Minimalism. The word can conjure intimidating thoughts of incredibly stylish people living in ultra-airy, sleek apartments or an all-or-nothing lifestyle in which you reject absolutely everything that is socially mainstream. For me, I see minimalism as an art. Also, I see minimalism as an art which can be adopted to varying degrees depending on different people’s lifestyles, interests and needs. For example, I strive to be a minimalist but I still have a book collection which spans two bookcases and a good portion of a wardrobe, even though I sincerely doubt that I will ever read many of those books again. However, I don’t believe that this fact should stop me from aligning myself with the minimalist lifestyle because it is my choice which sections of my life I adopt this art form in most.
Here are five important beginners steps towards adopting minimalism which hopefully will seem neither intimidating nor wildly unrealistic:
1. Stop viewing clothes sentimentally
This has been a great stumbling block for me in the past. I have kept clothes and shoes which I had long since grown-out of or were essentially falling apart at the seams simply because I attach particular memories to them. However, this is not a sustainable approach. If I had kept keeping every item of clothing which I linked back to wearing at a particular time in a certain memory I would have had an ever expanding collection of clothing which I would have to haul around with me for the rest of my life and devote a considerable amount of space to, even though I would never have the intention of wearing them again. Also, donating the clothes which you have grown-out of is so much more satisfying then seeing them gather dust in the long abandoned corner of your wardrobe, by giving them away to someone else you are given those items a new lease of life as well as letting someone else enjoy them much more than you were.
2. Identify all of the objects which weigh you down
This is where honesty is crucial. If you want to live a lifestyle which is spontaneous and easy to adapt to new living situations then it is easier in the long-run to pick out which items you own which just are not you anymore. This is not just limited to clothing, it corresponds to all possessions which you do not relate to or identify with anymore and which simply tie you down. It may seem difficult to discard items which you may have been gifted at Christmas a long time ago for instance but it is very likely that such objects were bought for the person you were back then and since you have developed after receiving the gift, it no longer feels personal or relevant to you anymore. Do not let objects or possessions weigh you down!
3. Which objects actually add to your quality of life?
It is a brutal fact that some possessions we have are simply overkill. The majority of us do not need or utilise all of the possessions we have yet we surround ourselves with things which are only marginally useful to us. After a while all of these unnecessary objects can get cumbersome and you will have no space to store things which actually add to your quality of life. In that case, get rid of those things which do not have a positive impact on you or actively help you live and enjoy your life.
4. Which products, if you disposed of them, would make your life simpler?
Taking the example of clothing, if I compare how long it used to take me to get dressed in the morning when I had drawers and a wardrobe overflowing with piles of garments to how long it takes me now when I have condensed my wardrobe, the time I save in the morning is invaluable. I used to agonise endlessly over what to wear, analyse what impression my clothes would give and try to work-out what others might approve of me wearing. However, I am not passionate in any way about fashion. This does not make me better or worse than other people, it’s just a fact, so I chose to simplify my life in this area. I now have a core amount of clothes which I am happy with and comfortable in and rotate them accordingly which saves me time and space, as well as lifting the burden of owning so many clothes which I did not particularly like in the first place but that other people encouraged me to buy so that I would follow trends.
5. What is clutter?
I did not realise how much clutter I owned until I really committed myself to downsizing the amount of possessions I had. I must have owned over a hundred different hairbands and hair accessories in a variety of different colours and shapes from when I had long hair but considering my hair is so short that I couldn’t even tie it up now if I wanted to, that is completely ridiculous! I had kept little toys and figurines which I bought for 50p at car boot sales when I was a kid as well as CDs and DVDs which I had no intention of ever listening to or watching again. Removing all of these superfluous possessions meant that I had room to actually breathe rather than look at my space and sigh in exasperation because it looked like it had been ransacked by a considerably erratic thief!