Minimalism
Minimalism

The Minimalism Jump Start

Last Updated on May 7, 2020 by Alex

The minimalism jump start is a way to quickly gain some momentum in developing a minimalist lifestyle that works for you.

When it comes to gaining energy, changing your mindset and launching you in a new, more authentic and fulfilling direction in life, there is nothing more powerful than adopting minimalism. 

While there is no universal standard of what constitutes a minimalist household or life, you can use this widely accepted definition of minimalism by The Minimalists to guide in developing your own approach:

“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom.”

Minimalism isn’t just about ridding ourselves of stuff, as important as that is, but of “life’s excess.”

By definition excess makes us unhappy. It bloats, distracts and isn’t healthy. 

Our lives may be cluttered up by worry and stress as well as things we don’t need. 

We may have lots of acquaintances who take up inordinate amounts of time though we would be much better off being with true friends and having more solitude. 

Often people have cluttered homes, fall into the trap of mindless consumerism, pile up debt and stress and anxiety in a perpetual motion machine of unhappiness. 

That is the ugly monster to apply the minimalist jump start on.

Step 1: Envision Your Minimalism

Minimalism has to serve you so it has to tailed to you—your mind, values, problems and aspirations. 

The first step the minimalism jump start is to develop a vision of a better life through minimalism for you. This need not take long. 

Close your eyes, picture yourself with a clear mind feeling happy, carefree, loving, engaged, full of energy and focused. Now look around that version of you—what do you see? 

Do you live in the same apartment or house? If not, have you moved into a tiny house? A penthouse apartment? A cabin in the woods?

What have you let go from your life? Do you own just 100 items, like some minimalists? Do you have a large library but a small wardrobe? Have you let go of people or a job? What was superfluous?

What is left over? What are the essentials for you?

Step 2: Get Rid of the Junk

This is an essential step in the minimalism jump start—it’s the low hanging fruit that will help you immediately feel freer and confident that this journey has begun.

Everyone’s house or apartment is full of actual junk. Stuff that is broken, that doesn’t work, that is torn or otherwise no longer useful. 

I mean, most people have a lot of this stuff. Old batteries. An electric shaver that hasn’t worked right in years. Old paperwork stuffed into a drawer or box that will never serve a purpose again. 

Get a box or a large trash bag and go room by room, closet by closet and pull out the actual junk. The old clothes that no longer fit. The single socks. The bedsheet with the tears in them. 

You want to gather all this stuff in one place so that you can see it all together. Look at this pile of useless stuff that you have been holding onto, and that has been a drag on your psyche.

Now recycle and give away what you can and throw out the rest.

Minimalism

Step 3: Apply the Six Month Test

The minimalism jump start will really begin to pay off when you go through your house a second time, locating items that are not junk but also no longer in use.

In minimalist circles some version of the six month test (or rule) is almost universally popular. It states that if you have not used an item either one or two times in the past six months it is time for it to go. 

You decide if one or two uses works better for you, but then apply the rule ruthlessly.

You will almost certainly come across items that you won’t want to let go us. That amazing juicer that you bought three years ago and used three times in the first three days, and never since. You’re going get back to juicing, definitely, for sure, some day.

Right. But it’s understandable that you are going to have a hard time with some items—so take them out, put them in a second pile next to the pile of things you are having less trouble letting go. This is your first maybe pile. 

For most people there are going to be a lot of items that fail the six month test. If you can see this is going to be a big job, go room by room. Do one room each day until you’re through the whole house. 

Some of the things you are going to get rid of have financial value—that’s great. Put them on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or put a flyer up in your church basement. Get as much money as you can from valuable items that no longer have a use for you. 

Step 4: Keep the Momentum Going

You’ve created a vision, have gotten rid of a pile of junk and have made some hard decisions about perfectly functional items that you no longer use or need. This is a huge accomplishment. Your minimalism jump start is almost complete. 

Now you need to keep going—you need to get serious. What to do? 

  1. Start plugging the minimalist message into your life. I find that the more minimalist podcasts, YouTube videos and blogs I expose myself to, the more enthusiasm and ideas I have. It keeps the process going and deepens my understanding.
  2. Make a room-by-room decluttering plan. Maybe the bathrooms will be easiest to start with, or maybe you want to go with your bedroom or the kitchen. Whatever order you go in, give yourself a certain period of time for each room and then get busy, and don’t stop until you are done. That period of time may be a day, a week or a month. Whatever works for you and is realistic. Just make sure you don’t drag it out unnecessarily.
  3. Go back to your vision and start decluttering the other parts of your life that you know are overflowing with excess.  Perhaps you have too many subscriptions, or too many social commitments, or too many projects at work. Start letting go and freeing up time, energy and money.

Final Thoughts

Minimalism brings to mind beauty, harmony, simplicity. The essentials, nothing more. Minimalism brings joy and well-being, and it has a way of extending itself into all domains of life. 

After the minimalism jump start you will be well prepared for a journey that will take some time. In fact, while that vision you were asked to create is static in the sense of being a picture, the reality is that minimalism is an ongoing process. So it’s absolutely essential to enjoy it every step of the way. You can’t help but enjoy it because it will bring a feeling of freedom and choice. In time you will gain control over much more than just the stuff in your life.

Hi, I'm Alex. I’ve been working since the age of 12, have had over 30 jobs in my life, and have been a professor for over 20 years teaching environmental studies. During that time I’ve consulted for governments around the world as well as UN agencies and the European Union, have published poetry and short stories. I’ve been married, divorced and married again, and have four incredible children, and I am a long time student of Tibetan Buddhism. I’m deeply interested in how to navigate change in a constantly changing world and how to optimize our lives for happiness, well-being and growth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.