Can a life be fuller with less in it? Absolutely.
In the age of consumerism , the true meaning of our lives gets too easily buried under piles and piles of things we purchase and then keep for unnecessarily long. This conspicuous consumption is the sign of our times and we owe it to the pressures and distractions of the 21st century such as social media and advertising. It is time to break free.
Shades of Minimalism
Contrary to a still surprisingly popular belief, minimalism is not about owning one pair of trousers and sleeping on the floor.
Minimalism is a lifestyle philosophy that focuses on surrounding yourself only with what (and who) adds most value to your life. There are various areas of our day-to-day reality where decluttering can make space for clarity and happiness, our houses being the most prominent example. To make your home the sanctuary of freedom and gratitude it deserves to be, it’s important to keep it neat for the sake of your mental health.
To help you make room for minimalism in your residence (and life), we’ve created a structured representation of its most important assumptions. Welcome to our minimalist house tour.
Rolling Up The Sleeves: The Bedroom
We wake up in the morning, stretch a little and start the day with gratitude. Then, after completing our a.m. routine, we open our wardrobes to decide what attire will help us feel on top of the world k today.
Clothes are essential in our lives, so are shoes, underwear and some accessories, too. Yet, how do we determine which pair of sunglasses is one too many? Is it the size of our wardrobes that dictates the boundaries of our outfit collection? Or the fashion industry that encourages us to support fast shopping and keep buying new pieces of clothing every month, lest we’re out of style?
True, the right dress or the right suit can make you feel empowered to move mountains. Yet, if you keep finding items in your wardrobe you didn’t remember you had, or if you run out of space or occasions to wear them – that’s your clue, it’s time for an inventory.
Consider accepting the Project 333 challenge – for 3 months dress with the same 33 items or less – this should prove what you truly need to feel stylish and happy on a daily basis. Be honest with yourself. Most of the time you only wear your favourite pieces anyway.
Simplify To Amplify: The Home Office
We now enter the work space, ready to win the day and begin our office hours. We open our laptop, our email, and then… notifications beeping on our phone and popping up on our desktop throw us off balance and hinder our productivity flow. Some of these signals are unnecessary distractions. So are flying pieces of paper on your desk, too many loose pens, or empty coffee cups.
Technology is a wonderful invention. It helps us stay connected with family and friends, start our own businesses, get education and remote dream jobs. However, our devices can also disrupt our work and wellbeing (the phantom vibration syndrome is more common than we’d like to admit).
The key lies in balance and planning – simplify to amplify. Here’s what you can do:
- choose your newsletter subscriptions mindfully (minimalism is about selecting the ones you really want to open and read instead of automatically delete, which only creates unnecessary workload);
- delete redundant apps and turn off notifications (like that one job alert on LinkedIn you keep ignoring since you don’t need it anymore but which still makes itself known every. single. day);
- leave your phone in another room when you work or sleep (we have everything we need for productive work on our computers, therefore, all those beeps on our phones can be easily dealt with in due time);
- schedule checking your phone and set time limits (let’s say 20 minutes during lunch? And then an hour in the afternoon?);
- ruthlessly curate your social media feed, regularly filter and unfollow accounts that no longer serve your interests, mental health and overall wellbeing;
- pick a detox day – devote 24h to staying off social media as a gift to yourself and your loved ones;
- learn to say no to avoid overworking and block out self-care time in your calendar; organize your day beforehand and stick to the plan (the good old pen-and-paper method can work miracles for eliminating distractions).
Tech companies and social media platforms fiercely compete for our attention releasing upgrades to hardware and software every year. Part of digital minimalism is the awareness that we control our devices and we choose how and when we want to use them – not the other way round.
Bon Appetit: The Kitchen
Today’s special: minimalism.
Eating is all about the senses. Hence, minimalism in the kitchen focuses on simplicity of food, preparation and the aesthetics of presentation. We are what we eat. Being mindful of the nutritional value you put into your body and prioritizing a healthy variety of natural unprocessed ingredients is the essence of the less is more philosophy on your plate.
But we are also how we eat. Put aside your daily assignments and slow down. The minimalist experience is to savor your food, really taste and appreciate it. Focus on the smell and on the visuals, too (helpful tip: use plain plates to make your food stand out more against an uncluttered background).
