Becoming a minimalist | Young Minimalist

Becoming a Minimalist

Minimalism is a way of life, it is a philosophy based around value. Minimalist living is mostly concerned with decluttering our lives of tangible objects. Inherently in becoming a minimalist, we relieve ourselves of many of the possessions we own and create a simpler framework for our lives. This will happen naturally when we start to question what we truly value. If you haven’t read my brief exploration of the philosophy of minimalism read it here; an understanding of this will be useful.

Minimalism isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. No one person has the right method or framework, and don’t let anyone tell you they have. But there are many common themes that arise from those that have adopted a simpler way of life. I will go through them here and hopefully you’ll be able to see that the transition to simplicity is a possibility for everyone.

How we consume

We tend not to question what it is we are consuming. In fact, we don’t even realise we are consuming things half the time. Most of our day is spent absorbing some thing or another. We wake up and put the kettle on waiting for that burst of caffeine to wake us up, ignoring the fact that we’ve already started consuming electricity: turning on the lights, the kettle and the heating that automatically comes on. Throughout the day we ignore so many of the little components that make up what we consume: the packaging on our lunch, the tea leaves in our tea bags, the chair we sit on at work. All of these things are material objects that we unconsciously ignore. Yet all of these have an impact, on our lives and the planet.

A fulfilled life is something many people strive for, and happiness is something, I believe, everyone wants to experience. Being truly happy and fulfilled can only happen when we satisfy all our needs. Yet I am convinced that many of us do not actually know what our needs are. For many years I thought I knew my needs. I urged my parents to give me more pocket money so I could buy more things: first it was sweets, then the latest sportswear, after getting a job and my first guitar I constantly bought gadgets to make me a ‘better’ player, then purchasing tech. The constant want for bigger, better, faster was dragging me through my life. The acquisition of one item leads to the desire for another. This framing of my needs developed at a very early age, and habitual satisfaction is a difficult addiction to break.

Developing self-awareness

I order to break our habits we have to be aware of them. This is a really difficult task if you do not know where to begin. Mindfulness is a great tool. It was a phase of anxiety during university that turned me on to mindfulness. I downloaded (the awesome) Headspace app and for 2 months used the free initial 10 days, ‘Take 10’, to guide me through meditation. Planting the seed of mindfulness, and nurturing it carefully, is a crucial element in becoming more aware of your self and improving your life (O’Brien, T. 2015). Over time mindfulness shifts your focus away from external factors and towards internal. It is this intrinsic internal forces that bring us our greatest joy (Lee, M. & Ahn, C. 2016).

Self-growth is a massive area of concern these days, with bookstore shelves filled with self-help books. As a society, we are becoming aware of the importance of inner growth. Mindfulness cultivates the perfect safe space for this inner growth to be cultivated. In one of the earliest surveys on voluntary simplicity, Duane Elgin (2010 [1981]) found that mindfulness and inner growth were highly common themes for those who had chosen a simpler way of life.

Becoming more mindful of what you value will build the foundations for designing a simpler way of life.Click To Tweet
Find your values

Once you are aware of your self. Spend some time to find what it is you value. Write them down. This could be playing sport every week, working towards high grades, calling a friend once a week, going out, reading the news, playing music, drawing, watching films. Alternatively, your values may be focused slightly differently: stop wasting money, eat healthier, read more, exercise more, develop myself, build great relationships…

What ever they are, once you define them you can work towards them.

Manage your space

The spaces we live in affect us massively, and our minds and our home have a very close link. The messier our mind, generally the messier our homes. Alternatively, the messier our home is, the harder it is to be calm and focussed when at home. This intimate connection is down to the fact that the material objects affect us. If you’ve read other minimalism blogs (create a blog list), you will have come across this idea: the objects we own take up our time. We have to clean them, tidy them, think about them, use them, fix them and think about them. That is a lot of ‘doing’ for one item. Take a moment to think about all the items you have. How much time could you save?

