Steps to Becoming a Minimalist
In your journey to minimalism, you should know that there are steps to follow. These steps are not like a manual, but they can guide you in your daily minimalist living. (Having a guide isn’t a bad idea, or is it?)
Check out last week’s content on how to become a minimalist at home here.
15 Steps to Becoming a Minimalist
1. Self-appraisal and criticism
Having decided to live a minimalist lifestyle, the foremost thing to do is to screen yourself inwards.
Having a self-assessment will be the foundation of your journey to simplicity. It opens your mind as to who and what stays, goes, or deserves your time. It is a fact-finding mission.
According to Socrates, self-discovery is the first step in actualizing anything. In his quote, “Man know thyself.” the philosopher explained that “an unexamined life is not worth living.”
That means you have to do an inventory of what your life is like by asking yourself hard questions about the things you do, the places you go to, and how your time and money is being spent.
You should also take note of the people you converse with daily and how they impact you. These include those in your inner circle. Another aspect to look at is your material possessions and how helpful they have been.
Doing this will give you a clear picture of what you will have to do.
In the course of doing this, you will pick out everything for careful scrutinies leaving no stone unturned. If you desire simplicity, then you should create a decluttered life.
After the appraisal of your “life-facts” and possession, you then pass a kind of judgment on yourself, spelling out the positives and negatives. You don’t have to lie to yourself here. Try to be objective as you can.
It’s so important to be objective as it will give you clarity in thinking, and help you avoid the misplacement of priorities. A good example is when you calculate the amount of time and money you spend surfing irrelevant social media platforms and websites. This assessment will open your eyes to the myriad of other meaningful things you can do with less time and money.
2. Define Minimalism
“Define” here means giving yourself the best minimalist rules that suites you.
The need to define for yourself what “minimalism” is every human being has different lives. We have our peculiar life experiences and needs. Defining minimalism to suit you will help you avoid being a “wholesale copycat.”
The meaning of minimalism for Mr. A will not necessarily be so for Mr. B or C and it goes on. So, you need to make a clean sweep with your mind to find your style of minimalism that will be specific to your circumstances and values.
Since the idea is to live a cost-effective and time-conscious life, you will have to determine what fits into your financial situation and your daily work or business schedules.
By defining what minimalism means to you, you avoid financial pitfalls that may arise as you attempt to live a minimalist lifestyle. For some people, minimalism is having less shoes, for some less clothes, for some less toys and some, it is moving into a smaller house.
A personalized definition will give you a perspective that will enhance and guide your financial habits.
This point is needful, even though there is a known definition of the concept of “minimalism.” What you are going to do is simply to draw from the general notion and build up a set of guiding principles that will be realistic in terms of the achievement of your goals.
3. Outline your needs
A wise man once said, “our wants are many but our needs are few.” Yes! It should be about Needs and not wants.
Get a clean sheet of paper and write out all the things you need and why you need them. If you need more family time, you are tired of piling up debts and leaving yourself at the mercy of the creditor, tired of always selling your essential properties for less. Or you are still exhausted every day because of improper time management, write it all on a sheet of paper.
And when you are done doing this, you will discover that you don’t have too much to worry about in life, and will feel re-energized to attend to your needs.
Writing it down will help you find out the obstacles in your journey to minimalism. It will be a constant reminder of what you need to weed out and help you create a scale of preference, so you know what and who takes first and second position in life.
4. Let “your people” in on your plans
Having an accountability partner is an important step towards minimalism and it doesn’t matter if you are married or not.
In your minimalist journey, do not forget the cliche “that nobody is an islander.” You certainly have people who care about you or vice versa, and the idea is not to live in isolation from them but to live meaningfully. And it is also important to point out that you will be needing a lot of helping hands so telling them is your best bet.
Having someone does not mean you are giving them the opportunity to pry, especially with friends. You should find someone you can trust and keep them abreast with happenings in your life, and seek their advice.
I dare say that the success you will record in this new journey depends mainly on the cooperation of your loved ones. So, to avoid any kind of collateral damage, your decisions may cause, outline your intents in the most precise way possible.
5. Critique your companies
It is the evaluation of people you spend most of your time around.
