I don’t like crapola. And I’ve considered myself a minimalist for as long as I can remember. Long before it became a trend. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t wrestled with what things to keep in my life and what to kick to the curb. It ain't easy. These are 6 hacks I have found to be helpful over the years. I am hoping you find one or two of them useful.
Take a Personal Inventory
This may get criticized but hear me out, K? Make a list of everything you own. Yes, every single item. If you have a lot of stuff, yup, this is going to be excruciating.
Make the list and count it up however, this isn’t about the number of things you own. Far from it. Numbers don’t matter.
By making a list you will be able to see the scope of your belongings. And by having them down on paper it makes your things more visible. For example, things that are put away in closets and drawers are now front and center. They are staring you in the face. Go through your list and star anything you want to get rid of. Then find the item and toss/donate/sell/etc.
The core idea is, by making a list, you’re taking your things out of their hidden location and making them visible — or at least visible on paper. Then you can carefully go through the list and prune the things that you don’t want, need, or use.
Outside of clothing, paper clutter has to be runner-up in minimalist nightmares. It’s an endless stream of junk flowing in and out of our lives. Not to mention the risk of getting a paper cut, resulting in infection, and losing a limb. The struggle is real folks.
Create a system to digitize your docs and back them up to the cloud. I use Google Drive. Rely on email and paperless billing. Scan and store any papers you need to keep.
For more, see How To Go Paperless and Unclutter Your Life.
Use the One-In-One-Out Rule
Every time you bring something into your life, remove something else. It’s that simple. By doing this you keep your possessions at an even level ensuring that you won’t be renting out a storage locker in the near future.
For more rules I like to use for the minimalist lifestyle check out 12 Rules for a Minimalist Lifestyle.
Consider the Climate
You cannot be a minimalist if you live in a cold climate. Facts. Okay, you can but you’re going to need a few extra things unless you enjoy freezing your ass off.
I live in a cold climate and I have things like winter boots, hats, and gloves. These aren’t things I love and to be honest, I can’t stand cold and snow. It’s seriously the most miserable shit in the whole goddamn world. Nothing but 6–7 months of dark, depressing, refusing-to-leave-the-house-pajama-wearing-alcohol-fueled-hibernation.
A warm climate is a minimalist hack because you don’t need a bunch of stuff to navigate the ever-changing weather patterns. Plus, you might not drink as much. And, you may even leave your home from time to time.
Understand That Attachment Is Suffering
You were born with nothing and you will die with nothing. And in the end, most of your stuff will wind up in the trash. Getting attached to things that could vanish in a household blaze or a nuclear war is suffering. Things don’t matter.
And I’m not saying you shouldn't have things in your life that you love. Quite the contrary. I just think it’s a good idea not to get too attached to those things. Like people, things come and go and there are times we have to say goodbye. There’s nothing wrong with loving your stuff but the world is full of things to love and a lot of those things can’t be held in your hand.
Make an Enemy of the Past
I am a believer in the fresh start effect. A master of looking forward and ignoring the rearview mirror. Focusing on the past is what holds us back from taking steps forward. Moving on to a better life. To be able to experience what has never been.
By making an enemy of the past I am able to let go of things more easily than most. I just don’t believe in hanging onto things for sentimental reasons or things that no longer serve the life I am trying to create.
The past holds us back. There’s no future in it. That’s why it’s important to master the art of letting go. The ability to let go allows us to embrace a future that is light and unencumbered.