Minimalizing Your Life - Not Just Your Closet
But start with your closet...
Of course purging all of your crap is important and in fact you should start with your closet. You should donate everything you do not absolutely need for survival or for inspiration. My best friend pointed out to me that your closet represents your life, and she's right. If you want a life that is filled with only your priorities and no excess that will waste your time then you need to make sure your closet represents that. Mine is a little extreme and represents my perfectionist personality since all of my clothes are color coordinated, and then further coordinated by style of clothing. This is not difficult for me to organize though, because I only have the clothes that I wear every day in my closet. My friend's closet on the other hand is the exact opposite where clothes are just lucky to be hung up in the first place and it is full of things she never wears, but won't donate. If you start your minimalist experiment with your closet then you can set up the rest of your life to follow suit.
Organized clutter is still clutter, so get rid of it.
Now move onto the important things...
Most likely once you have started with your closet you have probably found that now your whole house has been purged because it's so addicting to watch negative space in your house emerge. I do not want this entire post to revolve around how to minimize your stuff. Like I said, if you do not find inspiration or need it to survive, donate it. Use this as your first step to taking control of your life and being a badass. With that out of the way we can move onto the important things... minimizing your life.
Minimalism is not about having less, it's about making room for more of what matters
Start with your email...
This is a giant task for many people, especially those who constantly have 1,000 unread messages. This might take you an entire day, and that's totally fine, I promise you it will be worth it. You need to move every single email that is junk into your junk folder so you stop getting emails from them. This will cut the amount of emails you get by at least half.
Next you need to make folders to organize your email. Again, organizing clutter still means you have clutter in your life, so junk as much as you can. My labels are receipts, subscriptions, student loans, other bills, and graduate school. If I get an email that does not fit my 5 labels then I have to deal with it as soon as it comes into my inbox. To create a label simply click on your labels tab - and create new. P.S. If you already have a bunch out out dated labels, delete them and all the emails they have in them!
Next, create filters for your labels. Every single receipt I get goes directly into my receipt folder and is there for when I need it and when I'm ready to look at it. Same for all of the other emails that have a label assigned. To create a filter select the mail from your inbox that you want filtered to that label and go to More - Filter messages like these - and it will prompt you through the set up.
Move onto your social media...
Unfollow and unfriend everyone you don't know or are sick of in each of your social media outlets. The less people you follow or friend the less noisy your social media will be and the happier you will become. This does not include linkedin, you need as big of a network there as possible. This can also be a daunting task, but if you take it one outlet at a time I promise it isn't that crazy and quite frankly it feels good to prioritize people. AND TURN OFF YOUR NOTIFICATIONS! You do not need to look at Facebook every time someone likes your post. I do not even have Facebook as an app on my phone because it's a waste of precious time. I also do not have twitter for the same reason.
Also go through your Facebook posts, twitter posts, etc, and rid yourself of anything you have said that does not aid you in the creation of the image you want to be attached to you. You have to always be thinking about your brand and each and every social media post is apart of that brand so go through them with that in mind. One of my vices was Pintrest, I pinned anything I found remotely useful and it was getting out of control, I went and deleted all of my boards and recreated ones that fit my brand. This is super important!
This actually took me a long time. I had to go through old assignments from school and see what papers I wanted to keep or get rid of. Going through pictures took me almost a whole day in itself. Everything I absolutely felt I needed I put in Google Drive so I can never lose it even if something happens to my computer. There is virtually nothing on my computer now and it feels so great! This is an important feat once you complete it. Plus your computer will run so much faster because of all of the new added memory.
The hard part - your schedule...
My motto works for your schedule too. If it isn't going to provide you with inspiration or aid in your survival (such as your job that is paying for your food), or make you a better person then stop allowing it to use precious time. For example, once I cut out watching competitive cooking shows out of my life I suddenly had time to meal prep. Obviously this does not mean cut out all TV, but you definitely need to prioritize your life this way. Say no to people who are asking too much of you and begin to live mindfully.
Make a daily routine to start. Once you have it down you can stray from it, but start out planning your whole day down to the hour. Budgeting your time is extremely important and will help you to be more productive so long as you only spend time on the important things.
Spring clean your schedule, not your stuff.
The happy part - your budget
I'm not a psychopath I understand that budgets aren't usually happy. This one will be different however, I can promise you that. Guess what is about to happen with your budget? It's about to get BIGGER. Want to know why? Because you're about to stop buying crap! Yay! More money in your savings! You just purged your whole house, why would you go out and start buying more stuff to fill it with? That's regression. You're only buying survival items or items you absolutely love and will inspire you.
Really though, you need to sit down and see what you can cut out of your budget. If you're not prioritizing TV then you probably don't need that Hulu subscription and you definitely do not need cable television (although I keep Netflix for sick days when I want to binge watch shows and they have great documentaries). You will listen to more podcasts (that are free) instead of music because that's less time you will have to spend reading about that topic, so you probably don't need Spotify either. Once you realize you do not need so many luxuries you're going to have more money to spend on important things and it'll make you happier!
Other ways to save money and have less stuff: get a library card and check out books (since you should be reading every single day) or movies, they're free and you give them back when you're done, meal prep so you're not eating out and wasting food you let go bad because you didn't prepare it, start a worm composting bin so you don't have to buy fertilizer or waste uneaten food, switch all of your accounts to paperless to save trees and have less mail and while you're doing this you'll see what accounts you can close, and stop going to sale sections of the store unless it's on something you absolutely need to survive (like food).
Side note: Excel has budget templates, you just fill in your amounts and labels and it'll calculate your spending for you!
He who buys what he does not need steals from himself - Swedish Proverb
Tend to your mind like you tend to a garden
Push out the negative vibes from your life like weeds. Are there negative people in your life? Quiet them or push them out. Practice mindfulness. Keep your mind clear of distraction and free from anxiety. If you only allow the good in and push out the bad your mind will be as beautiful as a manicured garden (and I promise you'll sleep more efficiently as well). Read books that will fill you with inspiration and positivity. Practice the art of being content. Yes, our aim is to be happy, but that's not stable and it fluctuates too much to rely on it. Be content with having less stuff and your life in general and it'll keep you from worrying, which means more positivity.
Now bring in the positive vibes
When your house is only full of things you absolutely love, and you're only spending time on things that bring you inspiration, and your not stressed out about money, and your social media life becomes quieter, I promise you the good vibes are going to flow. Your priorities are going to become clear to you because your mind is going to have room to think, plan, and categorize what is important and what is not.
Minimalism is a lifestyle so you need to make sure you're ready for it before you begin this challenge. It will be very overwhelming for you if you keep buying stuff and you keep purging, plus it's a waste of your time. If you're sentimental to your stuff then you need to seek therapy and see why that is because it has been proven to be unhealthy and a side effect of serious trauma. Minimalism is a lifestyle shared by those who have their priorities in check and are usually more successful and happier than their peers living in giant houses full of stuff.