use whichever one works best for you!

Discard duplicates

Take your purge a step further by going through your home and making sure you don’t have duplicate items – For instance, you might have more than one copy of the same book or DVD, or have too many pairs of scissors or measuring cups in the kitchen. While you might need some of these items, you don’t need more than one of the same thing.

Buy less

The simplest way to stay organized and live a minimalist lifestyle is to not accumulate too much stuff in the first place. Next time you go shopping, stay mindful of the priorities you identified – Spending more time with your family, traveling, or paying down debt – and ask yourself if the items in your cart are in alignment with your goals.

Start a capsule wardrobe

Keeping up the whims of the fast fashion industry inevitably means you’ll have more clutter and less money. In contrast, a capsule wardrobe is a made up of select, versatile pieces of high-quality clothing that you love to wear. By creating one of these wardrobes, you’ll learn you can actually live with a lot fewer clothes and still look put-together. You’ll also have more time left over from not stressing over what to wear, and not shopping as often.

Similarly, you could also try Project 333. Invented by minimalist Courtney Carver, Project 333 challenges people to wear only 33 items of clothing for 3 months. Like the capsule wardrobe, this challenge is a great way to learn how to live with less!

Do you have any other strategies that have helped you embrace an everyday type of minimalism? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter! We’d love to hear from you!