In a world filled with exclusive email offers, BOGO sales, haul videos and monetized Instagram posts, it’s easy to get wrapped up in buying things that you don’t necessarily need. This is the reason behind, and the complete opposite of, a minimalist lifestyle. Now, to be clear, I’m not advocating radical minimalism. When I talk about a minimalist lifestyle, I’m not talking about downsizing to a 400 square foot micro-home with one plant in the corner. I’m just talking about finding ways to live with less. I’ve become a lot happier as I’ve started following these concepts, and when I talk to other people, I know that it makes a difference for them too. So, if you give this minimalism thing a try, I hope you’ll notice that there’s a difference in your overall happiness too.
Quantity vs Quality
When you’re making a buying decision, always think about quantity versus quality. Quantity means you’re buying something because it’s cheap or replaceable, and you can buy a lot of it for a little. Quality means you’re buying something that will probably cost you more at the beginning but will last you much longer. That long-term investment, that’s what minimalism means to us—buying for quality and keeping it for a really long time. I’ll give you an example. I had an old knife. It was a terrible knife. It couldn’t cut anything, but it was my kitchen knife and it was really inexpensive so I could replace it once a year. A number of years back I decided—you know what, for my birthday I’m going to treat myself and I’m going to buy a fabulous chef knife! And that’s exactly what I did, and I’ve had that knife for 4 years now. I take great care of it and I really love it. Yeah, I spent a lot of money on it, but it works great, I can keep it forever, and I’m no longer wasting money and disposing of those cheap knives.
One-Time Use Items
Buying something for one specific purpose can end up not only costing you money, but you also have to store something that you don’t use very often. It’s that “Maybe one day I’ll need that thing” syndrome, and realistically you never end up using it and it just clutters up your space. I’ll give you a perfect example: A couple of years ago, Chad and I joined Lucas and his wife at a cottage that they had rented up north. We had all these grand plans of going out on the lake, so naturally, we bought life jackets. Well, guess what? We’ve had those life jackets in our garage for 2 years now. The kicker? While we were at the cottage, it rained the entire time so we never ended up using them in the first place! Those life jackets are just taking up space, so Chad and I are just going to donate them and move on.
1 In, 2 Out
You’re probably familiar with the 1-in 1-out rule whereby any time you bring something new into the house, you get rid of one item. Essentially you’re performing a 1-for-1 replacement, which helps you net out with no additional clutter. However, if you actually want to reduce the amount of stuff that you have at home, and live that more minimalist lifestyle, Chad came up with a 1-in 2-out rule for minimalism. So, if you pick up a new book, you get rid of two old books. If you get a new pair of jeans, you replace two old pairs with that one new pair. It’s actually a pretty great idea; it really forces you to think before something comes into the house, and the new thing needs to be really great.
Get Rid of Duplicates
We’ve talked about duplicates before, but it’s for a really good reason! The more doubles, triples, quadruples of items that you have, the more clutter you have to deal with. We’re big proponents of this, and it’s something we’re really mindful of on a daily basis. We often come across duplicates and extras of things, so we try and centralize everything and get rid of the ones that aren’t great. Think about things like wine and bottle openers, scissors, pens, screwdrivers… all that kind of stuff. If you have duplicates, pick the best, and get rid of the rest!
The 6 Second Rule
We’ve all heard of the 5-second rule, well, now there’s a 6-second rule for minimalist living. Pick up and item and ask yourself, “Do I need this? Do I use this? Do I love this?”. If after 6 seconds you can’t answer yes to any of those questions, then you probably don’t need that item anymore.
That Hobby Life!
Sometimes we take on hobbies that require us to have items, supplies or equipment. Lucas, a producer here at Clean My Space, used to play hockey. He also lives in a condo so he’s short on space. So he brought us his hockey gear one year and says, “Guys, can you keep my hockey bag for the summer, and I’ll come pick it up when the season starts?”. Well, this was years ago and for whatever reason, he hasn’t played since. Guess what? That hockey equipment is still in our garage. I’ve talked to him about it and he thinks, “Well, if I got rid of the hockey equipment, it would mean that I’d never play hockey again!” The truth is, that’s not the case. There are always options, but storing this type of stuff for years is not the answer! This doesn’t only go for sports gear, think about musical instruments, crafting hobbies, scuba diving or even board games. There are so many hobbies that come with large and/or expensive equipment which we don’t want to part ways with. We have the best of intentions, but we don’t end up using it and it minimalism abhors clutter.
If you want to start living with less, you have to bring less into your home, period. So when you’re out there picking items up, I know it’s easy to get sucked into a BOGO, or a sale, or a combo pack. But stop and really consider what it is that you’re bringing into your home. Do you need all of that stuff? Chad and I for the past few years have been challenging the other person when we’re out shopping, “Are you buying this because you need it, because you like it, or because it’s on sale?”. If the other person irrefutably needs and wants that thing, sure, let’s get it. But I can’t tell you how many times both of us have said, “You know what? I actually don’t need this”, and we just put it down. It’s literally that little pushback, that extra second of critical thought that can make all the difference.