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 others, less so, 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 then please enjoy this list of 20 ways I’ve simplified my life. I hope something here will inspire simplicity in your life too.
Please understand this is not a definitive list of milestones every aspiring minimalist must “check off” on their minimalist journey. I know for a fact that many of my choices aren’t suitable for everyone, which is fine because minimalism looks different for everyone.
I’m sharing what has worked for me because it might inspire something that works for you, not because I think I know what’s best for you!
(And on that note, if you’ve got an idea that might inspire me, please let me know in the comments!)
Now, on to the 20 ways I’ve simplified my life! 🙂
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!).
When I chose to live in a smaller space, I knew this would save me money and allow me to live closer to the city, but I expected it to be a sacrifice. After years of living in bigger homes, I wasn’t sure I’d actually enjoy small space living—but the good news is, I was pleasantly surprised! Living in a small home is actually liberating; it’s so much easier to clean and it’s a weight off your shoulders 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, 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 and it’s also one less big, heavy, expensive thing to own, clean, move and worry about.
(Update—in 2017 I bought a TV! But I try not to have it on unless there is something specific I want to watch.)
HELLO SIMPLE FOOD
This may be controversial, but I don’t meal plan. In fact, I very rarely do “meals” in the traditional sense; instead, I just buy simple food I like and eat it without worrying about following recipes. The result is I save money on groceries and spend less time in the kitchen.
Almost all my banking is done automatically online. I go to the bank maybe once a year. I don’t have a chequebook and I actually haven’t seen one in person since I’ve moved to Australia!
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 liberating!
If you need help creating a simple wardrobe, then check out this post where I share the method that finally worked for me (after many failed attempts at downsizing my closet!).
(List of 20 Ways I’ve Simplified My Life continues below.)
If you’re enjoying this post, you might also enjoy learning more about my minimalist journey:
Also, if you’re interested in learning more about minimalism, you might find these popular posts helpful:
- 6 Gentle Reminders About Minimalism
- Getting Started with Minimalism: 5 Things Not to Do
- Struggling with Minimalism? 6 Tips to Help You Make Sustainable Change
- 6 Tips to Stop Mindless Shopping
Finally, you might also enjoy Mindful Decluttering, a free guide and workbook with step-by-step instructions on decluttering your home and life. It includes practical advice, personal stories, and a troubleshooting guide to help you overcome your decluttering challenges! Subscribe to get your free copy.
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!).
2018 Update: after having a baby, I’ve started wearing whites again because I had so many white baby things to wash anyway! And now I definitely do more laundry but not as much as I used to in my “pre-minimalist” days!
PLAN TO SHOP
I only go shopping when I know I need something specific and I make sure I have a clear picture in mind of what I need for before I go. This means I spend less time in the shops and make fewer impulse purchases.
NO MORE WOMEN’S MAGAZINES OR FASHION BLOGS
I used to read both obsessively but I realised neither contributed anything positive to my life; instead, both left me feeling insecure and craving things I didn’t really need.
If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional magazines, then I highly recommend Holl & Lane a quarterly publication dedicated to starting honest conversations from real women. (Note this isn’t a sponsored or affiliate link, it’s just something I genuinely love and enjoy!)
If you want to learn more, check out this interview with Sarah, the creator of Holl & Lane.
STOP EXPERIMENTING WITH BEAUTY PRODUCTS
I use to obsessively browse the beauty aisle and I was always picking up some new “miracle” product to try, but I’ll be 35 next week. That means I’m old enough to know what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m not saying I’ll never try anything new again but I know it’s unlikely that anything I pick up in Target will 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). These emails are valuable but I don’t need to see them all the time, so I’ve set up a rule to have them automatically forwarded to a special folder so I can review when it suits me.
USE TIME BLOCKING
Time blocking is a fancy 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 makes life simpler and cheaper. We spend less on insurance, registration fees, parking permits, petrol and maintenance—and it all adds up!
SPEND ON THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE EASIER
I’m a minimalist but that doesn’t mean I’m frugal and 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 yet stylish shoes are worth every penny!).
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 really am.
For a very long time, I was trying to be someone I’m not 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.
RELATED POST: Doing Less + A Lesson in Self-Worth
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
PS: I wrote a free, 18-page guide and workbook called Mindful Decluttering to help you finally clear the clutter for good. If you’d like a copy, don’t forget to subscribe below or click here! Here’s what people have to say about it:
“I loved the connection you made with mindful decluttering – others talk about becoming more mindful as part of a minimalist journey, but the fact you’ve made it part of the framework of the process itself sets it apart. It’s brilliant – excited to see this coming into the minimalist landscape. You have a fresh, supportive and enquiring voice.” —Christina J, 38, St Albans UK