More Advice For Aspiring Minimalists (Part 2)

As I mentioned in the original Advice for Aspiring Minimalists, I had planned on including answers to four important questions. When I received responses from so many of the top minimalist bloggers, I knew I would have to dedicate one post for each question. So today, I bring you answers to question #2.

Advice From the Experts – Part Two

What is One Simple Change Someone Can Make to Live a More Minimalist Life?

Start asking yourself, “Why?” Why do I have 10 pairs of shoes? Why do I have 8 meetings scheduled for today? Why am I spending 70 hours a week at work? Once you start answering those questions you can begin living more minimally. Sam Spurlin

Stop buying things that aren’t necessary. You can slowly declutter, but if you don’t stop needless buying, you’ll still accumulate clutter.Leo Babauta of mnmlist.com

Stop browsing in stores and online. Unsubscribe to all the stores email services that send you daily deals and promotions. I’ve found these two acts have freed up a lot of time and mental energy that I can put towards more rewarding pursuits. And it has saved me a lot of space and cash. Rachel Jonat of Minimalist Mom

Easy, stop accumulating! If you keep inundating your surroundings with more stuff you’ll never have a chance to come to terms with your current possessions. Eric LaForest

Stop Shopping. Stay out of stores, mute commercials, stop bringing in more crap, get rid of the credit cards, just get off the shopping treadmill ASAP! A lot of people would say to unclutter first, but if you don’t stop bringing in more stuff, it defeats the purpose of uncluttering. Meg Wolfe of Minimalist Woman

Hide your television in the closet for a week. Just a week. See what magic unfolds. Dusti Arab

Pick an easy place to start. I recommending minimizing your wardrobe for starters. It’s a small, attainable experiment that incorporates most of the thoughts, emotions, and feelings that accompany the minimalist lifestyle. Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist

For me, it’s been decluttering. I did the whole house, but a closet or a drawer can be a perfect good place to start (and it’s addictive!) Laura of minimoblog.it

Identify what is essential to you. What are you all about. Getting to know this is the single most important thing you can do. Christiaan

Stop buying. That might not seem simple, but there are so many things you can do instead: rent, borrow, beg, steal. You really begin to realize just how little you need when you make a concentrated effort to stick with what you have. Matthew Madeiro

Stop Shopping. Robyn Devine of Minimalist Knitter

My response to this question is… Just get started. You can read about it, think about it and write about it all you want, but until you get started, nothing will happen. Start a monthly budget to pay off debt, cancel your cable, donate half your wardrobe and join Project 333. Just get started. How will you start or how did you start?

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Many of these reference ‘stopping’ something. Whether it be to stop buying, spending, watching, most of these smart writers have found that the best way to be a minimalist is to not do (I reference the same in my article here http://lifeexcursion.com/to-not-do/)

    Often we think we have to do something to become more of a minimalist when in fact doing less can bring more to their life.

    Thanks for the continued examples.

    David Damron
    LifeExcursion

  2. says

    My first step has been to stop doing the things that don’t matter, the things that I won’t even miss if I stop participating. I cleaned out my DVR (and freed up time in the evenings) by deleting the TV shows that I watched but that I knew I would never miss if I stopped watching them. I cancelled magazine subscriptions that I read, but that I knew I would not miss reading if I stopped receiving them. I cleaned out the closet by removing items that I wore occasionally, but that I knew I would never miss if they weren’t there.

    And it has worked. The simple concept of deciding what matters and then eliminating the things that don’t.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Sarah, Great point. I think you’ll also discover that finding more that doesn’t matter opens up a world of things that do.

  3. says

    I also agree with the rest – the point is to start somewhere. I also started with my clothes, because that’s a relatively easy place to start. I challenged myself to get rid of 75 things in 75 days in Fall 2010, and ultimately ended up eliminating 1,150 things in that 75 day period instead. What I got…FREEDOM!!!

    And, an addiction for more :)

    So, I am now decluttering my entire home in 2011 (and blogging about the journey), in Minimalist Monday Mission: Declutter 365.

    My first stop? To join you for Project 333. But, considering I had already gone through my clothes twice, it wasn’t that hard to pick out the 33, which, by the way, ended up being MORE clothes that I thought it would be.

    But, the point is to just start. And don’t give up. I didn’t see some amazing visual progress until I passed 750 items removed from my home or so…so stick with it!

    Dr. Laura

    • says

      I am on my way very slowly. It seems to me a visual reminder of progreas may be helpful – particularly in my obviously cluttered rooms. Photos of now and photos of later are planned.

  4. says

    Resounding theme here, stop buying more stuff. You have to take a step back and look at your spending habits, your budget, etc. Start looking first at how much you bring in. Then start looking at what you can live without. Figuring out what you can live without starts making you understand what is really important to you.

  5. says

    Thanks for including me in such a great list of great minimalist, and congrats for the post which is really interesting. I’m planning on mentioning it tomorrow on Minimo.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Laura, I’m happy to include you. Ahh…if only I could read Italian and enjoy your blog everyday!

