Have you ever wondered how some folk make minimalism look effortless? To an outsider those who practice and live a minimalist lifestyle seem to have it down to an art. I believe that it is the small daily habits that are the key to doing this and these can absolutely change how you live. Minimalism can be simpler to achieve on a daily basis when using habit changes like those listed below. 

If you are new to minimalism or simply looking for a new way to embed minimalist habits into your life this article is for you. Learn how you can embrace these top habits that minimalists use.

Cut the Digital Drainers

This habit change can be a big one for many of us living in the digital age. Ask yourself honestly, very honestly, “How do I spend my spare time?”. You may find that you’re spending 20 to 30 minutes each morning and one to two hours each night on social media. Perhaps your big time drainer is television, or internet shopping. Pinpoint those activities you do each day that consume a good portion of your time. Look closely at the infinite scrolling and the channel changing, if these do not align with your values, or who you would like to become, or they consume far too much of your time then minimise or scrap it. Think about that book you say you’d like to write some day, or evening bike ride you and your family would like to be taking but never do. These are just some of the ways you could enjoy your life and be in it fully, instead of watching the manufactured lives of others through a screen.

If you do not wish to cut your digital drainers out completely, create a time slot for them. For you this could be, no phones from 5pm, or social media only on a Friday. You may even discover that talking to your friends and family in person about their lives gives you a great deal more to chat about than if you had simply read about it online. Ultimately if anything you are currently doing does not align with how you want your life to be lived then deactivating accounts and switching technology off for a few weeks can be liberating and it will allow you to see how much time you actually have for what you love. 

Clear Surfaces Daily

This popular habit of minimalists is a simple one, requiring little time to make into a daily practice. Whether its your kitchen counter, dining table, desk, bedside table or any surface that gets a lot of traffic, get into the habit of clearing it each day. In my home I tend to do this ritual twice daily, as it takes such a short amount of time and makes my home feel tidy and peaceful. Each morning after breakfast and again after dinner I do a swoop through the kitchen, living room and study – the three places that cups and paperwork tend to build and put items back in their place, whether thats the dishwasher, a filing system or in the recycling. 

Clean as You Cook 

This habit will save you much needed time in your evening, which means more time relaxing with family. As I cook dinner, or my partner cooks I make sure to rinse items or stack them in the dishwasher in between stirring and plating food. Just before dinner leaves the kitchen to be eaten I make sure to wash down the bench tops too. Because it is quietly mixed into another task that I am already doing – cooking, I barely notice that I am doing it. Instead of the kitchen clean-up being a big business each night, its quick and effortless. 

Wait One Month

If you are inspired to make a new purchase, or there is a gadget or piece of clothing that you have just seen and feel the urge to buy, practice the one month rule. Let yourself know that you can have the item but you must wait one month before you purchase it. I have used this trick many times and it has halted a number of spur-of-the-moment purchases that on reflection I wouldn’t have used or loved. To do this, write down the item that you would like to purchase with the date a month from now to purchase it.

Firstly having a month will mean you will have the opportunity to break the habit of buying something on the spot just because you’ve seen it; thats just great product placement and its great to not be sucked into that. Secondly you will have the chance to decide if you truly want this product; will you use it, will it complement your home decor, will it bring you joy? Thirdly giving yourself a month before purchasing will give you time to save up for the item without having to resort to credit, or debt or taking money from your savings account. If at the end of the month-long period you still feel strongly about making the purchase, then you know you have saved for it specifically and you can buy it without guilt or remorse. 

Gratitude

Many long-practiced minimalists are able to stick with it because they’ve created the habit of gratefulness. If you compare yourself, your stuff or your life to other people’s you can feel the sense of lack, that “I don’t have enough” feeling. However if you turn that gaze onto your own life, home and self you can find both little and big things to feel grateful for. A great way to build this habit is to mentally list or verbally state (great to do with your partner in bed) what three things you are grateful for today. If you enjoy journalling this can be an easy daily inclusion of two to three things that bring you gratitude. I find it refreshing to begin or end my meditation with a few things I am grateful for today.