Keeping your space clear and clean is fundamental to creating a space where you can relax and enjoy yourself. Marie Kondo, the Japanese guru of tidying, has written extensively on the subject of tidying and space management, highlighting the benefits for us. The KonMari method is not for everyone, but her ideas carry a lot of value.

Turn down from 11

Most of us run on 11 – especially if you live in a city. Our phones are ringing, emails coming through, Twitter, Facebook, advertising, coffee, lunch, shopping, drinks, dinner, TV, gym. We cram in as much as we can. Generally from a misconception of necessity. We need to do all these things, otherwise we won’t be happy! Turning down from 11 involves a few steps, some of these take effort and time, but, in the long run, they save us heaps of it.

Unsubscribe from mailing lists!

If you’re like me, you’re probably signed up to loads of mailing lists: my phone company, university, student union, all the stuff I signed up to in freshers week, discount websites, charitable causes, social media notifications… take some time to figure out which ones you want to keep and unsubscribe from the rest! The easiest way I found of doing this was to do it as I got emails coming through. There are other ways, and take some time to plan how you are going to get through this. Once you’re done, create a system to ensure you get your inbox clear every day, this way it’ll never accumulate again.

Turn off notifications

This is a crucial one. Do you really need your Twitter notifications on? Or Facebook notifications? Instagram? LinkedIn? Snapchat, Pinterest, your News apps, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Uni apps, email, Evernote, WhatsApp? Or would it just be simpler to check when you want to check? (Maybe keep your phone & texts on for emergencies, but otherwise… what do you really need?)

Don’t overcommit

I’m a people pleaser. Well, I was a people pleaser. Saying yes to everything and cramming my schedule full of things to do. Unsurprisingly, you can see how that took up a lot of my time. Shàà Wasmund (2015) discusses at length that saying ‘No’ to those things you don’t really want to do will create heaps of time. Here you can come back to the idea of value. When confronted with whether to do something or not, ask yourself, “Will this add value to my life?”. Then listen to your answer.

Stop multi-tasking

It’s not more efficient. You do not get more things done in the day. Having the TV on doesn’t help you concentrate.

Multi-tasking does distract you. It is proven to decrease your ability to focus. You produce lower quality work.


This is where Marie Kondo’s ideas really come in handy. The essence of de-cluttering – in effect the essence of minimalism – is to remove excess. Which method you chose is entirely up to you. The Minimalists came up with the Packing Party: placing everything into boxes – that means everything – and over the next 21-days only unpacking that which you need to use. Then everything else goes, Donate, Sell, Throw.The

The KonMari Method is gentler, with it asking you to look at every item and ask if you value it. Moving through your stuff by category, rather than location: first clothes, then tech, then uni stuff, miscellaneous… If you’re at uni, you’ve probably only got one room, but the idea still holds: organise by category. Then decide what to do with the stuff that no longer has value.

Buy Less

De-cluttering is not a reason to buy more to fill in the space you’ve created. By deciding what it is we value and cutting the excess, we should find that we already have everything that we need. There is no need to them fill the space we’ve cleared with more stuff. With mindful practices, you should start becoming aware of when you feel the urges to buy something, take a step back and ask that same question, “will this add value to my life?” Then listen to the answer.


Minimalism is about looking inwards

To start to live a simpler, minimalist lifestyle we must first start by looking in. Only once we have discovered who we are and what we value can we begin to act on the external factors around us. For the younger ones of us, this is particularly hard as we are still cultivating an image of ourselves. This, however, is not a hindrance, as you do not have to struggle to change habits that have had many years to settle in. The younger we can start critically observing ourselves, the deeper we can go with it. The best part is that learning more about your self will push you to work towards your own goals, not those of others; creating a life full of wealth.


