7 Ways to become super minimalist without throwing a crazy amount of stuff away
Though I’m rapidly becoming familiar with people throwing away their possessions and proclaiming to be minimalists, I still cringe as I hear their proud confessions.
“Bravo!” I think to myself.
By doing so, you become a minimalist of physical possessions but honestly, you aren’t a minimalist at heart. You do not think like one.
You just follow the crowd, the latest trend and soon enough when materialism is in you’ll collect a hoard of things you don’t need. Again.
Minimalism is a state of mind. Not a set of rules. OK?
The minimalist state of mind?
The minimalist state of mind is not just about getting rid of things you don’t need. Minimalists have a true appreciation and love for the few things that actually improve their lives. Then, it is easy to identify the unnecessary.
The popularity of this kind of mindset came from the book “Fight Club” where character Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt in the movie) showed us how we are the most ridiculous creatures that ever have existed. Humans are the miserable consumerists, who succumb to capitalism like stupid sheep.
People work hard in a rat race to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t even like — Tyler Durden
Yep. It’s junk that we paid for with 40 years of our life.
Though I admit to enjoying this quote for a long time after watching the movie, the perspective is perhaps a little extreme. Now the majority of people cannot live in the woods, ignore the need for a bank account or live in a dirty bathroom like Tyler Durden. However, people can become minimalists and enjoy greater happiness by de-cluttering their life.
How? I will show you how I took the plunge, but first let’s take a look at:
The 80/20 (Pareto) Principle
20% of the world’s population holds 80% of the world’s wealth. 20% of beer drinkers drink 80% of the total beer. You get the idea:
The majority of an effect comes from a minority of causes.
This principle is one of the most powerful weapons of the mind. It can make or break businesses. Applied correctly, it can level-up our lives and boost productivity. The 80/20 rule is an invaluable tool for the minimalist.
Becoming a minimalist in a modern world:
1. Cut down ruthlessly on things you don’t love and don’t need
Only keep things that are required for your own necessity. For instance, my list would be personal toiletries, laptop, phone, underwear, rucksack etc.
If you don’t work online, then there’s no need for a laptop. Well unless you can think of another purpose… and if you don’t like wearing underwear, throw ’em out. If you don’t like cooking, get a partner who does! If you don’t live to eat but rather eat to live, try powdered food - it has all the nutrition you need but removes the hassle of thinking what to eat. It really can be that simple.
Here the 80/20 rule can be your friend: observe your life closely and you will identify the few things you use 80% of the time and the majority of your possessions you use only 20% of the time combined. Bingo! Now you know what to get rid of.
2. Simplify your closet
Tip #1: Instead of buying an expensive flashy dress for only one special occasion, invest in high quality versatile clothing — items you can use for all sorts of events and that are built to last.
Tip #2: Buy clothes in simple colors and patterns. If you have clothes in many colors, shades and patterns, you make it difficult to choose combinations to wear. Unless you are a fashionista and relish the challenge, make life easy by eliminating this decision, saving decision power for something you really care about.
Tip #3: Donate your unused clothes to charity or friends — it could really help someone. Though you can try to sell on eBay, it probably isn’t worth the time unless it’s Louis Vuitton or something. I’d rather spend that time on something more productive and beneficial.
3. Shake it off
No, I’m not talking about Taylor Swift here. I’m referring to the sentimental items you accrue over the years. Birthday cards, CD collection, childhood trophies, ex’s gifts and many more. They are weighing you down. They make you live in the past rather than the present moment.
When I’m old I will still pursue my hobbies, spend time with loved ones and meet new friends. The idea of sitting in a rocking chair reminiscing about the past sounds sad to me. I hope my future self will have more interesting things to do than idolise the old good days. In order to make room for the future, we have to let go of the past. But it wouldn’t harm to take a few photos on your way to the skip.
4. Use your time wisely
The 80/20 rule applies everywhere. If you run a small business, you will find that only a small number of clients bring the majority of your revenue - so why allocate the majority of resources and customer service to serve the majority of low-revenue-generating customers who are constantly angry and unsatisfied?
If you make videos, don’t waste time publishing your work on every platform out there. You will find that one or two websites bring the majority of views and subscribers. By spending time to put your videos on just those websites, you free up more time to create new content for your channel.
Always reflect and iterate on what really is producing 80–90% of your desired outcome and spend more time and resources on it. Work smarter, not harder.
5. Cut down on toxic negative people
You will often find people who are critical, negative and like complaining about everything. They rarely see goodness anywhere. They complain about the weather, bitch about their friends, their jobs and their government. But what have they done right? Instead of focusing on doing something good, they wasted their time and your time! Instead of cultivating their better selves or contributing goodness to society, they choose to be the shadows that block your light!
Stop wasting your time! You will do yourself a massive favour by slowly pushing negativity out of your life. And you will find yourself surrounded by wonders and possibilities.
6. Invest more in the things that make you feel alive
When you have freed up so much time and saved a lot of money by doing the things mentioned above, now is the right time you can completely focus on what really matters to you.
It could be buying more books, practicing a new skill, acquiring a new language or travelling more often. You’ll feel your life is so de-cluttered now that you are free to do anything you want. Anything that makes your life more meaningful. Anything.
That feeling is incredibly empowering — and that’s what minimalism should be. It should empower people to be extraordinary, not ordinary. It should open you up to so many possibilities you never knew existed because you were so busy working on unimportant projects (point #4), buying unnecessary things (point #1,2,3) or wasting your time with negative people (point #5).
So de-clutter and start living a simple and meaningful life :)
7. Become a lean-startup founder (not for everyone!):
This is, in my opinion, the most complex and challenging form of the minimalist mindset.
This is not just about your minimalism anymore. This is about understanding what others really need and love.
A startup has to create a product people really need without adding unnecessary features — by building an initial MVP (minimum viable product) before adding complex features, you can gauge what customers really want and avoid wasting time on features they don’t need.
For those who want to learn more about the concept of MVP and how lean startups operate, check out the startup bible “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. (Unfortunately discussing the book is outside the scope of this post).
If you only remember one thing from this article, make it this quote:
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication — Steve Jobs
What were your strategies when you set out to be a minimalist? Let me know in the comment below! But not about throwing more stuff away, okay?