About a month ago I decided to attempt a toned-down version of the "minimalist" lifestyle. I never had that much stuff to begin with, but so far I've managed to relinquish about a third of my belongings. I figure it might be worth sharing some of my experiences up to this point.
All of this started with an entirely different objective in mind. The lease at my apartment was soon to expire and I already had plans to move out. The thought of moving everything was daunting, especially considering that I had moved just a year prior.
Many items were collecting dust. Moving them again would not change this - some things had to go. This documentary also got me thinking that the minimalist lifestyle might be right for me.
After some hesitation, I decided to give it a shot.
To make the complex problem of "what should I keep and what should I discard" easy, I found it best to categorize. At a high-level, there are two categories - hobbies and everything else. Here's what I came up with.
- Photography Equipment
- Saltwater Aquarium Setup
- Computers & Electronics
- Magic: The Gathering Cards and Board Games
- Camping Gear
- Kitchen Supplies
- Bathroom Supplies
- Linens / Clothes / Shoes / Backpacks
Hobbies I am actively involved in are sacrosanct. Hobbies I am not actively involved need serious justification to keep around.
For instance, my computer equipment is almost always being utilized - there is no reason to consider getting rid of it.
On the other hand, my saltwater aquarium setup is a trickier situation. I can't see myself involved in the hobby for the foreseeable future, but in the rare case I'd like to resume it, I'd be far better off financially just keeping the stuff around.
Most things I got rid of were random one-off items and trinkets that had no practical use. Again, this was about three large boxes worth of stuff.
Aside from that, I ended up cutting down my card collection and donated some old clothes I never wore.
Tangible Benefits of Minimalism
There are three things I've noticed so far, some less obvious.
- Moving is easier since there is less to move. It doesn't take a genius to figure this one out.
- Mental "context switching" is reduced. Having less things means that there are less things to think about. Given how complex life is to begin with, this is probably the most beneficial aspect of this lifestyle for me.
- The minimalist mindset has led me to seriously question myself before making a purchase. Minimalism and frugality go hand-in-hand.
I haven't discovered any downsides yet. I think this is due to how I approached this lifestyle - by not overdoing it. Had I gotten rid of too much stuff, I suspect I might have regretted it. Anyone on the fence should certainly give it a shot.
- Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things is a short documentary that showcases the main points of minimalism.
- /r/minimalism is a great subreddit with a hodgepodge of resources for everything minimalism.