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Minimalism Tips for beginners - Written for us by Molly from @hippyhighlandliving

Minimalism tips for beginners

Minimalism snuck up on me.  I didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly yearn for clear surfaces and white walls.  It was a gradual process.  Yet, now I am a minimalist, I couldn’t imagine living any other way.

Two years ago, I started stumbling across the word minimalism more and more on my social media.  Intrigued, Iended up down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos and was enchanted by the simplicity of minimal living.  It felt like a natural fit for me.  As an environmentalist, who works for a wildlife conservation charity, I am passionate about reducing my impact on our natural world.  Living minimally would mean less consumption.  An idea that I found instantly appealing.  


Phot
o Molly with Puffin – ‘One of my favourite jobs as a wildlife conservationist was monitoring pufflings, which is the adorable name for puffin chicks!’

Minimalism has brought an immense sense of peace into my life.  I’d recommend it to everyone.  So today, I thought I would share a few valuable and practical tips on how to start your own minimalist journey.  Let the decluttering begin!

Declutter with intention

Looking back, I made so many mistakes when I started decluttering my possessions.  I would charge, rather overexcited, from room to room, picking up random possessions here and there, not really thinking about why I was choosing to discard them.  The best tip I can give you is, before you declutter any items, make a plan.

I got some of my best tips on decluttering from tidying expert and author Mari Kondo.  Mari recommends that we should declutter by category, rather than by room. It’s common for items under the same category to be scattered around our homes, which makes it difficult to grasp how much we actually have.  Bringing items together provides a better overview.  It also gives the added shock factor when you realise how much you own.  I remember the horror I felt the first time I laid out all my clothes on my bed.  It increased my decluttering motivation massively!

It is important that you make informed decisions as you declutter.  This stops you holding on to those ‘just in case’ items that, in reality, serve you no purpose.  Mari recommends asking yourself whether an item ‘sparks joy’ with you.  This is always my fall-back question, but I also like to consider:

- How often an item is realistically used?  If its less than once a month, its usually out.
- Is there a better way to fulfil this items purpose?  For instance, I gave up multiple pairs of flawed walking shoes to invest in one good quality pair that works far better for my lifestyle.
- Do I want to hold onto this item going forwards?  Our life’s change regularly so, even if an item brought value once, this may fade over time.  Don’t hold on to items that no longer serve you.

This process can feel overwhelming and takes time, but you will get there!  Trust me, the sense relief once this first declutter is finished is very worth it.  

Effective storage

Let me tell you a secret.  Most of the time, when people lament over their ineffective storage, this is not the problem.  The real problem is, you have too much stuff.

On the flip side, the more storage you have, the more tempted you will be to fill it.  It’s easy to accumulate items when you can stash them away in multiple junk draws.  As you declutter, you may find yourself with empty furniture.  This is a good thing!  Remember, if you no longer require a piece of furniture, then declutter it.  

It can be really useful to store your items by category.  Again, this means you can keep on top of how many items you actually own and prevent you from buying excess or duplicates.  If you store your items effectively, you should be able to assess what you have with one glance.  This can include folding your clothes using the Mari Kondo method(lots of YouTube tutorials for this), so that all your clothing is stored upright in draws.  Or using glass containers in your pantry, so its quick and easy to know what you have.  Its an incredibly satisfying process and also means that you are far less likely to lose items!


Photo folded clothes
– ‘My capsule trousers and skirtcollection, folded using Mari Kondo’s method

Unbuy items

This is a term I picked up from another blogger (‘A small wardrobe) and I love it.  It means taking your time when discarding items, so that you reduce waste as far as possible.  Try and be intentional about finding new homes for your unwanted possessions.  It can be tempting to just throw everything into bags and drop them at charity shops, but these often end up unsold and in landfill.

If your items are of good quality, then you could try selling them.  There are lots of options for this online, with eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Depop and Vinted being some of my favourites.  There are some sites where you can advertise unwanted items for free, like Freecycle.  You could also offer items to friends and family members, but make sure they actually want them!

As well as this being more sustainable, unbuying items takes more effort so may make you think twice before bringing in new items.  You won’t want to go through this process all over again!

Look after your possessions

After you have been through the decluttering process, you should only be surrounded by items that bring real joy.  Its important to look after these items, to prevent the need to replace them.

I take particular pride in maintaining my capsule wardrobe.  I am intentional in how I store clothing, i.e. never hangingknitwear as this can stretch out of shape.  I am fastidious in following the washing recommendations and even hand wash my most delicate items.  

I also take the time to repair any snags or tears in my clothing, rather than letting them grow so that they become unwearable.  In our throwaway culture, it can be tempting to just replace ‘broken’ items, but repairing items is often a lot simpler that you think.  Do a little research and really care for your possessions.  Allow them to continue to spark joy.


Photo
sewing – ‘I find mending my clothes to be such a mindful activity.’

Set buying rules

After decluttering, the last thing you want to do is to fill up your home all over again.  But consumption can be a difficult habit to break.  I would start with removing temptation as far as possible.  Stop shopping recreationally and unsubscribe or unfollow brands that bombard you with enticing sales announcements.

The goal isn’t to eliminate shopping, but to instead be more intentional with your purchases.  I ask myself a series of questions before purchasing new items, to include

Is this the item I came out to buy?
Does it fit my desired intention perfectly?
If its a sale item, would I buy it full price?
Do I have another item at home that could fulfil this purpose?
Can I return this easily?
Can I dispose of this sustainably at the end of its life/when I no longer need it?
If I don't buy this item, what could I use my money for instead?

If the item passes all of these questions, then I’m good to go!

Final thoughts

I’m not exaggerating when I say that minimalism has radically changed my life.  So much so that I am now living my dream of building a tiny home to live in within the Scottish Highlands.  Minimalism has not only reduced my possessions so that this is realistic, it also significantly increased my ability to save money so that I am now able to fund my own home.


Photo
Molly with tiny house – ‘I’m very excited about our tiny home build adventure’

It’s important to note that minimalism isn’t a destination, but rather a lifestyle change.  I still declutter regularly and have detox ‘no-buy’ weeks or months to remain on track.  Starting this process will always be the most difficult part, nothing is as much effort as your first declutter!  I hope this has provided you with some inspiration and perhaps you will consider including minimalism into your own life.  You may be surprised where it leads….

 

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