This New Years, instead of making a New Years resolution (which I don’t believe in), I wanted to create a challenge for myself- to take slower living to the next level. I have been investigating the concept of minimalism for a while. Using a few key principles such as; getting rid of things I don’t need or use, stop purchasing new items and enjoying more time away from the shops, I am getting used to this newer style of living. I can finally see free space in the house, finally I have a clean garage and a workable wardrobe. All of this downsizing has taken me about 2 years.
Minimalism isn’t as simple as throwing everything out and creating space. I really wanted my possessions to be sold to some one who needed it, and help me save or to be donated to those less fortunate. The problem I had was, I couldn’t downsize in one go. The idea of doing that was so scary. I was so attached to all of my things and the thought of the money I wasted purchasing them, only to give them away cut so deep.
About 2 years ago I started reading into simple living techniques were people lived with the least amount of items as possible. Not only to save money, but also not to be bogged down by physical possessions. Minimalism is about having the time and the space to do more spiritual things. Minimalism allows you to discover yourself and not let your physical possessions define you.
Not only that, if I cared so much about the environment as I said I always have, I wouldn’t be buying into the consumer and throwaway culture I currently live in. All of which promotes greed and wastefulness, all qualities I dislike.
This past 6months has been a complete break through for me, I finally had home for myself. This means I had complete power to finally get rid of furniture, brick a brack, books and the list goes on. I spent 3 weekends at the markets selling off my old unwanted goods, I no longer used.
It feels amazing to have a house completely de-cluttered, but it’s time to do more. Taking a minimalist approach to the things you own, gives you space to concentrate on more meaningful things. It gives you time for self care, growth and personal development. I thought why not accelerate the minimalism lifestyle by making it into a challenge.
Below is a list of 15 things that I could do a day at a time to take me closer to simple, more mindful living. I am not a believer in New Years resolutions. My 15 days to minimalism is my way of putting my best foot forward for the New Year. Do you have a list of 15 things to work on to make your life simpler?
1. Minimalism day one, no phone day
I can’t tell you how much my anxiety levels have improved from staying offline and being very choosy about which social media sites I visit. I took the stance to get offline, distance myself and concentrate on me for a while. Over the last 3 months I have been scheduling most of my business posts. This is so I don’t have to continually have my browser open during work and I don’t have to scramble for daily content.
Staying offline has allowed me to read, learn and train more and do the things I love. For example walk my dog, keep the house clean, experiment in the kitchen and learn how to sew. Day one of 15 days to minimalism was no phone day- a digital detox. Try it, leave your phone and see what happens.
2. Meditate for 10minutes
I’ve been on and off with meditation for a number of years. Lately my sleep patterns have been really bad. Instead of staying up all night I use meditative breathing and relaxation music to fall back asleep.
There are many more health and mental benefits to meditation, like reducing stress and improving creativity. Have a try, sit in a quite spot and listen to your breathing. If you are like me you may need some relaxation music playing in the background.
3. Practice yoga for 30minutes
Yoga is one of those things I do in spits and spurts. It’s great for flexibility and to fell calm. I’ve tried a few different styles in the past, from fast and hot yoga (Bikram) to Hatha yoga, which is slower and more relaxing. Even thought it feels good I don’t always have time to do the slow stuff. Well, because I’m doing the hard stuff first like running and lifting weights.
At the moment I do some yoga moves at the end of a workout at least once a week. But I’m going to give it more time this week. You don’t always have to exercise hard and fast to get health benefits. I have to remind myself of that all the time! If you want to enjoy the calm of being a minimalist you have to try yoga.
4. Go through make up collection & down size bath room supplies
You probably have this same issue as me, a bathroom cabinet and make up case that needs a review. You know the soap or make up gifts that you never use? Yup, those, they need to go. I know throwing them away is a waste, so maybe give them away instead.
Take note that sunscreens and make up can go off, so if the packaging is looking mouldy and smells weird, it’s time to trash them. You don’t want to put that stuff on your face.
When you can see the back of the cabinet- finally. You know you’re doing a good job. Minimalism means you need to get rid of stuff you do not use. The rule is if you haven’t used it in a year, you’re not probably going to in the future.
5. De-clutter the Tupperware cupboard
My most hated area of the kitchen. You can never find matching containers and lids. This de-clutter is going to help reduce the frustration in the kitchen and clean up the space. The idea of too much plastic also gets under my skin, so I am going to use them till they break and not replace them. In the mean time I’m playing the pairing game. Recycling miss matching tupperware containers is the best way to dispose of these plastics in an environmentally friendly manner. You can also use them multi purposefully, for example to organise garage supplies like nails, nuts and bolts or for craft separating buttons and sewing needles.
6. Read for 45minutes
I love reading, I think everyone should do it. Back in 2013 I made it a goal to read a book each month. I smashed that goal, averaging one each fortnight, but this year reading has really tapered off. This is partly because I just haven’t had time to sit quietly. Instead I’ve been blogging, listening to podcasts and audio books.
I believe reading really helps to improve spelling, grammar and gets the imagination going. When was the last time you read a book?
If you want to start living a more mindful intentional lifestyle you have to give yourself space to enjoy life’s pleasures. Quite time in this digital world is hard to come by, so make time for yourself off line.
