I’ve considered myself a minimalist for the last four or so years, and over that period I’ve simplified my life in many ways. Some of these changes have been huge and other not so much, but overall it’s the sum of these choices that have led me to the life I’m living today.
If you’re curious about minimalism (or maybe just about my version of minimalism) then please enjoy this list of 20 ways I’ve simplified my life. I hope something here will inspire simplicity in your life too.
One quick thing before you dive in…
Please understand this is not a definitive list of milestones every aspiring minimalist must ‘check off’ on their journey to minimalism. I know for a fact that many of my choices aren’t suitable for everyone – and that’s cool because we’re all doing our own thing, right?
I’m sharing what works for me, because it might inspire something that works for you. That’s how communities work and it’s awesome.
(So on that note, if you’ve got an idea you’d like to share with me, please do so in the comments!)
Now let’s get started…
Since embracing minimalism I’ve chosen to live in:
- a studio apartment with a shared kitchen and bathroom (furnished)
- a room in a friend’s basement (semi furnished)
- a studio apartment with private facilities (furnished)
This is a huge change from my pre-minimalism/post-college years when I lived in two or three bedroom apartments (and always used one of the spare bedrooms as a walk in closet!)
I knew that by living small I’d save a ton of money and be able to afford living closer to the city, but I’ll admit that I was surprised by how much I actually love small living. There is something so liberating about knowing you’re only responsible for a small space!
RENT VS BUY
I was a homeowner for six years (I lived in my home for two years and then I was a landlord for four after that). I finally sold my house last year and let me tell you – I am in no hurry to buy again anytime soon, if ever!
It is so much simpler to rent than to buy: goodbye mortgage (and all that interest), ongoing expenses (taxes, insurance, maintenance) and just a general feeling of being weighed down!
In full disclosure, where I live it’s much cheaper to rent than to buy. Obviously, my opinion on this might change if the rental market changes too.
DO LESS HOUSEWORK
There is no clever life hack here. I just do less housework. My home is not a wreck and the world will not end if you add an extra day to your vacuum cycle. (And by the way – your clothes will last longer if you wash them less.)
I haven’t owned a TV since 2012. Granted, I have a laptop and I spend a lot of time on it, but I still think it’s different from having a TV mindlessly blaring in the background.
Not owning a TV means I watch less TV and it’s also one less big, heavy, expensive thing to own, clean, move and worry about.
HELLO SIMPLE FOOD
This may be controversial, but I don’t meal plan. I don’t really do ‘meals’ at all – I just buy simple food that I like and eat it. The result is I save money on groceries and spend less time in the kitchen.
Almost all my bill paying and savings is done automatically online. I go to the bank maybe once a year. I don’t have a chequebook (I don’t think I’ve seen one in person since I’ve moved to Australia. Are they still a thing?)
SAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND
I know this isn’t very glamorous, but as someone who spent the first fifteen years of her adult life living paycheque to paycheque, I can tell you that having a nest egg in the bank makes life so much simpler.
DRESS WITH A SIMPLE WARDROBE
My simple wardrobe philosophy is very similar to my simple eating philosophy – I stick to what I like most and I don’t bother with anything else. As a former shopaholic (with a 100+ shoe collection) I can tell you this is SO freeing!
If you need helping creating a simple wardrobe check out this post, where I share the method that finally worked for me (after many, many failed attempts at downsizing my closet.)
MAKE LAUNDRY DAY EASIER
I don’t buy clothes that require dry cleaning or ironing. I also don’t buy anything white because I only do one load of laundry a week (so no sorting!)
PLAN TO SHOP
I only go shopping when I know I need something specific and I have a clear picture in my mind of what I’m looking for before I go. This means I spend less time in the shops and I make less impulse purchases.
(When I’m travelling I ease up on this rule a bit because wandering markets is part of the experience, but I still try not to get caught up in it all.)
NO MORE WOMEN’S MAGAZINES (OR FASHION BLOGS)
I used to obsessively read both, but I’ve realised that neither contributed anything positive to my life. Instead, both women’s magazines and fashion blogs made me feel self conscious about myself and inspired me to buy things I didn’t really need.
My friend Lani wrote a full post about why she doesn’t read women’s magazines and I completely relate.
PS: I recently discovered and subscribe to Holl & Lane Magazine, which is a great alternative if you need new reading material (this isn’t sponsored or an affiliate link, just something I love and enjoy!)