  6. says

    There seems to be a consensus on “consuming less” here. It’s a great place to start.

    What came to mind when answering the question was that while there are a lot of things you can do, hardly any of them are truly simple. It sounds simple enough to hide your tv, but chances are you are addicted to it and will find it hard to cope without.
    Likewise with the shopping, we’re addicted to consuming. It’s a tough cookie but you’ll get there.

    Great series, it’s great to read all those other bloggers answers, very inspiring.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Christiaan, The great part is that any of the changes are reversible. By just trying no spending or TV for a week, people might discover they actually feel better. If not, they can always go back to business as usual. There is no risk involved here!

  7. says

    Another great round up Courtney and thanks again for including moi!

    I agree with other comments, that have noticed the theme of stop accumulating. That was by far the biggest step that helped me!

    Hopefully this helps others just starting in their minimizing journey.

    Eric

  8. Pat says

    I sometimes do an experiment with the college students that I teach. I ask them not buy anything (except food and gas for the car) for one week). It is amazing to see how difficult that task is for most of them. It was intially also hard for me to do. We are so addicted to stuff in our society. I have now decluttered my wardrobe and am almost done with stuff in my house. It is so liberating!

  9. says

    That’s some great advice from people who have achieved the happy simpler life. I think it is so very important to stop and take the time to breathe, and then to reflect on life.

    Focus on what is most important to you, then the process of de-cluttering and simplifying begins from there- give away as much as you can.

    Feel the freedom that comes from the opening of space in your home, in your time and in your life.

    • Courtney Carver says

      David, That freedom comes fast too! While some parts of simplifying take some time, there are always changes that provide immediate gratification.

  10. says

    While I don’t consider myself a minimalist necessarily, I’ve always been bothered by all types of clutter.

    Doing more with less is a lifelong passion of mine that I doubt will ever dwindle.

  11. says

    Thanks Courtney! One more simple change you can make towards becoming minimalist is doing one thing at a time. Don’t flit about from task to task. Decide what’s most important, and then do that thing, before switching to something else.

  12. says

    While I am embarking on a year on consuming a LOT less this year starting today, my husband and I did some bedroom purging this weekend and are already loving the freedom that comes with a space reserved and filled with only what is needed for sleeping, cuddling, and dressing. Freedom through less is no joke. Thanks for all the links to everywhere.

  13. Michell says

    I think that the first step on the road to minimalism is to breathe, let go, and accept that we are enough.

    In our society, we are socialized from a very early age to look to the outside for approval, love, identity and gratification. However, this creates a problem…a kind of vacuum inside the body and spirit. We are taught to look to others for fulfillment, and the message is reinforced through media and marketing. We believe that we cannot “feed” ourselves, that it is inappropriate to seek inside the mind and spirit for our own sustenance. However, a person who cannot feed themselves must always seek sustenance elsewhere…from the outside. Marketing has stepped into the vacuum very nicely, and profits from the black hole that inhabits our interior, continually reinforcing the message that we are not enough. Not good enough, not smart enough, and certainly not attractive enough. And so, we try to feed ourselves with stuff…toys, shoes, jewelry, entertainment, drugs, sex,cars, clothing. Things. Clutter. We try to feed the black hole that is the us-shaped-space with everything BUT ourselves. Unfortunately, when we plug something into the black hole, it never stays or lasts for long, because it isn’t what really belongs there. The only thing that will ever fit or completely, permanently fill that gaping void is our self. That is truly the journey of minimalism…coming to the realization that the one essential item to own in this whole world, is your self.

  14. says

    How to become a minimalist? It’s an amazing question that so many people ask, yet so few answer. My opinion is just to keep things down to a ‘need’ basis. That may include the ‘need’ to unwind, maybe with some music or a good book, yet we must avoid over-indulgence.

    Thanks for sharing Courtney :-)

  15. says

    Thanks again. I’m actually planning to translate at least a few essential posts into English, but it’s a time-consuming process and my “real” work seems always to be in the way ;)

  16. says

    This post is great. It shows that there a different “one things” that people can do. That is good because all people are different. The first thing I did was remove outside activities, but this was more for a mental/physical reason. Secondly, I got rid of about 25% of my clothes and then moved on to my books. I reduced by at least 25% there as well. It is interesting though, that since I completed those two purgings a few months ago, I find myslef looking at a book or a piece of clothing and aksing myself “why did I keep this?” So I think it is time for round 2! I also want to clean out my laundry/pantry/utility room, which will be a major undertaking. Maybe a shelf at a time to begin with! Oh, and I cleared out a lot of my Christmas decorations this year as well!
    Bernice
    Get your priorities straight

  17. says

    It’s nice to see this advice all in one place. One of the items mentioned here is that decluttering is addictive. I can vouch for that. We started with a closet and have since gone through almost every part of our house and are about to start another round.