And the kitchen itself? Keep your countertops clean, reduce the number of mugs from excessive to your favorite ones and devote your kitchen space only to food and related items (goodbye junk drawers and paper magazines squeezed into a corner).
Keep The Books: The Living Room
Well-fed and happy, we are now in our living room space. There’s a large bookcase here, a chest of drawers and a TV screen – plenty of minimalism opportunities to talk about. Let’s break this room down, shall we.
The TV represents what we consume. As a minimalist practice (which could also involve opting for a projector instead of a TV set) and for the sake of your mental health, we’d like to recommend eliminating the news from your program. If there’s something happening in the world you should know about, trust us, you’ll find out one way or another.
Subscribing to platforms like Netflix (not sponsored) gives you control over what and when to watch. Minimalism is deciding for yourself what movies or programs add the most value to your life (without the unnecessary distraction of ads, too). Opt for a comedy show to uplift your spirit or a valuable documentary to educate yourself on the subject of your interest. Be aware in your choices, avoid mindless consuming.
The chest of drawers is a treasure trove where you might find gold (all the items you love and enjoy) mixed with random clutter that has not yet found its way to a more adequate destination place (which includes the bin). Helpful tip: approach decluttering one drawer at a time if the whole chest feels overwhelming.
And now the books. These are an excellent example of what minimalism is not. Meaning, as Leo Babauta put it, if you deprive yourself of things you get value from, you’re doing minimalism wrong. Don’t take it too far. If you’re a bookworm, by all means, keep the books and keep them all.
Minimalist Relationships: The Guest Room
As Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus from the minimalists blog like to remind us, “Love people, and use things. Because the opposite never works”.
We’d like to take this statement a bit further. Since we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, minimalism can be successfully applied to our social circles. Think of all your “friends” on Facebook. We’d venture a guess that you aren’t really in active contact with about 80% of them or more. Minimalism is having a handful of people ready to go into fire with you. Be mindful who you choose as your family and, like a dedicated minimalist, never hesitate to cut ties with anyone who might use you rather than love you.
The Attic and The Garden
In other words, the past meets the future. All your memories, experiences and traumas live in the attic, while your dreams, goals, values and plans bloom in the garden. There’s a strong correlation here, in order to properly care for your garden you need to tidy up the attic first.
Minimalism is very much a mental process as well. Decluttering your mind is as important as decluttering your drawers. Try meditating, practicing yoga, devoting enough time to self-care or confiding in a friend. Bonus reason to love minimalism: reorganizing the aforementioned drawers can also be a very efficient technique to tidy up the mind.
Once there is order in the attic, we can take care of making our dreams come true. The garden needs our constant and undivided attention. Our goals and plans may change and we have to adjust our vision from time to time. Here, minimalism plays the role of a sunbeam that illuminates the kind of education, hobbies and work we should water more frequently on our journey to success.
Skincare Routine: The Bathroom
After a long day, we step into our washroom to relax and unwind. We draw a bath, add our favourite salts, and enjoy the peace and quiet of me-time.
Sorry to interrupt for a moment, but look around your bathroom with a critical eye. How many bottles of shampoo do you see? How many variations of shower gel? Minimalism is about striking a balance between less plastic in packaging and more natural ingredients in cosmetics that will work on your body in the best way possible.
By all means, experiment with a new skincare routine from time to time or enjoy five different smells of bath salts. However, when you shop, be mindful of what really sparks joy and elicits that wow! reaction from you. Too often the beauty industry sends us a message that we aren’t beautiful unless we use this new magic mascara, or we aren’t enough until we buy this anti-aging face cream. We say, no more.
The healthiest option, both in terms of physical health and your self-esteem, is to keep the number of the beauty products on your shelf (together with their list of ingredients) to a minimum. And if you can become immune to advertising and accept your natural beauty, you’ll be happier, stronger and free.
Quality Over Quantity
Minimalism is about priorities, letting go and being mindful of what we spend our time and money on. Be intentional and deliberate. Buy experiences rather than things and borrow from friends what you don’t have to buy. Delete the songs you always skip on your playlist and unsubscribe from anything that does not add value to your life. Refocus on who and what truly matters, reduce the quantity to improve the quality. Life can be fuller with less.
Photography: Cindy Loughridge