When you embed this habit of gratitude into your life you find that there is a greater sense of peace and satisfaction. With gratitude it is hard to feel like you are missing out or that you need to buy something new, be it a car or an outfit to make yourself happy, because you find happiness in the things you presently have and the life you are currently leading.

habits of a minimalist

Say No

When you are learning to become a minimalist with your time and especially time to yourself, it is important to learn to say “no”. By saying no to a request, invitation or task you are saying yes to something else; whether that’s time for your family, your hobby, exercise or simply a day off. 

No is a complete sentence 

It is healthy for your mind, body and soul to have these boundaries. Your energy levels will improve when you balance work, your social life and your down time. It can at first be difficult and other people might find it strange. We are sadly in a society that values “busy”, so it can be hard to justify simplicity. Others might ask if you’re not stressed why are you saying no to project x, or invitation z? My answer is always that its precisely because I don’t overload my schedule that I am stress free. Saying no occasionally is what helps me to live with less stress and anxiety. 

Know Your Pleasures and Live Them

What do you love? What brings you joy? When you know what brings the most pleasure to you, what you value most then you can be sure to embed this into your life in a practical, frequent way. If you have a few ideas but aren’t really sure, now is a great time to grab a notebook and a pen and get writing. Make lists of what you think makes you happy. Look back to times in your life when you were the happiest, why was it so? What made you feel so good? How many of those pleasures can you turn into habits in your day-to-day life?

As you identify what brings you joy, use a journal or planner to begin making time for these activities. If you have Wednesday afternoons free and you love to go hiking but frequently end up doing other things, put it in your schedule and set an alarm for it. Prepare your bag the day before to ensure you are as ready as you can be. This is how you create new habits. All of these little things will help you to put your truest pleasures as a priority. Even making time for them once or twice a month beats not doing them for years because you were too busy. Live your life like this and you will find a happiness that cannot be taken away.  

Posted by:Suzie Maddock

Hi I'm Suzie, and my life has been beautifully transformed since slowing down, embracing minimalism and living more sustainably. I am a huge nature lover and try to find pleasure in the simple things each day. You can find me drinking tea and sharing what I know here.

18 replies on “Habits of a Minimalist

    1. Thats wonderful! I couldn’t agree more that one of the sweetest benefits of minimalism is the peace that you feel inside, especially in the way of mental peace. Best of luck with your journey.

  1. I like your clean surfaces idea. I do something I call ‘readying the room’, when I leave a room – my office after work, the kitchen after a meal or the lounge room in the evening – I have a quick scan to put everything back in its place to leave it as I found it and ‘ready’ it for the next time I walk in. It’s so much nicer to walk into a clean room!

  2. Very insightful post! I have most of these in practice daily — aside from the digital drainers. We downsized several years ago from a 4BR home to 528 sq feet (my husband and I and now our dog). Of all of these, I find reading online news stories (we don’t have TV) the hardest one to eliminate. I really don’t like social media, so that’s not even the problem–other than when I need to use it for work/research. I’m going to continue to fight the good fight and work on reading less bad news and focusing more on how I want to live my life and spend my time. It takes daily diligence! Thanks for the good reminders…

  3. Love these tips! I already practice a few of them, but definitely learned a lot about ways to improveme, too. Question for you: I often feel like having young children is at odds with becoming a minimalist in the way that’s described in so many blogs or articles I read. With a toddler clinging to my leg while I’m making dinner, and/or making her own messes (whether it’s pulling all the canned food out of the cupboard, or something else), some of these practices just don’t seem feasible. What I feel to be “true” minimalism seems unattainable till she’s older. Any suggestions for approaching minimalism with small children?

