A Quick Start Guide For the Soft-Core Minimalist

Simple desk, minimalist workspace

A Guide To Minimalist Living

Are you starting to become intrigued with the minimalist lifestyle, but don’t know where to start? It might seem as easy as just throwing out all the things that don’t bring you joy, but it’s more than that. Let this guide to minimalist living take you through the easy steps that will help you have a stress free transition into minimalism.

What is Minimalism?

So, we all probably hear this term thrown around all the time, and it’s thrown all over your Instagram and Pinterest pages, but what exactly is it? ts minimalist living doesn’t have a clear cut definition. It essentially starts with realizing you don’t need an abundance of things to fill your life. It’s about living with less, and also doing more with less.

How To Be A Minimalist

It’s tempting to think of minimalism as a “must-do” trend. There’s been so much chatter online, in books, and on podcasts about it lately – it’s seemingly on everyone’s mind. Minimalism is getting maximum exposure! For those new to the concept, it’s also all too easy to peek at any of that material and feel immediately overwhelmed.

Ironically, it’s that overwhelming feeling that is usually what starts people down this path AND is the leading cause of falling right back off. So, let’s approach this differently. Instead of worrying about what minimalism means “out there,” or feeling like we need to adopt an all-or-nothing mentality to get on board, let’s try just dipping a toe in and testing the waters. Feels good, right?

Minimalist inspiration
Photo: Tracy Leigh Morgan

Surround Yourself with the Minimalist Lifestyle.

Enjoy some time learning a bit about what minimalism really represents and looks like in real life. It’s not solely about stark, sleek interiors or capsule wardrobes. It’s about keeping things essential.

Gather up your ideas about what minimalism could look like in your life, and see what the common themes are. Feel where this hits you – what pain point does this research bring up? Forget what everyone’s saying you should do. What helps is getting inspiration, get lost in the gorgeous books, check out a few pins, maybe listen to a podcast or TedTalk, or even check out some more minimilist blogs.

Here are some great blogs that promote doing more with less: 

  • The Minimalists – Josh and Ryan write about what it means to really live a better life by freeing yourself from all the possessions and items that make us seem happy on the surface. Read how they created a simple lifestyle in 21 days!
  • Exile Lifestyle – Colin Wright keeps his life simple and his list of possessions a short one. His closet can fit into a suitcase and he moves to a new country every four months. And what’s even cooler, he lets his readers choose where he goes! If you had the chance, where would you live? Would you let someone else decide where you go?
  • The Minimalist Mom – Rachel and her family made a drastic change to their lifestyle including jobs, possessions, and debt. They paid off $80,000 in debt in just TWO years! This is a great blog to help you ease into a simpler lifestyle, rather than taking a plunge and quitting everything instantly. Reading how Rachel downsized and made it doable for her and her children gives me hope that I can make the changes, too!
  • Mr. Money Mustache – This is one blog that my husband started reading and I can say that it has changed how we manage our finances. In an amazing way. The author retired comfortably at age 30 on a normal income! In a society where we are taught to acquire anything and everything, it’s refreshing to see a family spend less and be happy!
  • Unclutterer. – This is one blog that can motivate you to pack up the unwanted junk! With lists of how to pack or move, tips for organizing the home, and suggestions for products to make your life easier, this blog is a one-stop-shop.

Begin to Learn About Living With Less.

Yep, this is where you already start practicing what you’re going to preach. Instead of trying to boil the ocean of lifestyle areas that need tweaking, identify the one thing that will 1) impact your life in a meaningful way, and 2) give you a quick win. There’s nothing like momentum and success to keep us on the path when trying to make a shift.

Is your pain point a cramped closet, cluttered desk, chaotic mealtime, or an over-scheduled calendar, perhaps? Then, start right there. Don’t fall into the trap that minimalism is an on and off switch; you can use the dimmer.