Ask yourself if they are expendable or indispensable. And, of course, there are no sacred cows in this exercise because emotional or sentimental attachments will be questioned since you out on a journey to peace and quiet.
Since your desire is to save time, people who do not inspire you to make real progress and meaning in life will have to go.
In doing this, you will draw a line between the parasitic and the symbiotic relationships in your life. That is, those who are after the good things they gain from you will be unveil and you can decide on if to end the relationship or adjust it.
The joy here is that you will make a shortlist of who stays and who leaves your life. The importance of this step is that it reduces the stress of always calling a lot of people to check on them while focusing energy on the valuable ones.
6. Give yourself “a self-time.”
Giving yourself a self-time does not mean being selfish. No!
It is merely creating a time of the day to take an hour or two to cool off the steam, probably with a bottle of yogurt or drink. During this time, you will do a quick assessment of how you have spent your day while recovering from exhaustion.
It’s necessary because of the busy nature of our modern lives. We always seem to be choked by a full list of activities in our lives, and this leaves us exhausted as the day ends.
The idea of a “self-time” is to give yourself a “half-time” just like the footballers during a football match. And as such, you can give yourself a pep talk and reassure yourself.
7. Quit multitasking!
Multitasking is simply doing a lot of things at the same time.
The tragedy is that in this bid to accomplish tasks in “record time,” you often handle too many things, which makes you confused, and most times, you quit halfway. And even when you manage to finish up, it’s not done well, or you are left feeling exhausted.
Ironically, a lot of us do this to “save time.” But the reverse is usually the case because we are invariably left with a lot of “re-doings” to do, and we end up losing more time.
Multitasking is a significant feature of a computer that can handle many programs at the same time, depending on its processing power. Still, with humans, it is impossible, and it is a bane to progress.
Scientific research has shown that the human mind and brain are pre-wired to do one thing at a time. So, as you search for habits to rid yourself off, learn to quit multitasking because a journey of thousand miles starts with “one step,” not “two or three” steps at a time.
Be minimal when racking your brain for solutions to life problems. Take them one at a time and do that which is needful.
You can minimize your tasks by making a to-do list. Making of to-do list is writing out your activities for the day in a programmatic manner from the most important to least significant.
The gain in this is that you will have a decluttered workspace, and of course, save a portion of your precious twenty-four hours.
8. Put your House and things in order
Your house is your shield against the darts being thrown at you by life, and it will be delusional to think moving into a bigger home will solve the problem of space. You have to fix it by putting things in order.
So, as you seek to become a minimalist, putting your house in order is an important step. Instead of moving into a bigger apartment, you can check out ways to make things fit in.
While living in a stuffy apartment leaves much to be desired, you can sell up or give out the old clothes, shoes, and anything that is not being used but take up spaces, making you think you have to move into a bigger house. Where it is possible and affordable, you can set up shelves close to the ceiling to free up ground space.
By putting your shoes on the rack and arranging your clothes in the proper places, organizing the kitchen utensils, and repositioning your furniture, you discover that there is a lot more space than you had imagined.
Reorganizing things opens up a lot of space to breathe good air, even in the confines of your small apartment. And you will find it easy getting around your residence and getting things done.
9. Set time restrictions
As humans, there are likely some things and activities that are difficult to give up so suddenly. An instant elimination of such could be very unsettling.
Activities such as surfing through social media platforms, doing heavy downloads, watching your favorite TV programs, playing video games, and eating of junks such as chocolates are quite addictive. The reason for this is quite understandable. Some of these activities and things are what you use to cool off and escape the harsh realities of life.
Since the idea is not to make yourself inconvenient, you can set place time restrictions. It’s way better than an abrupt end because, as time goes on, you will get accustomed to living without such. And you have more time to refocus on other life activities.
The good news is that it is way more straightforward and easy. All you are required to is to be conscious of the time you have given to yourself for these “enjoyments.”
10. Recycle and reuse your properties
While looking at the world’s large economies, there is something to learn from them, recycling. They recycle everything recyclable.
Recycling is merely reusing anything that is meant to be thrown away—bringing back to life that which is supposedly dead. It prevents the buying of new things by the reusing of seemingly useless ones. Recycling is key to reducing recurrent expenditures.