Toward a way of life that is outwardly simple, inwardly rich – Duane Elgin


Elgin, D. (2010 [1981]) Voluntary Simplicity. New York: HarperCollins Publishers

Lee, M. & Ahn, C. (2016) ‘Anti-Consumption, Materialism, and Consumer Well-Being’. The Journal of Consumer Affairs. Spring. pp. 18-47

O’Brien, T. (2015) Inner Story: Understand Your Mind. Change Your World. Ideational

Wasmund, S. (2015) Do Less Get More. London: Penguin RandomHouse UK

Reduce your wallet size | Young Minimalist

Minimise your wallet with ease

Is your wallet overflowing? Here’s a few easy steps to minimise your wallet

Ever since I was a kid, I loved collecting cards. I’d go through every single bit of post to see if there was a bit of plastic in there that I could grab and put in my wallet. Thinking about it now, it was a bit weird. Anyway, getting my first actual bank card was so exciting! And as the years went on I accumulated more and more bits of plastic.

overflowing wallet

That’s it up there. It doesn’t look that oversized, but whenever I sat down, I knew I was sitting on something. If I had to sit down for more than 5 minutes I’d take it out of my back pocket and either hold it, or put it in my bag so my leg wouldn’t go numb. It contained:

  • 6 debit/credit cards
  • my ID
  • my personal licence (to sell alcohol)
  • 5 store points cards (Nectar/Clubcard etc.)
  • 10 different café stamp cards
  • 2 climbing wall membership cards
  • a railcard
  • 2 library cards
  • 2 student IDs
  • a bookstore card
  • 5 business cards from other people
  • 5 of my own defunct business cards.
  • Oh, and a lot of random receipts…

So I figured I’d try minimise my wallet. While I can’t just get rid of all of them I can certainly be wiser in choosing what I take around with me all the time.

Here are my Minimalist Wallet Rules:

Only carry 1 bank card.

If you’re living a minimalist lifestyle you’re not going to be buying many things, so choose an account you’re going to spend from and only take that card.

Use Apple/Android Pay

So if you’re a sceptic you may not want to do this, but I find it super handy! I still tend to pay with the card I’ve designated, but it’s useful to know that there is a backup on your phone just in case something happens to that one.

Take your ID

If you’re lucky enough to look young and live in a country which IDs people a lot, you’ll probably need this with you.

Use a points & loyalty card app

The one I’ve downloaded is Stocard (iOS & Android). It allows you to enter all the major supermarket cards (Nectar, Clubcard, Waitrose etc.) and various shops (Holland & Barrett, Cotswold, Subway, Waterstones) and you can add your own (I’ve added my two climbing gym cards, Mile End Climbing Wall & The Caste). That’s taken 8 cards out of my wallet!!

Alternatively, download loyalty apps

Many of the major supermarkets have their own store apps. Clubcard, Waitrose (which you can use to scan your shopping as you go), Nectar (not a great one), Subway and more. If you don’t want to use an app like Stocard, use their own app!

Don’t carry cash

If you live in a city, almost everywhere you go will probably take card. In fact more and more places are only taking card! Less cash? More space! As a restaurant in Gothenburg said on its window: “Card is King!” – or in our case, 1 card is King!

Have a ‘Home Wallet’

I have repurposed my old wallet to be my ‘Home Wallet’. It’s got all the cards I don’t carry on me. So my other bank cards, my loyalty cards, café stamp cards all stay there. If I know I’m going to need a card that day, I take it with me. So I only carry my Railcard when I know I’m taking the train! There are two benefits to doing this: 1) it makes you think about what you’re doing that day. Increasing you awareness, and 2) it stops you spending unnecessarily – if I don’t have my café stamp card I don’t have a coffee. Of course I could just get a new stamp card and combine them, but this is where self discipline comes into to play. If I didn’t set out to have a coffee that day, I’d be falling back into auto-pilot if I did have one.

The Results?

Minimalist Wallet
Reduced from 41 cards down to 5!! (Needed a new slimline wallet)

My wallet now contains: 1 bank card, my ID, my 2 student IDs & my railcard (as I now take the train everyday). I’ve reduced from 41 cards down to 5! And I’ve never needed a card and not had it. Fed up with carrying all those cards? Change it.

Got any other suggestions to minimise your wallet? Comment below!