When I first decided that I will become a minimalist I thought that this transition is going to be easy: “I will never ever buy clothes again. I will declutter my home. I will stop visiting social media. I will have only one pair of shoes. I will never ever buy something I don’t need.” These are just a few of the things I told to myself. Even though these promises sound nice and minimal, it’s usually way different. When reality kicks in, it can mess all of our plans, the arrangement of our kitchenware, and life in general.
There are so many things that can get out of track, distract you from your goal, mission, desired lifestyle. Also, there are so many tips and tricks on simple living and minimalism that is hard to keep up with the content both online and offline. If you’re just starting your journey towards living a simple life and exploring the wonders of a lifestyle focused towards less, you can be overwhelmed by what you need to do, or avoid doing.
But the struggle is also real if you’re already a couple of years into minimalism.
Keeping a simple wardrobe and having a tidy home is something that requires constant work. Clutter, can sneak in on any of us at any moment. You should be extremely careful about what you let both inside your home and inside your mind. Thoughts like “I don’t have anything to wear” or “why don’t I buy an extra pair of shoes” will eventually consume your mind and try to make you spent money on things you don’t want.
Today I will share 11 of the best tips on minimalism that will help you stay on track, focused and keep you away from cluttering your home again with stuff you really don’t like nor need.
11 best Minimalism tips that Will Help You Stay Focused
#1: Being a minimalist is a way of living not something you can do for a day
I might as well say that it’s a marathon, not a sprint but I’m kind of exhausted with this expression. I see it too often used in a lot of articles and it’s getting boring to read it everywhere. But let’s return to the main point: Being a person who advocates simple living is a way of life, a choice you made for yourself. It’s surely a good choice.1
You can’t become a minimalist for a day or a week and mark this task as Done. Buying a few black t-shirts, watching the documentary about minimalism and getting rid of all of your junk won’t make you a minimalist. Yes, it’s surely a good starting point but it’s not the end.
Minimalism is a way of living. It’s a conscious decision and it’s a continuous process. Once you declutter your home, you should “defend” it from all the outside junk that will try to sneak again inside your apartment and make your living space mess again. Imagine junk attacking your home and your mind consistently. That’s exactly what happens.
The first tip is this: Understand that achieving simplicity in life is something that needs to be practiced every day. It’s a continuous process that requires certain actions, or inactions to keep your mind and your physical space clutter free. It’s not something that you can set and forget. You need to work for keeping everything simple, arranged and tailored towards your specific needs.
As for the things you don’t need, get rid of them as soon as possible.
#2: Respect the decision of your loved ones
Often we are alone in the simple living journey. Our spouse might not like the idea of owning just a few pairs of clothes, which is potential scenarios for argument. Our friends probably don’t even know what the terms minimalism means and are often asking us why we wear the same clothes every day.2
My girl is surely not a person who will stop shopping for clothes. Not that she is obsessed with the idea of having tons of clothes, but she does have a lot.
Even though I will never understand why she needs more than 20 pairs of shoes – I believe all women are in love with shoes – I respect her decision and I try to understand her point.3 She is a girl and she loves to look pretty.
We do, however, have arguments about the home decoration. When I want to throw away something sitting on our shelves that it’s only collecting dust, she’s always saying that we need to keep it because it’s a gift, it looks nice, or whatever.
Nevertheless, I do everything possible to put myself in her shoes and understand her point. Not everyone wants, or are ready to throw away most of their possessions and write blog posts all day, like me.
#3: Live with a handful of clothes for a while
One of the hardest things about keeping a well-organized home and wardrobe is probably learning how to live with the right amount of clothes.
This was especially hard for me. Through the years I’ve learned to buy a lot of clothes, quite often. I lacked confidence and I tried to hide my flaws with new trousers and fancy shirts. Killing this habit required time. I didn’t happen overnight. Working for an IT company helped a lot. As you probably all know, it’s not like working for a corporate firm where you need to dress in a suit. The dress code in IT companies is casual and you can wear pretty much whatever you want. Not that I was dressing like a guy who works and lives in the village, but I get used to wearing t-shirts – before that, I was mostly wearing blazers and shirts.
