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As the word suggests, to be a minimalist means to be someone that lives with less. Becoming a minimalist isn’t as easy as just getting rid of all of your things, though. There are quite a few steps you will need to take if you’re looking to enter this lifestyle.
Becoming a minimalist in 30 days requires understanding the definition of minimalism, its benefits, flaws, and the difference between true minimalism and people’s negative perception of it. There’s a list of specific goals you can perform for 30 days to put yourself on the path to minimalism.
The article below will provide insight into what minimalism is and step-by-step instructions on becoming a minimalist in just 30 days. Changing your lifestyle may seem daunting, but this guide will hopefully make the process easier for you.
Understand Minimalism (the Good and the Bad)
One of the first steps to doing anything is understanding what you’re doing and why. Minimalism is a method to remove excess stuff from your everyday life; this encompasses physical items, finances, stress, and any debt.
The idea is that the less meaning people assign to their things, the more they can focus on living life – that is to say that they can concentrate more on experiencing life rather than focusing on material items.
You Probably Don’t Need All Your Stuff
Many people’s first impression of minimalism is that it means that they have to live with substantially less. Minimalism isn’t really about living with less stuff, though, and more about making the conscious decision to choose what things matter most to you.
Society makes it seem like material goods are what matter most. There’s a large number of people that work all day to buy items that they’ll rarely have enough time actually to use. As a minimalist, you choose what you can live without to release yourself from the stress of a highly materialistic lifestyle.
Minimalism Helps You Budget Better
One of the most significant benefits of minimalism is that it makes it easier to keep track of money. Basically, the less stuff you have, the money you have to spend, and the easier it is to budget.
Think about it, do you really need all of those streaming services you have? If you watch Amazon Prime and Hulu much more often than Netflix, you could consider getting rid of the latter.
Downsizing your home could lessen your financial burdens too. Smaller homes are cheaper because the utilities are less costly. It’s cheaper to heat a small studio apartment in the winter than to warm a three-bedroom house.
The Minimalism Controversy
This guide to minimalism wouldn’t be a very helpful one if we didn’t list the good parts of the lifestyle and the more controversial aspects. Minimalism can help you budget better, but it can be difficult to “own less and live more” if you have less money. There’s a reason minimalism is seen as a “single, wealthy person” thing.
Much of the extra stuff many people own can be attributed to spare parts for items in their home like game consoles, televisions, electronics, or their cars. They can’t afford to go out and buy brand new versions of these things, so they repair what they have.
There’s also the whole “experience life” aspect of minimalism to consider. It’s not easy for people on the low spectrum of earned income to afford. Sure, experiencing life isn’t solely based on how much you can spend, but anything from a nice restaurant to a trip out of state can require funds that many can’t waste.
Despite the seeming criticism towards minimalism here, that’s not to say that it can’t lead to a less complicated, more fulfilling life. Being a minimalist doesn’t mean you have to throw out all of your things and go on vacation every week.
It can be hard to be a minimalist without disposable income, but there is no one way to be minimalist. Choose what aspects of minimalism work for you. You can settle for decluttering your home if it helps you, or you can decide on rearranging your monthly expenditures. Do whatever helps you live better.
Understand What Minimalism Isn’t
We’ve explained what minimalism is and what (financial) pitfalls can come with trying to become a minimalist. Still, money aside, many people aren’t interested in the lifestyle because they don’t think it’s for them.
Here’s a list of some of the eight biggest misconceptions about minimalism and why they’re wrong.
There Are Too Many Rules To Follow
The word “minimalist” seems to conjure the image of a blandly dressed person living a strictly disciplined and boring life. In reality, however, there’s no one guideline a person must follow if they want to be a minimalist.
The whole point of minimalism is to free yourself from focusing too much on your material things so that you can live a happier, more fulfilling life. Living by a set of strict, one-fits-all rules defeats the purpose.
You Can Only Have a Few Belongings in General
While decluttering may require you to get rid of plenty of your things, you don’t have to abide by a number below a set amount. Being a minimalist doesn’t have to mean getting rid of things you love or living with only 15 items in a tent; it just means you’re removing things you don’t necessarily need.
