My Simple Guide to Starting Minimalism

It’s been about 3 to 4 years now since I first heard of Minimalism. Not minimalism as an art style but as a lifestyle wherein you surround yourself only with things that are actually of any use to you, make you happy or make sense to you. Often than not it’s trimming down to what actually matters, but it doesn’t limit itself to tangible material things, it includes many other aspects too.

Minimalism has been back in the spotlight the last couple of years. You’ve seen it in design trends, branding, interior arrangements on Pinterest, fashion and even something as simple as food. I can understand the allure — minimalism and its avoidance of clutter and the unnecessary puts the focus on functionality and the actual subject.

When I came to learn about it, I immediately thought about how radical it was to live with very few things. I grew up in a household where hoarding is somewhat normalized and a society where acquiring more things is encouraged or even seen as a wealth status. We are exposed to media where the message always leaves us wanting more, as if we do not have enough or do not have anything at all. So to see people live with just their most basic seems liberating and freeing, in a way. To live not trying to impress people or creating subconscious stress to yourself is something incredible to even think.

It’s been years since and I still would not call myself a minimalist through and through but I can proudly say that I have come a long way, and have discarded a considerable amount of things that do not benefit me. Along with this, I have also incorporated lifestyle changes that reflects the practice.

Here are some things I learned and some tips I have for starting in minimalism:

Clothes are probably both the easiest and most difficult thing to tackle. Majority of the clothes I own are a hand-me-down or a gift however despite this, I have accumulated so much that no matter how many purges I’ve done regularly, I always come up with a box full of clothes that I would rather give away than keep.

  • Make it a mission to only buy clothes that are of quality and that you would actually wear which looks phenomenal and versatile on you.
  • Sales are only great if you can save bucks on an item you actually need or saving up for. Whether the item comes in a reduced or full price, money still comes out of your pocket so it’s better spend that dime wisely.
  • Being brutal to myself was the most helpful tool in getting rid of unwanted clothes. If it doesn’t fit me nicely, doesn’t make me look flawless, doesn’t look like something I’d actually wear or is beyond repair, I immediately toss it in the giveaway or trash pile.
  • Keep in mind about redundancies when you’re out shopping. No one needs multiple pair of the same black leggings.
  • Do a regular clothing purge every now and then. This practice gives you an idea about what’s in your clothing inventory and allows you to refresh the wardrobe often as well.

We all have sentimental items. It could be anything from movie tickets, photos, small trinkets, or a dried up rose from your first date. You would notice that some minimalists completely disallow themselves of getting emotionally attached to even sentimental items like these, but I personally think that is just unrealistic.

  • Some sentimental items are the only way for me to reconnect with cherished memories from the past so it was a bit unfair to keep from myself one good feeling.
  • As a solution, I have allowed myself to keep a small box of sentimental items, the size of those butter cookie biscuits. In that tin box, I’ve kept photos, stuffies, keychains and most childhood memories.

Digital declutter. At first, I didn’t really pay much attention to this but since I experimented with a social media detox about two years ago, I became more aware of my “belongings” digitally.

  • I regularly go through old and new photos on my camera roll and online storages and try to get rid of ones that are redundant, doesn’t look good or doesn’t serve any purpose.
  • I regularly delete documents, apps and files on both my laptop and my phone. I set a day where I would go over my newsletter subscriptions and read what interests me. I also put a screen limit for my social media so I do not spend exorbitant hours on there.
  • In terms of social media, I only post things that I genuinely feel like sharing to the world. I also only follow people whom I enjoy reading or seeing content from. I do not sign up for the latest social media app just to keep up with everyone else; if I’m not going to use it, it’s not going to sit on my phone.
  • Streaming services for music and movies, online newsletters, e-receipts, digital copy of books, digital taking of notes that syncs with all my devices have saved me tons of space and unnecessary paper clutter.

Books and paper clutter. I try to make it a habit to scour the internet for ebook copies of titles I want to read, if not buy them online and keep digital copies of some documents I need instead of printing them and only using them once or not at all.

  • I have reduced all my important documents to just one envelope. Everything I would ever need is right there, if not on my computer or phone.
  • If it is possible for me to just have a digital copy of a document, I woul opt for that. An example would be airline or bus tickets, coupons, amusement or entertainment passes, receipts, etc.

All other items. My living situation requires me to move around quite frequently, especially before when accommodation was something I need to provide for myself. That being said, I had to be able to pack all of my belongings fast and in just a couple of bags.

  • Purchase everyday use items in bulk, unless it’s a specialized product like skincare items or makeup where sometimes you might see the need to switch brands or types. For my situation, there are only a limited number of items I can buy in bulk like toiletries since I cannot drag a lot of items around all the time.

Minimalism for me is sort of a fun process because it’s really calming for me to be surrounded only of things I’ve carefully selected that make me happy and that keeps me functioning at my best.

Different people have different approach to this lifestyle, which means there’s no right or wrong way to do it and there’s no ONE way to do it. Some can be as extreme as living on a van with only a hundred items in a backpack or a bare studio apartment with only a mattress on the floor, some eating utensils and a few shirts as belongings. And some can be as light as eliminating unnecessary decor at home, or sharing items of clothing with your husband or sisters, or keeping your budget as minimal as possible. Everybody interprets it in their own way.

Personally, my measure to finally be able to call myself as a minimalist is if I am able to finally trim down my things to the most of what I need. I know myself that there are still a couple of stuff that I want to get rid of but I do not want to pressure myself to do it just for the sake of doing it. I want to use them until they are completely worn down then I will toss them out.

Minimalism doesn’t happen overnight — I think that’s something that a lot of people fail to grasp. It’s a continuous learning and giving process; it’s a lifestyle choice, after all. So if you are interested in jumping in to this, be cautious of that.

I will share more of these tips and personal practices, maybe challenges at some point too, if you guys are interested in it.