Minimalist Lifestyle Guide: How to Have More of What Matters

It’s been nearly a decade since I began my journey from shopaholic to minimalist—but this doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten how hard it can be to get started.

I know exactly how overwhelming it can feel, which is why I’ve created this minimalist lifestyle guide for you!

If you’re interested in decluttering your home and life— so you can have more of what matters and less of everything else— then keep reading for everything you need to know.

"Minimalist Lifestyle Guide: how to have more of what matters + less of everything else" in a white box with a coffee cup, note pad, and pen in the background.

What is Minimalism?

Let’s get started with the basics—what is minimalism?  

The short answer is it depends on who you ask. For some people, minimalism is a design aesthetic, all about white walls and scandi-inspired furniture.

For others, minimalism is an extreme way of living. You may have heard stories about people who live in tiny houses or others who only own a hundred things.

There’s nothing innately wrong with these types of minimalism— but this is NOT what I write about here on Simply + Fiercely.

Instead, I believe that minimalism is about intentionality. How does the “stuff” in your life (everything from physical possessions to your schedule, relationships or even ideas) add value to your life?

If it doesn’t add to your life, it doesn’t belong in your life. – Unknown

Everyone will have a different answer to this question because what’s important to me might not be important to you—and that’s OK. Minimalism is personal because it’s a representation of our individual values.

My version of minimalism might be living in a 600 square foot inner-city apartment and yours might be living in a 2000 square foot farmhouse in the country.

Personal preferences don’t make one person “more minimalist” than the other. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer to “being a good minimalist” as long as you’re being honest with yourself about what adds value to your life.

If you want to learn more, I survey hundreds of readers about what it really means to be a minimalist. This is an excellent read for anyone who’s interested in minimalism but feels uncertain about whether it’s right for them.

What Are The Benefits of Minimalism?

Now that we’ve cleared up the definition of minimalism, I want to take a deeper look at the benefits of minimalism—because honestly, it’s so much more than I expected when I first started exploring a minimalist lifestyle!

If you approach it with an open heart and an open mind, minimalism can definitely change your life. Here are just a few of the ways it has changed mine:


Let’s start with the most often discussed benefit of minimalism: a clutter-free home.

If you’ve never lived in a clutter-free home let me tell you—it is like a breath of fresh air! You know that feeling you get when you walk into a hotel room? It’s that same feeling every day.

There’s a sense of lightness and your home is no longer a drain on your energy. Instead, it’s a place that rejuvenates you! A sanctuary where you can truly relax as a family.

But that’s not all! The benefits of a clutter-free life go far beyond the home. As you welcome minimalism into your life, you start noticing that same sense of ease in your schedule, your relationships, and even your mind.

Feeling at ease in my home.


Living a minimalist lifestyle feels good but there are also a lot of practical benefits too. When you live a clutter-free life, you have more time, money and energy—how good is that!

For example, before minimalism, housework felt like a never-ending job and it took up SO much of my free time.

Nowadays I spend less time cleaning than ever, even with a toddler at home! I generally spend about 30 minutes a day cleaning, plus one hour per week to tie up any loose ends.

I’ve also saved a ton of money and I credit minimalism for helping me become debt-free AND save up for a seven-month honeymoon!

More posts about minimalism and money:


Minimalism has also taught me the art of intentional living.

I used to be afraid to define success on my terms and instead, I lived life on auto-pilot. I did what was expected of me because it seems like the right thing to do—without ever questioning what I really wanted out of life.

Minimalism gave me confidence and taught me the skills I needed to start walking my own path.


Finally, the most important benefit of minimalism is that it gives you the freedom to follow your dreams.

When you start to let go of excess stuff and responsibilities, you start to let go of excuses too. New doors open and—because you’re not weighed down anymore—you can say “yes” and see where they lead you.

I’ve experienced this firsthand; minimalism was the tool that helped me leave a job that I hated and eventually start my own business—something I was afraid to even dream of a decade ago.

The Limitations of Minimalism

Before we go any further, I’d be irresponsible if I didn’t mention some of the limitations of minimalism too. I know that I’ve made it out to be great (and I truly believe it is!) but it is not a magic pill.

Decluttering a few bags of useless junk might feel good BUT it won’t make all your problems go away overnight.

The reality is that minimalism can be hard work—especially at first. It may require confronting some hard truths about why your life is busy and cluttered and this is never fun!

In addition, it’s about committing to the long view. Yes, you will notice some benefits of minimalism right away, but if you read my minimalist story, you’ll see that it took me years to really experience all the lifestyle changes I’ve mentioned today.

