Internet Self Improvement

How To Be An Effective Minimalist In Your Daily Life

Rob Nightingale 30-10-2014

These days, more and more people are choosing to embrace minimalism. In certain situations this can wreak frustrating havoc on your everyday life. With some minimal planning it doesn’t have to come to that.


Let’s look at how to overcome four of these minimalist hurdles.

What Is Minimalism?


Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus over at describe minimalism as “a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfilment, and freedom”. In essence, minimalism, as a way of life, is centered on living with less, ridding yourself of everything that gets in the way of what’s important in life — whether that baggage is physical, emotional or mental.

Sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with personal ownership of possessions. In many ways they can (obviously) enhance our lives, but in many cases, they do the exact opposite. They serve as shackles and hurdles, forcing us to work harder and harder to maintain our posession-oriented way of life.

To add some context here, let’s consider the 80/20 rule (The Pareto principle) which can be applied to many areas of our lives — including minimalism.


Generally, most of us wear only 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Similarly, most of us only listen to about 20% of our music collection 80% of the time. This means that we could, effectively, get rid of 80% of our clothes or CD’s etc, while hardly noticing their absence at all.

Proclaiming the benefits and reasons for minimalism though, is all well and good, yet we can’t ignore some of the drawbacks and inefficiencies that come as result of this lifestyle. Here are a few examples, and some ideas on how to overcome them.

Lack Of Clothing


Owning only a few articles of clothing can cause some pretty frustrating and sometimes embarrassing problems in life. When you’re invited to one of those ‘formal attire’ (or any other form of dress-code) events, and you only have a few clean t-shirts left to wear, you can land yourself in a bit of a pickle. There are ways of overcoming this though, so don’t fear.


First, even as a minimalist, you are allowed to own one formal suit or outfit, you know? If you’re a woman, you’ll likely already have one of these wardrobe staples, giving you an appropriate outfit for a party, an interview, or pretty much any sort of formal event that may come up. For men, this is something you need to shop around for, too.

Overall, though, When creating a minimalist wardrobe, the single, most important rule is to make sure that everything matches. This doesn’t mean that you should buy everything the same color, but rather stick to only a handful of colors or a color pallet that flatters you. When you’re shopping for a new sweater, don’t go with one simply because you love the design. Consider how it will fit in with the rest of your wardrobe.

Or maybe, you can try borrowing clothes. Services like Rent-a-Runaway, Le Tote, and StyleLend are looking at your wardrobe space.

And the second most important rule? Ensure that what you buy is of high quality, otherwise you’ll be wearing out your wardrobe more quickly than you’d like. Spending a little more money on higher quality items is often the smarter (and better value) option in the long run.


Keeping On Top Of Paperwork

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Ah, paperwork. A minimalist’s nightmare. Unfortunately, paperwork (to a degree) cannot be entirely avoided, though we can make things easier in this respect. One solution is Evernote. Take photos of your paperwork, tag them, and save them neatly. Throw that paperwork in the trash and keep it from cluttering your home. Even more, with Evernote you can search text in an image, making pouring through papers easier and more efficient than if you had to search a physical document. And, it’s available on all your devices, and then, Evernote has other uses too Get Creative With Evernote: 10 Unique Uses You Haven't Thought Of Evernote is one of the ultimate tools in productivity, and with a wide variety of multiplatform apps, there's no limit to the way that you can use the service. We're big fans of Evernote here... Read More .

If you’re someone who loves writing on paper, but doesn’t want stray notebooks filling your drawers, Moleskine has a special Evernote notebook (real paper!) that can be used with the app. These notebooks are designed specifically for users who wish to create digitized versions of handwritten documents.

Simply tag the pages you want to create digitized versions of with ‘smart stickers’ that come with the notebook. When you capture pages using the Evernote Document Camera, the program automatically organizes and tags your notes and saves them to your account, allowing for simple organisation with minimal effort.


Getting Around Without Your Own Transport

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Many minimalists choose not to own their own forms of transportation, such as a motorbike or a car. This generally doesn’t impact life too much, provided you live in an an area where you can easily walk or or take public transport to most of your destinations.

But what about those times when you do need to get around more easily? When you need to head to another city, or the other side of town?

To get around in these situations, more and more people are starting to use services such as MyTaxi or Uber (you can find out more about these services here Hire A Car In Most Major Cities Worldwide With Uber And MyTaxi You'd expect by now that hiring taxis with an app on your fancy GPS-enabled device to tell the drive your location would be an everyday event, right? Wrong. Read More ). Uber is an app that connects passengers to drivers for hire. The app is now available in 45 countries and 100 cities worldwide. If you’re not too keen on the growth strategies of Uber, there are other car-sharing options available, too, such as Zipcar, which allows you to rent a car for a few hours, with membership starting at $6 per month.

