Minimalist living has gained a lot of press in recent years, and for good reason. People who embrace a minimalist ethos—which involves reducing material possessions and making more conscious decisions about purchasing habits and other lifestyle choices—tend to enjoy several notable benefits.
Reducing the physical clutter in your home or workspace can help you feel less stressed, make it easier to focus on your priorities, and help you feel more contented overall. There’s also some evidence that a clutter-free space can help you think more clearly and make you more productive.
Whether you want to declutter your desk or overhaul your entire home, here are the basic minimalist living tips for an uncluttered and more productive life.
- Get clear about why you want to go minimalist.
- Assess every item in your office and/or home.
- Turn it into a game.
- Change the way you shop.
- Continually assess your progress.
Let’s dive deeper into each of our minimalist living strategies.
Minimalist living strategies
Get clear about why you want to go minimalist
Reducing clutter can involve both physical and emotional energy, so it’s important to find a way to stay motivated. It helps to clarify why you want to live a more minimalist lifestyle in the first place. Focusing on this goal can keep you going even when you’re sick of sorting through old clothing or stacks of papers.
Assess every item in your office and/or home
This may sound like a daunting task, so it’s a good idea to divide it into chunks. Start with just your desk drawers or one room in your home, for example. Wherever you begin, spend time sitting with each item you find there. Ask yourself questions about each item, such as:
- When was the last time I used this?
- Is this item broken or is it still functional?
- Do I own any duplicate items?
- Does this item serve a purpose in my work or life?
- Does this item bring me joy or otherwise enhance my work/life?
- Is it possible to preserve this item in a space-saving way? (For example, documents, movies, music, and so on can be digitized so they don’t take up physical space.)
Be honest with yourself and sort items into different categories depending on the answers to these questions. These categories may include donate, sell, recycle, trash, digitize, and so on. If you can’t decide where a given item belongs, move on to the next one and return to the first item when you feel more refreshed.
Come up with other challenges and rewards that feel good to you, and notice how minimizing suddenly becomes more fun.
Change the way you shop
Many of us have developed the habit of identifying a need and then promptly purchasing whatever item would satisfy that need. Minimalist living requires rewriting this habit and adopting a more thoughtful attitude toward the acquisition of stuff. Change your shopping habits in one or more of these ways.
Before you shop, consider whether there are alternative methods to obtain the item in question. For example, you could borrow a stapler from a coworker, share a lawn mower with a neighbor, or head to the library instead of buying a new book.
- Practice “one in, one out.” If you must purchase a new item, commit to getting rid of an existing item so you end up with the same amount of stuff—not more of it. For example, if you purchase a new shirt, consider donating a piece of clothing that you haven’t worn in a while.
- Invest in multi-purpose tools. Whenever you make a purchase, prioritize items that will serve more than one purpose. For example, why invest in separate cleaning products for each surface in your office or home when you could simply purchase an all-purpose cleaner or baking soda and vinegar?
- Put an emphasis on quality. Low-quality products are likely to break or wear out quickly, meaning you’ll need to purchase new products to replace them in the relatively near future. Investing in well-made, high-quality products on the other hand ensures those products will be usable for years to come—and when you’re done using them, you can donate or sell them instead of sending them to the landfill.
Continually assess your progress
Going minimalist isn’t something you do once and then cross off your to-do list forever. New items inevitably find their way into our lives, and our relationships to old objects may change over time. It’s a good idea to set aside time each month for reassessing the items currently present in your office or home. Use the same line of questioning and categorization described above to sustain your minimalist space.
As you employ these minimalist lifestyle tips, it’s helpful to develop a support system of people who believe in your goals and are equally committed to minimalist living. Together, you can support each other through the trials and tribulations involved in paring down your life to its most valuable essentials.
Turn it into a game
If assessing every item in your office or home stars to feel like a chore, make things more interesting with one of the cleverest minimalist tips around: Gamify the process. For example:
- Challenge yourself to get rid of one item (or more) every day for a week. If you succeed, reward yourself with an experience such as a mini golf outing with the family or a cooking class you’ve been eyeing for months.
- Challenge each member of your family to spend one month collecting items for donation. At the end of the month, the family member with the biggest donation pile wins.
- Consider the six-month challenge: If you can’t decide whether an item should stay or go, place it in a sealed bag or box and label it with the date. If you don’t use the item within six months, it’s probably a good idea to donate or otherwise get rid of it.