The final thing to mention is that “minimalism” is not a project you check off your to-do list. It’s a lifestyle—for some, an entirely new way of thinking and living. It can be tough at first but I promise that it’s a leap worth taking.

A coffee cup, note pad, and pen in the background.
Start creating a minimalist lifestyle!

3 Key Elements of a Minimalist Lifestyle

So now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that a minimalist lifestyle is worth pursuing, let take a look at the three key elements of minimalist living.


Believe it or not, I think the most important part of creating a minimalist lifestyle is cultivating a minimalist mindset. When you learn to think like a minimalist, you become a minimalist.

Think of it this way—if you go on a crash diet you might lose weight … but what happens when you stop dieting? I think we all know!

A far better alternative to dieting is changing your mindset towards food and exercise. The same applies to minimalism.

You can declutter your home but if you haven’t changed your mindset, what happens when you stop decluttering? Unless you know how to genuinely want less then odds are you will slowly fill your home again.

And it doesn’t stop with our stuff—we can also struggle with our schedules if we don’t have the right mindset.

I experienced this after the birth of my daughter. I realised that for years, I had let my to-do list and productivity define my self-worth, so when that was taken away, I felt lost. I didn’t know how to do less and it was an eye-opening reminder about the power of mindset.

I’ll be writing a lot more on this topic because it’s so important but until then, just know that it’s about creating a culture of slow living and knowing how to slow down when you need to—no matter where you are in life.


The next key element of minimalist living is decluttering.

I’ll be sharing some decluttering tips and advice later in this article but the most important thing to know about decluttering is that it’s not really about what you get rid of.

Instead, it’s about what you to decide to keep. Ask yourself:

  • What matters most to you?
  • What are you creating space for?
  • What kind of life do you want to live?

It’s about carefully curating your life so that what’s on the outside reflects what you want most on the inside.

Decluttering is simply a tool, a bit like a sculptor chiselling away at the excess stone to reveal the masterpiece within. The sculptor doesn’t care about the off-cuts—it’s what’s left that really matters.

Also, keep in mind that decluttering doesn’t stop with stuff. We need to create space in our homes, schedules and minds; there’s actually a lot of “things” to declutter that aren’t really things after all!


The final and often forgotten element of minimalism is doing more of what matters.


Minimalism is not about decluttering for the sake of decluttering, it’s not about deprivation, it’s not about willpower and it’s not a competition to see who can live with the least stuff.

Instead, it’s about having an abundance of whatever matters most to you. It’s important not to forget this final step because, without it, minimalism can become yet another way of obsessing about stuff.

Getting Started with Minimalism

Are you feeling inspired and ready to get started with minimalism?

Here are three things to do before you start decluttering!


First and foremost, the first thing you need to do is stop what’s coming into your life. I know it’s tempting to jump straight into decluttering but if you’re still shopping, it’s like trying to fix a leak without turning off the tap!

If this is a struggle for you, these tips to stop mindless shopping will help you get started.

This is also my number one minimalist tip for busy people. So often I hear, “I’ll get started when life slows down” —but why wait? It literally takes no time to stop shopping (and in fact, it will actually save you time!).


The next most important thing you can do when getting started with minimalism is to define your vision.

Why do you want to embrace a minimalist lifestyle? What does it mean to you?

The better you can answer this question, the easier it will be to declutter your home and life because you’ll know exactly what belongs and what doesn’t.

"Remember Why You Started" on a blue background


Finally, check out these articles:

How to Declutter Your Home and Life

It’s time to talk about decluttering—let’s get started!

Free Decluttering Guide + Workbook

The first thing I recommend doing is downloading Mindful Decluttering, my FREE decluttering guide and workbook.

You’ll get my step-by-step decluttering process, my top troubleshooting tips, as well as a few personal stories to inspire you. Get your free copy by subscribing using the form below:


My step-by-step process is outlined in Mindful Decluttering, but here are a few more minimalist decluttering tips to help you:

  • Using the vision I mentioned earlier as inspiration, define a space specific vision for the area you’re decluttering. For example, if you’re decluttering your bedroom—what are your goals? How do you want to feel in your bedroom? Use this vision to help you stay focused.
  • Just get started—even if you only have five minutes, just pick something up and begin. (Taking that first step is often the hardest!) Be patient and remember, you’re in this for the long run.
  • Know that decision fatigue is a real thing. Read this post about how to decide what to keep while decluttering for tips on how to make better decisions.
  • Don’t spend too long on any one item, it will ruin your momentum. If you get stuck with something, put it aside and come back to it later. (The troubleshooting guide in Mindful Decluttering will really help with this!)
  • Seek out like-minded people for support. Share this post with a friend or join the Simply + Fiercely Facebook Group.

