I don’t call myself a minimalist (yet!) because I still have some progress to achieve in that area. However I see myself as an aspiring minimalist as I’m always working towards getting there.
Here are 7 ways that I personally apply minimalism in my life:
1- Declutter the Stuff
Naturally the first place I started my minimalist quest is by decluttering my house : clothing, handbags, kitchen items, kids toys, and useless knick-knacks. They ended up being donated, thrown out/recycled or sold on second-hand websites and apps (such as my favorite app VarageSale ). I’m still amazed that I made over $4000 selling miscellaneous stuff that I was ready to part with.
My young kids now know that in order to buy a new toy, an existing toy has to leave the house. I either give the toys away to friends with younger kids or I help my kids sell them on VarageSale. It motivates them to know that they will get money from selling their old toys to buy new ones. And to me, it keeps the amount of toys in the house to a reasonable amount.
I certainly get an immense joy from seeing empty racks and drawers around the house.
An empty drawer in my bathroom… I have nothing to put in it !
A long rack in my closet that used to be filled with handbags.. and now is left empty
2- Lighten my Schedule
Some people thrive on being busy all the time. It is somehow perceived that being constantly busy is synonymous with being successful. You often hear people brag about how busy they are or how their kids’ schedule is filled with activities, to a point where both parents and kids don’t have time to breathe.
Personally, empty spots in my schedule are very welcome. In the past couple of years, I made a conscious effort to minimize my kids’ activities so they have time to relax and just “be”, especially on weeknights after school and on the weekends.
I think many parents feel guilty if their kids are not signed up for swimming, hockey, ski, piano, soccer and gymnastics! I call this the Over Parenting Syndrome, where we do so much for our kids, at the expense of our schedules being jam packed, just to feel like we are being good parents!
3 – Organize my Inbox
I just looked at my inbox now and it has exactly 14 emails that need to be dealt with. I simply cannot stand to have thousands of emails in my inbox waiting to be read. My emails end up quickly either in the trash or in a specific folder. I also ensure that I only sign up for newsletters that don’t overwhelm my inbox with daily messages, and from websites that I really care about.
4- Limit my Time on Social Media
One of my 2017 resolutions was to spend 1 hour per WEEK on social media (Facebook more specifically, because I don’t have personal accounts on any other social media platform). In the first few months of the year, I actually used a timer to see if I’m sticking to my time limit. Now, the habit of staying disconnected from Facebook has become very natural, and I find myself not logging in, days at a time. Of course, I don’t have the Facebook app on my smart phone which makes it easier to stick to my resolution.
Disconnecting has allowed me to become more productive and less prone to being irritated by all the negative news on my feed.
5- Simplify my Finances
Over the Xmas holiday, I spent almost a full day decluttering all my financial papers. I even had to book the services of a shredding company because it was going to take me hours to shred them all using my small domestic shredder. I essentially got rid of all our tax returns older than 7 years, all the bank statements, credit card statements, old bills, old contracts of things we don’t even have anymore! It was so liberating to fill out 4 large garbage bags of papers.
I also keep to a minimum the number of bank accounts that I have and the number of financial institutions that I deal with.
6- Let Go of Some Relationships
As times goes by, I have become more comfortable letting go of relationships that require too much effort and energy on my behalf. Do you have relationships in your life right now that drain you, yet you keep holding on to them? I think it’s difficult for some to close such doors. Personally, I find it freeing to let go of relationships that are not nurturing so I can focus more than the ones that bring me joy.
7- Clear my Thoughts
Last by not least, I’m constantly working on clearing my thoughts, using the magical tool of meditation. It seems so easy to NOT think, yet it is so hard to pause your brain and be in a state where you are not doing anything, you are not achieving anything, you are just allowing yourself to be.
I would love to hear how you try to achieve minimalism and how does it look in your life ?
PS: a nice book to read is “The life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo. Her concept is simple: ask yourself “Does this spark joy in my life?”. If it does, keep it. Otherwise, get rid off it. I think the concept applies to stuff but also to all other aspects of minimalism.