The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Minimalism

Plant in White Pot
Living Room

Table of Contents

Is Minimalism for you?

Minimalism is for you if you connect to one (or more) of the following:

- you want to "try" minimalism but not label yourself a minimalist

- you are considering minimalism as a lifestyle change

- you have started to live with less

- you haven't started to live with less but you want to

- you are ready to declutter but not sure how to get started

- you want to practice minimalism in some parts of your life but not all parts

- you want to live with less but some of your family members do not

- you are overwhelmed with stuff but don't want to become a "full" minimalist

While I consider myself a minimalist, I live with four non-minimalists (my husband and three kids). I have two spatulas but hundreds of books. Restrictive feelings can come with beginner minimalism, like: 

 

- what if I declutter too many mugs? 

- what if I need this item someday? 

- I like my stuff too much to get rid of it all

 

You do not have to "get rid of everything" and only live with the bare minimum. Minimalism is different for each person. For me, keeping the freedom to choose how to live with less in some areas of your home and life while keeping more in another category is living a minimalism life.

Minimalism is a lifestyle choice and change. 

 

Let’s Work Together

Let’s Work Together

Let’s Work Together

How Minimalism Changed My Life

On the journey to becoming a minimalist, I lived a minimalish life for two years. During the summer of 2019 I was just fed up with stuff. I was no longer interested in BUSY. The busy on my calendar, the busy in my kitchen cabinet, and the busy of stuff cluttered under my bed.

 

I am not here to judge how much stuff you have in drawers or under your bed. The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Minimalism is not going to tell you how many clothes to hang in your closet or plates to keep in your cupboard. This website cannot decide if you should trash or donate something.

I am here to empower you to say no. Say no to that commitment that you really just want to decline. No to the extra four sweaters hanging in your closet that do not fit and do not make you feel fabulous. No to the 16 coffee mugs you have collecting dust in your cabinet because you never have 16 people drinking coffee in your house simultaneously.

 

The ultimate goal of this website, my YouTube channel, my social media accounts, my weekly newsletter... all of it ... is to inspire you to find ways to ditch the extraneous items in your home, extraneous commitments on your calendar, and extraneous tasks spent while chasing the day. I call it "minimalish" - some people call it “practical minimalism” - but simply put:

 

I want to help you get rid of the stuff filling up your day, your brain, and your home that you don't want any longer. 

Why? Living a minimalist life has helped me find a simpler life. Days filled with purpose, spent doing activities we love, and days that flow freely without the busy we were accustomed to before adjusting our lives.

Too often, we are afraid of letting go of an item we might need later, or afraid of disappointing someone else who needs a commitment of our time. We fear not enough having enough hours in the day to cross all the things off our lists.

 

In today’s world, we chase the day until we fall onto our faces in bed. Becoming “minimalish” has solved this problem for me. My own minimalism journey was wrought with failures, falls, and stumbles. Looking back, I realized being “minimalish” was the answer to the busy in my life. Being minimalish means you choose your enough, define your extra, and keeping the freedom to expand in any category. Deciding how to spend your time and your money WITHOUT harboring guilt for the non-minimalist parts of your life that remain.

Grab an oar, friends. The water we need to wade through is deep at first. It gets much easier with time.  

 

How Other People Describe "Minimalish"

  • “To lower my stress and anxiety, to live minimally, to have more space in my home, to have less to clean, to be able to relax and enjoy my home.” - Cristy R.

  • “I read that you can’t clean clutter. That is so true. I’m working on clutter because I want a clean house someday.” - Wendy C.

  • “I’m 52. Life goes fast. I don’t want to spend it cleaning and sorting stuff.” - Angela R.

  • “As I get older, it’s harder to keep things neat and clean with so much stuff.” - Lori M.

  • “I hate that feeling of constantly having to keep moving things around.” - Coco L.

  • “Peace of mind.” - Charity B.

  • “I want to be the wife and mother my family deserves, and reducing my inventory increases the amount of time and energy I have to spend with them.” - Mandee C.

  • “I can’t find things.” - Meesha R.

  • “I am tired of feeling claustrophobic in my own home.” - Megan E.

  • “So that picking up, putting away, and cleaning is easier for my future self.” - Emily W.

