How To Become A Minimalist: 7 Simple Steps To Live Your Best Life

I’ve never met anyone who has decided to become a minimalist and decided to go back.  I went from a packed house, a garage full of stuff and a storage unit, to traveling the world out of a single backpack.  I went from being in debt to having more money in my bank account than ever before. Here’s what helped me make the transition.


What Is Minimalism?

Minimalism is simply taking control over your life and distilling it down to it’s most important parts. By seeking a minimalist lifestyle we identify priorities in our lives and intentionally optimize everything around those things.  So in the end minimalism isn’t about clutter, how we dress, or how to get rid of stuff; It’s about us making room, mentally and physically, for what is most important to us.

1. Understand Why You Want to Change

Understanding why you want to take the journey to minimalism will not only help you stay motivated on your journey, it will help you to know what exactly minimalism means to you. When I decided I wanted to become minimalist, it was simply to make my daily life easier.

minimalist lifestyle

I was tired of rifling through clothes that I didn’t wear to get to the ones I do, I was tired of my kitchen drawers overflowing with utensils when I only needed about a quarter of what was in those drawers. I was exhausted from spending my days off trying to work my way through the constant pile of laundry in the washroom and picking up random things around the house. I was jealous of friends who were going on weekend getaways while I spend my days pulling weeds in a constant attempt to create a garden.

When you understand what you want minimalism to do for you, it’s so much easier to declutter. While I went through the decluttering process, which took me around 6 months all together, I would have moments where I would be holding something I never used and trying to justify why I’d need to keep it. Once I remembered the purpose of minimalism and why I was implementing it, I had such an easier time letting that thing go.

Learn about How to find your purpose and better understand why you want a change.

2. Get Rid Of Stuff And Be Clutter Free

make your home clutter free

The decluttering process is the easiest way to kick start your journey to minimalism. Doing this slowly and in a few sweeps seems to be the most efficient. I did about three or four sweeps of decluttering before I was completely satisfied with everything I got rid of, and everything I kept. When you go through the decluttering process at a reasonable pace (for example, don’t do it all in one day or even in one month), the transition will be a bit easier.

If you go from a full house to a mostly empty house overnight, it will be a much harder adjustment. It worked well for me to try to hit about 5 areas per week – and I chose small areas, like one desk drawer or just the sweaters in my closet. Many people like to declutter by the room, so if that works for you start there.  Though it takes longer to declutter slowly, it is much easier to maintain a minimalist lifestyle if the decluttering process is done slowly and carefully.

3. Clear Your Calendar To Manage Your Time More Effectively

time managment for a minimalist

By making your calendar a simpler and less cluttered space (I mean not scheduling so many appointments/dates), you will have so much less stress. I used to schedule meetups with friends back to back, and I would always be late to one because I didn’t want to leave the one I was at before. I was never able to truly live in the moment because I was constantly thinking about what I needed to do next and if I was going to be late. It stressed me out quite a bit, which is ridiculous to think about now, as I had complete control over my schedule.

The limits you have are the limits you create – even if you have a full time job, you are still in control of how you spend your time outside of work. If your work hours aren’t working for you, take that into consideration as well. Since I’ve become minimalist, I have worked less than I ever have in my life, but still have more money in my bank account, since I don’t spend like I used to.

4. Build A Capsule Wardrobe With Style

a simple wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is designing a wardrobe from the ground up so that every item in your closet can be mixed and matched to every other piece of clothing.  Many people have embraced a minimalist wardrobe even if they aren’t minimalist because this allows you to maximize the number of outfits you can create, while minimizing the items you own.

Typically people choose one or two main colors and then add in a few pieces that are complimentary colors.  Keeping styles classic allows you to avoid the yearly swings in fashion trends and let you have only the clothes that you love.  Accessories, scarves, jewelry and jackets let you mix up your looks so you don’t always look the same.

5. Boost Productivity With Minimalist Work Habits

We spend a lot of time at work, so it’s important not just to have a minimalist home, but also a minimalist office.  Taking control over all aspects of your life will lead to less stress, better time management, increased income, and a better work life balance.

minimalist work habits

The biggest increases in my income and contentment with my work all stemmed from being intentional in my life.  When I decided on the life I wanted I was able to leave my old corporate job and start my own business, making more money that I ever dreamed of.  Building good habits is much easier as a minimalist because we do one important thing that most people don’t do: we took the time to understand what’s important to use and made intentional changes to live a better life.  That puts us way ahead of most people and the rewards are seen in our personal lives and in our career.

6. Simplify Your Diet For Simple Meals

minimalist diet

A simple diet doesn’t mean a bland diet or having the same thing over and over again.  I first started by getting a handle on my kitchen clutter and figuring out what I really need in my kitchen.  Once I slimmed down the key essentials I found I enjoyed cooking more, I now look forward to coming home and preparing fresh dishes for all my meals.  Having a well stocked, but simplified pantry helped a lot towards this.

Like everything with minimalism, it’s important to figure out what is right for you and optimize things to that end.  Some people have a extremely simple diet of rice and beans, others find a plant based diet or minimalist raw vegan diet to be right for them.  For me I start with my favorite dishes and determining a base set of ingredients that I always keep on hand.

