6 Tips to Living a Minimal Lifestyle

A woman sitting on a couch with a cup of tea, looking out a window.

It's a misunderstanding when people believe that you have to abandon all worldly possessions in order to have a more minimal lifestyle. Really, though, living more minimally can mean adjusting just a few simple factors in your life.

1. Take Inventory

Take a look at what you already have. To make this process easier, go room by room in your home. Take a look through your kitchen drawers. How many spatulas do you have? Is that bread maker getting enough use? Would someone else benefit from using the spice rack that you're hoping to make room for one day?

Really assess what you already have and pare down. Start by planning to have only one of everything you think you need and make it a point for the one version to be highly functional and long-lasting. For example, get a moderately sized frying pan and pot that you can use for nearly every meal. Maybe certain kitchen utensils can have a double function. Ask yourself how many types of the same thing you really need to satisfy your basic living habits.

2. Fake It

Sometimes it's a life event that prompts us to change our day-to-day habits—something that triggers us to make a change and simplify. However, it's always a good challenge to see how little money and things you can live off of.

That said, you may not be ready to completely jump ship and start living off the land. So, take baby steps and try faking it. Take what you view as excessive in your life and put it in a few bins. Better yet, see if a friend will let you temporarily store your stuff in their home for several weeks or store it somewhere you won't have easy access to.

Test yourself and see what happens. Do you find yourself still needing a cheese grater or that blouse you were planning to eventually like again? If you find yourself asking where something is, or you find you have a need and nothing to satisfy it, write that down. When you return to your bin of stuff, look at your list and see if any of the things you needed were in the bin. If not, they're probably fair game for being donated or tossed.

3. Get Really Into Lists

The beginning of a to-do list with a cup of coffee and a rose.

Minimalism doesn't just mean getting rid of things. It also means forming positive habits. Start creating daily to-do lists and find satisfaction is crossing off daily accomplishments. Find yourself being more clearheaded and productive by holding yourself accountable to your daily to-do list.

You can also create lists for long-term goals with action steps. Breaking down what is truly important and knowing what goals you're working toward make day-to-day frustrations easier to power through. This will eventually enable you to see areas where you can eliminate unnecessary stresses.

4. Clear out all Types of Clutter

Clutter comes in many forms. We get brain clutter in our excessive email subscriptions and social media feeds. We acquire clutter through years of living in the same place. We even form relationship clutter when we get caught up in emotional drama with our friends or family.

Start looking through your emails and decide which ones you actually take the time to read. Look through your house and evaluate what seems to take up the most space—can you cut that in half for more breathing room? What conversations can you have to make your relationships clutter-free?

Consider areas of your life where you feel cluttered and take steps to simplify or eliminate. Do this one clutter subject at a time and observe your progress afterward.

5. Seek out the Little Things

A couple taking a hike in a grassy field with trees in the background.

Leading a minimal lifestyle can also mean letting go of a high paying job. Or maybe the need to downsize wasn't a choice, but a necessity. It's important to consider this an opportunity. Start to seek out simple foods that are nourishing and healthy. Spending less, eating more, and exercising are very liberating ways to live more simply.

This also means seeking out entertainment that doesn't cost money. Look in your area for free entertainment like walking trails and free gallery nights. Find yourself not needing to try so hard to stay busy and entertained when you seek out the simple pleasures in life. This could also lead to a new hobby like painting or drawing which requires very little investment and can be done anywhere.

6. Give Yourself Time to Think

At the end of the day, the choice to live more minimally is an active choice. Set aside time each day to meditate or simply relax without any distractions. Don't watch TV to relax or browse the internet. Simply sit quietly for even just a few minutes. When you set aside a designated time to do these very simple practices, you're able to evaluate what is important in life. You start to tease through problems that may be nagging at you and the things that feel like excess become less and less valuable.

Don't discount how important it is to have designated alone time where you're able to clear your mind and move forward through the day. This is key in living a minimal lifestyle.