Ever since I started travelling with carry-on bags only, I’ve become a bit of a minimalist.
And by ‘minimalist’ I mean I don’t like having ‘stuff’ for the sake of having it. I’d rather have fewer things and cherish them more, than liking a lot of stuff only little bit, or not at all. I used to be this way with Facebook friends too — I had a 300 friend maximum limit, but that went out the door (as you may remember from this post).
Why am I am minimalist advocate?
1. Excess stuff drags you down — physically AND emotionally.
Don’t believe me? You know that nice ‘light’ feeling you have when you walk into your kitchen or bedroom and everything is beautiful, clean and clutter-free? And by contrast, when you walk into a room and things are a mess, you can barely see the carpet and there is stuff stacked everywhere, you feel claustrophobic and that you can’t think clearly? That’s emotional drag right there. Personally, I can’t work in a messy space.
2. When you adopt a minimalist approach, you find you need less stuff.
The more you have, the more you want. When you seek happiness and gratification in things, you can never be satisfied with what you’ve got. When you decide to only keep what you really need and use, your desire for more stuff goes out the window, and you learn to be happy with what you have.
3. It saves you time, money and energy.
When you have less stuff, you spend less time searching for things. Less time trying to figure out what to wear. Less time out shopping for new things. You also spend less. AND you have less anxiety about finding things, what to wear, what to buy, where to buy it, how much it costs, etc.
How I apply minimalism to my life
Having fewer clothes to choose from makes it easier for me to get dressed in the morning, as I have fewer decisions to make. Plus, it means I don’t go out mindlessly buying new clothes. Before I make a purchase, I think very carefully about what outfits it will go with. If it only works with one outfit, I don’t buy it. Being minimal with my wardrobe saves me stress, time AND money (oh, and it makes it really easy when moving house).
When I travel
I take only the bare minimum, but I make sure every clothing item matches with everything else. And if I buy anything on the road, I eliminate something else, which makes me think really hard about buying that new thing.
I don’t check in bags, so I don’t waste time waiting at the baggage carousel. Moving around is easier (no heavy suitcase to drag around), and I save money ‘cos I don’t have to pay for checked bags.
I’m also minimalist about my itinerary. I don’t try to cram multiple cities into the same number of days. I prefer to spend more time in fewer places, and really enjoy the time I spend without having to rush around to catch the next bus/plane/train to the next city I’ll only get a glance at before moving on again.
When I work
I have a minimal workspace. All I need is a laptop, phone and an A5 notepad. I work at a flexi-desk and from cafes; I don’t have a set office. Yes, I do need recording equipment for the podcast, but I leave that at home and record from home.
Want to bring some minimalism into your life?
If you’re ready to shed some of your excess baggage and clutter, a general rule I learned from Marie Kondo, author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is to place your hands on each item and ask yourself: “Is this useful? Do I love it? Does it spark joy?” And if it doesn’t answer any of those questions, get rid of it!
She also says to thank each unwanted item “for its service”. Instead of thinking about what you’re ‘losing’ by getting rid of it, think instead about how it’s served you, and how it will now go on to serve someone else. And then give it away, donate it, sell it on Gumtree or whatever. You may feel anxious at the start, but once you get going, it gets easier.
And don’t feel like you have to purge everything at once. Start with your wardrobe, or your bathroom (do you have dozens of half-used moisturiser bottles?) or the old bottles of stale spices in the kitchen. And if you find yourself going “I totally forgot I had this!” or “I don’t know why we even have this!” you’ll know you’re doing the right thing. Why do you need that crap in your life?
For example, Aaron and I did a massive declutter of the kitchen over the weekend, and he found a kitchen device that turns egg and bacon into a roll. I have no idea why he has it, but it was a one-use appliance that he’s literally used once. It had to go.
We got rid of a tonne of unused stuff, and now I do a double take whenever I walk past the kitchen. It looks amazing! And now we have space for a small dining table, which I am really excited about.
It may seem like a small thing, but there’s something special, empowering and liberating about being ‘free’ from all your unused, excess crap. I highly recommend you start your decluttering journey today :)
If you need some more inspiration, check out The Minimalists podcast and blog (they have 4 million readers!) for ideas on how to make decluttering less painful. They also share a bunch of lessons on how adopting a minimalist approach to life will help you feel happier, less anxious and more abundant.