7. Start Saving And Become Debt Free

saving money and getting debt free

One of the biggest perks of minimalism (and the one that draws a lot of people to minimalism) is the amount of money you are able to save with a minimalist lifestyle. By spending money on only necessities, you’ll end up accidentally saving loads of money. It wasn’t until I saw my bank account balance steadily increasing that I realized that I can really do anything I want.

I could look into potentially purchasing a house, buying my next car in cash, or traveling long term, the way I was going. When you start saving on accident and stop thinking about the material possessions that you want (because you know you don’t need them anymore!), you’ll be able to really focus on your passions, and even donate to charities that you are involved in.

Living a minimalist lifestyle can change your life so much for the better. I would love to hear how your minimalist journey is going and what you love about minimalism!

Your Turn!

  • Where are you on your minimalist journey?
  • What draws you to minimalism?
  1. Great post!! This could have been written by us – it is so true that understanding why and doing it gradually has made a huge difference in our outlook in simplifying and minimalism.

    • Thanks so much! Doing things gradually makes me way more likely to stick to something long term. Glad you liked this 🙂

  2. This article was great! I have never met anyone who did not love the changes that came from being a minimalist. I made a video a few months ago that expresses how minimalism can have a positive impact on all areas of your life that can be found on my blog.

    Hope you enjoy it !

  3. Your article was nice, pleasant, straight to the point, not excessive, and direct about getting rid of excess items. Now please write how trash, hatred, and negativity can be swept out of the mind and mouths of people who are representing a reflection of those who they were raised by, and obviously without respect for mankind. They need some serious anger management counseling to get online and address you with that improper conduct. Stay inspired, and keep writing. Thank you.

  4. This past week I got rid of everything! I have never felt so free. I have a bed, television, laptop and limited cookware. I had12 boxes in my storeroom that had been there for a year unopened. I donated to an organization that helps individuals affected by domestic violence. I have gotten down to 7 outfits and work scrubs. Fifty-seven years of stuff that I felt that I couldn’t live without gone. Love your article and thank you for breaking it down.

  5. I decided about 6 months ago that I want to become a minimalist. I just happened upon your site right now. I even want to have just maybe two dinner plates. Why do I need 10? It’s just me. Why do I need 20 dinner forks? It’s just me. I want to move into a one bedroom, 1 bath home as well. No yard with plants to content with.

  6. I really enjoyed reading the article. It explained very simply the basic idea behind a minimalistic lifestyle and I intend to use this as a means to start my.minimalistic journey and adapt as I go along.

    Thanks for your article. I have saved it to read up again.

  7. Amanda, thank you so much for this article! I’ve been mulling over minimalism for like a YEAR now, and with the advice in your article I will start today! Day 0. I’m really excited! Minimalism will help de-stress my life and quiet my mind. Thanks again.

  8. I just found your article as I look at all the STUFF I have that I do not need. My husband & I have talked about this for years off and on but after reading the steps you proposed….this will work for me.

    I think I will start with my office as I’m working remotely a few days a week right now but my husband has to use the closet because I took over the one in our bedroom when we moved it. LOL

    I need to go thru and donate ALL the clothes that do not fit me or that I do not wear, including shoes and that will decrease the amount by more than 90%. I am not hoarder to the extreme but when I think about it….I’m a small to medium hoarder.

    Thank you for such excellent information.

    Have a blessed day!

  9. Good article and it got me thinking in different directions. I’m just starting my journey and have a long way to go, but am feeling confident that the outcome will be worth it.
    So much STUFF!
    Thanks for the insight.

  10. Thank you so much for your article. So appropriate in these post pandemic days. I am part of the Great Resignation, a term I was unaware of until a day ago. I left my place of employment about six weeks ago and have been struggling with the emotional roller coaster that many have been going through. I had already started the process of becoming a minimalist before I read your article. It was just instinctive. Having your article has helped put so much into perspective for me. While I was reading your article today, I physically wrote each step out and my thoughts for each one. It helped me clarify what I want my life to look like. This also included looking at what I am looking for in a new job. Thanks for your words and inspiration to find joy in my life I hadn’t felt in years.

  11. I dropped my hotpocket

  12. Ryan, I love your articles.
    I am a minimalist over 20 years. I am starting to minimize my thoughts and enjoy watching my emotions ….
    I am building my third Tiny-house and it’s cold and windy. When it’s to harsh, I need to get inside and warm up.
    As a minimalist I use recycled material,s I gathered. They are happy to be used again! Soon money is coming in and I don’t know yet what to do with it. I am interested in things money do buy, like OBE experiences: I want to be a maximalist in inner space travel!

  13. I’ve been circling around Mindfulness, Minimalism, Tiny Houses, and Slow Living for years at this point. I’ve flirted with becoming a minimalist, daydreamed about my perfect tiny home, and recently picked up “In Praise of Slowness” by Carl Honoré. Now that I have a few months of space from professional obligations before I move to a new city, I feel like all of the ideas I’ve been contemplating in the back of my mind are finally choosing to emerge in practice. I say all this, Ryan, because all the resources on The Tiny Life are so simple and helpful. Its making a huge difference to me as I take the first steps into the lifestyle that feels truly right. Thank you for all the resources you’ve provided here.

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