STOP EXPERIMENTING WITH BEAUTY PRODUCTS
I use to obsessively browse the beauty aisle and I was always picking up new ‘miracle’ products to try.
But I’ll be 35 next week; I’m old enough now that I know what works for me and I know what doesn’t. I’m not saying I’d never try something new, but I also know the odds are I’m not going to pick up something new in Target that going to revolutionise my beauty routine.
USE RULES TO MANAGE YOUR INBOX
In almost every email management system (Google, Outlook, Apple Mail) you can set up ‘rules’ to help you manage your inbox.
For example, I get promotional emails about flight deals from several airlines (which is how I found $70 flights from Australia to Thailand.) But I don’t need to see these emails all the time, so I’ve set up a rule and now they are automatically forwarded to a folder called ‘Promotions’, which I review when it suits me.
USE TIME BLOCKING
Time blocking is a fancy schmancy word for doing one thing at a time, for a specific amount of time. I started using this productivity hack a few months ago and it has definitely helped simplify my workflow.
FIND AWESOME PEOPLE
I don’t have a lot of friends, but the people I hold close to my heart are the ones who support me and encourage me (even if they don’t always understand me.) Don’t be afraid to let go of relationships that aren’t supporting you this way.
DRIVE ONE CAR
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t need a car at all, but for now deciding to be a one car household instead of two makes life much simpler (and cheaper.) Less insurance, less registration fees, less parking permits, less petrol – you get the picture.
SPEND ON THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE EASIER
I’m a minimalist, but that doesn’t mean I’m frugal. I often spend money on things that make my life easier; in the past this has included a personal trainer, a blogging course, a house cleaner, and really expensive Italian leather boots (comfortable, stylish shoes are worth every penny.)
RELATED POST: 7 Things You’ll Never Regret Spending Money On
Spending time outdoors simplifies my mind (and now that I’m not shopping every weekend, I have more time for adventure.) I swear to you that when my mind is busy and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, getting out into nature is like hitting the reset button on my brain.
QUIT FULL TIME WORK
Last year I quit my full time job and at the moment I have no plans to go back to permanent 9-5 work (although I may do some temp jobs over the next few months.)
I’m not 100% sure if this belongs on this list, because while not having a full time job makes me happier, I’m not sure if it’s truly a simpler option! At the moment I’m starting to explore freelance work and I do a lot of side hustles to make this work for me.
Still, I only have the freedom to experiment with my life because I’ve simplified my life, so I’m keeping this on the list for now.
Finally, I think perhaps the biggest way I’ve simplified my life over the past few years is I’ve started to accept myself for who I am.
For a very long time I was trying to be someone that wasn’t really me, and, to be honest, it was completely draining. Right now my future has a lot of question marks but despite this, I feel secure and comfortable with the person I’ve become, and it doesn’t get much simpler than that.
UPDATE: READER TIPS
Update 16 June 2016
Wow, this post has had a huge response and I’ve received so much feedback from readers about how they’re simplifying their lives – so I wanted to share these ideas with you!
“I’ve become more conscious of and comfortable with my body in a more natural state. I own very little makeup now and only apply it when it’s a special occasion or I feel like it, never because I feel pressure to do so.” – Melissa
“Less clothing for all family members. Not over scheduling my kids. Not eating in the car. Not driving my kids far places on a regular basis.” – Nikki
“Cut down on jewelry pieces. I have 2 necklaces, 1 ring, and 1 watch that I wear on a regular basis. Pearl earrings for special occasions.” – Allie
“Minimized jewelry altogether. Minimized furniture altogether. Minimized the kinds of books I read. Give up on buying music…the radio is just fine. Give up cable/tv.” – Zee
“We sold a car, automated all of our finances, got rid of cable. I personally got rid of all but 10 books (ones that I haven’t read yet,that fit in a small basket) and started using the library to get both digital and paper books (Hoopla, OverDrive, OneClickDigital, and Zinio.)” – Karla
“For children’s clothes, I have inventoried everything in a spreadsheet that I can access from my phone. It’s divided by size and has columns for each type of clothing (pant, shorts, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt). This way when I’m out shopping I know what I already have and what is still missing.” – Melissa
“Practice saying no a lot.” – Rebecca
Whew, that was a long post! Thanks for reading. What are some of your tips for simplifying your life? Big or small, I’d love to hear your ideas! Let me know in the comments x
photo credit : kaboompics.com / unsplash.com / me / kaboompics.com used with permission