Declutter Your Life: How to Become a Minimalist

Decluttering is becoming more and more popular in society. It is satisfying to get rid of clutter and throw away unusable products which in turn makes the home easier to clean and organize.

A minimalist is someone who chooses to live in a home with very few items. Becoming a minimalist requires extreme decluttering by donating, throwing away, or selling items from the home. It doesn’t mean getting rid of everything in the house, but only keeping what is truly loved, used, and required to live.

This post will provide tips on how to declutter and become a minimalist, plus why this lifestyle is preferred for some people, the benefits and drawbacks of minimalism, and what to get rid of.

minimalist home family room

Tips on how to be a minimalist

  1. Before beginning, make sure that you are emotionally ready to go through this process. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself and end up making no progress at all.
  1. Take some time to sit down and make a list of what you want in your life. This should only include items that you truly need and that you know you will miss if they are gone.
  1. Once you know what you plan to keep, you can start the process of removing emotional attachment to the items that you are going to get rid of.
  1. Having a list prepared will help you become more mindful about whether or not an item should be purchased for your home going forward.

Post that list somewhere in your home where you will see it often. Remember, you took the time to decide what is important to you. Anything else is just fluff and isn’t necessary.

  1. Do not buy anything on impulse. Ever.
  1. Before buying anything, ask yourself if the item is necessary, if you will use it often enough to justify the purchase, and if you already have a similar item.
  1. Always get rid of one item for each item you bring into the home.
  1. Prioritize experiences over material possessions in your life.
  1. Don’t compare yourself to other people or become concerned about what others think of you. This can lead to unnecessary stress and adding things to your home that you don’t need.
  1. Once you have determined what you are okay letting go of, then you can begin removing these items from your home. Take 1-2 boxes per week to a donation center.

It can be very rewarding to get rid of many boxes of items at once, but for some people, getting rid of this many items can cause stress and anxiety and will actually make it less likely to succeed.

Minimalist living takes determination, and the drive to live this way for the rest of your life. Of course you can add items back into your life by repurchasing, but why did you want to become minimalist to begin with?

Often we keep things just in case, but if it’s something you only use once a year, do you really need it? You could likely find somebody you know that has that item and would let you borrow it once per year. Or maybe it’s something you could rent for a day.

If you are questioning whether you could truly live this lifestyle and even losing sleep over it, this may not be right for you.

What do minimalists get rid of?

Minimalists only keep the bare minimum, meaning that if there are 4 people in the family, they only keep enough dishes for each person and then wash those dishes more often.

This is more than the typical decluttering session where you get rid of garbage and duplicates of items. You should still do this when becoming a minimalist, but it needs to be taken a step further.

Some items that people get rid of to become a minimalist:

  • Large furniture
  • Extra pots and pans
  • Extra dishes
  • Home decor
  • Clothing
  • Food items
  • Purses/bags
  • Jewelry
  • Small appliances

Often bigger items are sold or donated to create more space in the home.

Don’t feel that you need to go through your home in one day and get rid of everything.

Go room by room and get rid of 10-20 items in each room to start. If you can only manage one room per day, that is fine.

Even if it takes a year to get your home to the level of minimalism that you want, that’s okay. As long as you are making progress throughout the year.

If there are still some things left with sentimental value but not taking up too much physical space, put them into storage somewhere out of sight for safekeeping until you’re ready to do something else with those items.

Why minimalism is preferred for some people

There are many people in the world who prefer to live a minimalist lifestyle.

Sometimes it was how they were raised. If they grew up in a home where there weren’t a lot of material things. They may continue on with this.

Some people may have lived with so much clutter that it was hard to move around the home. Because of this, they may want to live in a home with no clutter.

People who do choose minimalism have found that their stress levels have decreased considerably since becoming minimalist because there aren’t always unrealistic expectations put onto them.

Clutter can create difficulty in achieving goals due to distractions from having too many possessions. So this lifestyle change can really help a person be more successful in life.

Other people may feel joy in donating items to people who can actually use the items. If something isn’t being used and there is no intention to reuse it, why keep it?

The amount of money that can be saved is also a huge motivator for some people. Impulse buying costs people a lot more than they realize.

