Minimalism for Beginners

Minimalism is simple. Have less stuff.

But stuff just kinda happens sometimes. Accumulating clutter is a natural side effect of being alive.

That shirt from 8th grade that won’t fit anymore, but you wore it everyday and it feels heartless to discard it.

Those books you got for free at the book fair that you might eventually read.

Stuffed animals that kept you safe as a child, and collect dust in your closet now.

Old ipods, wires that might connect to something, but you’re not sure what.

Massive folders containing every single homework assignment from high school, mixed in with funny notes and drawings you made with your friends.

It’s not that easy to just throw this stuff away.

So it sticks around, shoved in a drawer, under the bed, or on display.

And it accumulates.

And so you’ve got a cluttered home.

Now comes the fun part: getting rid of it all.

Just throw it all out. Seriously, just get rid of it. The old t-shirts, the teddy bears: Goodwill.

The random electronics: Best buy. They’ll recycle it for you.

Drop the books off at the library, and dump all of those old papers from school in your paper garbage.

You won’t miss them, I promise.

(Ok, you might miss the teddy bear, but in that case, keep it, save it for your future child.)

Here’s a trick for reducing your belongings to only the most essential and beloved.

Sit down with a pen and paper and write down the name of every book you have that you love. It’s fine if you don’t get the titles exactly right. We’re just trying to sort through and find the books you ACTUALLY care about.

Anything that doesn’t make the list, goes into the discard pile.

Because if you went to your bookshelf first, and looked at each book individually, you’d end up keeping a lot of books you don’t truly care for.

Disclaimer here: There’s nothing wrong with owning a lot of books, or even owning a lot of books you’ve never read. If it makes you happy to look at them, keep em.

(But it might also make you happy to have tidy book shelves.)

This method works well with clothes as well. Chances are, you have more clothes than you need. It’s hard to get rid of clothes, even when you don’t wear them, because one day you might have the perfect occasion for that one weird suit jacket, or that muppets t-shirt.

So sit down, don’t look in the closet, and try list all the clothes that get worn most often.

If you can’t even remember the existence of certain articles of clothing, how much value are they really adding to your life?

So satisfying…

If you find it difficult to get rid of things, because you think you might regret it one day, try delaying it. Take that pile of clothes that you know should go to Goodwill, put it in a box in the attic, and forget about it.

If you don’t feel the need to climb into the attic every other week for those striped leggings or that one nice shirt that you might wear out someday… chances are, you never will.

Even more satisfying!

Of course, there’s one thing about minimalism that people often misinterpret. The goal is not to have the fewest number of possessions. It’s to have just the right amount.

So go with your gut and go with what makes you happy.

Just remember to never underestimate the satisfaction to be gained from empty shelves and clean closets.