The focus of cleaning and reorganizing shouldn’t be what you stand to lose but what you gain. Your life as a whole is supposed to gain more value by removing things that don’t mean much or upset you in some way.
Minimalism Equals Being Cheap
One thing we’ve heard many people say about minimalism is that “They couldn’t live that frugally” This is where minimalism can get a little confusing. Earlier, we noted that if you don’t have a lot of disposable income, it can be challenging to be a minimalist.
That’s unfortunately true, but if you’ve got enough cash to pay for pricier stuff, you don’t have to stick to buying and owning inexpensive things. The point isn’t so much to buy cheaply, but to budget and pay less on excess items. Being a minimalist can mean going for cheaper commodities, but it’s certainly not a requirement.
Giving Up Some of What You Own Is Easy
The idea that it’s easy to get rid of your belongings is not true for most people. There’s a particular attachment that comes with ownership that’s taken for granted.
It’s likely not going to be comfortable throwing away (or donating/selling) your things because they’re objects that have been given to you or that you’ve bought through your hard work and effort. It can be especially tough for people with low-income to get rid of their things because it took a lot to have them.
Having Hobbies Is Impossible as a Minimalist
It’s still possible for you to read and collect comic books as a minimalist; the goal, though, is to cut down on how many comics you have or not have 50 other collections scattered about your home.
You don’t have to get rid of what brings you joy; you have to be more purposeful in what you keep. If it’s easy for you to forget about your collection of porcelain dogs, you may want to consider giving it away.
Your Entire Identity Has To Revolve Around Minimalism
Some people might argue about minimalism being labeled as lifestyle, although, arguably, anything way of living that could require changing how your day-to-day schedule looks should count.
This argument is why some people are against minimalism; they feel that it requires you to devote your entire identity to it. Changing the way you live doesn’t mean that you become an entirely different person though, it just means that you’re choosing new standards to live by.
You can still like disco music and wear bell-bottom jeans while being a minimalist if that’s part of who you are. You would just so happen to be a minimalist that’s into 70s music and fashion.
The Minimalist Style Is Unfashionable
Your home doesn’t have to look a particular way when you’re a minimalist; your kitchen doesn’t have to look cold and industrial, and your bedroom walls can be whatever color you want. The sense of style you had before becoming a minimalist is still valid afterward.
As long as they matter to you, bright colors, fuzzy pillows, wooden furniture, and cozy quilts are still allowed as a minimalist. There is no mandatory style requirement you have to follow.
You Can’t Be Minimalist With a Family
Many minimalist families are out there, and yours can be one of them if you’re all willing to buckle down and put in the work. You’ll have to be careful not to drag your family kicking and screaming into the lifestyle with you, though, as it can just cause resentment.
Don’t cajole and demand that your children and spouse join you if they’re not interested. You should also try not disheartened if it takes a while for your finances to balance out or if everyone isn’t decluttering at the same rate.
Knowing what minimalism is, what benefits it brings, and what potential downsides it may have is helpful, but it still might not help you figure out where you should start on your quest to declutter your life.
Below is a checklist of tasks to accomplish within thirty days. The tasks won’t be listed in any particular order (but you should do a task per day), so you can choose what you want to do when you want. To smoothly make the transition from clutter bug to minimalist, complete each step over a month.
DAY 1: Clean Your Closet
Closets are holding pens for large amounts of junk. Take about 30 minutes to get rid of everything you don’t want and clothes you can’t wear anymore. All of your clothes that are stained or damaged beyond repair should be removed.
Anytime you buy something new, make it a habit to get rid of one of your old pieces of clothing. Cleaning out your closet will free up valuable space that you can use for organizational purposes.
Donate What You’re Not Using
You can donate old clothes, books, toys, and linens, then gather them all up and take them to charities and Goodwill. Keep in mind that only items that are in good condition should be given away. Dirty old clothes, broken toys, and heavily damaged books should be disposed of.
DAY 2: Turn Off Unnecessary Notifications
Your phone’s notifications can be a distracting nuisance. Even if you don’t look at them, just receiving one can throw off your entire schedule because you’re stuck wondering who or what’s trying to contact you.