Less stuff in the home may mean that you can purchase a smaller house. This will also save money and time. You will spend less time cleaning because there aren’t as many spaces to clean or as much to tidy up.

All of these things will make it easier to focus on other aspects of life, such as work, school, family, and anything that is more important than material items.

minimalist bedroom

The benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle

There are many benefits to becoming a minimalist. These include but are not limited to:

  • Less stress
  • Better focus on what’s important
  • Increased financial freedom by saving money from buying things impulsively
  • Less clutter due to fewer possessions occupying space in your home
  • More free time
  • Becoming a minimalist can be very freeing because you are not being weighed down by stuff
  • Able to live life on your own terms, with less distractions getting in the way of what matters most
  • Not burdening others with your belongings
  • Knowing exactly what you have, as you don’t have as much inventory to keep track of
  • Having an organized home where everything has a defined space to go
  • Buying less and consuming less

Drawbacks of being a minimalist

While being a minimalist can be really freeing and make life more simple, there are some definite drawbacks to changing your life in this way.

Some of the reasons why people may struggle to become a minimalist are:

  • The fear of getting rid of too much
  • Not having what you need when you need it
  • Getting rid of something sentimental that you will regret later
  • Your home may look more bland. If you are somebody who feels happy surrounded by decor and color, minimalism may not be the best choice for you.
  • If you have company over often, you won’t have as many places to sit down
  • Entertaining in general may be more difficult because you only have what your family needs each day
  • Children often create more “stuff”, so it can be more challenging trying to explain this lifestyle to your children
  • Fear of judgment as not everyone will understand this lifestyle

What to do with all your stuff when you’re done decluttering

If you don’t want to keep the item, consider donating it. Donating is a great way to help people in need and give your unwanted items a second life!

There are many locations that accept donations but check online or call before donating large items to see if they accept those particular items.

You could also ask family and friends if they want any of the items that you are getting rid of.

If you prefer to get some money back for your items, there are buy and sell groups on Facebook and several other online marketplaces.

Garage sales are a great way to sell items. Don’t expect to make a lot of money this way, but people often like to buy bundles of items and therefore you’re more likely to get rid of more items at once.

Anything that doesn’t sell should go right into boxes and then be taken directly to a donation center.

Make sure when selling or donating that your items are in good condition. No stains, rips, or fading.

If the item requires batteries, make sure that the product still works as expected, that the existing batteries didn’t leak and that there are new batteries in the item.

How long does it take to become a minimalist?

This will vary depending on how many items a person owns, how much emotional attachment they have to their items, and their drive to truly become a minimalist.

Sometimes there is a desire there, but in reality, a person will miss having everything they have worked hard to get. So the likelihood of this person being successful as a minimalist is low.

If you are moving into your first home, you likely don’t have as many items to think about. So if you decide to be a minimalist, it should be fairly quick.

You may not even need to get rid of anything. Just be mindful in the future about what you bring into the home. Don’t be influenced by the things that other people buy and feel that you need those items too.

If you have lived in your home for years, then it’s going to take a lot more work and motivation.

Once you have decided that you definitely want to live a minimalist lifestyle, just take one room at a time.

The decluttering will likely take anywhere from three months to one year in these cases.

It is more of a mindset shift to be successful. Buying less, going out less, and making more use of what you already have.

minimalist less is more

More resources about minimalism

Marie Kondo is one of the bigger names when it comes to decluttering and minimalism.

She has a Netflix show (Tidying Up with Marie Kondo) where she helps people declutter and organize their homes. Not necessarily to the point of getting rid of everything, but deciding what is truly important and necessary.

Marie Kondo also has a popular book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

You may also enjoy the following books:

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay

In Summary

Becoming a minimalist may seem scary and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to. You are in control of how much you get rid of and what you need to enjoy life.

We often hold onto way more than we truly need. Just becoming more mindful of what you buy and bring into the home will help you succeed in your goal of becoming a minimalist.

I hope this post has helped you decide if this lifestyle is best for you. Remember, just like your home didn’t become cluttered in a day, you won’t be able to become a minimalist in a day. So just work slowly through your home and you will eventually get the results you desire.