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What Is A Minimalist Lifestyle? (And 11 Tips To Simplify)

A minimalist lifestyle is about being grateful for what you have. It’s knowing that more possessions aren’t going to make you any happier.

It’s about making do with what you have. And it’s about embracing less – right now.

Though it’s not always easy to simplify your life when your calendar is packed and your home is filled with clutter. It’s hard to know where to start – and how to make changes that really last.

I’ve been living a slower and simpler life for decades – and I’ve had plenty of trials and errors.

And this is my ultimate guide to practical steps you can take now towards more freedom and less anxiety.

Minimalist lifestyle tips:

1. Turn off your phone

A woman in a bright red sweater puts a smartphone into her pocket. A digital detox is one of the best minimalist lifestyle tips.

Limiting your screen time (whether that’s TV, smartphone or laptop) is the single most powerful change you can make towards a minimal life.

Yes, you have to check your email for work. But it’s all too easy to get sucked in and spend hours online telling yourself that it’s your time to unwind.

In reality screen time is anything but calming – and it actually increases anxiety and makes it harder to concentrate.

You probably don’t realize just how many hours you spend scrolling. And awareness is the first step towards curbing your screen time.

Check your online time stats in apps like Instagram and TikTok. And you’ll probably be surprised how those hours add up.

Then do a digital detox and observe how being offline makes you feel. It won’t be easy at first, but you’ll soon experience a drop in your stress and anxiety. And you’ll get hours of spare time you didn’t even know you had.

2. Forget the aesthetics

A table full of framed pictures and potted plants stands against a bright yellow ochre wall.

Don’t get caught up in the aesthetics of the minimalist movement.

Your home doesn’t have to be stacked with neutrals and well-labelled jars. You can embrace color in your home decor and still be a minimalist.

A beige and grey aesthetic is really just another trend – and often (ironically) a marketing tool to get you to shop for minimalist essentials.

The aesthetic is designed to get you shopping to replace all your mismatched accessories with shiny new neutrals.

It’s a great idea to declutter and simplify your space. But you don’t have to buy into that neutral beige aesthetic.

3. Practice gratitude

A woman in a grey sweater writes in a journal with a cup of coffee on a desk in the distance.

Start a gratitude journal and count your everyday blessings.

Remember what you have instead of comparing your life to social media feeds and movies.

Gratitude is a powerful tool that helps curb your spending, lowers your anxiety and makes you happier and less anxious.

When you’re grateful for what you have, you’re less likely to spend money you don’t have to fill a void or boost your self-esteem.

4. Buy quality

A row of cacti in terracotta pots stands on a table against a grey wall.

Invest in well-made items that will last for years but realize that quality doesn’t always have to cost more.

A time-proven sweater from a thrift store (that’s held up well despite its age) is a better investment than a new piece from a greenwashed brand.

Do invest in quality, but don’t fall for that marketing lie that says it has to be pricey.

You don’t have to “invest” in quality “timeless” pieces.

Those are often just catch phrases about overpriced items that are made in the same factories as their cheaper counterparts.

5. Get a library card

A woman in a beige sweater lays on a bed with blue sheets reading a thriller novel.

A library card lets you read widely and try new genres without adding to your overflowing bookshelves.

You’re also far less likely to get stuck with a book you don’t enjoy. And you can dive into different interests without buying an entire new collection of books.

Use books, magazines and art albums as your main source of entertainment.

Put your phone away for an evening and flip through some slow living magazines. Follow your interests and read about whatever inspires you – not what you feel you should be reading.

Reading more books increases your attention span, lowers your anxiety and serves as a meditation that does wonders for your mental health.

6. Declutter in sessions

Piles of plates with bits of fruit and silverware lay cluttered on a white counter.

Keep your home organized and clutter-free with regular decluttering sessions.

Piles of disorganized junk cause physical stress and anxiety. And nobody functions well in an environment filled with ill-fitting clothes, broken appliances and useless knick knacks.

But don’t get carried away in the pursuit of that minimalist aesthetic.

Clutter is bad. But it’s OK to surround yourself with beautiful objects, colors and collections.

A minimalist lifestyle doesn’t have to mean a sparse and monastery-like home.

William Morris once said, ”Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

And we all have different tastes and definitions of beauty. So make your home truly yours – and not an imitation of the minimalist trend.

7. Use storage baskets

Three different straw baskets lay on a neutral counter.

Keep your home clutter-free and store away all non-essential items you don’t use everyday.

The more breathable your home feels, the less anxious you’ll feel.

Storage baskets are a great first step to getting rid of items.

Storage lets you put items aside for awhile with the security of knowing they’re still there if you need them. And you can donate or get rid of those items later when you find that you don’t miss them.

8. Buy experiences not things

A museum with dark purple walls displays rows and rows of classical landscape paintings and portraits.

Whether it’s birthday gifts or Christmas presents, give your loved ones tickets to experiences instead of material gifts.

It’s easy to go wrong with gifts – especially if they’re bought in a rush.

But you can’t really go wrong with museum tickets, memberships to a botanical garden or spa vouchers. These activities are a great way to spend more quality time with loved ones.

9. Don’t spend above your means

A woman in a yellow ochre sweater types on a laptop that rests on a dark wooden desk.

Don’t spend what you don’t have to give off the illusion of success.

Peer pressure can be immense to own a big car, designer handbag or the latest smartphone.

If you carry around an outdated phone and generic handbag, you’ll be seen as out of touch. Friends and family might even scorn when you decide to go more minimal.

That’s why it’s important to have like-minded friends and to surround yourself with supportive people who don’t judge you based on your possessions.

This means setting new boundaries and distancing yourself from people who regard friendship as a competition.

10. Be yourself

A woman in a rich yellow sweater is embraced by a pair of hands from behind her.

Cultivate self-awareness to give you clarity on what you value in life.

Pursue your passions and stop spending money just to keep up with social expectations.

When you really accept yourself, it doesn’t really matter what others think of your lifestyle.

Though it’s not always easy to get to that level of self-acceptance. Practice self-care, be kind to yourself and do plenty of gratitude journaling to keep things in perspective.

11. Build a capsule wardrobe

A woman with dark red hair wears a peach sweater standing against a backdrop of bright greenery.

Don’t waste another morning digging through piles in your closet trying to find something to wear.

A well-curated capsule wardrobe gives you time-tested basics that work in countless combinations.

Though the capsule wardrobe concept has also turned into a cliche that’s all about aesthetics.

If you scroll Pinterest boards looking for inspiration, you’ll be convinced you need a striped t-shirt, a beige trench and black ballerina flats to complete your capsule wardrobe.

But that simply isn’t true.

You don’t have to wear items that aren’t your style.

Life-changing talks on minimalism

A calm landscape painting and a vase of white roses stand on a wooden shelf against a peach colored wall.

If you’re looking for inspiration to start your minimalist lifestyle, read 16 Incredible TED Talks On Minimalism (That Will Change Your Life) for an ultimate list of speeches that will change your life.

From decluttering your space to finding your life’s purpose, these TED talks will give you powerful new perspectives to change your outlook on simple living.

Simple living quotes

simple living

From decluttering and gratitude to managing time and controlling your social media, read 57 Life-Changing Simple Living Quotes (To Inspire You) for some great reminders on the power of simple living.

Jot them down in your favorite journal whenever you need to re-align your values or get more inspiration to simplify.

More resources:

8 Must-Read Slow Living & Minimalism Blogs

18 Simple Living Tips (That Will Transform Your Life)

16 Essential Tips For Slow Living in the City