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.
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.
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.