You’ve heard the old adage that “less is more,” but is minimalism really the key to a happy and productive life? While diminishing the stuff in your underwear drawer is a good start, in order to reap all the benefits of minimalism, you must apply it to every area of your life: home, work, and social. In the rush to embrace minimalism, many people have misunderstood what it means. Minimalism isn’t just about physical stuff, and you don’t need to commit to living with practically nothing to practice it.
Think beyond your junk drawer or cluttered nightstand. While it’s certainly important to use minimalism to declutter small spaces, it doesn’t have to end there. You can also apply a minimalistic approach to your to-do list, goals, activities, and relationships. Even your social media accounts can profit from a minimalist makeover.
At its core, minimalism is a way for you to make room for the most important things in your life. It’s no secret that the modern world can feel frantic, cluttered, and overwhelming. By adhering to minimalism principles in your work, home, and social life, you can focus on what matters most. The knowledge that you’re spending your time and energy the way you want to will, in turn, make you less stressed, more productive, and happier.
Minimalism at home
You can apply minimalism to nearly every aspect of your life, but if you’re just getting started, a good place to begin is your home. Take stock of your current living situation, and evaluate it for areas of excess. Where can you cut back?
In practice, minimalism means less of everything. Depending on your situation, that could look like a smaller home, a smaller (or no) car, fewer possessions, and fewer bills. Do you really need Netflix, Hulu, and cable? Is it necessary for you and your partner to both have a car? You can even use the Chinese idea of feng shui to note unneeded furniture.
After conducting your assessment, you’ll likely find at least a few ways to reduce monthly expenses and free up financial resources. With the extra money, you could go on vacation, save for your child’s education, or pay off debt. Instead of spending money on extraneous bills, you can feel good about putting toward something meaningful.
It’s also possible to start small with minimalism at home. Cleaning out your closet and donating old clothes frees up physical space. Then, creating a capsule wardrobe will ultimately free up mental space when you don’t need to spend so much time thinking about what to wear. When you clear your physical environment of clutter, you’re also clearing your head of mental clutter.
Work-life and minimalism
Your minimalist mission doesn’t need to end when you walk out of your front door. Making your workdays clutter-free will significantly impact your happiness and productivity. Who doesn’t want to be less stressed and get more done? Whether at work or school, getting organized is one of the best ways to manage stress. If your schedule has you feeling overwhelmed, look for ways you can apply a minimalist approach to your calendar.
Many people clutter their calendars with busy-work. Between a constant influx of emails and a surplus of meetings, it’s no wonder you have trouble being productive. Because of these frequent distractions, it’s difficult to achieve a state of optimal focus. Even a short interruption affects output.
With that in mind, you should take a critical look at your daily tasks, projects, and goals. Honestly ask yourself which are most valuable and, if possible, eliminate the activities that have the least impact. A task like clearing out your inbox might feel productive, but in the long run, it’s likely distracting you from more important work. What would happen if you answered emails once or twice a day instead of checking it with each new notification?
Furthermore, it’s time to stop multitasking once and for all. Like immediately responding to emails, the practice of multitasking creates the illusion of getting a lot done. In reality, the quality of your work is suffering. For better focus and clarity, single-tasking is a much more efficient use of your energy.
Declutter your social life
As evidenced in your work life, minimalism is about being less busy. You still have things to do, but after getting rid of the non-essential busyness, you are free to focus on what’s most important to you. In terms of your social life, that can mean having time to spend with the people you love or to pursue a hobby that brings you joy.
Minimalism allows you to be more productive, but that doesn’t mean you need to be working all the time. Once you’ve eliminated valueless activities like watching reruns and mindlessly scrolling social media, you have the time and space for activities that will enrich your life. Habits like meditating, exercising, and journaling (to name a few) are good for your well-being and will make you more productive when it is time to work.
If you’re looking to apply minimalism to your social life, one space that’s likely in need of decluttering is your social media. Take stock of the people and accounts you are following. Are there any that make you feel bad about yourself? Applying a minimalist approach to social media can help you resist peer pressure and free you up to live confidently. The same goes for in-person relationships. Purge your social circle of people who don’t uplift you.
For a happy and productive life, minimalism is the key. When you eliminate non-essential and inconsequential items and tasks in your home, work, and social life, you have the physical and mental space to focus on whatever it is that matters most to you.