The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism

You want to find out how to become a minimalist?

Congratulations.

Your life is about to receive an amazing upgrade.


“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann

Stuff will not fulfil you.

Things will never make you whole.

A realization that many of us have to make.

I came out of the closet as an official minimalist in 2011.

But at heart, I have always been a minimalist – I just didn’t know the term until I discovered it seven years ago.

When I came across blogs like ZenHabits or Exile Lifestyle, it was as though I was finally given permission to get rid of all the things I didn’t need in order to pursue a minimalist lifestyle.

As I was reading through all these blogs, I just felt so much relief: There were people who felt like me and who had the same desires, namely:

Freedom, simplicity and less overwhelm.

They put it into words and they verbalized it.

Back then I downsized everything I owned to only 100 things.

For many years after that, I was travelling around the world with carry-on only.

Today, I am still a nomad, but I don’t count my belongings anymore.

I still don’t own much, but keeping tack of numbers is not relevant anymore. 

The essence remains:

  • I don’t like things
  • I don’t like clutter.
  • I  am happier with less.

A minimalist way of living has changed my life in so many amazing ways.

For this reason, I am writing this article.

My goal is to show you:

  • how wonderful and fulfilling a minimalist life is.
  • that it has little to do with sacrifice – and way more with freedom and true fulfilment.
  • that it is about way more than just physical things.

What is the Minimalist Lifestyle?

The basic idea of minimalism is:

Less is more, less is better.

But why better?

It enables you to be less distracted from what’s really important to you in life. It creates space.

So when you get rid of all the clutter and all the things that are not essential – what remains is that what really matters.

The guiding question as a minimalist:

Does this add value to my life?

If the answer is no – you let it go.

In essence, minimalism helps you to live a life and do things with more intention.

For me, it was also an approach that inspired me to start questioning everything in my life – and reflect on what is really my own truth and what is just conditioning and programming from society, the media, our family and school.

In this way, I was able to design a life that truly resembles me, my truth and who I really am.

It’s important to understand that this lifestyle is definitely not just about owning less.

You can apply this concept to all areas of life:

  • business
  • productivity
  • social media consumption
  • relationships
  • workspace and digital life
  • finances
  • goals
  • decisions
  • eating
  • time
  • (and yes, even sex)

That’s why this approach is so powerful. Living your life through the lens of a minimalist will benefit you in infinite ways.

Why Be a Minimalist?

It frees up endless space for things, activities and experiences that actually matter.

It enables you to take back control of your life so you can focus on what is REALLY really meaningful.

It gives you more clarity of mind and more time, because you have less things to worry about.

I personally don’t want things in my life that weigh me down – let it be physically, mentally or emotionally.

Minimalism helps me to focus on what is really important to me: 

As a minimalist, everything I own and everything I do serves a purpose and/or brings joy. 

As a result, it helps me to fully use my energies, my time, and ultimately my potentials to really create something meaningful with my time and my work – and thus create true value in this world.

When I apply minimalism to my time and my business, I can optimize my productivity in amazing ways. I work less, but create more.

Beyond that, minimalism is true freedom:

  • freedom from overwhelm
  • freedom from distractions
  • freedom from location
  • freedom from stress
  • freedom from clutter

I can pack up all my things within thirty minutes and move anywhere around the world.

To me, that is true freedom.

Imagine  all the money and time people spend on moving their stuff from one house to another. It’s insane.

We are conditioned to think that things provide a sense of security for us humans.

Materialism tells us the more you own the better your life will be. And that the more you do, the worthier you are as a human.

But all that is an outdated story and a big illusion.

Things don’t make us happier. Being busier doesn’t fulfil us (on the contrary, it burns us out).

Lastly, if you apply minimalism to your home – everything will be much easier to clean and keep organized.

Here is my story on why and how I became a minimalist:

The Best Tips on Becoming a Minimalist

1. The most important advice

Just start.

Make the decision and commit to simplify your life.

The second most important advice:

Start small.

This can mean that you start by journaling out this question:

“What does Minimalism mean to me?”

The second small step can be to schedule a time in your calendar (eg. one hour on Saturday afternoon) to declutter your wardrobe.

The smaller the steps, the more sustainable the process will be. It helps to limit overwhelm and keep you on track.

2. Be guided by one question when you declutter any area of my life:

Does this add value to my life?

In addition, you can ask this question:

Does this help me to live to my fullest potential?

3. Declutter your physical life

We need so much less than we think we do.

In reality, we actually need very little.

I personally live out of a bag and I feel very fulfilled every morning when I wake up.

Recently, my luggage got lost for a few days and after the initial annoyance, I didn’t really miss anything and was just as happy then when I had all my things before I checked the bag at the airport.

So in the end, it’s all an illusion.

Make a list of what you want to declutter. Here is one to get you started:

  • Wardrobe/Clothing
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom and toiletries
  • Desk
  • Furniture
  • Books
  • Car
  • Social Media
  • ToDo Lists
  • Computer/Laptop
  • Walls
  • Surfaces
  • Basement
  • Subscriptions

Take each one, set a decluttering date in your calendar and go for it.

Another strategy could be to take 30 days and declutter something or one area every day for a whole month. This way, decluttering turns into a habit and it will get easier and easier to let go.

When you find yourself wanting to hold on to Just-In-Case items – realize that it’s not worth it.

Don’t live a just-in-case life. Don’t hold on to things in case something happens. Don’t use things as an insurance policy.