    1. Kristen, as a mother, grandmother, and former teacher, I can say that minimalism and enjoying life WITH your child is far better than your child growing up surrounded by too many things, too much TV, and too many digital wasters. I have seen firsthand too many children with too many things. It leads to wanting more things. They do not satisfy for long, if at all. Approaching minimalism with small children can be as easy as teaching her to cook and allowing her to “help” prepare dinner, making a great game of cleaning, such as, who can put the most toys in the basket, or who can clean the window the best? Then follow with a short walk to discover the wonders of the neighborhood. A pretty flower in the grass, birds chirping, a new dog in the neighborhood, a beautifully woven spider web. Let her discover these things. If necessary, point them out. Keep toys, TV, and digital involvement to a minimum. Keep parental and extended family involvement to a maximum. Good luck! It can work!

      1. Thank you so much for the response! It actually makes me feel a lot better, because that sounds just like our normal routine. I think I tend to be hard on myself since there’s nearly always room for improvement. And thanks for the great post you originally wrote; I learned a lot!

      2. Thank you so much for the response! It actually makes me feel a lot better, because that sounds just like our normal routine. I think I tend to be hard on myself since there’s nearly always room for improvement. Also, i guess I wasn’t approaching it from a mentality of routine and lifestyle so much as I was looking at it through a lens of the number of things we accumulate or get rid of.

        And thanks for the great post you originally wrote; I learned a lot!

        1. Kristen, don’t be hard on yourself, nor second-guess yourself. I find I learn as I go, and suspect most people do so. Be adaptable. As you learn, change! It is not hard to do. Take small steps at a time. As an example, look at your child. As she learns, she changes. First she makes noises, crying and cooing. Then sounds. Then syllables, and finally words. Short sentences follow, then longer ones. Soon come two or three sentences together. Vocabulary increases. Grammar becomes better. You see? Small steps, as you learn.
          The world around around us constantly gives us lessons. It is up to us to learn, to adapt, to grow. We are not born knowing everything all at once, nor do we learn it all at any one point in our lives. If we are fortunate, if we work at it, we learn all of our lives. If we are fortunate, if we work at it, we grow.
          Again, I say, don’t be hard on yourself. Learn. Allow yourself to grow and adapt. Be patient. Change. Take small steps. You will make it.

  4. These habits, especially decluttering and cleaning, have improved my mental health more than any pill ever has…

  5. Great tip on tracking digital usage! After reading this, I searched my phone’s app store for a ‘phone usage tracker’ and found several apps that do just that! I’m excited to quantity how much time I actually spend on my phone and on what apps to see where I can make improvements! Your post has added value to my life!

  6. Wow, this is an amazing blog! Why is it so hard to find sites like this these days? Recently gotten into mindfulness and minimalism and I love it! Thanks for sharing your ideas 🙂

  7. Since become a full-time traveller with carry-on luggage only, the concept of buying clothes has been a struggle. The clothes I currently own were bought with purpose, are of good quality, are expected to last. I know how many items I own and when one is missing (normally because I haven’t checked the washing machine properly). Strangely once I have bought something that works for me, I get disappointed when I can’t get a replacement because the item has been discontinued years later. Once the past two years, I have been trying to change my tshirts and outer layers to be more colourful (most items I own are black), but it is a slow process as I’m loath to throw or giveaway clothes that are still use.

    My clothing habits also mean that with less, I have less decision making to do in choosing what to wear each day. And not wanting to continual do washing, I often wear a tshirt for 2 – 3 days at a time, something I would never have done in my pre-minimalist days. Cleanliness was more important than being kind to the environment through excessive washing back then. Now, as long as my wife doesn’t complain that I smell or look the same all the time, then I’m happy.

  8. Sadly, I did not discover Minimalism until our children were adults, and had left the nest. Perhaps minimalism when they were children would have better prepared them for the life they are embarking on. I have decluttered and simplified our lives in readiness for a downsize, as the home we are in now, is now too big for just the two of us! There are entire wings of the house that are simply closed and unused now. It has certainly cut down on the cleaning needed. With grandbabies on the way I may reopen the closed wings to use as a nursery room, and play room!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.