It’s about more than just “stuff.”
Decluttering and clearing a home of excess is usually where people begin to tread the minimalist path. Living a minimalist lifestyle looks different for different people. It’s not about perfection, it’s about making progress. It’s about making more deliberate choices when it comes to consuming.
Everyone living or trying a lifestyle with less stuff is on their own journey, doing it their own way.
So if you’ve nailed the decluttering side of things and stopped purchasing stuff you don’t need, you may be thinking, what’s next?
Beyond the physical stuff, we can examine other areas of life for excess as well.
1. TV and social media
After I purged my home of excess items, I began to look at the way I spent my time and what non-stuff things were causing clutter in my life. What were the distractions taking away from the goals that were important to me?
Turns out I had quite a bit of technology cluttering my life.
A few years ago I stopped watching daily TV and now no longer own one. This was a game changer for me. I “found” more time and realized that the old, "I just don't have time," when it comes to pursuing a goal or dream is not an excuse if you are watching TV. Truth is, you do have time, you're just choosing to use it elsewhere.
By turning my attention to this, my appreciation for how precious little time there is deepened—its finite nature became crystal clear. Unless we have a handle on how to manage time effectively, we’ll give it away to activities and people that aren’t deserving of our most valuable asset.
I began to pay attention to how much scroll time I was spending on Facebook and realized I was battling another type of digital clutter—social media. My 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there scrolling festivals were sucking up my time and adding no value to my life.
Four months ago I removed all but two people from my friends list, keeping my account open but essentially removing scroll bait. Then I unfollowed all but a few other Facebook pages, keeping only the ones that added actual value to my life and projects—mostly pages with inspiring, informative content. I don't think there's anything wrong with social media—just be a ruthless curator of the channels in which you participate.
2. Zero waste
When I adopted a minimalist lifestyle a few years back, my motivation was mostly about finance, not the environment. Two and a half years later, my journey in owning less stuff has lead me to become more interested and aware of the environmental impact of excessive consumerism.
The zero waste movement, like minimalism, is a growing lifestyle choice. I’m not a zero waster myself, but I am blown away by the creativity, passion and social consciousness of people who fully embrace this movement. I’ve become so much more aware of the waste I produce related to even my idea of simpler living. This year I’ll be spending more time learning about the zero waste lifestyle and plan to take a few steps down this path myself.
I love to eat, and I eat a lot. Roughly 90 percent of my day is spent thinking about what I’ll eat, when I’ll eat it, and then what I’ll eat after that. My goal is to rock a tight but tasty food budget.
It’s all too easy to eat a diet full of food clutter without even realizing. This year one of my intentions is to eat a more simple, less packaged diet. I subscribed to a vegetarian food box home delivery service for about six months last year, which I loved. It made it so easy for me to prepare more fresh meals and taught me a little more about simple, tasty ingredients for vegetarian recipes. But I recently canceled my subscription because I want to take steps to minimize waste—even though it was fresh food, there was a lot of packaging with this subscription. I also want to learn how to plan and purchase ingredients for plant based meals myself.
Decluttering my finances and paying off debt lead me to minimalism initially. I’m a bit embarrassed to say this, but I had about twelve different superannuation funds over the span of my working life, because I never bothered with the proper administration to move one fund around. I knew I needed to sort this out and understand what was going on with my superannuation, but it all seemed just too hard. I had so much clutter from these funds—not just the actual paper statements, but mental clutter as well. I’ve streamlined my fund now and feel much better for it.
If you stop buying things you don’t truly need, you’ll find yourself with more money to pay down debt, establish an emergency fund or grow your savings. Minimizing financial clutter is also about untangling yourself from contracts where possible, so I choose prepaid or month-to-month options wherever I can. The liberation I’ve earned from decluttering my finances is the freedom I’ve gained to pursue things that are more important to me.
5. Tiny home living
I am obsessed with tiny homes. Like those devoted to the no-waste movement, I am endlessly fascinated and impressed by the creativity embraced by those who are committed to living within a space just big enough to house only what is needed. Tiny home living as a lifestyle movement has gained momentum in the United States and Canada and is growing in Australia. Some choose to live in tiny homes for economic reasons rather than the primary intention to minimize. Whatever their motivation may be, tiny home owners are discovering the kind of liberation that comes with living in smaller, less expensive homes.
With so many threads weaving into minimalist living, I feel like I will always be growing and learning more about this lifestyle. And it doesn’t matter what paths others take toward their goal, I'm committed to walking my own.