How I suggest paring down

  1. Ask yourself, “What’s the easiest thing to get rid of?”
  2. Get rid of the first thing that comes to mind. If you spend extra decision power trying to figure out if it’s really the #1 easiest thing of all the things in your life to get rid of, you’re just wasting yourself away.

Repeat those first two steps.

Once you reach a point where nothing feels too easy to get rid of, stop. Mark a date on your calendar when you’ll revisit this question. Make it a month to six months from today.

In the meantime, don’t try to get rid of anything else but don’t add anything either. Just live. Live with what you have. And as you’re living, ask yourself, as the ancient stoics did, “Is this the situation I feared?”

This model works for a couple reasons:

  1. It removes a lot of the thought process. Your thinking brain doesn’t want to get rid of stuff. That’s goes against everything it’s learned from consumerist culture.
  2. It introduces you to minimalism in steps. Instead of trying to sell your DVD collection or unplug your fridge right off, you can ease your way into it.

I think this is one of the biggest turnoffs in minimalism. When someone first approaches the subject, they look to the examples already living the lifestyle. In many cases, these examples have already passed through the early stages, so their version of minimalism seems insanely extreme.

Thing is, everyone started somewhere. And most didn’t start by selling all their cars. Most started somewhere simple: they gave away some of their T-shirts, they donated a few of their books to the library, they deleted some of the emails in their inbox.

As a beginner, look to the experts for inspiration but then just experiment. Get rid of something, the easiest thing, do it again and again, and keep asking, “Is this what scared me?”