There’s no doubt about it: minimalism is trending. More and more people are looking for ways to simplify their lives by owning fewer possessions – and who can blame them? Our materialistic society often encourages accumulating more and more stuff. But all that stuff comes at a cost: financial costs, maintenance and storage costs, and the mental costs of decision fatigue and stress.
Thankfully, there is an alternative: minimalism. By intentionally living with fewer possessions, minimalists aim to reduce stress, save money, and focus on what’s truly meaningful in life. For many, it’s a long-term lifestyle change.
For others, it’s an experiment to sample simplicity. But one thing is certain – minimalism is for anyone looking for more freedom and meaning.
Sound intriguing but feel overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Changing lifelong habits is a process.
In this post, we’ll explore 7 tiny steps to get you started on your minimalist journey in a sustainable way. So if you’re asking, “Where should I start?” – read on!
Understanding Beginner Minimalism
Let’s start by clarifying what a beginner minimalist is. This term refers to someone just starting to explore simple living after years of accumulating possessions. Often, beginner minimalists:
- Feel inspired by minimalist principles but unsure how to start.
- Want to gradually declutter and own fewer items?
- Are balancing minimalism with the needs of a family/roommates.
- View minimalism as an ongoing process, not an overnight change.
The key is starting small. Drastic overnight changes rarely last. With minimalism, it’s about the direction – not perfection. Tiny steps build self-awareness, new habits, and skills to own less. Eventually, those small shifts transform your lifestyle.
Minimalism looks different for everyone. There’s no “right” way. It’s about finding what works for you and making intentional progress. The tips below offer simple ways to experiment with minimalism, no matter your circumstances.
Step 1: Clarify Your Why
Before discarding anything, get clear on your motivation. Ask yourself:
- Why do I want to simplify my life?
- What’s the vision that inspires me?
- How will owning less stuff make life better?
Your “why” is the engine to drive changes. Refer back to it whenever you feel unmotivated. Share it with family members too so they understand why shifts in your home might occur. Minimalism requires both self-reflection to spark change and communication to bring loved ones along.
Step 2: Discarding Duplicates
One easy starting point? Remove duplicate items. Kitchen tools, books, hobby supplies -duplicates accumulate easily. Keeping only what you need and use helps identify “excess” in your home.
Questions to ask when evaluating duplicates:
- When did I last use/need this extra item?
- What value does having this second, third, or fourth duplicate add?
- Do I love and use each one enough to keep them all?
Start by removing duplicates of rarely-used items. For frequently used items like mugs or towels, you may wish to keep a few backups but use this as an opportunity to reduce.
Pro Tip: Store duplicates out of sight for 30 days. If you never need them, that confirms it’s safe to discard.
Step 3: Establishing a Clutter-Free Zone
Next, tackle clutter by designating part of your home as a clutter-free oasis. This could be:
- Master bedroom closet.
- Corner of the living room.
- Nightstand top.
- Section of the kitchen counter.
It should be an area you use and see daily. Within that space, commit to keeping only essential items you use and love. Clutter accumulates gradually, but visualizing a clutter-free zone brings awareness. Use this area as inspiration to gradually expand decluttering efforts.
Not ready to tackle shared spaces? Start with a personal zone like your car, workspace, or closet. You’ll still reap benefits without initially involving others.
Step 4: Embracing Minimalist Travel
Travel with only a carry-on suitcase or backpack. This simple hack offers a trial run at owning less. What stays and what gets cut when you pare down for travel? Apply those insights at home.
Benefits of minimalist packing:
- Avoid checked bag fees!
- Breeze through airports without waiting at baggage claim.
- Easily walk or take public transportation.
- Reduce effort spent on laundry.
- Simplify packing and repacking each day.
Focus on choosing versatile, lightweight items. Limit shoes to what’s essential. Wear bulkier items like jackets instead of packing them. Roll rather than fold to save space.
Step 5: Capsule Wardrobe Experiment
Try a “capsule wardrobe” challenge like Courtney Carver’s Project 333. For 3 months, wear only 33 items (not counting basics like underwear). Remove everything else from your closet. The limits push creativity and conscious choices.
A capsule wardrobe reveals “excess” clothing. Do you actually wear all those shirts? What gets worn most? What feels like a chore? Let go of unworn pieces after the experiment.
Keep the remaining versatile items that combine easily. Fill gaps by thrifting select pieces after the trial if needed. Limiting your options helps reduce decision fatigue.
Step 6: Simplifying Meals
Owning less applies beyond just material items. Consider ways to minimize “life clutter” like decision-making. Cut down on daily decision fatigue through weekly meal planning.
- Plan 7 dinners.
- Cluster meals so you reuse ingredients.
- Prepare 2-3 recipes on weekends for quick weeknight meals.
- Eat leftovers or simple meals like oatmeal or eggs on busier days.
Reducing meal decision-making frees up mental bandwidth. Shopping with a plan cuts impulse purchases and food waste too. Though not about owning less stuff, simplifying meals reduces stress and saves time – freeing you to pursue what matters.
Step 7: Building an Emergency Fund
Financial security provides peace of mind to try new things – like minimalism! Reduce stress and gain confidence by saving an emergency fund.
- Start small, like $500.
- Make automatic deposits each paycheck.
- Treat savings like any other monthly bill.
- Watch the fund grow over several months.
- Increase contributions once the starter fund is reached.
Even modest savings help weather unexpected costs and reduce reliance on credit cards. Easily track savings progress with this free printable tracker.
An emergency fund complements minimalism. It provides a safety net so you can comfortably remove unused possessions. It enables simplifying future purchases knowing you have savings as backup.