Before I even heard of minimalism, I’ve always been a minimalist. I am grateful for my upbringing for being able to live a simple, easy and enjoyable life. Growing up, I was never given much stuff and as the youngest child in a large family, I often got the hand me downs from my siblings. The large majority of what I own was earned from me by hard work. Since I was responsible for my own bills, I had to learn quick what was essential to my life and what was not.
Being a minimalist from an early age has helped me make life simpler. You will notice that simplifying your life can reap amazing benefits such as saving time and money, helping you feel more in control of your life and feeling much happier. Hopefully these life lessons I learned can help you live a simpler life.
1. Don’t own a TV. I haven’t owned a TV in years and very rarely feel the desire to own one. Don’t get me wrong, I do use my laptop for my entertainment. Yet, not owning a TV has also reduced my bills dramatically but also makes me reliant on other forms of cheaper entertainment such as reading, writing, browsing on my computer or exercise. Outside of the immediate cost benefits from not owning a TV, I also find that I have more time to focus on my goals rather than mindlessly watching shows.
2. Have your own vegetable or herb garden. If you love gardening, then consider having plants in your garden for the fresh herbs and vegetables you need for cooking. You will save money by gardening and you also cut down on waste by getting in the habit of picking what you need from your garden, rather than buying in bulk at the grocery store just to take advantage of deals. You also do the environment a service by growing your own food at home. My garden is small because I live in an apartment but currently consists of bell peppers (capsicums), jalapeno peppers, spinach, zucchini, basil and a variety of other delicacies. Personally, I find gardening to be relaxing and it tastes great to harvest vegetables grown on your own. If you are comfortable with taking care of plants, then try your hand at gardening.
3. Get rid of your gym membership. I used to have a gym membership but at the rate I went, it was simply not worth the money trying to use the gym. Also, I ended up feeling guilty for preferring to do other exercises outdoors or at home, rather than at the gym. For some people, a gym membership is essential. These people tend to go to the gym frequently enough for the payment of the gym membership to be worth it and typically value the classes and weights that the gym offers. However, there are many people such as myself that use the gym for a few machines and not too much else. I prefer running, walking, hiking and even lifting small weights at home. As a result, having a gym membership currently doesn’t fit well with my lifestyle. Save some money by getting rid of your gym membership and exercising outdoors or at home for free.
4. Plan your workouts. Life gets busy and although exercise should be a priority in our lives, you might find that exercise takes a backburner much of the time. A quick and easy way to simplify your exercise routine is to plan for the week. Figure out the best way to plan your workouts and schedule your week accordingly.
5. Get rid of toxic relationships. Your relationships may be the very thing holding you back from living a simple life. If you surround yourself with negative and unsupportive people, you may feel yourself drained after spending time with these people and not even looking forward to social events. Your relationships may not even be toxic, but you may be surrounded by people who you have little in common with. These relationships may be superficial. Keep your loved one’s close and nourish the supportive and positive relationships in your life.
6. Get rid of negative self-talk. Your own thoughts can be a barrier with living a simple life. You might have developed a bad habit of speaking poorly about yourself and lacking self-confidence. Work on loving yourself more and more each day. Focus on positive thinking and reducing the negative voices as much as possible.
7. Shut down your social media accounts. Spending time on social media can waste so much time! You might find that you have spent hours mindlessly scrolling through social media, with nothing to show for it. You might even feel worse after spending all that time on social media! The temptation will always be there so work on limiting the amount of time you spend on social media. Personally, I never look at social media in the morning or at night. I try to avoid viewing social media on public transportation or at work. I try to look at social media once or twice a day, and just for a few minutes at a time. That way I can quickly check my notifications, reply to anyone if needed and move forward with my life outside of social media. Simplify your life by limiting your time spent on social media.
8. Eat simply. I absolutely love to cook. Baking is one of my favorite things to do and I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen sometimes. As a result, I’ve figured out how to cut costs by making meals that are good enough for me. They taste great but also are limited on ingredients. There are some days where I indulge and try to cook something that has expensive and large quantities of ingredients but most of the time I make simple and easy to prepare meals.
