Every now and then people ask me whether I am still a minimalist. The answer is the same each time. Yes, I am still a minimalist. I guess they are surprised, to some minimalism may seem like a fad. The principle of less is more seems counterintuitive , why would anyone want less when they could have more? Isn't more better? However, for me it makes complete sense. It helps me focus on what is important to me . That's why I continue with minimalism, not because I like having less for the sake of having less but to make space for more valuable, meaningful, and worthwhile pursuits. The idea of minimalism is neither new nor unusual, it's just a recent iteration of the age old idea of loving what you do, and doing what you love. In order to do what you love you need to be not doing what you don't want to be doing. That's why there is de-cluttering, so we spend less time doing stuff that doesn't matter and more time on stuff we care about.
After the initial phase of de-cluttering, the next part is maintainence. How do you make sure clutter doesn't build up like it did before? The trick is to have minimalist principles be a part of your everyday life. Incorporating it to your daily life will allow you to deal with things as they come rather than waiting for spring cleaning. Here is what I do to keep the feeling of lightness and freedom that minimalism allows me.
1. Figure out your initial reasons for having clutter.
Until you figure out your initial reasons for accumulating clutter it is very likely that over time clutter is going to build up like it did before. Figuring out your reasons behind clutter treats the cause of the problem and not just the symptoms on the surface. For example, I used to go shopping because I was bored, and shopping was a source of entertainment. Now, for entertainment I do other activities that are more fun, pleasing, and valuable to me like borrowing and reading a good book from the library , going for walk in nature, or meditating, which all happen to be free. You can also spend money on experiences that are truly beneficial for you that also result in no clutter like taking dance classes. Being a minimalist doesn't mean you have to not spend money, spend your money wisely and appropriately.
2. Keep getting inspired.
After the initial de-cluttering you'll have much less stuff than you started. Naturally the momentum drops of because you have less stuff to de-clutter and simplify. To maintain interest and motivation add some minimalist inspiration to your life. Follow your minimalist heros and read how they continue to live minimally. I follow a small number of blogs that inspire me to live with less. There's always a new and ingenious ideas to implement ideas of living with less. My favourites blogs are Zen Habits, The Minimalists, Be More with Less, and Fashionably Light.
3. Practice the one in one out/two out rule
Things get used, breaks or you just need something and you need to buy stuff. To make sure you remain with the same amount of stuff that you have now is to get rid of one thing in the same category when you get something new. So if you get new pair of shoes donate at least one pair of shoes that you don't wear anymore. This process also makes you check how necessary a purchase is because you will be giving up something besides your money for it. How much you want the new item, do you want it enough to get rid of an old favourite?
4. Connect with other like minded people.
Find other people who share your interest in minimalism. Participate in minimalist challenges, find people on social media (just search #minimalism). This is especially helpful if no one around you is a minimalist. Sometimes you feel a bit lost and odd for being a minimalist when other people around you aren't into it as much as you are. Humans are social animals and being with people who like the same thing can be fun, rewarding, and motivational. Plus you might make a friend or two!
5. Practice purchase pauses.
A purchase pause is when you give yourself a significant period of time before you buy something (Of course this wouldn't apply to necessities like groceries). Having time to decide will make you stop and consider how much you need or want the item. A good trick is writing down what you want to purchase, hold the buying and leave it for a few weeks.You can choose your own time, give it at least a week though. Once the designated time is up you can check with yourself if you still want the item , buy it if you think it is necessary. Another method is to live out your purchase on paper. Live out you purchase from start to finish, do you still want it once the excitement wears off? If it is an impulse purchase, living out your purchase on paper can be just as thrilling as the actual purchase.
6.Learn to be okay with saying no.
Sometimes the hardest thing is saying no to other people. Friends may want you to go shopping with them when you don't want to, your grandparents may want to buy you stuff you don't need, and people want your time when you really need to concentrate on something important. In all of these cases you have an option to say no. Be honest with your loved ones, tell them the reasons why you don't want to spend time buying things. Offer to do spend time doing something else. There's plenty of other ways you can spend quality catch up time together. Tell your grandparents you still love them and your love isn't dependent on them buying stuff for you, instead offer to call them a bit more often or offer spend more time with them. The trick here is to be compassionate when you say no. You may feel guilty for saying no, but remember if you say yes but your heart isn't in the activity and you are miserable, then it's a lose-lose situation for both parties, so you are actually doing them a favour by saying no.
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As usual I would love to hear what your thoughts are. How do you keep on track with living with less?
If you are just getting started with de-cluttering check out my post how to start de-cluttering. What is one step you can take to maintain minimalism?
With love & simplicity,