7. Make a budget & set bank account on automatic payments
I know it’s boring to budget, but it’s good to recap every now and then about where your money is going. Budgeting brings financial decisions to the forefront and makes you think about your financial health.
In many relationships financial issues are the causes of stress and breakups. This is one of the many reasons why I believe in budgeting and knowing where I am spending money. I have always had automatic payments taken out of my account for savings, which has been a blessing so you don’t spend more than what you have.
8. Clean out my wardrobe & shoe collection
I am up to my 4th wardrobe clean out. I am finally getting free space in my draws and closet. When you can see what you have, you have a better idea of clothing options. I am a firm believer in only keeping clothing that fit, so it’s a workable wardrobe.
I have 2 massive wardrobes and draw sets, the need to downsize again is to show myself I don’t need tones of clothes to make me feel happy. In the past I used shopping to mask boredom and loneliness. How the times have changed.
When you are trying to be intentional about the way you live, you need to recognise why you do the things you do. For me shopping gave me a rush and happy feeling, then I came home back to reality. To get the rush I would buy more things, but that doesn’t address any underlying problems.
The problem with holding on to items you do not need, is that you are holding into precious resources. By donating or reselling items you are making them available for someone else at a cheaper rate. This means they don’t need to buy it in the store, further contributing to more landfill and of course spending lots of money.
By contributing to the second hand trade we can recycle and make items available for those who may not be able to afford certain things. Think about it this way, we generally only use a small percentage of our wardrobe. This means other people could be wearing and using the clothes that are sitting there collecting dust.
9. Pair outfits
I used to do this when I actually went into the office for work. On a Sunday I would pick out 5 outfits for the week. Taking my time to mix and match. It took the thinking out of my Monday to Friday morning routine and stopped me being late for work.
For the past 2 years I’ve been working remotely from home so I haven’t done this for a while. By pairing outfits you have an idea in your head about what you have to wear. For me it also shows me that I don’t need any more items of clothing. It also gives me something to look forward too. I look forward to wearing a certain outfit, rather than scrambling at the last minute to find something that’s going to make me feel good on the day and stops me from making a mess.
10. Lay out in the sunshine for 30min
I used to do this all the time in my university days. I’d spend the whole day reading and basking in the sunshine on a summer’s day. Working full-time has really zapped my time, so now on holidays I am going to give myself the headspace to sun gaze once again. Minimalism embraces the simple pleasures in life. Do you have an activity that totally relaxes you?
11. Minimalist inbox- unsubscribe from all newsletter emails
I started unsubscribing a long time ago. Still to this day the borage of daily emails is painful. I have the rule that when I subscribe to any newsletters that I leave them in my inbox for when I have time to go back and read them. If they sit in my inbox for a few weeks without reading they get a delete and unsubscribe. Don’t let digital inbox clutter make you feel down. Let the unsubscribe button be the way you declutter your mind.
12. Organise childhood photos into albums find out how to digitise
Who doesn’t like looking at old photos? This job is a task and a half. We all have those boxes of photos we are going to organise one day, well today is the day!
Memories are so important and so it being able to share them with friends and family. Organising photos makes them more accessible and less likely to get damaged.
13. Re-do my dream board
I love doing a dream board every year about what I am hoping to achieve this year. When you visualise your goals it’s much easier to imagine you achieving them. Get some magazines and start collaging inspiring pictures. This is obviously has nothing todo with downsizing possessions. We downsize to create more space in our life to dream, socialise and have experiences. I think about my dream board as a road map to the future.
14. Make a herb garden
I was given Bunnings gift vouchers for my engagement party, so a good way to spend this is to finally get a herb garden. I’ve had many attempts at making a vegetable patch and failing miserably. But, as the saying goes- just try again! It’s a more sustainable way to consume and use herbs. Generally, when I cook I only use a part of the herb bunch and it annoys me that most of it gets composted. With my new herb patch I don’t have to buy an entire bunch of herbs for a few leafs. I use what I need, when I need it.
15. Clean out the food cupboard
The food cupboard is an area that constantly accumulates items. I like to make sure I am not over buying food supplies and I like to know what I have. I’ve also taken to collecting recycled jars for a photo-shoot I had for a book I am going to release in January. The jar collecting has gotten out of hand and I want my cup board space back.
Are you a cereal over buyer? It’s a major food waste problem in this country and is environmentally unsustainable. Minimalism is not only about de-cluttering the items you have in your house, but also being mindful of the food you have in your kitchen so we don’t over buy. Each time you over buy that is a precious resource no one else can use. The aim with minimalism is to only take what you need, and no more than that.
The past 15 days of minimalism has really pushed me to take the next step with my quest for a simpler happier, more sustainable and clutter free life. As weird as it sounds I feel a sense of relief from walking into a room that’s clear of objects. I actually breathe a sigh of relief. I love knowing that I have more than what I need. This means I don’t have to spend time shopping. In turn, I love that my reduced shopping habits has helped me save money.
For the newbies to this concept of minimalism the first thing I urge you to start with is de-cluttering both your physical space and your commitment calendar. Make room todo the stuff you want to do, not things you feel obliged to do. Make time in your weekends by saying no to things, then feel the stress lift off your shoulders.
Are you game, to take the challenge?