Like most anything else that is necessary, paring takes work, energy, time. The benefits of minimalism far outweigh what you will go through while trying to rid your life of all the excess. The more weight you have to lose, the more patient you will have to be.
This is obvious, but it needs pointing out. If you want to lose weight, you don’t want to be working in a bakery. Same with this. You have to stop the flow in before you can make real progress. You need to break the habits that got you to where you are now, or else everything you do now will just open space for more things.
How to make this job easier, you need to remove all advertisement. Stop magazines from coming in. Stop going to malls. Unsuscribe from shopping sites in your email. Stop browsing for things. Note when you envy something on someone’s FB page. This is all advertisement, getting you to be discontent with the life that you have. You can never truly be minimalist if you are discontent. You will always want to get away, spend, buy. Simplicity is when you can control desires and recognize them for what they are. Be the master of your domain.
You also want to watch out for threats to minimalism. For me, I recognize excess furniture as the main threat (aside from advertisement). The more space you have, the more stuff you will buy to fill it. Blank surfaces (esp by the door) will always be covered with things. Drawers will always be filled. Removing all furniture that is not necessary is a huge step to progress. It forces you to think before you bring things in.
I am a big fan of lists. This is because I can measure progress and have a visual of what I have left. So my clutter list would cover all the spaces in my house that need work: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. Then under each of those categories, I would cover what I need to declutter specifically to break it into smaller chores. So bedroom nightstand is one small chore, bedroom dresser is one, under the bed, so on. Then as I finish each mini chore (boxing/bagging the stuff I’m unsure of and putting it in the designated spot), I cross it off. So nice to see progress!
The key is to start small. Tackle one thing. It’s like debt. Once you pay the smallest one off, you get momentum. Do that with decluttering. Start on something not too hard, a junk drawer or your fridge. Minimalism touches all aspects, your things, your food, your appointments/obligations. It changes the way you think and approach life. All the time and money we spend pursuing is now free, free to make a difference.
Be relentless. Go through your clothes and toss everything that doesn’t fit or flatter. Toss all the things falling apart. This is the initial purge, the low-hanging fruit. This is the easy part.
While working on your closet, turn your hangers toward you when you use the garment on the rack. This is one way to keep track of what you use.
The best tip I did was to put everything in a box/bag that I couldn’t figure if I should keep. I would designate the coat closet for this temporary space. I would then set a time on it: three months, six months. Around the designated time, whatever I didn’t pull out obviously didn’t matter enough. I gave it all away. Once I gave that away, I started on a new box, until I was where I always wanted to be – only with what I use and love.
The best thing about this method is that you get instant gratification. All of a sudden your closet and your living spaces are clear. Your stuff is still there, just out of sight and mind. You get a sample of what you could have if you could just let go. The freedom is addicting. Try it.
(If you have more things than I did as a college kid at the time, then you can designate a bigger space to box/bag your clutter.)