Instead of always having all notifications on, turn the ones that aren’t necessary off and set a specific time to check the essential ones. See specified times each day to check things like email, texts, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
DAY 3: Clean Your Digital Devices
Deleting redundant files and apps from your phone, tablet, or laptop can not only free up space on your phone, but it can help you relieve some tension too.
Getting rid of extra files and apps can make looking at your device’s home screen less stressful, and organizing your important documents into concisely labeled folders results in easier access.
DAY 4: Organize Your Book/DVD/Blu Ray Collection
If you’re not going to read or finish particular books, then you’re better served donating them to someone who will. Removing unread books from your home helps you to declutter. You should follow the same principle regarding your movie collection.
DAY 5: Use a Free E-Reader App
If you’re the type of person who enjoys literature, then consider getting a free eBook reader app. You can choose from Google Play Books, Kobo Books, Amazon Kindle app, and many more.
Your local library mobile may have an app that will allow you to download audiobooks and digital books at your leisure as well. You’ll likely need to have a library card to do so, however, so look into getting one to access this feature.
DAY 6: Clean Your Car
People tend to keep a lot inside their cars; it’s almost like they become second homes. Take the time to remove trash, clothes, bags, and other things that belong in either the trash can or closet. Vacuum the floors, wipe down the dashboard, and hang some new air fresheners to finish the clean-up job.
DAY 7: Plan and List Your Meals
It can be a pain trying to figure out what you want to eat for lunch. Sometimes it’s possible to waste much of your lunch deciding what you’re going to have instead of actually eating. Figure out what you want to eat each day, put them down on a list, and tape it to your fridge.
DAY 8: Unsubscribe From Your Emails
Letting your inbox become flooded by emails make it difficult to delete them all when you finally get around to doing it. Take about ten minutes from your day to ditching subscriptions that you find yourself ignoring daily. After unsubscribing from a few things, it gets easier to maintain your inbox each day.
DAY 9: Set Aside Free Time for the Weekend
Dedicate some time to yourself one weekend during your 30-day minimalist transformation. Go for a walk, visit friends, organize things around your house, do anything that involves you focusing on yourself.
DAY 10: Cancel Subscriptions and Memberships You Don’t Use
Carefully consider what magazines (digital or paper), music services, streaming services, and other subscriptions you don’t use and cancel them. The money you’d have used on them each month can be put in a savings account.
DAY 11: Turn Down Some “Commitments”
People often take on commitments that they don’t have time to do or enjoy. You can lighten your load by telling people no sometimes; having less to do on your to-do list helps make time for other things like friends and family.
DAY 12: Organize Your Bathroom
If there’s anything in your bathroom that you’re not using, then you should take the time to get rid of them. Throw away old and expired skin and hair care products, damaged or unused combs, brushes, or other things used to fix your hair. Clearing away items you don’t use will make it easier to arrange what you have left neatly.
DAY 13: Don’t Buy Brand New if You Can Help It
Often, it’s cheaper to either rent, borrow, or buy used things. Keep in mind, however, that this is circumstantial and that you should always consider your needs and perform proper research before deciding whether you should buy anything used, borrow something, rent an item, or buy something brand new.
DAY 14: Start Learning a New Skill
If there’s something that you’ve ever been interested in learning but never had the opportunity to do so, this thirty-day period is the perfect time to give it a try. You don’t have to master whatever skill you chose now wholly, but it definitely won’t hurt to at least get started.
DAY 15: Declutter Your Kitchen
Kitchens, like closets, are enormous magnets for junk. Start getting rid of bowls, containers, and cutlery that you don’t use from the cabinets. Appliances that you don’t use daily should be put into storage, and you should give away any food that you’re not eating to charity drives and the like. Dispose of canned goods and condiments that are expired.
DAY 16: Remove 5 Things From Each Dresser You Have
Choose five pieces of clothing that’s gotten too small or that you otherwise don’t wear much and give them to a shelter or sell online. Do the same for drawers full of nick nacks that don’t often see the light of day. If they have any use or value to others, you can give away or sell these also.
DAY 17: Spend Time Outdoors
Getting some light exercise outdoors can help you sleep better and alleviate depression and stress. It’s also been proven that being outside makes your brain healthier and can make you more creative too. One of your goals should be to spend at least half an hour outside during your 30 of minimizing.
