Minimalism 101

by Frank Martin

Starting the minimalist path can be rather daunting. Most people understandably go about it by getting rid of physical stuff, but the question becomes how, especially when there’s tons of it. Different people have given different suggested methods, and today I thought I’d offer a rundown of possibilities to those looking for advice:

  1. Burn it With Fire: Okay, so this is my bad humor geeky name for it, but this method involves junking/selling/donating EVERYTHING or as nearly as possible. This can be especially useful for people who have so much stuff they have one or more storage units and don’t even know what all they have. This is the method Colin Wright used before heading out to travel the world, and he literally rented an industrial size garbage bin and tossed everything in. While thats the shortest, simplest way of explaining this approach, you can read about a more in-depth, nuanced interpretation called the KonMari method in a best selling book called “the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by an awesome Japanese lady by the name of Mary Kondo.
  2. Packing Party: This is the method made famous by the Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nickodemus. Simply put, pack everything up like you’re going to move, including covering furniture, and only uncover/unpack items as you need them. At the end of the week sell/donate/throw away anything thats still packed away. While someone with a lot of stuff could use this method, it certainly isn’t feasible for a packrat and is probably best for someone with a normal amount of clutter that doesn’t pour over into a storage unit.
  3. Slow & Steady: While Leo Babauta has half jokingly enodrsed the “Kill it With Fire” method of minimalism, he normally goes for a much slower more methodical approach:
    1. Choose a spot in your house, prefferably a junk drawer in the kitchen or your desk. Take everything out, seperate the contents into two or three piles: keep, sell/donate, trash.
    2. Throw out the items in the third pile, put the second in a bag or box to be taken care of later, and replace the items in the first pile neatly.
    3. Once the drawer is arranged, declutter moving out from that point using a similar method.
      This method is likely best suited to someone with a small to medium amount of clutter to begin with.

When I got into minimalism I used the third method, mostly because my very first exposure to minimalism was Leo, though if it had been on my radar, I probably would have thrown a packing party.