The name "Minimal Effort" is a satirical play on how serious minimalists can be about their craft. While many minimalists deserve to be self-serious, I wanted to take a different approach with this blog.
I want to show that minimalism isn’t about fitting the mold you see others preach. You know, the one where you live in an empty white square box with your mono-chromatic notebook and single living floor plant. The one where your closet is duplicates of the same plain outfit multiplied by the number of days in a week. Or the one where you don’t even have a home and you carry all your belongings on your back traveling the world talking about how great you are at being a minimalist.
(PSA: No minimalists were hurt in the making of this post).
Truth is, I like to poke fun because that cookie-cutter lifestyle was once my goal. I aspired to be entirely minimal, from my consumption to my waste and everything in between. In fact, I only started using magnets on the refrigerator a year ago when my husband and I moved in together. (This is a true story, and I am forever grateful to him for making me a less extreme version of myself!)
If you look at my life from the outside, you probably wouldn’t think twice about my minimalist efforts. And I’m okay with that. Through the last few years, I’ve realized that minimalism does not always look like you think it does. It can look normal even. (Although to be clear, I still totally love minimal design & monochromatic themes throughout a home and really do envy the life of the minimalist backpacker blogger!)
I’ve decided that being minimal is about living a life that brings you value, often with fewer things, so that you are surrounded only by things that bring you happiness, positivity, or true value. It’s also about having a lifestyle that eliminates the “fluff” so you can mentally focus on what’s most important to you, whatever you decide that is. Also also, it’s about finding a balance between your definition of minimalism and your husbands’ – i.e.: refrigerator décor and all!
Living the lesser-advertised version of a minimalist lifestyle often means a lot of highly-regarded advice is not applicable to me. Because of this, I’ve created some of my own tips that help me stay within a minimalist frame of mind.
Check these out if you’re new to minimalism, if you don’t know how to consistently minimize, or if your singular floor plant is feeling a little lonely after your last purge.
Before you even start, you won’t get anywhere unless this is something you actually want to do. Minimizing can be tough mentally & physically. For real, it’s a burden sometimes! Because minimalism is so much more than just “getting rid of things,” you should really take mental stock of why you want to start in the first place. This can be as simple as you want less clutter or as complex as a long-term plan to reduce your consumerism habits. Whatever it is, understand your reason, write it down, and revisit it often. Your motivation will keep you interested in your minimizing efforts and naturally encourage you to keep the dial moving. Nothing easier than doing something you actually want to do!
Some motivating factors for me: having less to clean and manage, streamlining of daily activities, feeling positive about new purchases, and making some extra income from minimized clothing/objects I no longer have a need for.
2) Decide the fate of each item immediately
Okay, you’ve successfully gone through your entire closet and now there’s a mountain of clothing on the floor higher than your dresser. You’ve reached decision fatigue and are cringing over cleaning up the mess you just willfully made. We’ve all been there, honey.
Have a game plan of how to actually get your minimized stuff out of your space and be ready to act on it. Once I minimize something, clothing particularly, I need it out of my sight. Otherwise I risk seeing the romantic highlight reel of memories in my mind and I want to take it back. I counteract this by sorting all my minimized things as I go through them. Once I decide it’s time to go, it goes directly into a sell, donate, or trash bin. I make this decision in real time and then when I’m done with my efforts for the day, I know exactly where to put each bin. Your bins may look different than mine, but have a game plan for each item and stick to it.
3) Choose convenient ways to manage your minimized stuff
There are so many easy and convenient ways to manage the things you no longer need. Here are some of my favorite:
For Selling Goods:
Download the Mercari app. It’s super easy to use and even beginners can get a ton of traffic by promoting their posts (for free). Mercari is transparent about their terms and only takes a small sellers fee. You have total control over your listings, who you sell them to, and how much you get in return.
Take your items to Plato’s Closet (or similar cash for clothes thrift stores). Plato’s Closet is a local favorite of mine that’s even easier than Mercari. They only take certain brands and clothes must be in new condition, but they give you cash on the spot for items they’re interested in. This is a major stop of mine when I don’t want my items sitting around waiting for Mercari buyers.
For Donating Goods:
Charities that offer pickup services are very convenient. The organizations that offer this will differ by region, but it’s likely you can find one willing to pick items up for free. They’ll also give you a tax claim form in case you have any high-ticket items that you’ll want to claim on your taxes. This service is great for larger items as well, like furniture or electronics.
Don’t forget local animal shelters and organizations. People often forget about local animal shelters, which almost always need supplies like towels or old clothes that can be used/repurposed. Check around your local community for places that are looking for specific items.
4) Implement “no touch” or “no use” techniques
Too intimidated by that overflowing closet? Start smaller. As you’re going through your regular day, take a look at things around you that you haven’t touched in a while. The juicer in the corner of your kitchen, the 3rd pair of scissors in your desk drawer, the heels that you love the look of but they kill your feet. If you haven’t touched it in a while, it’s likely it hasn’t brought recent value to your life. Use this inspiration to get rid of them on the spot, or if you think you need some time, put all these items in a box and revisit it in a month. If you haven’t missed any of them (or maybe even totally forgot about them), then it’s time to go.
5) Reduce consumption
I feel like this one’s a little too obvious to even count, but the only true way to reduce your need to minimize in the future is to stop buying things that you eventually have to minimize. Since we’re all being transparent here, I’ll admit I don’t follow this 100% of the time (have you seen my post on the Chunky Sneaker Trend?), but I do my best to make mindful decisions when purchasing. Realistically, we are humans and we have needs. We cohabit with humans, experience social pressure from other humans, and sometimes even have little tiny humans that rely on us to get them their needs. We will consume.
Mindless consumption is a core tenant of our society, but you don’t have to fall in line (you also don’t have to rule out unnecessary consumption entirely). Question your next purchase before you click submit. Remove your saved credit card information from the auto-fill forms in your browser. Do anything that makes it just a teensy bit harder to purchase something so you have an extra second to consider the purchase.
And there you have it! 5 small notions that have big impact on your minimalism lifestyle. Or maybe just a small impact. At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you make of your life and how minimal you decide to be. I certainly fall somewhere in the middle of extreme minimalist and extreme consumerist, and it’s likely you do too. Don’t be fooled by the cookie-cutter minimalism tips and start making minimalism work for you and your life!
Where do you fall on the minimalist spectrum?