9. Get rid of your debts. Debt is a major strain on your life and can cause a heavy weight on your life. Personally, it felt great to finally pay off that credit card debt or to make a large payment off a student loan. Take control of your debts and stop paying the minimums. Stay ahead of the curve by committing to pay off all your debts fully. The more debt you pay off, the more money you have in your savings. The less debt you have, the less stress in your life. I cannot stress the importance of paying off your debt enough. If you have any form of debt, make the focus eliminating your debt. Don’t get comfortable with a life where you are constantly paying off the minimums and stuck in a cycle of paying off debt for decades.
10. Avoid debts. As mentioned, debt adds a large amount of stress in your life. Pay off the credit card, and ditch all your credit cards. When thinking about buying a car, think about if a car which will always lose its value is worth the amount of debt you will have from a car loan. Either save for the car you want so you can pay for it in cash or consider buying a used car in excellent condition at a more affordable price. Some debts you may be able to live with such as a mortgage on a home but this is a personal decision you must make for yourself.
11. Start saying no more often. Part of the reason your life may be more complicated, is because you feel unnecessarily guilty about saying no. When your boss asks you to do work, and you are already overwhelmed with work, you say yes when you should have said no. If a few friends really want to see you this weekend, but you absolutely need to rest, you give in and say yes when you should have opted for a day of relaxation. You are in control of your own life and when life gets overwhelming, it’s important to say no so that you can have a healthy balance of work and your own personal time.
12. Slow down. It’s important to take time to relax. There is nothing wrong with getting a little rest. Take a day to indulge and do absolutely nothing. Take a recovery day when you have been exercising hard. When you are working too hard to find the solution to a problem, slowing down is often what you need. Give your body and mind rest every so often. It’s good for your mental and physical health to slow down.
13. Focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is one of those skills that many of us think we have, but hinders our ability to strive in many areas of our lives. When you multi-task you are likely spending too much time trying to do many things, when you could have spent significantly less time doing the same amount of tasks by focusing on one task at a time. Be honest about if you are not devoting as much time and focus into a task as you should be. You can easily simplify your life by focusing on completing one task at a time.
14. Prioritize. You might be giving things more time than you should be. Too much of your time might be going into working more hours at a salaried position than spending time with your loved ones. Identify what your priorities are and ensure that you are making time for the people and things that you value the most.
15. Own less stuff. How many things do you have that you need? Out of all the items you own, how many do you use or even look at? A great way to simplify your life, is to let go of a materialistic mindset and focus on owning less things. Much of the things you own are a waste of money and not necessary for your lifestyle. If you can’t find a good reason to own something or you realize you never do something, then it’s time to donate that item to someone who does need it or sell it.
16. Live in a smaller space. Who says you need a big house or large apartment to be happy? It’s not necessary to live in a large space when a smaller space is all that you need. Recently I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend. Our budget allowed us to live in a larger apartment but we chose a one-bedroom apartment with a lower rent. We are very happy with this decision as we have spent less money to furnish the place and have more that we can save each month.
17. Declutter your closet. You might look in your closet and find an assortment of clothes that you haven’t even worn in months or years. You probably even have clothes that you have never worn but bought months ago. I know I’m guilty of the occasional purchase of clothing that I never got around to wearing. Time to clean up your closet and donate those clothes to someone who needs it.
18. Give to others. Do something kind for others and your community. Volunteer. Donate your things to charity. Give some of your money to a fundraiser. Do someone a favor and offer your advice or your skills. Giving to others should be a consistent part of your life. You will appreciate how wonderful your life is by giving back to those less fortunate than you.
19. A simpler life is of your own making. I cannot tell you what a simple life looks like to you. To you, maybe making a detailed calendar of your week would make your life much easier. For me, a detailed calendar would only add more stress to my life and is another thing to update and deal with every week. Find your own definition of what a simpler life entails to you. Experiment and see what works for you and what doesn’t. There are a variety of tools out there designed to make life simpler, but it’s up to you to decide what tools you will utilize.
20. Live authentically. Don’t waste any more time being anyone other than who you are. Life is too short to stress about what others are thinking or comparing yourself to others.