Minimalism: Where Do I Start?

When people learn about our aspirations towards minimalism, the first thing they almost always ask is, "Okay. Where do I start? What should I throw out first?"

Though their heart is in the right place, the real heart of minimalism isn't actually about getting rid of things... or even things at all! Yes, it's about owning less, but that looks different to each of us. The answer their question of where to start, is more of a defining nature.

Where do you feel there is excess in your life?
Can you even recognize it?

Do you feel like you're always, always cleaning?
Are you forever picking things up in the house?
Is your work draining and causing you to have very little steam left for your family at the end of the day?
Do you feel burdened by financial issues or debt?
Are you barely getting by and feeling as though there's never enough money?
Are you constantly at various functions for your kids, work, community?
Do you fill your plate too full (literally and figuratively)?
Do you feel like you're constantly playing catch-up with your basic life to-dos?
Are you just spread too thin and can never seem to spend time on the things you truly enjoy?

The excess in your life could be tangible or not. It could be the excess of your mind's constant to-do list. It could be the excess from your job stresses. The looming bill you're having trouble paying. The many times a week you eat out because you don't have time to cook or grocery shop. On and on...

I talk to friends who just don't seem like they even have time to take a breath. They're tired. They're stressed. They're weary.

And don't get me wrong, sometimes that's just part of a season. "Busy" can be a short term thing. In fact, I'd say that right now, we're in one of those seasons. We have work, engagements we're committed to, trips to plan and go on, an endless to-do list, and appointments to make. Unfortunately none of these things can "give" and we have to just muddle through, but I know there will be slower seasons to come. However, I can tell you most assuredly, that having less home to deal with, and less stuff to clean or organize or use, makes even the busiest of seasons far less weary.

So to answer your question... where should you start?
Start practicing minimalism by...

1. Deciding where your excess lies.

Excess can look so different from one person to the next. Start by looking at the activities you do or things you own.
Working full-time? Raising kids? Kids in activities? Volunteering? Going to every social gathering you're invited to? Leading everything and anything you're asked to head-up? Taking on projects or tasks you can't really dedicate to? Working too much? Keeping a large house in order? Hosting all the time? The sight of your cluttered garage or closet is giving you anxiety? Don't think, just answer - what is pushing you over the edge?
It's essentially up to you, but just figuring out what it is that causes you to feel overdrawn will be the first freeing step of many. It doesn't have to be something big. It could be as small as feeling stressed every time you open your overstuffed pantry.
When we moved to Georgia, I was feeling disheartened by the workforce I had been in previously and I didn't want more of the same. So, I chose a riskier route, and because of my choice to work from home instead of pursuing a career in the corporate world, I've had the freedom to travel, create my own hours, host often, not have to drive in the insane traffic (saving me boatloads of time!), and spend lots of time with my husband. It wasn't the easier route by any means, but it removed the excess that burdened me, and instead gave me the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship.

2. Figure out how to pare down.

Think about these things, and I mean really think about them. Which of these things could you pare down in some way? Could you go to part-time work if the financials allowed it? Could some of the activities your kids are involved in be pared down to one activity per kid? Would downsizing your home or investing in a cleaning service take that off your plate? Could you ask others to host the next time there's a get-together? Could you take a weekend to re-organize and purge your kitchen - even just a few drawers or cabinets?
Break those seemingly big tasks into smaller ones. Get creative with solutions that work for you, but get out of your comfort zone.
If you can't seem to let things go, have a friend or relative help you put things in keep, donate, and toss piles. If you can't quit your job or go part-time, what can you let go of to create more time for yourself or your family? Can you hire a sitter every other week for a couple of hours so you can get dinner with your spouse? Can you split up the housework more evenly with your family so you can spend more time being together? Can you say no to the next volunteer opportunity until work slows down? Can you start ordering your groceries online and simply pick them up to save you the time? (This is a free service at a lot of places these days).

Now, this is just the start, friends. It doesn't have to be earth shattering, and you don't have to make it difficult or overthink it. Simply look over your current state, define what is important to you, figure out what's keeping you from those things, and remove or pare down those excesses over time. I'll get into other steps and tips to help you live simply and minimally in future posts, but for now, I hope you've got an idea of how to begin.

And if there is anything specifically regarding minimalism that you're curious about, drop me a comment, message me on Facebook, or contact me - I'd love to hear your questions!