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How to be a Minimalist

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Minimalist Expert, Natalie Cavener shared simple steps on how to live a minimalist lifestyle. Click here for more information about Natalie.

1. My definition of minimalism and how it has helped me

Minimalism is great because there really isn't one particular way to do it... but as long as it is used as a tool to rid yourself of life's excess- in favor of focusing on what's importantso you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom… it will do exactly that. Don't be afraid of it. It can seem out of reach or intimidating, but once you start applying it… it becomes less and less so.

I personally have been able to achieve a great deal since applying this to my life. I have a routine I can actually stick to, my home -for the most part- stays clean, I became a Realtor at 19 (and still am), I've grown significantly mentally and in my close relationships, I've been able to dance more, hike more, and I have allowed myself room to be the best "me" possible, setting me up for current and future success and happiness.

2. Getting started in your home (simple first steps)

My number one tip: learn to shop for what you need, not what you see. Whenever I make any sort of purchase for my home, I do it because there is a need for it. I don't really ever impulse buy, which has saved me a lot of money. But what if you want something that you don't necessarily need? Something that has helped me, is at the beginning of the month when I plan out my budget, I keep 2-3 things on my "wish list." If at the end of the month, I still want these items, and I can afford to by them TWICE, I will indulge, and buy one or two. I want to make sure the things I buy will add value to my home, and that I can truly afford them.

Another tip to help get you started, is to get rid of duplicates and excess clutter. In my home, I only need two towels. One for using, and one to use if that one is in the wash. I only need two duvets and sheet sets, because I can't use two at once. This applies to everything. Kitchenware? I only have 4 plates, 4 forks, 4 spoons and so forth. Clothes? I only have 2 t-shirts, one pair of jeans, one pair of slacks etcetera. Only keep what is essential.

Something easy to start implementing right now is my "paper bag trick." Take 3 paper bags. Put them buy your door. Keep them there. Use one bag for placing items that aren't salvageable. ("Throw away bag.") Another for placing things you want to give away. ("Donate or sell bag.") The last, for placing things you are thinking of getting rid of, but aren't sure quite yet. ("Maybe bag.") Try to put something in these bags every day. If at the end of a month you didn't miss the items in the "maybe bag", put them over into the "donate/sell bag". Repeat.

3. Kitchen and Dining Room

If you don't use something within a span of 3 months, you don't need it. If you make waffles once a year, or a crockpot soup every now and again, borrow those things from your neighbor, friends or family. This will allow more interaction within your community, and less "stuff" in your cabinets.

Meal prep. This will not only lead to better health and saving money, but it is one less thing to think about in your day so you can focus on what really matters.

4&5. Living Room and Bedroom

Designate a purpose for each room in your home and stick to it. Your living room is usually a place of gathering with family, use it for that! Your bedroom is a place for sleeping, design it to serve that sole purpose. Also- let there be resting space for only the maximum amount of people at a time in each room (dining table, bed, couch, chairs), and no more than that.

6. Bathroom/Medicine Cabinet/Hygiene Products

A place that seems to really gather a lot of clutter, is the medicine cabinet. Go through your hygiene products and medicines, decide what is absolutely essential, put the rest in a box, put that box away, and after a month or two, decide what needs to go, and what you want to stay. It's that simple.

7. Filing

Go paperless with bills and digitize EVERYTHING. Getting started may be tricky, but ultimately worth it. Keep it in say google drive or dropbox. This will remove so much clutter, and help clear your headspace.

While you're online, clear out what you don't need in your email. Unsubscribe from lists, and only see things you want to see. It's time consuming at first, but wouldn't it be nice if you didn't get 200+ spam emails every single day?

8. Closet

The fun part. Clothes. Now this could have a segment of its own, but since I only have a couple of minutes left, I wanted to show you my closet *lifts suitcase.* It took me two years to get here. I got here by going through my clothes once a month. Putting them all out, assessing each item, using the paper bag trick, putting items that are of good quality and that provide versatility right back into my closet, and letting the rest fall into place.

All of my clothes are of good quality, and they are my favorite clothes. I can make so many different outfits with them, and they all look good.

9. Applying minimalism in everything you do

Minimalism applies to everything. Make sure you are spending time with people you love, who add value and joy to your life. Use it in your routine, in your work, in your health… everything. Use the power of no. Keep the things that bring you joy, but don't necessarily serve a purpose (funky mugs, books, etc.) Being a minimalist doesn't mean living with nothing, it means only living with the things that bring you joy and add value to your life. It means ridding yourself of unnecessary material possessions and habits, so you can enjoy the other things in your life more.

10. Minimalism as a whole- defining what that means to you.

You know that feeling after watching an action movie, where you feel like you can kick anyone's butt if you wanted to? Well I encourage you to watch "Minimalism" a documentary on Netflix… and then decide what you want to accomplish from applying minimalism to your life, and make a loose plan on how to get there. It's a continuous journey, and a rewarding one. If there's one thing to take away from this, is to be deliberate and live with intention.