  • “Things just weigh me down these days. I’m ready to downsize and need a simpler life.” - Dawn V.

  • “I’m just tired of clutter.” - JoAn B.

  • “I want to be able to spend less time and energy cleaning stuff, and more time enjoying a simpler life.” - Nathalie T.

  • “Stuff stresses me out.” - Candy O.

  • “So I can relax in my own living room, cook easily in my kitchen.” - Linda G.

  • “So my rooms feel like they can breathe.” - Vikki A.

  • “I want to live with less because I’m not truly “living” with more. - Christine H.

  • “I have some beautiful things that can’t be seen because of clutter.” - Carol W.

  • “I don’t want my things to be thrown out when I’m gone. I’d rather look through my things now and decide what becomes of them. My memories are more important.” - Cheryl A.

  • “I want less to manage.” - Jenn L.

  • “I often think if something happened to me, then my son will be stuck with the chore.” - Heather C.

  • “It’s emotionally draining to get rid of my mother’s things.” - Cheryl P.

  • “I have an asthmatic son with dust allergies. I’m not a minimalist, but I cannot get to “clean and clear” with clutter.” - Tina E.

  • “I want to feel more comfortable to have people over.” - Jan L.

  • “Having I adopted the minimalist mentality, I feel so free.” - Gina M.

  • “I really hate dusting.” - Elizabeth L.

  • “So I can keep my house clean and have more time and energy to play with my kids.” - Courtney S.

  • “Because I have to buy more stuff when I need it and I can’t find the stuff I already have.” - Christie A.

  • “My why is not being embarrassed to have someone come into the house to repair things.” - Diane A.

  • “I want to move but don’t want to take everything with me.” - Brenda D.

  • “Bringing home a new baby and needing to rearrange the house to function better.” - Elizabeth M.

  • “I just started a new job. I need things simpler so my days off aren’t spent cleaning and decluttering.” - Samanta G.

  • “I refuse to keep things out of guilt or because I spent money. Open spaces are calming to me.” - Lori V.

  • “Having stuff around is like having silent demands on your attention and time.” - Teresa Y.

  • “I don’t want to live in an empty space with a coffee cup and a towel. I do want to live in a space that I don’t feel overwhelmed by.”  - Paula W. 

  • “I recently had an opportunity to foster a young, blind cat. The shelter staffers wanted to see how she would adapt to a regular household. This meant making sure the floor are of my house was as safe and easy to navigate as I could. Guess how long it took me to make sure the whole first floor of my house was extra decluttered and Nina-ready? Half an hour! Now that Nina has figured out the floor plan, she can actually run around the house. It was a totally unexpected and far out benefit of a minimalish life.” - Mary S.

  • “I will never be a minimalist because I like my stuff but I love this new minimalish life.” - Wendy B.

  • “I now identify myself as “minimalish” thanks to you.” - Katie R.

 
 

Key Questions to Ask

As you progress through living with less, some key questions to ask while decluttering or shopping are:

  • How much do I want to manage?

  • What do I want to actually keep?

  • How do I want this space to function?

  • Would I buy this item again?

  • Can I replace this for $20 or less?

  • Do I have duplicates?

  • Would someone else in my life use this more?

  • Is there a charity organization that would benefit from this donation?

  • Do I love it? Use it? Need it?

The Steps

Blueprint to Live with Less 

A blueprint is a design or pattern that can be followed. The literal meaning is a blue paper with a plans for a building imposed on it. A blueprint for living with less is an outline of potential areas you can live a minimalish life. This "blueprint" a suggestive guide to help you live with less, and you can pick and choose what fits your life. Less what, you might ask? Less stuff, less debt, less stress, less... yes, to all of that. Whatever it might be, this blueprint starts with your why. 

1) WHY

Why do you want less of something? Less items to sift through to find the thing you are actually looking for? Less debt to carry month to month? Less clothes to hang in your closet? A less busy calendar? 

What is driving you to explore minimalish is part of your why. Yes, it's annoying to spend 20 minutes looking for something. You know you own it, but can't remember where it is. Finding a home for every item is the long-term answer to that problem. The pain of finding that item is driving your WHY.