Access To Rarely Used Items


When you get the minimalist bug and rid yourself of everything that you hardly ever use, there are times you’ll kick yourself for throwing out something that you now, months later, actually need.

Suppose you need a hammer or a drill for an emergency DIY project, yet a few months ago you threw them out as you hadn’t used them in years. You can buy one, sure, but they’re not necessarily cheap, and what do you do with it once you’re done? Perhaps your minimalism will be tarnished?

For these emergency situations, there are services such as Ecomodo and Loanables. With both services, users post listings for items and people can rent them out for a small period of time.

What Are The Other Ways To Be A Minimalist?

Living a minimalist lifestyle may seem intimidating, but it really is possible to stay efficient in your life while still adhering to this philosophy. For almost obstacle against minimalism, there’s an online (or offline) service that’s been launched to help remedy this. You just need to know where they are.

Take, for example, simply maintaining a minimalist desktop 7 Simple Steps to an Awesome Minimalist Desktop Read More , or minimalist approaches to email management 5 Action Steps for Curing Your Inbox Zero Email Frenzy Inbox Zero is one of the most popular buzz words. To truly solve your email issues you need to go beyond Inbox Zero and address the underlying problems. Read More . These are everyday issues for everyone, but with the right ideas and software, they can easily (and simply) be overcome.

What other issues do you think could come from pursuing minimalism in your every day life?

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  1. Rob
    May 12, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks, Derby :)

  2. derby
    May 7, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I love to read this post. I am gathering more ideas on how to become a minimalist. Please do post more.

  3. Rob
    May 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    I think if you combine minimalism with aestheticism, you end up with something akin to Japanese styles of minimalism... an equal respect of both form and function..

  4. Me
    November 30, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Miminalism is subjective. Simply your life to concentrate on what's important to you or give you the opportunity to search that out. The rest of it, counting how many items you own, doesn't sound productive. Buy what you need or what is important to you and get on with it. Stop caring what other people think.

    • Rob
      December 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Me(?), I don't think a lot of minimalism is based around what other people think- it's about people realising that what they thought was important, in reality, isn't. This may mean selling a car which works out at a much higher per-day cost than they originally thought, thereby reducing the need to work so much to afford this added expense. But there's always a compromise- sometimes a car will be needed, but luckily there are options available without needing to resort to buying another car... many people are minimalists without even realising there is a 'name'. Other people confuse this with being frugal etc. Of course, some people do it to show off- 'I own less than 50 items, man!', but these people are the fringes- minimalism has been around for millennia.

      December 4, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      gee, great minds think alike!! thoughts idea of 'minimalism' may be different from someone else's.........right?

      buy what you want, no matter what it is, if you can afford it........whether it's 'too much' or not, that's your own business!!!!! my mom always used to say...'that's what money is for' other words, to enjoy your hard-earned money, but NOT overspending, etc.

      So I do go along with SOME of this 'minimalist' thinking, but, alas, as with everything else, I feel it should be YOUR version of it!!!!!!!!

  5. Saikat Basu
    November 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    The Minimalist is a really good share. Bookmarked.

    In fact, I learnt that there is a Japanese consumer goods company based around the concept of minimalism. That's an oxymoron.

    • Rob
      November 2, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      Hey Saikat, yea, it's a pretty nice site- very minimalist! ;) I actually love Muji, and have been studying Japanese design philosophy quite a lot lately. We have their stores in the UK, and I saw a few while in Japan a couple of weeks ago. A bit of an oxymoron, yea, I guess, but at least we get access to the wabi sabi and beautiful form/function of Japanese design which can have a great effect on mood, emotion and overall well-being- or so they say...

  6. Monu
    November 1, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Hey Rob, this article of yours is also useful like your other article. I have become your fan. There is thin line bbetween greed and minimalism. You taught me how. Can lead a wonderful life without being greedy.

    • Rob
      November 2, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks Monu :)

  7. Matthew Hughes
    October 31, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Funny story. About 4 years ago, I tried to reduce everything I owned to 100 items. I got rid of books. Old clothes. You get the idea.

    Never quite got to 100 items, but I sure got close.

    Awesome read! Predictably awesome, Rob.

    • Rob
      October 31, 2014 at 9:36 am

      I had the same aim a while back- I got to about 130 items, not including books and rock climbing equipment, then realised the whole aim was pretty ridiculous, and gave up. Now I'm just very mindful about what I buy... :)

    • Dann Albright
      November 4, 2014 at 7:17 am

      I've had a passing interest in minimalism for a while, but I think I'd like to spend some more time finding about it. However, the 100 items challenge would not fly in my house. Being an English major and a writer, I need to be surrounded by books. :-)

    • Bailee Balogna
      May 5, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      I Love you, have a good day.

    • Rob
      May 6, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      Wow, you move quick, Bailee.