12 Minimalism Principles
I gradually turned into a minimalist. I started by accident, realized how liberating it is, and since then did not stop minimizing.
To me, Minimalism doesn’t translate into more, less, or nothing. It means just enough.
During my journey, step by step, I changed my habits. I made mistakes, I learned and improved. When I learned about the concept of principles, I decided to, even more, simplifying my life by codifying my decision criteria into the following set of 12 principles.
Principles help you make conscious decisions to achieve your goals. A set of principles — like the one here — can even be contradictory: just choose the one that works for you in a given situation. What works for me might not work for you. And they’re certainly not perfect or complete. So when you read them, feel free to disagree, adjust them to your own needs and values or ignore them entirely.
I share them to help you on your own minimalism journey but also to get your thoughts and feedback to improve.
1/ Use it or lose it.
Don’t store better, only keep what you use. Get rid of everything else — even if it’s in good shape — especially if you can easily replace it. If you struggle to part, ask yourself: why is it so hard, and how can I mitigate it?
2/ Uncommit, and focus on the future.
Don’t fall for the sunk cost bias: the decisions you’ve made in the past, the money you’ve spent on something, you cannot change that anymore. Instead, reflect on what you want to do differently next time and how you can reduce waste in the future. Pretend you’re not committed yet: what would you do?
3/ If it’s not a Hell Yeah, it’s a No.*
Your default answer should be a No. Only say Yes when you’re genuinely excited about it. A half-hearted Yes can cost you the opportunity to say Hell Yeah to something else later.
4/ Is that job free?
Do you have something or someone, that does that “job” for you already? Rather combine uses instead of acquiring duplicates. Get rid of the big home hair dryer, if the travel one works just as well. Prefer multi- over uni-taskers.
5/ Only gone is gone.
When reducing waste, don’t leave space for doubts. Do not just relocate, irrevocably let go. Storing items in the basement or moving stuff to your parents is not ok! Prefer fixing, upcycling, recycling, donating, or selling items over throwing them away if it’s still in good shape.
6/ No pressure.
Avoid impulse decisions. Rather take them according to your values and priorities. Don’t let yourself be pressured into doing something as a reaction to someone’s request. Don’t fall for sales offers. Stop. Breathe. Think. Then make a decision.
7/ Kill the paper.
Digitalise as much as possible. Have mercy with the trees.
8/ Can we share?
Ask yourself whether you can borrow an item that you only need for a short period. Or rent out things that you do not need all the time. A vehicle, books, the drilling machine …
9/ Kill the vampires.
Identify the things — or people — in your life that drain your energy and time without adding value. Reduce your screen time and unsubscribe from everything that wastes your time and money. Set social media rules for yourself to avoid falling into the rabbit hole. Only spend time with people that lift you.
10/ Favor quality over quantity.
Better have a few high-quality than hundreds of disposable low-quality items or even relationships.
11/ Favor timeless over trendy.
Trends are — by definition — impermanent and always changing. Whenever you make a decision, ask yourself whether you are following a temporary trend or going for timelessness.
12/ Does it get me closer to my goals?
Whatever your reason is to become a minimalist, ask yourself how your decision to consume, and invest time and efforts, will improve your daily life and also achieve your mid- to long-term goals.