The path to a minimalist life is not an easy one. I’ve found that my own life, minimalism has a cyclical pattern. Some years I’ll have more stuff, others I’ve purged everything.
Right now I’m pretty pared down, with only a bag of clothes, a Macbook, a camera bag, a hard-drive, a sleeping bag, and a yoga mat. I know, that’s pretty minimal, but at this moment in time it’s where I need to be.
Not everyone needs to take minimalism to the extreme that I am right now. You’ll find that some areas of your life really could use some simplification, while others may need to just be left alone.
Paring down my life to just the basic essentials for my own survival didn’t happen over night though, it takes a concerted effort to keep from gathering more stuff. I also have had to let some things go.
But being the ultimate minimalist has its rewards.
1, Less organizing. If you have no things, you don’t have to move them around.
2, Less expensive. When I wanted to move to Portland, all I did was hop on a plane.
3, I can live a more organic life. I can spend each day doing exactly what I want, without having to feed the junk that surrounds me.
4, I need less space. I can basically live anywhere. My room right now costs mostly nothing and it doubles as a yoga studio, because I have nothing in it except a newly acquired bed.
But for those readers who are investigating the possibility of becoming more minimal, how can you go about making these changes?
Here are ten simple ways you can make your life more minimal today:
1, Clear one surface.
Whether it’s your kitchen counter top, your sofa, or your living-room floor. Pick one surface and clear it! Take every miscellaneous item off that surface and find it a home –a home is a place where an object is supposed to be, like a drawer, or a closet. The best place for homes is out of sight.
Ask yourself, when you pick up each object individually: “Do I need this?” If the answer is yes, put it away somewhere. If the answer is no, find out a way to get that object out of your life. Recycle it, donate it, gift it, throw it out.
2, Eliminate one obligation.
Take a look at your schedule, is there anything that you absolutely hate doing but you continue to do? This can be anything for many different people.
Maybe you’re watching a television show that you really don’t like anymore, that’s eating an hour of your life right there, for nothing. Cut it out of your life. Or maybe you’re helping your friends with all of their computer problems: make it known that you don’t enjoy installing printer drivers and helping people remove their viruses anymore.
By eliminating obligations you free up your time to accomplish things that are actually important to you. I use my free time these days to study yoga, and read books on yoga.
3, Walk slower.
Buddhists call this practice walking meditation. I’ve become a huge fan of walking everywhere slower. Everyone in modern society is rushing somewhere, but where are they rushing? I’d love if I had the answer.
Rushing does the opposite of getting you to your destination faster, in fact by rushing you make mistakes, you can hurt yourself, you’ll stress yourself out. All of these problems accumulate until you’re not a very effective person anymore. Slow down, and you’ll notice that your productivity will improve.
4, Remove five things from your life.
Identify five objects that you don’t use, or don’t need, or are just over-complicating your life, and get rid of them! So many people keep things around ‘just in case’, and in most cases they never use them for anything. For myself I keep a one-month rule. If I don’t use an object at least once a month, I don’t need it at all.
5, Clear your email box.
Inbox Zero is a powerful state to achieve. If you have tons of unread messages, they will weigh heavily on your mind. Take a moment and clear out that inbox. Here’s what I usually do: throw anything that you haven’t read that’s at least a week old in the trash. People will email again if it’s important. Now delete anything that is junk, or useless, like newsletters. On newsletters: unsubscribe from as many of these as possible. Everyone signs you up for their newsletter, but do you actually read any of them? If it’s not important it shouldn’t be coming to your email box. Next deal with any important emails from this week, one at a time until they’re all taken care of. More on attaining Inbox Zero.
6, Un-friend one person.
People can be bothersome, and everyone has that one friend that they wish they never had to talk to again — whether this person is constantly asking for advice, or asking for favors, or just being annoying. Take a moment to block this person on every service that you have. Un-friend on Facebook, remove from Linkedin, block their g-chat name, send their emails to the trash, make a commitment not to answer if they call.
Good, now you don’t have to deal with this person anymore.
For some people this will be really hard, but you have to understand that your time is valuable, and there will always be people who want to take up most of yours. If you surround yourself with people you love, you’ll love being surrounded by people.
7, Make one important decision.
You’ve been putting it off, I know. There’s got to be one thing that you’ve yet to say yes or no to. Whether it’s dinner on Friday with your best friend, or finishing a project at work. Make the decision now to either do it or not. Call and cancel with your friend, or bang through that project.
8, Spend an hour in silence.
Silence is important, it gives you time to reflect on your life; what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong. Important answers can come to you in the space in-between doing. Lock yourself in a room, step out onto the front porch, or go sit in a coffee shop and stare out the window. Answers will come to you. The most important thing is NOT to do anything.
9, Get yourself off one online social network.
People think they need to be a part of everything, but it’s important that you maintain your connection with the service that’s connecting you with people. If Facebook is eating too much of your time, get off it! If you haven’t checked your profile on Yelp in awhile, consider getting off that service. The social networking you do on the internet, the more time you’ll have to accomplish important things. How to quit Facebook.
10, Do one thing that you really love.
Minimalism isn’t about doing nothing, it’s about finding time to do what’s important to you. By getting rid of all your clutter, you’ll find that you spend less time maintaining your existence, and you’ll have more time to do what you really enjoy doing. So ask yourself now: what’s the most important thing to me? Now answer it. Then do it.
For me, at this very moment, Yoga is the most important thing. So now, I’ll bid to goodbye, and go practice.