As the time went by, I finally understood why Mark Zuckerberg and previously Steve Jobs, are/were both wearing the same clothes every day. I knew this fact for years but I never thought deep to understand why they actually do it. I thought they are crazy when I first found out about this habit of theirs.
Now I know. Wearing the same clothes every day saves you precious time and helps you concentrate on the work you’re doing.
If you’re still not ready to dive deep into minimalism and create a capsule wardrobe, you can do the following:
Pick around 20 (+/- one or two) items for the next two weeks:
- 3 pairs of jeans/trousers/shorts;
- 7 t-shirts/shirts for going out;
- 1 tracksuit;
- 5 t-shirts for exercising and wearing indoors;
- 1 jacket;
- 3 pairs of shoes;
- 1 belt.
Here I’m not counting the socks or your underwear. I’m positive that you will know how much of those you will need for two weeks.
Live with these clothes for 2 weeks and see what will happen. I’m sure you will see the benefits of owning less clothes. Most importantly, you will stop asking yourself “what to wear” every morning.
#4: Have only one season clothes
While we are on the subject… Are you storing your winter clothes?
I stopped doing this exercise. Now all of my clothes are inside my wardrobe. The only thing I put under my bed is my winter shoes. I own only a few sweaters (3 pairs) but they don’t take a lot of space. The t-shirts I wear during the summer are the same t-shirts I wear during the winter. I only change the jacket.
Naturally, when you get used to having just a handful of clothes you will learn to have and wear the same clothes throughout the whole year regardless of the season.
#5: Fill up your spare time with something meaningful
I often shopped for clothes before because I was bored. I didn’t have anything else better to do. That’s why I went to the mall regularly. I went out too often and I spend all of my money on clothes and clubs.
If you don’t know how to fill your spare time you should start exploring yourself, you should spend some time to know yourself and understand your interests and your desires.
There are other better things you can do than staring at your phone, buying new clothes, watching television… All these activities are passive ones. You don’t do anything productive. Instead of reading emails and your social media feed, say something, write something. Express yourself and try to do something positive to the world. In other words, give back to the world.
#6: Designate a place for everything
The best way to know where your car keys are is to put them in the same place every day. If you just leave stuff here are there you will often search for them. Something quite irritating. Designate a place for your shoes. A place for the glass of water on your desk. The remote control of your TV – if you have a TV.
Before I go to bed, I take a couple of minutes to arrange my desk to look like this:
I leave it like this before I go to bed. I do this every day and I make sure the coasters are looking exactly as in the picture above.
I also wash my glass of water and I prepare my coffee machine for the next morning. These things take me no more than 5 minutes but they save me a lot more time the next day. When I’m sleepy I can wash a glass for 10 minutes without realizing. I’m sure you can relate.
Apply this simple technique for all of your possessions. This is the best advice to keep your home organized and also the best thing you can do to stay focused and avoid your home from clutter.
#7: Avoid Putting a lot of stuff around
We don’t have anything on our walls in our apartment, except in our bedroom.4 My girl is still trying to convince me that we should hang paintings or pictures. Even though I want to put some pictures, I still haven’t found the ones I really love. Probably when we have a child we will put some family photos but for now, I prefer to have white walls.
Having empty space around is really important to avoid depression and get this nasty suffocating feeling. Like you’re living in a cage.
Before we bought our current apartment with my girlfriend, we were renting a small condo. The place was full of stuff from the original owner itself. Decorations. Tons of artificial flowers and other things that were making the place look even smaller than it actually was. Even though we got rid of most of the stuff after speaking with the landlord, there were still things we had to get used to. The apartment we bought is not so big but the way we decorate it gives the impression that it’s huge. We did it simply by not crowding the space with junk everywhere.
