The Benefits of Minimalism: 7 Reasons to Declutter Your Life


“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” ~ William Morris

Have you ever noticed that every time you move you need a bigger truck than the last time you moved?

People love to collect things, and we have a tendency to keep collecting things in order to fill the available space in our homes (and sometimes beyond).

I’m a firm believer in the idea that material possessions do not equate to happiness, so I recently started to explore the idea of living a minimalist lifestyle, to see if a less cluttered home would result in a less cluttered mind.

I concentrated on decluttering each element of my life by reducing the amount of material possessions I owned and removing those that were unnecessary. This allowed me to focus on those items I valued most.

I followed the seven steps below to declutter my possessions:

Step 1: Categorized my possessions in order to sort through them one at a time (clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry, cosmetics, electronics, books, etc.)

Step 2: Gathered together everything I own from one category, so I could see the true extent of my possessions.

Step 3: Immediately discarded anything that jumped out at me that I no longer required.

Step 4: Analyzed all remaining items to identify whether I loved them. After careful consideration, I discarded anything I didn’t love or need.

Step 5: This was a step where I pushed myself to be more ruthless. I questioned whether I really truly loved the things in my “keep pile” and removed a few more.

Step 6: Tidied everything I had decided to keep neatly away.

Step 7: Gave everything I wasn’t keeping to friends and charity shops and sent some things for recycling.

The process of removing all material possessions I no longer required from my life taught me a number of lessons:

1. Mindful purchasing

We purchase many items on a whim, with little consideration of need or desire. What a waste of money to buy something you may not even particularly like!

A thorough decluttering session teaches you to be more mindful of a purchase and analyze its importance before spending your hard-earned cash.

When decluttering my clothes, I came across several items that still had the labels attached. I found it really difficult to part with these, as it felt so wasteful given that I had never worn them. This was a great lesson in ensuring that from now on I will only buy items I am sure I will definitely wear.

2. Money saved from unnecessary and frivolous purchases

Restricting purchases to only necessary items has the added benefit of saving cash. My biggest overspend in the past has been on clothes.

Since I have significantly reduced my clothes shopping, I have saved a considerable amount of money. This money has helped to fund my true passion of travel and exploring the world.

3. Time saved by being able to find things more easily

Reducing your possessions allows you to find items more quickly, saving precious time.

No longer will you have to hunt through a stash of necklaces but easily choose one from the small collection you have retained. No fishing around among a mountain of handbags or rooting through hanger after hanger of clothes. The choice is quicker and easier.

4. Space saved from owning less

The fewer possessions you own, the less storage space you need.

Since doing some serious decluttering, I now need half the space I previously did. I am currently looking to move to a smaller apartment, as I now have far too much room for one person and could happily live somewhere much smaller.

5. Happier outlook

Surrounding yourself with items you love and displaying only the items most valuable to you will make you feel happier. You won’t have to search through lots of items that you don’t like. Favorite items won’t get lost at the back of the cupboard or the bottom of the drawer.

Gone are the days of saving your favorite things for a special occasion. Every day is a special occasion now that I am only using the things I love and my life is happier as a result.

6. Quicker and easier to clean and tidy

The fewer possessions you have, the neater your house will be and the easier it will be to keep clean.

Marie Kondo, the decluttering expert, advocates the philosophy that each possession has a place and you should know exactly where to find everything. This is only possible if you reduce the amount of your material items. Now my living space is cleaner and tidier, my mind is less cluttered.

7. More freedom

As you begin to detach from material possessions and place more importance on experiences rather than things, you will sense a feeling of lightness and freedom, which can become addictive.

I love this new sense of freedom I feel from no longer being surrounded by piles of unnecessary items I never use and being less attached to possessions. This allows me to focus instead on people and experiences.

Now it’s your turn. Choose one category to start with and focus on the seven steps. See how it makes you feel. Try to dispose of unwanted possessions responsibly.

About Mel Johnson

Mel is the founder of Bestselfology, a blog that explores how to become the best version of yourself in all aspects of your life.  She is currently developing a series of online learning courses to support people in reaching their full potential and live a fulfilled and happy life. You can follow Mel on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Hey Mel! I love Minimalism too. Doing it for 4 years, here! Your insights into getting started were unique and I learned several new ways to think about the process.

  • Joel Scott

    Hey Mel. Totally agree. I too am not a fan of clutter. My goal is to have less stuff each time I move. Thanks for taking the time to write the article.

  • Mel Johnson

    Yes, I fully agree, moving house is a great motivation to do a big decluttering exercise. You have to go through all your stuff anyway, so you may as well take the time to try and reduce everything you don’t need.

  • Mel Johnson

    I’m glad you learned new ways to think about the process. Happy to have helped 🙂

  • Sandeep Jha

    Going through this right now as I prepare for a move. Can completely relate to each and everything you have said.

  • 7 simple and precise tips on Minimalist Living.
    Thank you 🙂

  • Jennifer Anderson

    Sometimes it is hard for people to understand how owning less has given so much more to my life. Having fewer things made me more decisive-I don’t have an entire closet to pick from but I do have a small set of clothes that I love and am happy to wear any of them. I had to decide what my priorities are in life-what makes me the most happy and get rid of anything that doesn’t meet this expectation. Great article on the many benefits of Minimalist Living.

  • Julie@ChooseBetterLife

    I did the KonMarie method too and love having less stuff. Especially with clothing, it’s now easier to remember what I have and not unintentionally buy duplicates. Plus, I know that if I buy something new I’ve set a policy for myself to get rid of something old; since I love everything I have, it helps me make sure that the new item is reallly, truly, worth it.