DAY 18: Make the Morning About You
Having a bit of personal time to yourself in the mornings can be just what you need to make the rest of your day flow smoothly. Either set aside some time or get up early enough so that you can plan for later or relax before getting to work.
DAY 19: Do a Single Load of Laundry Throughout the Day
Begin a load of laundry when you get up in the morning, dry them when you’re done with work, fold them during your downtime, and then put the clothes up before you go to sleep.
Assigning each part of washing your clothes to a specific time throughout the day ensures that you complete the task and makes it easier to keep up with the ever-growing pile.
DAY 20: Give Away or Sell Your Children’s Unused Things
Many reading this either have toys that their kids don’t use lying around the house or are holding on to things that your adult children don’t need out of sentimentality.
If your child has toys that they’ve lost interest in, have gotten too old for, or if there are items that you don’t feel especially sentimental about, then you can donate them to charity or sell them for some extra money.
DAY 21: List 5 Things You’re Grateful To Have
Putting things into lists is an excellent way to put your life in perspective; write down five things you feel lucky to have. This list will help you realize that regardless of what issues you might be having, there are still things that have importance and meaning.
DAY 22: Give Paperless Billing a Try
Billing notices make up a large amount of clutter that lurks inside of people’s homes. Transitioning to paperless billing (receiving your bill through email or viewing it through an app) can significantly decrease the paper kept in your house every month.
DAY 23: Start a Journal
There’s proof that journaling can make it easier to deal with anxiety, depression, and stress. Writing down your thoughts, feelings, and daily activities allows you to understand yourself better and keep track of what you’re doing.
DAY 24: Declutter Your Workspace
A cluttered workspace makes it hard to keep important things and your thoughts organized. Removing objects that aren’t conducive to your work experience can increase productivity and make you feel better about work.
DAY 25: Give Yoga or Pilates a Try
Yoga and Pilates improve flexibility, improve strength, and are beneficial towards a healthy state of mind. There are fundamental differences – yoga is better for cardiovascular health, and pilates is better if you want to become physically stronger – but both work wonders for the body and mind.
DAY 26: Remove Everything Unnecessary From the Walls
Remove any wall art, pictures, paintings, or redundant shelving if it doesn’t hold any special meaning to you or serve a purpose. You don’t have to get rid of things you like just because they’re aesthetically pleasing, but you will have to decide what items you appreciate more than others to make clear room on your walls.
DAY 27: Finish All Your Chores Before Bed
Do any cleaning and organizing that needs to be done during the day before it’s time for you to go to bed. Set out what you’re going to wear the next day, pack your lunch, and clean up around the house, so you don’t have to worry about it the following morning.
DAY 28: Organize Your Social Media
You don’t need 200 friends on Facebook; you may not want to even talk to some of those people but accepted their friend requests because they sent one to you.
Unfollow and unfriend people that you don’t talk to, don’t want to talk to, or who’s content you barely follow. After you’ve done this, your news feed won’t be overrun with notifications that don’t interest you.
DAY 29: Set Future Goals
This is the only objective on this list explicitly placed it should be. Worrying about any other tasks before completing the initial set you’ve set out to do can cause undue anxiety.
At the same time, you may have other things you wish to do that aren’t in this guide. Take the time to write down what those other goals are after thinking about what you’ve already achieved and what you want from the minimalist lifestyle.
DAY 30: Relax!
Relax, you deserve it! This is also a great time to ponder, to think back on all the things that you’ve worked on in order to become a minimalist. So how does that feel? Do you think this can be a long-term commitment for you? These things are important to realize and recognize and can only be done through reflection.
You can become a minimalist in 30 days, but it’s not easy. You have to know what minimalism is, make yourself aware of the perks, and acknowledge the potential monetary issues with the lifestyle.
There are many misconceptions about minimalism, such as being limited to a set number of things. While the word “minimalist” can invoke images of a strictly disciplined life, this is not the case.
There are 30 days worth of tasks you can do to put yourself into a minimalist mindset. Some will be easier than others, but completing them all can make you a happier person.