How to Get Started with Minimalism

minimalismThe top four resolutions for the New Year are:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Quit Smoking
  3. Get Finances in Order
  4. Get Organized.

Let’s assume we’re all fit non-smokers, and since we’re all reading The College Investor, obviously we have our finances in order (or we’re on the right track!).

So, then, let’s get organized. I’ve recently gotten on the minimalist bandwagon. It’s a great way to justify owning less. It sounds better to say, “I’m transitioning into a minimalist lifestyle,” than, “I’m kind of cheap, mostly frugal, but really sometimes cheap.”

Getting started with minimalism can be tricky, if you think that everything in your house is there because it’s something that you love.

I would wager, though, that’s not the case.

I think it’s really a wonderful thing to start transitioning into a minimalist lifestyle. Minimalism is very, very simple. And it can be as extreme or as tame as you want.

Look around your dwelling. Do you have more stuff than you need? I would guess that you do. But our relationship with our stuff is an odd thing.


One Morbid Trick to Transition to Minimalism

Just pretend that you’re dead, and that you are your friend, going through your house, seeing what should be kept, and what should be tossed.

I go through my apartment often, thinking, “okay, Kathleen is dead. We need to get all this stuff out of this apartment as soon as possible. Let’s start with the kitchen.”

I don’t know about you, but my kitchen is where almost all of the stuff that I love lives. Please, people who love me, use my amazing kitchenware. I have really great stuff! Oh, sure, you can toss the muffin tins, but almost everything else is something I very much love, so take it and do great things with it.

All right, let’s move into the bathroom. I’ve already gotten rid of all the expired medicine, so you can have all the over-the-counter stuff that you may need. Why don’t you give the Sudafed to the Oregon residents? It’s harder to get that here. Thanks.

I know, there are an obscene number of towels, but since I’m dead, I don’t need to explain. But if you need the towels to wrap any of the breakable kichen stuff, then you might understand.

Bathroom done, let’s go to the dining room. The table is amazing, so please pass it on. And as for the floors, there’s only one good rug in this place, and you can tell which one it is, so keep it or pass it along, but don’t give it away. The others are trash, and if you don’t need them, take them back to where they came from: Goodwill.

You like that TV? Great, take it. Couch? Loveseat? Fine. Now, onto the bedroom. The bed was purchased in 2009, so it should be good for another several years, and it’s amazing for dreaming. The clothes can all be worn, or not, depending on your size. I try to keep the inventory small so either way, it won’t be much of a burden. The furniture in the bedroom is fine, but you don’t have to keep it.

Try this, seriously, the next time you go through your house systematically. Remove yourself from your real life. Pretend you are dead.  Or, check out Leo Babauta’s thoughts On Minimalism.

Oh, and don’t forget the jewelry drawer. That might contain all my valuables.

How do you get started with minimalism? Is it too morbid to consider your mortality?

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  1. says

    You were not morbid at all because what you said is so true. I am in my 60’s and when I started my minimalism journey part of the reason was so our kids wouldn’t have to deal with all the extra stuff we had stored when we died. I love how my closets and the rest of the house look and feel now. It is an ongoing process isn’t it?

  2. says

    So you’re really an angel? I don’t agree that minimalist has to do with being cheap, you can own 50 super expensive items, and many minimalists are iAnything enthusiast, now really a frugal choice.
    I got started with throwing out what I hadn’t used since college, *gasp* 10 years ago. Then for 5 years or so… Until keeping only things that I regularly or seasonally use.

  3. says

    Nice reference to Babauta, I like that dude. The assumptions up top made me laugh. Assume we’re all fit nonsmokers, huh? Haha. :-)

    The ‘pretend your dead’ thing is a good idea, man. We could do that for a lot of stuff in our lives. “if i were dead, how would peopel think of me right now?” Powerful thing to ask yourself. I think if I was dead, some dude would find my garage a wonderland of tools.

  4. says

    Definitely a morbid way to think but hey, whatever works! I typically go through my house and make this assessment however as an experienced and seasoned husband I leave my wife mental notes every other week of stuff I wish she got rid off. I learned a long time ago the whole “Get rid of it or else” avenue of approach didn’t work 😉

    I believe we’ve reached a happy medium. My wife argues that if I had everything my way we’d have sheets for curtains and suitcases for dressers. Funny thing is, she’s right! I love minimalism

  5. says

    Love it! Cleaning house and purging unnecessary items makes me so happy =) I pick one room every few months… and donate anything I don’t use (or wear) on a regular basis. Often times (unfortunately) it’s gifts that we’ve been given.

  6. says

    Hey you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get things done! I think minimalism is a great idea and I should probably take it up. I want to become a professional musician in the future, so i think that downsizing my music gear would be virtually impossible. Are there things that you couldn’t couldn’t downsize?

  7. says

    Great trick! I like how your method helps to identify things that important or unimportant. My biggest issue is the “outlet” with which to remove things. I find that I want to try and sell my unnecessary items, but my ambitions rarely come to fruition.

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