5 Guidelines for Living Minimally

Minimalism. What is it? Why do you need it? And how do you get it?

Simply put; it is the art of living simply, by simply living.

While I could never truly subscribe to pure minimalism, I do believe in living by its core principle of “less is more”. You don’t realise how much stuff you have until you have to move and it is surprising how much a person can fit into a seemingly small house.

This was our reality when we had to bid farewell to our tiny 2-bedroom and say hello to a 3-by-3 metre storage unit while we wait for our house to be registered. Moving house allows you the most opportune occasion to purge the build up of life’s clutter. But you don’t have to wait to move to start cleaning up and over the years of constant packing and unpacking, I have come to live by these 5 guidelines for stuff:

1. Only time will tell

If you haven’t worn or made use of it in the past year, chuck it. Fashions change and high trend items go out of style even faster. I would suggest filling your wardrobe with timeless and basic pieces that you can always dress up with statement jewellery that is cheap and expendable over time. The same goes for the other rooms in your home, such as the kitchen. There are millions of gadgets out there that are meant to make cooking easier and quicker. But when last did you use that kiwi scoop or your pink banana slicer? If you really must keep the fondue set that your mother-in-law gave you, then at least know how to store it well. Hey, I have two coffee machines, so I’m not one to judge.

2. Buy less, save more

We live in a world of buy, buy, buy; where we consume above and beyond our actual needs. Here you want to ask yourself, do I really need to buy this? We seem to over value the material and seek to find satisfaction in shiny, new things. A study done by San Francisco State University found that it is in fact experiences that lead to happiness rather than material things. Our experiences are laden with peaks and ends and when you exchange money for goods it leads to a peak, but the item doesn’t stay new for long and soon loses its appeal. Therefore the excitement of buying stuff is short lived, consisting of momentary peaks and sharp ends. Whereas, a memory of a vacation can last forever. That remembered experience maintains its peak status every time you look back on that time. What I am ultimately trying to say is if you don’t need to buy it, then don’t, and rather save you money for things that really count.

3. Make decluttering a regular task

Purging your environment of the things that you no longer need, use or care about should happen on a regular basis. We’re human and we will accumulate, no matter how minimalist we live. Therefore, to maintain a clutter free life you need to work through points 1 and 2 habitually.

4. Reuse, recycle, re-imagine

If there was one thing that I learned growing up, it’s that if it’s broken, fix it. I grew up in a home with plastic wrap on the remote to “save” it from getting dirty or wearing down, and so the first response to something not working anymore was to fix it as opposed to buy a new one. If it’s old or broken, do you really need a new one? Can you repurpose something else on hand to act in its stead?

5. Take control of your life

When you realise that happiness is not seated in the material or future what-ifs, you can really start to enjoy your life. To be completely satisfied with who you are and what you currently have is deeply freeing. The aim of living minimally is not about giving up reaching for new heights and just being content with the bare minimum. Rather, it is the act of letting go of material tie downs in order to free your mind space to be able to focus on what you want to achieve in life.

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