Most of the aluminum and steel plates, spoons, pots, and even jewelry are products of recycling. So, instead of buying a new pillow, you could make one using old foams. Drawing from the coat of many colors story, you can sew a multicolored bed sheet with your old linens.
It’s fulfilling to know that almost everything we have can be recycled to something else, and doing this can save some cash.
Also, by recycling your waste materials, you save mother earth from greenhouse effects. So, do not be quick to dispose off your old properties, make them new and useful in a different way.
11. Practice the art of saying “no”
Yes! You have to pare down on the number of “yes” you say and you have to be firm about it.
Social commitments make sense only if they are few and impactful. If you have some responsibilities, take on them before accepting any other. Always finish up before asking for more. Do not bite more than you can chew.
When you are invited to join a club, an association, or any group you must not always say yes.
Developing the habit is one of the very best step towards effective minimalism.
Saying “no” does not make you antisocial instead, it gives you a sense of purpose and control over your life.
In doing this, you must know that there are no sacred cows and that some persons will not want to take a “no.” So, you will have to make it clear to them your reasons for declining their invitations by explaining your decision to effect some changes in your life.
12. Avoid consumerism
Simply put, consumerism is an attachment to material possessions and believing that having “plenty” is beneficial.
A consumerist always wants more. But the irony is that one does not get satisfied with anything until you chose to be satisfied with it. It is, therefore, essential to note that “one is enough.” Owning all the best and latest shoes, clothes, cars, etc. is not necessarily the best for your finance. But you can enjoy a few good ones.
As minimalist, “going for quality and not quantity” should be your catchphrase. Whenever you are out to buy things, always look for the best at a reasonable price. There are stores where you can get good things cheaply.
13. Take advantage of consumer sales promotions
Consumer or customer sales promotions are techniques used by business establishments when they want to advertise new goods and services, attract new customers, hold the old customers, and outshine their rivals in the competition for a large customer base.
Since discounts often induce the way customers think about a particular product, companies give discounts to encourage their customers. There is a “price discount,” which is a reduction of the original price by a certain percentage and “bonus discount,” which is receiving more for the original cost when you buy in bulk. And these are usually done at the end of the year. A perfect example is Black Friday.
You have to watch out for companies advertising for promos, and be ready to buy the things you will need. Imagine paying fifty or thirty percent less. This is an avenue to get some necessary items, and enjoy services for less. Do not miss out.
Doing it does not make you cheap, but it is, making you save money as you enjoy the dividends of being a customer.
14. Reduce your debts
Debt is a miasma, it hangers over you and it is a bane to your financial freedom.
Like a tumour, it should not be caressed but it must be removed. It is one of the key battles you must win.
Your success in minimalism will have to be guided by your ability to reduce debts. Recurring debts can leave you devastated, financially paralyzed, and messed up.
On debts, there are no lifelines. The fact that you have a backlog of money you owe and their high-interest rates to pay for at the top of your priority list is a reality that you cannot downplay.
Whatever your reasons are for accumulating debts, you have to minimize them. Having decided to live minimally, get a pen and paper, collate all your debts and their sources, compare the interests you have to pay to the value you get from them, and do an effective downsizing. It entails cutting out everything or activities that do not add value to you but cause debts to pile up.
You can start with the small ones like using one refrigerator instead of two to conserve electrical units. You can observe voluntary house arrest to control going on unplanned shopping. Find out from your bank the possibilities of deactivating all but one of your credit cards. Do away with all the “extras and duplicates” or better still sell them.
Buy a simple eco-friendly car that keeps you on the road without much going for servicing, fueling, and the renewal of a license, or whenever it is possible, walk to your destination.
In doing these, you have taken essential steps towards a financially clean slate which necessary for your life as a minimalist.
15. Be gradual but intentional
At this point, it is good to know that you have to start small.
It is possible that reading up to this point, your mind will be bubbling with ideas. But do not forget to take one step at a time.
There is a saying that “Rome was not built in a day.” It has to be gradual and intentional.
On intentionality, you have to know that you must be in charge. Do not allow anything to go unnoticed or spiral out of control. Make good use of all you have got. Be conscious!