Minimalism -- it's the lifestyle movement du jour. Fueled in part by the runaway success of Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up, which has sold over three million copies, aspirations for a minimalist life are on the rise. Two years after its U.S. debut, the hardcover, Kindle, and Audible editions of Kondo's manifesto still occupy the top sellers in the home Improvement & Design category on Amazon (the fourth and fifth most-popular titles are Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul and Spark Joy, an illustrated follow-up to Kondo's first book).
With all this buzz about living well with less, it's no surprise that it seems like everyone has been on a quest to simplify their lives -- myself included. After reading Kondo's book and many other minimalist-minded tomes, I've discovered a few surprising ways to streamline your everyday life.
Marie Kondo would have you throw out anything that doesn't "spark joy," but that can be a daunting task. Instead, here's one quick way to reduce clutter: Get rid of anything in your home that is purely for decorative purposes: The pillows on your bed that you put on the floor every night, the objét on your bookshelves, the decorative throw -- toss them all. You'll be surprised at how light and tidy your home will feel afterwards.
If home décor blogs tell the truth, we're living in a golden age of houseplants. However, while plants look great in photos (hello, fiddle leaf fig!), they're actually sort of a nuisance: Excess moisture from pots leaves water rings on furniture and make the paint peel off window sills. The dirt and dust that come along with the greenery are another housekeeping nightmare. Not to mention, you have to keep the damn things alive, which for apartment dwellers can be a real challenge. If you're blessed with outdoor space, keep your plants there, and if you're not, consider ditching all your flora for the sake of simplicity.
I'm not going to tell you to ditch all your hair products and simply rinse your locks with vinegar (though that is a truly minimalist option), but if you can cut back on hair washing (and styling), you'll save yourself tons of time. Start by switching to washing every other day, and then try to gradually increase the time between washes (dry shampoo will help). These days I only wash my hair twice a week, and I only blow-dry it once, saving me precious morning minutes.
Animal-lovers will dislike this advice, but a pet complicates your life infinitely -- even the smallest, most low-maintenance of pets needs to be fed while you are out of town. Dogs require daily walks and poop scooping. All other house-bound beasts will need you to clean their cage or litter boxes.
Bea Johnson, the queen of minimalism, advocates against freebies in her minimalist manifesto The Zero Waste Home. As a magazine editor, I'm confronted with a constant stream of stuff that publicists have sent to myself and other editors in the hopes that I'll write about it. While this is not a problem for everyone else, you can refuse freebies from conferences, fairs, and parties. Resisting the urge to take any of this "free" stuff home is hard, but unless someone is giving away something you actually use (and use up regularly) freebies just bring more clutter into your home. And really, do you need another pen/water bottle/coffee mug/oversized T-shirt?
Streamline your morning by eating the same breakfast each day. You'll save time and energy not having to make choices when you're just waking up, and if you choose something healthy, you'll know you've at least started every day on a good note. If you usually eat at work, buy breakfast in bulk at the grocery store instead of daily as a single serving to save money and the daily time it takes to buy it.
Statistics show that millennials have given up their cable packages, but why not take it a step further? If you're anything like the average American, who has the TV on 8 hours a day (!), you'll be getting back hours of your life each day. Can't go cold turkey? Limit yourself to just one or two shows a week. In either case, ditch the television and watch shows on your computer instead. Removing the eyesore of the TV from your living room will give you a much more minimalist look.
After last year's New York Times expose about the horrific work conditions many salon employees endure, many women decided to give up their weekly manicures (or began tipping at higher-than-usual rates). While this conscientiousness is noble, I'd also argue that a weekly mani is not a good use of your time in the first place. Think about it: Would you rather spend an hour in a fume-filled salon or doing something else? Plus, if you forgo the polish you'll never find yourself with chipping lacquer that needs to be redone -- and you'll save the time normally spent removing the aforementioned chipping polish. And, at about $15 a pop, you'll be saving a ton if you give up a weekly habit; nearly $800 over the course of a year.
Embrace a more European style of bed dressing and get rid of your top sheet. Instead, make your bed with a fitted sheet and a duvet cover over your comforter. Losing the extra layer will make making the bed infinitely easier -- just fluff the pillows and shake out your duvet and you're done. So long, hospital corners!
I am a big believer in auto-paying all your bills. For bills that I can't automatically charge, like rent that stays the same every month, I have my bank automatically send a check, so I rarely have to write a check (and never pay late fees). Ask your bank if it can do the same for you. If you don't want to auto-pay your credit card in full each month, consider setting up an automatic payment for a set amount, so you'll never be in danger of a late fee.
By: Laura Fenton