I’ve been living a small version of a Minimalist Life for a long time, I just didn’t know it. I didn’t know there was a name for it, and I didn’t know that there were folks out there in the world who were passionate about it. Boy was I wrong! There are many people who embrace a minimalist lifestyle in some way. I consider myself a Minimalist. Does that mean everything I do is Minimalist? No. But, I bet a few odd little things I do might fit the bill.
Most of these habits won’t seem like much. In fact, they just might seem “cheap” to some of you and “impossible” to others. I ask you to look at these things with an open mind and look at them as ideas. I keep an uncluttered home and I try not to have excess. I don’t have a dining room table and chairs – we eat sitting on the couch. I don’t keep a ton of kitchen appliances – I make toast in the oven and reheat things on the stove since we don’t have a microwave. These are just small things that help me keep clutter out of my home, and it saves me from spending money needlessly. Consider these ten little habits and picture what your life might be like. More peaceful. Less cluttered. Less stress. Remember, everything you bring into your home needs your space and your attention.
- No Keys – Ok, I have a set of keys but I don’t use them. And, there are only two keys on there: my post box key, and the key to my flat. That’s it. If I go for a walk, I’ll take em. But I never worry about them. If you feel you couldn’t live without all of your keys, consider downsizing them to just the essentials. Do you really need to carry around those work keys? How about that one which opens the lock on the gate no one ever uses?
- No watch – When I was in grade school I loved watches. Actually, I loved Swatches. I had one and wore it for a while, but eventually abandoned it because it made my wrist sweaty. I haven’t worn one since. I feel more free sans watch and it makes me far less conscious of time. This let’s me focus on the people and tasks in the present. I also don’t have an alarm clock. I wake up (whether I want to or not) at 7:15 sharp. Every morning. It’s a blessing and a curse.
- No smartphone – I would love to write “no cell” but I do have one. Sort of. No one ever calls me on it, and I’m pretty sure it is at least five years old. I use it to text my sweetie silly things when I am bored at work. My phone is usually off. If someone needs to get in touch with me they will have better luck sending me an email. I hate talking on the phone anyway. I know some of you think you couldn’t live with out a cell phone, but I promise you can. And don’t use “I have kids” as an excuse. Plenty of people have been parents without the luxury of a mobil phone. If you feel you need it as a security blanket “in case something happens” try leaving it off when your kids are with you.
- No mobil internet – While were at it, I don’t play on the internet unless I am sitting down at a computer. Like I said above, my phone only makes calls and texts, takes calls and texts. That’s it. It doesn’t have WiFi and it doesn’t play music. I can’t look up the weather or check my FaceBook. When I am out in the world and I have to wait two minutes for something, I just wait. I look at the world around me and I people watch. Let me tell you, people watching in Austin is excellent. I like to play Fatty Vs. Hipster (so far I have seen way more of the former than the latter) or dogs Vs. owner. (Dogs are way cuter than their owners in this city) It’s fun. If I have to wait longer than a few minutes I always have a book in my bag for just that occasion. I like the feeling of being disconnected. It’s very liberating.
- No T.V. – I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating: I don’t own a television. I haven’t owned a television in over a decade. I don’t pay for cable and I still watch the shows that are interesting to me. There is so much crap on TV these days that it’s hard not to get sucked in. Getting rid of cable and TV helps. I am very conscious of what I watch and how it will make me feel. TV isn’t just “on” at my house. If a show or movie is on, it was because of intent. I learned a lot of great tips living in Prague. If you want to know the best sites for streaming movies or tv shows, just ask an expat. They know what’s up.
- No car – I know for some of you, this seems crazy. My household has a car, but I don’t own it, or drive it. Or, I try not to. I hate driving. My boyfriend drives me to and from work every day, and we go to the market together. We use the car as needed. And unfortunately, it is needed in Austin. It’s not a great city for bikes or for public transportation. Not to mention nobody wants to walk 3.5 miles home after work in 100 degree heat. If you can’t do without a car, try doing with it LESS. Walk to the store. Ride a bike someplace. Take the bus or Metro.
- No ipod – again, I have one – but it is close to death. It’s pretty old. It has one of those clicky wheel things that you spin to find a song you like. I got it as a gift in 2005. I only use it when I’m working out in the gym. And since I don’t go to the gym here… it just sits in a drawer. It annoys me to see people walking around with those things stuck in their ears. (You all look like zombies. Hipster-sheep zombies.) I enjoy listening to the world around me, and seeing nature. You never know what you might hear!
- No credit cards – I have one credit card that is used for travel. I buy tickets online and then pay off the bill asap. I don’t “shop” with it, I don’t pay bills with it, and I don’t have another one. I have one credit card which is used solely for travel purchases. If I don’t have the money, I don’t buy it. It’s pretty simple. Use cash, debit or Paypal before using a credit card. And, stop shopping so much. Do you really need all of that stuff?
- Share – I share a lot. I share meals with my boyfriend when we go out to eat. The portion sizes in America are overwhelming, as is the fat content and prices. Sharing a meal let’s us go out to eat and enjoy good food without being wasteful and over spending. Buying food just to “save it for later” is the same as hoarding. Take only what you need, and share. In Prague I would share my books. Finding good books in english is expensive in Prague. When I finished a book (or ten) I would let people have them, or take them to a book exchange with friends. That way I got new books while making room for them!
- One in, one out – One way I keep down clutter is by having the “one in – one out” rule. For example, I recently lost some weight. More than some. I lost about fifteen pounds, enough so that none of my clothes fit right. I needed new clothes. (I try not to buy clothes unless I actually need them. I was really excited I finally needed a new bikini!) I ordered a super cute new bikini online and as soon as it arrived, the old ones went out. I don’t keep things around that are unnecessary. If you shop at Wal-Mart or Target and end up coming home with more than just that mop head you went there for – this rule is for you. If you bring a new item into you home, get rid of something.