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Simplify Your Life: A Beginner’s Guide to Minimalist Living

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Minimalist living has become trendy. With gurus like Marie Kondo, there are so many people embracing a more intentional and minimalist lifestyle.

And I’m totally here for it!

We are acquiring more, consuming more and busier than any other generation before us. And we are drowning.

But friend, I have to be honest with you. If you thought this would be another article just about getting rid of your junk drawer, you’ll be pleased to know it’s not.

Because adopting a minimalist lifestyle is much more than having organized drawers, a capsule wardrobe and reducing your clutter.

I’m here to tell you that the beauty of minimalism is that while it is about being intentional and embracing simplicity, it is also something unique to each person.

I know. I know. It’s tough to figure out how to implement minimalist principles into different areas of your life.

So I’ve put together a beginner’s guide to living a minimalist lifestyle. The goal here is to provide you with simple steps to create a more simplistic and intentional approach to all areas of your life.

minimalist flowers

What is Minimalist Living?

First, let me start with what minimalist living is not.

It’s not about getting rid of all your things and swearing off earthly possessions (though this is a path of some minimalists).

You can be a minimalist and have a big house in the suburbs. You can be a minimalist and have a library in your house.

Minimalist living extends beyond cleaning up your junk drawer and can apply to all areas of your life: your time; your finances; your lifestyle.

Because Minimalism is about putting your energy and focus towards what you value. Rather than filling your life with all the things you should do or have, you live more simply by only filling your life with those things that mean something to you.

It puts the emphasis on being more intentional with your time and your money and more thoughtful with your choices.

For example: Have you ever gone shopping and bought a top because you felt like you should buy it? You think, “I should have something fancy for going out on the town” but then when it comes time to go out you bypass that top because you don’t feel comfortable in it.

By adopting a minimalist attitude you wouldn’t purchase that top. You only acquire and keep the things you will use and that fit with your values and likes. That’s what Minimalism is about at its core.

Instead of filling your schedule with all the shoulds, you only commit yourself to taking part in activities you value.

You might say “ But, Jill I don’t like cleaning my house and only do it because I think I should. Does that mean I should stop?”

Yes and No. It might mean it’s time to get rid of the clutter so there is less to clean. Or cutting back your spending on other items so you can hire someone to clean for you.

Before you start simplifying your life, I’ve put together a few steps to help you begin the process of developing a minimalist mindset.

And it is a process. It is your process, and the outcome doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s version of minimalist living.

Simplify your life | A beginner's guide to minimalism

How To Get Started with Practical Minimalist Living

Make a List of the Things and Activities You Value

What brings you joy? Think about all the things you value. These can be actual physical items or they can include activities, experiences etc. Make this list as long as you like. Include as much as you want (or as little).

In a culture focused on acquiring more and instant gratification, it can be so easy to lose a sense of the things you value in your life.

I recommend breaking this list up into 2 main categories:

  • Items – These are the physical items important to you
  • Activities – These are the things you love to do

When you sit down and make this list, try just going with your gut. Don’t over think this list. Even if you write down things you don’t have or don’t do, put it on your list (you’ll see why a little further down).

Assess Why You Can’t Do Or Have More of the Things That Bring You Joy

Looking at your list from above, see if there is anything you don’t have or can’t do or don’t have or can’t do enough of.

For these items consider why it is you can’t have or do these things. If you need help, ask yourself this question:
What needs to change so I can have more of the things I value in my life?

Don’t be scared to write down big changes. This might include things like finding a job closer to home so you can cut down on your commute and be more present for your children.

Or, you might want to spend less time tidying up the house during the week. You may realize the toys in the family room overwhelm everything and you need to sort through and either get rid of some or find a new space for them.

Remember, you don’t have to commit to these changes today. You are just identifying what is taking away from your values and choosing to think about the intention of the items in your life and they way you spend your time.

Make Changes

What can you remove from your life today to bring you more of what you value in life?

Start small. Don’t overhaul your clutter and your life all at once.

Instead, develop a roadmap for how you will get from where you are today to a life filled with things and activities that fill your cup rather than drain it.

I recommend looking at your values and making a list of what you need to do to support those values in your life.

List these changes from the least effort required to the largest effort. The theory behind this is that as you accomplish those tasks that take a smaller effort you will be motivated by your accomplishments to keep going!

Remember minimalism is about intention. What is your intention for having all the things? Don’t have a good one? Get rid of the junk.
What is your intention for doing all the things? Don’t really have a good one? Cut it out from your life!

14 thoughts on “Simplify Your Life: A Beginner’s Guide to Minimalist Living”

  1. Excellent article! I love the concept of simple and intentional living and love reading about different journeys and viewpoints on it ?

    1. Thanks Dani! My husband is also not completely on the bandwagon with minimalism, but I don’t let that impact my journey!

  2. I loved this read! I definitely can take a few tips from this to better simplify my life. The hardest thing for me is keeping up with the list that I create. I’ll start one and then don’t go back to it for weeks, but I will work on that. Thanks for the tips!!
    Kendra ?

    1. I think that happens to lots of people, Kendra. One way I find that really helps me stay focused is to make the list or the values as part of my daily gratitude/intentions journaling that I do. I find writing these values down as goals has had a huge impact on allowing me to stay consistent with my intentions.

  3. This is a very simple and clear way to start the thinking process about simplifying your life. I love the way you have defined it and also what it’s not. I think sometimes it gets a bad rap to simplify because we’ve seen that one person who lives in a tiny house and has no stuff. 🙂 Great info here.

    1. That was my intention! I think lots of people are turned off from minimalism and simplicity because they have this preconceived notion of what it is and it’s really a personal thing. And you can apply minimalist living principles to so many different areas of your life, not just to the stuff you own.

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