More Minimalist Lifestyle Tips

Here is a round-up of some of my most popular blog posts and minimalist lifestyle tips!

Here are my tops tips for when you’re struggling with minimalism—a must-read if you’ve attempted decluttering but you just can’t seem to make any sustainable progress.

What are the basics of simple living? Here are nine fundamental practices that are worth integrating into your everyday life.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at all, my minimalist lifestyle checklist is exactly what you need to keep you on the right track.

Need some more inspiration? Here are 20 ways I’ve simplified my life—hopefully, something on this list will inspire simplicity in your life too!

Alternatively, here are 17 heart-centred ways to simplify your life that you might want to consider.

Are you struggling to get your family on board with minimalism? Here are a few tips on sharing your minimalist lifestyle with your loved ones.

Check out these minimalism “Do’s and Don’ts” for 20 more minimalist living tips!

Even after years of minimalist living, there are still times when I find myself a bit lost. When this happens, these gentle reminders about minimalism help me get back on track.

Learn about my minimalist daily routine and how it helps me make time every day for the things that matter most—instead of getting swept up with clutter and busyness.

Take a look at my top 10 posts from last year for even more inspiration to help you on your minimalism journey.

Finally, don’t forget that minimalism is a journey and NOT a destination. Make sure that you enjoy the ride! You definitely shouldn’t wait to enjoy the simple life.

Minimalism in Other Areas of Your Life

A minimalist closet with sweaters and a denim jacket hanging on wooden hangers.

BONUS TIPS: How to Declutter Your Closet

I decided to add some bonus information about how to declutter your closet because I know that when I first started experimenting with minimalism, it was my biggest challenge!


Before I share my minimalist wardrobe tips, I thought you might like to take a behind the scenes look at my minimalist wardrobe.

If you prefer photos over videos, click here to read the original minimalist wardrobe tour blog post.


This simple guide to a simple wardrobe is the step-by-step process I used to declutter my closet (and by the way, I used to be a shopaholic with a bedroom-sized closet and over 100 pairs of shoes!). I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about this method—even from people who have “tried everything” before.

I also recommend taking a look at these 7 questions to declutter your closet. These questions really helped me explore why I was holding onto certain items, which was the first step to letting go.

You might also enjoy these minimalist winter outfits for inspiration (plus there are tips on how to make new outfits from your existing closet).

Finally, I had a friend who is a fashion stylist share some of her thoughts on creating a minimalist wardrobe—here’s what she had to say about creating a minimal user-friendly closet.

I hope this guide helps you take the first steps towards achieving your minimalism goals!

If you enjoyed it, be sure to pin this blog post or bookmark it for later, because I’ll be updating this guide as I publish new posts— I still have a lot to say about minimalism!

If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “Minimalist Lifestyle Guide: How to Have More of What Matters”

  1. Hi Jennifer! Great post! I would like to get your opinion on my situation.
    I am 61, still work full time, and also live with my aging mother and do a lot to take care of her when I’m home.
    She lives life “old school”, steeped in traditions from way WAY back. Being the middle child (yes I’m going to go there LOL!) I’ve always been one to try new things and I REALLY want to simplify my life. Based on your own admission that it took you years to really feel like you have accomplished the simplified life, in your opinion, am I too old to try this simplified life thing? How do I do that, given that I have the extra responsibility of taking care of an elderly parent who’s NEVER going to change? Thanks for sharing your journey and your insights.
    Be blessed!

    • Hi Sue! I definitely think it’s never too late–keeping in mind that “simplicity” will look different for everyone. For example, I used to live in a small studio apartment and I could easily fit all my belongings into my small car! Now I have a daughter and I’ve upsized to a 2 bedroom apartment, and I definitely own a lot more than I used to! But this is what feels right for me during this season of life and your version of simplicity will need to feel right for yours.

      Also, keep in mind that simple living is about more than just what you have in your home. It’s more a way of thinking … don’t be afraid to start small. Look at what you can control and slowly start to audit your life, making intentional decisions about what does or doesn’t belong. I’ve learned that it’s these little choices you make every day that really matter.

      Best of luck and thank you for reading! x Jen

      PS: If you haven’t seen it, you might find these posts helpful (this one about getting started and this one about enjoying the journey


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