Why Minimalist Living Is Good (and 5 Tips to Keep in Mind)

4 May 2018

We’ve all heard it before: Less is more. And with buzzwords like “declutter” and “simplify” being thrown around with regularity, it’s not surprising that minimalist living is all the rage. But what’s the deal with this newfound obsession with reducing our belongings and keeping spaces free of the unnecessary? As it turns out, there are plenty of benefits to be reaped when you go down the minimalist living route.

Cleaning is a breeze

It’s straightforward: The more things you have lying around, the more you have to deal with. Keeping the place dust-free and doing chores like vacuuming is much easier when you don’t have much to look after and organise, and this in turn makes you less likely to procrastinate. It also means that doing housework won’t take up too much of your time, and you can spend the rest of the day checking off other things on your to-do list (even if that’s simply zoning out in front of the TV).

You’ll save money in the long run

A key focus of minimalism is cutting back on one’s material possessions. Sure, it can be tough to resist that pricey pair of new kicks you’ve been eyeing or the irresistible sales at your favourite lifestyle stores. But if you can be disciplined enough to say no, you’ll soon be looking at numbers in your bank account that would previously have seemed impossible.

It helps improve your decision-making

Ever heard of “decision fatigue”? There’s a reason people like Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and the iconic Steve Jobs of Apple have sported the same look virtually every day. To avoid decision fatigue, they cut back on the number of decisions they have to make – and this includes deciding what to wear.

Think about it: Owning fewer clothes means you only have that much to pick from, and you won’t waste time fussing over your outfit of the day. On top of that, living the minimalist life means you often have to differentiate between want and need, so buying and keeping only the essentials should be your top priority.

a white study desk placed against a white painted wall
Cleaning up easily and saving money are just some of the benefits of minimalist living. Photo by Bench Accounting

It’s great for your state of mind

Let’s face it, when you have fewer things on your plate, the amount of stress is greatly reduced. This goes to the heart of minimalism. If you only have a small amount of belongings, the worry about losing them or damaging them won’t be as bad, and there won’t be a great sense of attachment to as many things. You’ll be able to breathe easier. Simplifying your life does wonders for your mental health.

You’ll learn to be grateful for what you already have

Since minimalism is all about “less is more”, you’ll learn to appreciate what you already own – something that’s often overlooked these days. It may be a simple philosophy, but it really is the key to happiness.
Are you ready to practise minimal living? The general rule is that if you haven’t used something in six months, it’s probably a non-essential item and should be disposed of. Once you’ve wrapped your head around that, use these tips to get started:

multiple clothes hung on a clothes rack that is attached to the ceiling
Your wardrobe is the best place to start with when making the switch to minimal living. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Begin with your wardrobe

This is the best first step to take. Simply take every article of clothing you own and then decide what to keep and what to donate or throw out based on the aforementioned “six-month rule”. Of course, some exceptions include winter clothing and get-ups for special occasions, so think carefully and answer the basic question, “Do I really need this?” – with “need”, not “want”, the key word.

Clear out pieces of furniture (and don’t forget the decor too)

If that piece of furniture serves no purpose and is just collecting dust, you should consider doing away with it. The same goes for home decor, although this can sometimes be more challenging because it generally adds to the aesthetics of a space. You don’t have to discard all of it, but do ask yourself whether the time you spend maintaining and cleaning a particular item is worth it.

Look in the kitchen

The kitchen is where lots of unnecessary items lay hidden in drawers and cabinets. Chances are, you’ll have countless sets of cutlery when you really only need a handful for yourself and perhaps the occasional dinner party. While you’re at it, this is also the perfect opportunity to clean out your fridge. Get into the habit of doing this every month so that you won’t have to handle a year’s supply of rotting food or expired products, which affects the state of your fridge in terms of cleanliness.

A flatlay of an opened luggage, grey laptop, sandals, sunglasses, a photograph and camera
Pack light and only bring the essentials with you. Photo by Anete Lūsiņa

Think about the way you travel…

Aside from the way you organise your home or office, minimalism can also be a positive influence on how you travel. Packing is the easiest thing to review. Many of us tend to overpack, so with minimalism in mind, trim it down to the basics and take only what you need. If you’re travelling for specific gear-dependent activities like hiking or scuba diving, it’s a good idea to invest in quality equipment that will last and get the job done rather than buying and collecting a few items (or having to constantly replace them). Multi-purpose kits and tools are also ideal.

… and eat

This might not appeal to everyone, but generally speaking, it’s about simplifying your meals. Some don’t mind eating the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and in this case, weekly meal preps help), while others stock their pantry with simple staples that can easily be combined to create various tasty and fuss-free recipes.

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