Tamara Mannelly

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It occurred to me recently that I have far too much stuff in my house. Storage has become an issue, and there’s little space for the things I need. When doing research on how to effectively declutter my home, I kept coming across articles on the benefits of minimalism. Intrigued, I did some light reading and found that the minimalist lifestyle really called to me on a deep, personal level. If you too are curious about minimalism and its advantages, here’s what you need to know:

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism is a philosophy that encourages you to reassess your priorities, determine what really matters to you, and remove excess items that don’t provide value to your life. Minimalism is different for everyone — mainly because what constitutes value is personal and unique to each of us. This is why you can apply whichever version of the philosophy works best for you when fitting minimalism into your lifestyle.

Signs You Should Try Minimalism

There are a number of reasons why a minimalist lifestyle is beneficial. Minimalism offers financial freedom, decreased stress levels, and so much more. Here are a few signs minimalism might be right for you:

  • You're in debt: Determining what possessions genuinely provide value to your life helps you avoid frivolous purchases. You end up spending your money more intentionally and questioning each investment. By only spending money on what’s truly meaningful, you’ll find yourself with a lot more money in your pocket. That money can be used to pay off your debts and share with those in need.
  • There’s too much stress in your life: Physical clutter causes stress. A minimalist lifestyle encourages removing this clutter, thus reducing the stress that it generates.
  • You have a storage unit: One sign it may be time to embrace minimalism is if you rent a storage unit strictly to keep items you’re not willing to part with. There’s simply no reason to pay to keep items you don’t use regularly.
  • You spend too much time cleaning: The simplest way to reduce the time you spend cleaning your house is to own fewer possessions. After all, cleaning, organizing, and keeping things neat and tidy is far easier when you have less stuff.
  • You’re environmentally conscious: If you care about making a difference in the destruction of our planet and misuse of our natural resources, minimalism may be the answer. A minimalist lifestyle requires less front-end production and decreases the amount of waste on the back end, thus reducing our impact on the environment.
  • You want more time in your day: Take a moment to think about how much time you spend cleaning, organizing, maintaining, repairing, searching for, and shopping for the possessions in your life. If you’re anything like the average western consumer, it’s probably a large percentage of your time. Owning less results in more time spent doing what you love, whatever that may be.

Getting Started

First, it’s important to note that minimalism doesn’t require getting rid of everything you own. And though on an interior design level, minimalism is about simplicity, it doesn’t mean you have to strip your house of furniture and decor. Really, when it boils down to tangible possessions, minimalism is simply about owning only the things that bring you joy and happiness.

If you’re ready to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, here are a few jumping off points to get you started:

Write down your reasons for minimalism

When making any major change in life, you’ll want to have a solid reason for doing so. Making a list of the reasons why you’re choosing minimalism will help to both motivate you and keep you on track throughout the process. Place this list in an easy to see location, such as on your fridge or on a bulletin board in your office.

Pick a place to start

Whether it be a room, a closet, or a drawer, actually getting started is crucial. Go through your chosen space and ask yourself if you use it regularly and if you truly need it. If you don’t, donate what you can, recycle whatever possible, and toss the rest.

Get rid of duplicates

Label a box “duplicates” and fill it with anything you have more than one of (e.g. sets of measuring cups, copies of the same book, etc.) You only need one. Once you fill the box, donate it!

Evaluate your sentimental items

This is easily the hardest part of decluttering. Letting go of sentimental items is incredibly difficult, but it can also be incredibly freeing. Decide on the value of your sentimental items by whether or not you’ve actually looked at or touched them in the last year. If not, can it really be that sentimental to you?

Take the things that are truly sentimental and either put them on display or start using them for their intended purpose. Shadow boxes, scrapbooks, and crafts made from old t-shirts or greeting cards are a great way to display sentimental items. Vases, dishes, and other items can be used in your day-to-day life. If you come across sentimental items that you cannot display or use, take a picture of them and then donate, recycle, or toss them.

Donate what you no longer need

When you donate something you no longer need, you’re not losing, you’re gaining by helping to change someone else’s life. Furthermore, you’re helping the environment by not creating needless waste.

Conclusion

Minimalism is about making your life more meaningful. Periodically assessing the elements of your life — and eliminating what doesn’t contribute to your happiness — is a great way to reduce stress and bring peace into your day-to-day life. Essentially, the more you let go, the more you gain. So, get out there and start letting go — you never know what you may end up achieving in the long run!

Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter@LizVGreene.

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