Just let them go.

When it comes to sentimental items with memory value, take a photo of them and then let them go.

We are programmed to think we have to hold on to those kinds of things, but the reality is: We don’t have to at all. You can let them go with love.

Here is a way better way to declutter your life even more efficiently:

Have a packing party!

Here is how it works:

  1. Pack up everything as if you were moving.
  2. Label your boxes, so it’s easy to find what you are looking for.
  3. Then, over the next three weeks, unpack only the things that you need.

Here is my prediction:

You will only need and unpack about 20% of you stuff.

And by the end of the three weeks, you won’t even remember all the things that are in those boxes. Because they never mattered in the first place.

4. Donate and sell your stuff

If you go the active decluttering route, make several piles of:

  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Recycle
  • Discard
  • Keep

Give your stuff away to friends, homeless people or to Goodwill.

Sell more expensive things via Ebay, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

5. Buy less, shop less, consume less

It’s not just enough to get rid of things. You also need to reprogram yourself when it comes to your consumption behaviour.

Before you give in to the urge of buying something, ask yourself:

Do I really need this? Or is it a want?

Stop buying things that you think will make you happy. Stop giving into materialism.

When you see something in a store you want to buy, hold it in your hand – become present. Put it back and move on.

If after a week you still think it would be valuable to have, then go and purchase it.

By inserting a time gap in between trigger and response, you become more mindful in the way you shop and consume.

Also: It might be a good idea to get rid of Amazon Prime for a while to limit your temptations. It’s just too easy to make a few clicks and press buy.

Here is my video about all the things I don’t buy anymore as  a minimalist:

6. Get rid of time-wasting activities

As mentioned before, minimalism is by far not just about things.

One major way to simplify your life and embrace minimalism in a meaningful way is by getting rid of distractions and anything that is wasting your time, such as:

  • meetings
  • phone calls
  • watching TV and the news
  • playing video games

And here goes the big one:

Limit your social media time. Stop scrolling, stop consuming more than you create.

This way you create more time and space to live a life with more purpose and you get to use your potential in a way more meaningful way.

I use an app called RescueTime that tracks how I spend my time online and it sends you weekly reports. Highly recommended.

7. Slow down

Take time to really drink your coffee or tea in the morning.

Read a book instead of scrolling on Instagram.

Meditate.

Sit and watch the sunset.

Slow down your life. Become more present.

Be here now and just focus on the moment.

8. Evaluate who you spend your time with

Sometimes we need to let go of friendships when they don’t serve us anymore. And many of us have people in our lives that feel toxic.

As minimalists, we become mindful and intentional with whom we let  into our lives.

They say we are the average of the five people we spent the most of our time with.

So make sure those five people inspire you.

I am very intentional with who I spend my time with. I don’t need a huge amount of friends – a few are enough, because I can go way deeper with those few than trying to stay in touch with many.

9. Embrace mono-tasking

Most of us tend to multi-task, because we think we get more done that way.

But that’s a myth. We actually get less done and less well.

When our attention is scattered, our output is scattered and we struggle to create real deep and meaningful work.

Focusing on one task without distractions is harder, but the result will be of higher quality.

The longer you focus on one activity – writing or editing – you will be able to access a place of flow. And as we know, that’s where the real magic happens.

10. Simplify your goals and to-dos

Too many goals and to-dos can be overwhelming and cause a lot of stress.

I personally can really only focus on three todos on any given day. Anything more than that and I feel stressed and I can’t focus properly.

Keep things simple – focus on three things you want to accomplish per day. If you end up finishing them earlier, you can always add on another on and another one.

11. Learn to say no

This might be a really difficult thing for you to do or it might be real easy.

Learning to say no to things, events, offerings and people that are not in alignment with you and your needs might be one of the most beneficial skills ever.

I can definitely say that it changed my life.

Yes, it means becoming comfortable with disappointing people, with setting boundaries and not pleasing everybody. 

No, it’s not selfish.

If you really want to live a life that fulfils you and one that allows you to use your full potential, then saying no is crucial.

No to social engagements that don’t add value to your life.

No to event invitations you don’t feel like attending.

No to jobs you don’t want to do.

No to clients you don’t want to work with.

12. Declutter your email and social media accounts

Aim for inbox zero and get rid of all the clutter floating around in your emails.

Unfollow friends on Facebook and boring accounts on Instagram or Twitter.

Unsubscribe from YouTube channels.

Follow less podcast shows in your podcast app.

Less is more. Always.

Minimalist Living Examples

You want to see more people applying the minimalist concept in practice?

Here you go:

  • Andrew Hyde lived with 15 things for one year
  • Colin Wright used to own 51 things
  • Many people live in tiny houses smaller than your  bedroom (like these 7)
  • Heidemarie lives without money

How to Become a Minimalist in 30 Days

I am a huge fan of 30 day challenges. Like, huge.

I have done many over the years.

Their effects are life-changing AND they last.

So why not do a 30 day minimalism challenge?

Click on the image or here to check out all the details:

minimalism 30 day challenge

In the end, minimalism helps me to live on purpose and create more meaning every day. And I believe, this is the purpose of it all.

Wouldn’t you agree?

It’s not difficult to become a minimalist and anyone can do it.

Consume less, live more, create more.

Welcome to your new life. 

This is only the beginning.

All the best,

PS: Come join us at CO.CREATE.

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