#8: Aim for efficiency
Do you have too many cups, glasses, dishes and it’s getting hard to choose the right one? Do you spend an awful amount of time searching for your favorite t-shirt each morning? Do you have too much home decoration and you need one full day to clean the dust from these items?
The things we own are tools for achieving different things but they should only help us reach a goal, not waste our time.
For example, you need a cup to prepare a coffee so you can wake up and be more productive. The cup itself doesn’t quite matter. The important thing is the effect of the coffee. In most of the cases, even the coffee brand won’t matter. The drinking coffee act is helping on a subconscious level.
The same is true for our clothes. We need clothes to protect our bodies from the outdoor atmospheric conditions. The brand and the color of the clothes don’t matter in a practical perspective. They only matter to ourselves and to the society. You need clothes to go outside to buy food, work, or communicate with others.
Buying a $200 pen won’t help you write better. Only writing can help you write better.
People choose different brands, colors, materials, tools, because these things best resonate with their personality.
The early adopters of the Apple products were considering themselves as innovators, rebels, people who are against the large corporations. You will buy a Mac book Pro not so much of the features of the laptop. You will get it because of the message this product will tell others about yourself.
Still, remember that things are just things. A bigger house won’t make you happier. Bigger family will.
#9: Learn to live below your means
Let’s make something together. Let’s together bankrupt all banks and more precisely all organization offering loans and quick cash loans. What do you say?
These institutions are pure evil. They are as bad as cancer. I see a lot of people living their lives on credit, working only to have enough to cover their monthly payment to the bank. Taking credits to sustain your living it’s like a ticking time bomb.
No matter how much you earn, you need to learn to live below your means and save some cash for the future. Being debt free should be one of your main priorities.
The sole thought that you owe money to someone can be devastating and can consume your mind. It can block your creative thinking and make you a slave to a job you hate so much.
Lower rent, utilities, bills and etc., will translate into higher savings over time, thus a happy life. Do everything possible to save some cash so that you can pay off your debt as soon as possible. This will help you concentrate and focus towards what matters.
#10: Buy Less Stuff
It’s kind of obvious but a lot of people don’t realize how our buying habits can enslave us. The more you buy the less money you will have, therefore you will have a larger debt. But that’s not all. You will own more possessions which will only cloud your thinking and clutter your physical space as mentioned.
Only because there is a sale in the nearest mall this doesn’t mean that you should take advantage of it.
Create a list of the things you really need in your life. For example, a new iron because the current one you have is not ironing your clothes good and the ceramic plate is damaged.
List all of your things in a list and do your best to NOT buy things that aren’t inside your list.
#11: Create a Routine
Creating a daily routine is underestimated, a lot.
What if you don’t have to think about what to wear, what to drink, what to eat, when to get up?
What if these little details are already settled and the only thing you need to do is do the work you want. The work that will inspire, help others?
You will be most probably 300% more productive and more satisfied with your life.
Find out what is the most important task (tasks) in your life and clear your schedule for making this sole thing. Soon enough you will begin to live more focused and more meaningful life.
Whether you’re already living a simple life or you’re about to jump on the simple-living train, where the wagons are empty, you should also keep in mind that staying focused and keeping an organized home is as hard making it that way.
It requires constant work. Something like cleaning your house. You don’t clean your apartment only once in your life, you do it every week. The same should be applied to your habits, goals, mind.
I hope the tips above will help you sustain your minimal way of living and give you even more time to pursue what you really want in life.
What are your tips for living a simpler life? I will be glad if you share your thoughts in the comments below:
- You can see the main benefits of living a minimal life in this article: benefits of being a minimalist.
- To be honest, probably no one will ask you this question because most of the people aren’t paying attention. They care mostly about how they look and feel.
- I mean, I try really hard sometimes to understand why girls need a lot of clothes.
- You can see the painting inside my bedroom if you like by checking my Instagram profile: LINK.