Simplify your closet with a capsule wardrobe.
Photo: All About Space/Shutterstock

Give Minimalist Meaning

So, if your closet has lost its mind and you’ve not worn half that stuff for eons, then envision what a capsule wardrobe might look like, and start putting together a “draft” version for yourself.Apply a little Marie Kondo, and strip out the things that don’t bring you joy or inspiration. And get real if things are damaged, out of size, or otherwise unwearable now. You’re living now, so prioritize the things that support your life today.

Meal planning & batch cooking can simplify mealtimes
Photo: Stephanie A. Meyer/Project Vibrancy Meals

Take a Minimalism Approach with Technology

Tech can be your best friend or your kryptonite as you approach minimalism. Use it for good, friends.

Try these ideas to help with the transition:

  • Go as paperless as you can. It’s 2019, let’s do this.
  • Lean on apps & digital services that can make your life easier. Struggling with mealtime decisions or spending too much money on take-out? It’s not a sign of defeat to pay someone else to do the meal planning; subscription services like Project Vibrancy Meals (pictured above) can do the heavy lifting for you. Or if money management is one of your Achilles-level pain points, apps like You Need A Budget can be a game-changer.
  • Bonus points: Try a challenge! Most of the minimalist & simple living blogs offer jump-starts by way of simple challenges. Just remember to keep yours focused on your ONE thing and don’t overdo it.

Keep Your Social Media Inspirational

The stress of keeping up often fuels the behaviors that got us into the maximalist, over-spending, stuff-collecting groove to begin with.Instead of endless scrolling through pages on social media that convince you, you need every new gadget and trendy piece of clothing, try checking out some of these Instagram accounts that will put you in a minimal mood.

  1. Sylvie.lsltth: Sylvie shares deliciously simple, monochromatic images of interiors, exteriors and vignettes with a minimal Scandinavian vibe.
  2. Anja Willemsen: Anja posts light and airy images of homes which are filled with lots of great styling ideas.
  3. InHuisEnZo: It’s black and white interiors galore for this Scandinavian Instagram account.
  4. Eliaskrepo: Follow talented photographer Thomas Krepl if you’re looking for minimal landscapes and building exteriors.
  5. Hillehem: For moody, muted images of interiors and the occasional still life, you’ll want to follow Hillehem.

Create a stylish entry way
Photo: Lucia Coppola/Shutterstock

Adopt a New Minimalist Lifestyle Routine

The most effective behavior changes happen when they become almost mindless, like turning on the coffee pot each morning or grabbing your keys before you walk out the door. Once you have your minimalist goal in mind, create a little routine around it that connects the behaviors to the change itself.

So, for instance, if clutter is your bug, start by creating a landing zone for keys, bags, mail, and other papers & detritus that come in the door with you. Make it your new habit to empty your pockets, dig the receipts out of your wallet, drop the change into a jar, leave the keys in a pretty bowl with your sunglasses, and plug in your phone to charge. Boom. You’re on your way to a behavioral baby step that’s directly connected to the everydayness of walking through the door.

Reflect on what’s working…and what’s not.

I love a pen-to-paper journal for this, but use whatever format you prefer. There is little point in pushing for a change when it’s not meeting your needs or is only meeting them part-way.

As with most “lifestyle” practices or approaches, it’s always best to be honest with yourself and take the parts that work, and leave the rest in the dust. There are no martyrs in minimalism…that just wouldn’t be essential or necessary, would it?

As an example, I love my Kindle. I use it each and every day and have since Kindle 1.0 was a thing. But, deep in my heart, I also love books…the smell, the feel of paper, the weight, and certainly the look of them on my bookshelf. So a book-free life is not for me. But I’ve adopted a new mentality towards how I buy books and what I keep around so that it works for my approach.

Quick start guide to soft-core minimalism
Share these ideas on Pinterest! 

At the end of the day, trust yourself to learn the basics, practice a bit, and then tweak what you’ve got to make it work for you. Start simple, get the small win, and keep on easing in.