 

Maybe you want to spend less time looking for those lost batteries and more time enjoying a cup of coffee with your spouse. Maybe you want to save money by choosing to save instead of spending. 

2) MINDSET

The fact that you are reading The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Minimalish indicates you may have already shifted your mindset, even in a small way. Just wanting to live with less, even if you don't know how to do it yet, is a step forward towards what you want. The minimalish (or minimalist) mindset shifts over time and may change with each decluttering decision you make. 

Creating an open space in your mind for this change and mindset shifting will be important. 

3) FIND YOUR TRIBE

Connecting with like-minded people during your minimalish journey will give you ideas, provide support, and help you take it one day at a time. To get you started, I'd be honored to be considered as part of your tribe. You can find me on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and via email. You can join the 35,000 like-minded people in my private Facebook Group, Decluttering One Day at a Time, where you can share your rooms, ideas, and ask for help. 

4) COUNT THE SMALL VICTORIES

Can you overhaul a room all at once? Sure, of course. Motivation is temporary, and finding the energy to do that may be difficult during the beginning. Capitalizing on that may be helpful, but you may "pay for it" for days with muscle pain and exhaustion. 

Small victories will add up over time. Reworking the junk drawer might be a great place to start. Think of it as the "battery and charging cords" drawer and find homes for everything else that was in there. Giving each drawer and cabinet a specific purpose will create a home for each thing over time. 

Choose a few shirts that you just do not wear, and take them to a donation center. Commit to not buying replacement shirts for a period of time and live with less to get used to it. You could even choose a color palette for your wardrobe, and put all the things that are not a fit for that color into a box for a season. Slowly curate new items into your wardrobe that fit "your colors" and live with less in the meantime. After a season, evaluate what sat in that box for donation. 

5) NOTICE YOUR SPENDING TRIGGERS

Do those sale emails for random stuff you like (but may be do not need or love) trigger you to spend impulsively? 

6) TEACH YOURSELF THAT SAYING NO ACTUALLY MEANS SAYING YES

This took me some time to learn but once I acknowledged why I wanted to say no to something, it got easier to say no. By saying no to one thing (or someone), I am actually saying "yes" to the thing I DO want. 

7) ALLOW TIME AND EMOTIONAL SPACE FOR GUILT AND PAIN

Guilt has brought you to keep items or do things in the past, and may be something you are still carrying with you today. Acknowledging these emotions will help you on your journey to live with less. The remembered discomfort will cement your decisions to let go of things and help you not repeat those actions. 

I think it's important to not consider those past actions as mistakes. It makes the guilt worse. When I first started living minimalish, I had to let them be lessons and recognize that I could not undo past decisions. I could only make different decisions in the future, and do my best to set up the life I wanted now. Best intentions were felt at the time of those past actions and your decision to live minimalish-y does not match the decisions made beforehand. 

8) ORGANIZE YOUR STUFF NOT YOUR CLUTTER

Baskets are awesome containers. It sets a boundary for your items, keeps it from spreading around your home, and hides items (if that's your style). But if you still have to dig through basket after basket to find something specific, the baskets are not serving you as well as they could. 

Labels and less stuff in baskets will help. Hiding clutter in baskets isn't a sustainable, long-term change. Think of that approach as future clutter for you to deal with later. 

9) DECLUTTER ONE DAY A TIME

One category, one drawer, one day at a time. This kind of lifestyle change takes time to adjust to and time to remove items from your life. Time to process emotions, find new homes for items, and accept the decisions. 

10) LIVE WITH LESS

 

As you let go of items, debt, stress, and worry you'll begin to understand what it is like to live with less. I had to address poor shopping habits, lack of financial management and budgeting, guilt, and sadness in order to make my minimalish life stick. Buying replacements or bringing new things into my home would defeat the efforts and purpose of wanting less. 

11) CURATE

Minimalish gives you the freedom to expand and grow rather than thinking of everything as the minimum. Curating a wardrobe, pantry, kitchen, family room, and more that you love while living with less may mean saving to buy a more sustainable, higher quality item later than a short-term temporary one today. I love dresses and have treated myself to 2 Christy Dawn lovely maxi dresses after saving the money instead of buying in a store for less.