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How to Become a Minimalist: Tips for Decluttering Your Life

Not sure how to become a minimalist? It’s easier than you think! Don’t let the pressure to adapt the all-or-nothing attitude of extreme minimalism, stop you from discovering sustainable ways to start living with less stuff. Explore our guide below to learn more about minimalist living!

What Is a Minimalist?

While there is no exact definition of minimalism, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists define it as “freedom.” Nicodemus and Millburn, who created the documentary Minimalism, believe that minimalism has no specific rules or standards, but that it’s a willingness to start becoming rich on experiences, not belongings. Other notable minimalists like Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist and Leo Babauta of Zen Habits agree that minimalism is about pursuing passions and having fewer possessions.

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What Are the Benefits of Being a Minimalist?

Why do people become minimalists? There are several benefits of minimalism, including:

  • Improve Quality of Life: Embracing minimalism helps you better understand what you value in life, and it gives you a way to create space for those values, which can help you improve your overall well-being.
  • Declutter Your Home: Adopting a minimalist lifestyle allows you to cut back on the amount of material possessions you have in your home, which means you won’t have to clean and organize as often.
  • Save Money: By cutting down on unnecessary purchases, you’ll find that you can alleviate some of your financial stress and even save money for the things that actually matter in your life.
  • Free Up Time: When you’re not having to worry about finances, buying more things, or cleaning and decluttering your home on a regular basis, you get more time for the activities you care about.
  • Live More Sustainably: Because minimalism is all about placing value on experiences and not things, you can become a more conscious consumer and reduce the amount of waste you create.

How to Start Living a Minimalist Lifestyle

Ready to give the lifestyle a try? From changing your attitude to decluttering your home, follow these steps to become a minimalist and live a more intentional life!

Begin with One Aspect of Your Life

Woman sitting on cliff in Havasupai. Photo by Instagram user @braybraywoowoo

Photo via @braybraywoowoo

You don’t have to give away all of your belongings and buy a tiny home to adopt a minimalist philosophy! Maybe your journey with minimalism starts with cleaning out your closet. Or perhaps it begins with letting go of toxic relationships. It could also mean learning to purchase fewer things. While minimalism can be applied to every aspect of your life—from cleaning to relationships—pick just one area to get started!

Determine Necessities

Woman writing in notebook. Photo by Instagram user @ramonaandruth

Photo via @ramonaandruth

What can you not live without? Making a mental or physical note of your favorite clothing, decorations, and household items is a simple step toward minimalism. Stop getting hung up on what you “should” keep. It’s easy to let an unwanted gift from an aunt collect dust, but if you’re never going to use it, and it doesn’t bring you joy (as the KonMari Method encourages), it’s time to say goodbye. Take inventory of what you actually want and need in your ideal life. The 100 Things Challenge is a great place to start!

Get Rid of Excess Clutter

After you’ve determined what’s necessary to keep, it’s time to purge physical clutter. Follow this guide to learn how to declutter your home! Once you know what to get rid of, consider donating household items. Need some emotional support while getting rid of sentimental items? Listen to this TEDx Talk on The Art of Letting Go.

Reduce Technology Usage

Man looking at smart phone near window. Photo by Instagram user @calllogic

Photo via @calllogic

One of the easiest ways to get quality time back in your day is spending less of it staring at a screen! Apps like Social Fever can help you monitor how much time you’re spending on social media. Unsubscribing from emails, clearing out old files on your desktop, and deleting seldom-used apps from your phone are all great ways to start learning how to live a simple life.

Prioritize Relationships

Just as minimalism calls for people to reevaluate their attachment to material possessions, this belief also applies to personal relationships. Determine which relationships mean the most to you and identify the ones that might be emotional clutter. Your time and emotional energy is incredibly valuable, so make sure you’re maximizing it by spending quality time with family and friends you can’t live without.

Make a Budget

Budget planner. Photo by Instagram user @miorastudio

Photo via @miorastudio

A minimalist lifestyle can also be applied to your finances! By choosing to value items less, you can put more money back in your pocket. By only buying what you need, you’ll free up funds for more experiences. Finding ways to save more can eventually lead to working less! Try the 50/20/30 Rule to getting your financials in order.

Try It While You Travel

Packing lighter can help you give minimalism a test run! Not only will this save you from extra baggage fees if you’re flying, but minimalist travel will help you see how little you truly need to have an amazing trip as well.

How to Maintain a Minimalist Lifestyle

Becoming a minimalist minimalist is a process! Try these tips if you’re looking for ways to dive in deeper with decluttering your life and shifting your attitude.

Set a Decluttering Schedule

Maintaining minimalism is a continual dance. Doing one major purge of your belongings won’t be enough. Set a schedule to declutter your home each season or every month, depending on what works best for your family. Here’s a tip: Prevent acquiring excess by donating or selling something when you buy something new!

Think Before You Buy

How can you live minimally for more than just a few months? Change your buying habits! Only purchasing what you need means you could be done with decluttering forever. Before you buy an item, think about if you’ll still need or want it in a year. If the answer is no, don’t make the purchase in the first place.

Embrace a Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule wardrobe on hanging rack. Photo by Instagram user @sopranoknits

Photo via @sopranoknits

Declutter your closet and save time by building a capsule wardrobe. If you’re tired of buying new fashion each season, permanently simplify your outfit options by sticking to a few essential items you can mix and match.

Invest in Quality Items

The key to minimalist organization is having less to organize! Furniture, kitchenware, clothing, and toys are a few examples where opting for less means you can invest in higher quality products. Rather than buying four new pairs of jeans, save up for one sturdy pair that will last longer. Instead of buying lots of decorations for your home, spend your money on a few objects that really showcase your style!

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Use Your Favorite Belongings as Decor

Decorate your space, as well as create a home for items, by using your material possessions as decor! Minimalist design can be as simple as utilizing what you already have. Hats, jewelry, and other eye-catching accessories can be stored on the wall to add some personal touches to your home.

Consider Downsizing Your Home

Studio apartment in NYC. Photo by Instagram user @rikkisnyder

Photo via @rikkisnyder

After living a minimalist life for a while, you may find yourself wanting to make a major change. If you live in a house that’s too big, downsizing to a condo could be right for you. Maybe renting a studio apartment is the best solution so you have more funds to travel! Downsizing your home can be a major adjustment if you’re used to having a lot of room, so be sure to explore these tips for small-space living.

Now that you know how to become a minimalist, are you ready to give minimalism a try? Simplify your life today with the ideas above! Need more inspiration? Read about how Stacie Lucas of San Francisco, Daniel Paguaga of Miami, and Kat Waldrip of Austin downsized their lives to pursue their passions!


Need a place to store belongings while downsizing or transitioning into minimalism? Extra Space Storage has convenient locations across the country! Find available storage units near you!

Your Guide to Minimalism