3 Steps to Living Minimally

Simple Matters / erin boyle home

Erin Boyle is the author of the newly released book, “Simple Matters,” and writes about living minimally yet purposefully over on her blog, “Reading My Tea Leaves.” If you’re in LA, meet her today March 5th at The Springs for an afternoon of kombucha, self-care and book signing from 3-5pm! 

If you’re feeling like you want in on a life that feels a little less cluttered, a little less chaotic, and a little more peaceful, here are three ways to kickstart a simpler way of doing things:

Start with a blank slate:

There’s a pretty widespread misunderstanding that embracing a minimalist lifestyle is about denying yourself the things you love. But the point isn’t to get rid of what you love, it’s to make room for those things to shine by clearing out everything you don’t.

So many of us are surrounded by things that we don’t need, or don’t use, or don’t like very much. In my book I suggest starting with the medicine cabinet in your bathroom. Is it filled only with things you love and use regularly? Or are there half-empty bottles, expired makeup samples, expensive lotions you splurged on but actually feel kind of “meh” about. Get rid of the excess and start to breathe easier. Tomorrow? Tackle your underwear drawer. The next day? The condiments on your fridge door. After that? The cabinet under the kitchen sink. Get rid of anything that’s not working for you. At the end of the week, you’ll have a lighter load without needing to make a single difficult decision.

Simple Matters / erin boyle surfboard

Go on a new stuff hiatus:

Set a timeframe — say, a week — and decide that for that period of time, apart from essentials, you’re not going to bring anything new into your home — zilch — regardless of sales or cuteness factor or whether it was foisted upon you by a neighbor. The point here is to look your consumption square in the face. Maybe you have a therapeutic shopping habit that results in an overflowing closet. Maybe you have a sister who loves to give you her castoffs. Maybe you can’t resist the swag table at work and you’ve brought home ten new tote bags in as many weeks. Whatever it is, by imposing a “just say no” rule, even if just for a week, you can identify the places in your life where it might be helpful to curb the flow of new things cluttering your life.

 But the point isn’t to get rid of what you love, it’s to make room for those things to shine by clearing out everything you don’t.

Embrace a new habit:

So much of simplicity comes down to finding a rhythm that makes your life simpler. Maybe it’s starting the day by making breakfast, sans phone in hand. Maybe it’s taking a nightly bath. Maybe it’s taking ten minutes at lunch to plan dinner, or walking to the subway stop that’s further from home but that passes by the pretty park.

Whatever it is, commit to adding a new habit to your daily routine that has the sole purpose of making you feel good. It can seem counterintuitive that adding something to your schedule would make your life feel simpler, but with the right mindset, these kind of habits force you to slow down, try a new pace, and reset your priorities.

How would you like to live more minimally?

Images via Erin Boyle / Abrams Image

Erin is the writer and photographer behind Reading My Tea Leaves. She’s a minimalist with a penchant for a good story and a soft spot for an aged patina. Her approach to living simply is one that acknowledges that life isn’t always simple, but the curtains can be.

  • Christina Erickson March 21, 2016

    So great! And so inspirational.. Thanks Darling, you’ve done it again!

  • Jordan Nicole March 11, 2016

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love all of Erin’s ideas and I’m looking forward to receiving her book in the mail just about any day now. Starting with a blank slate is like a breath of fresh air. I love the feeling when items have their place, nothing more and nothing less. And that within that place there is actually space for nothing! I live in a really small apartment in San Francisco with my husband, so embracing minimalism comes with the territory we’ve been given!

  • laura m. March 10, 2016

    Uncluttering is ongoing. I do this as I see the need to donate or toss. Twice a year, I go thru closets, papers and recently downsized kitchen utensils and got new silicone spoons and tongs. Much is useable and goes to several group homes. Doing clothes and closets needs to be done several weeks later after the major purge, because I still find things to unload I’m not wearing.

  • Kat Larissa March 5, 2016

    So good! I’ve recently been realizing how very chaotic my life feels and how that has been taking a toll on my body. I love all the steps, but especially the idea of embracing a new habit. I’ve started taking 15 minutes in the morning (hopefully I’ll be able to work my way up to 30) to drink a cup of tea on the balcony.