Practicing Minimalism for Millennials

I frequently feel overwhelmed. The majority of my day is spent staring at a computer screen, either for work, school, blogging, or leisure (i.e. watching Netflix while doing one of the previously mentioned activities). There is very little time to just sit and think. If I find myself doing nothing, it’s incredibly uncomfortable and boring to sit with my own thoughts. Which is sad, but true. And I know I’m not alone in this.

Our minds and lives are cluttered. That’s why I loved The Minimalists Podcast, hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. In the past, my definition of minimalism was simply owning as few possessions as possible. Which, I thought was a little strange. After listening to this podcast and learning the “why” behind a minimalist’s thought processes, I realized that minimalism is a lifestyle. It can be applied to many areas of your life, and everyone can have their own definition of minimalism.

For Josh and Ryan, minimalism is living a meaningful life with less. Now, “less” is going to look different for everyone. After applying minimalist concepts, one person might own 30,000 items, while someone who has never applied the concepts only owns 1,000 items. The number doesn’t matter. At all. It’s all about how the things you do and the things you own add value to your life.

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That being said, here are the themes I noticed after listening to 15 episodes of The Minimalists Podcast:

Know What’s Important

One main reason for integrating minimalism into your life is to figure out the things that are really important to you. By downsizing the distractions and junk that are constantly in our way, it makes it easier to focus on things that truly matter. For example, by owning fewer items your home will be less cluttered and you’ll spend less time cleaning. With that extra time, you’ll be able to spend more time other things. This could include spending time with family and friends or cultivating your passion.

In the process of figuring out what’s most important, you have to choose where your time and energy is best spent. This requires the understand that you will always be missing out on something. If you choose one thing, such as cultivating your passion, you will be missing out on something else. And that’s okay! This prevents over-scheduling and unnecessary stress (which I am personally prone to!). The Minimalists encourage us to make decisions that will bring us the most joy while growing and living simply. Don’t be afraid to experiment with taking things in and out of your life. Nothing needs to be permanent, you can change your mind if things aren’t working for you.

Technology

Before listening to this podcast, I didn’t realize how deeply technology is ingrained in my daily life. I subconsciously reach for my cell phone at work when I’m bored and log on to my computer right when I get home from work. I read scriptures online before I go to bed. And my phone alarm is the first thing I hear in the mornings. If someone reached for a cigarette as often as I reach for the various technologies in my life, they would be called an addict.

Now, technology is not inherently bad! Technology can be used for some really awesome things, like connecting with others, communicating information from around the world, meeting new people, increasing sales for business, etc. The problem comes when we mindlessly scroll through apps that do not add true value to our lives.

Before writing this post, I went through my phone. I got rid of any app that wasn’t adding value to my life. This included an old email address that collected junk mail, three mind-numbing game apps (that were really fun), and two social media apps. To be honest, this was more difficult than I’d like to admit. However, this weekend has been much more productive! I encourage you to think about how you spend your time on the computer and your phone. Are the apps or websites you’re visiting adding value to your life, or are they simply distractions from the important things in your life?

Drudge Through It

Josh and Ryan constantly use the saying, “drudging through the drudgery.” I feel like this concept has come up in almost every podcast I’ve listened to. Successful people do not give up easily. When things get hard, they push through. So how does this fit into minimalism? Minimalism is about changing your mindset and lifestyle to revolve around the things that matter most to you. So, if your goal is to write a successful book, you will need to drudge through the times when writing is difficult.

One thing The Minimalists brought up is the idea of cultivating only one passion at a time. This idea was mentioned in Emma Gannon’s podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete, as well. The general idea is that you should stick to one idea. This allows you to buckle down and really focus on it. When a new idea comes long, it might be easy to chase it down because it would be “easier” than what you’re doing right now. The Minimalists and Emma Gannon would suggest that you stick to what you’re doing and “drudge through the drudgery!”

However, what about the people who have a bunch of great ideas and want to pursue all of them? I received a comment from Maryanne (thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my previous post, Maryanne!), who has a different point of view from the one I mentioned. She said, “Doing several things is called “branding” and it has been great for my career as a writer and public speaker. One of my mentors advised me ‘Keep shooting those arrows.’ She was right.”

I think that both points are valid and correct. Depending on the type of person, focusing on one project or pursuing multiple at a time could be the right decision. If you are a person that gets distracted easily (I fall into this category), then taking things one project at a time may be more productive. If you’re like Maryanne, pursuing more than one avenue at once can keep you motivated.

MAKAYLA

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75 thoughts on “Practicing Minimalism for Millennials

  1. Such a great post! I’ve found minimizing my life in just one small way usually over flows into my life in other ways. I am really appreciating your blog. Thanks for the post!

  2. I watched their movie right before I moved across the country into a tiny 203 sq ft apartment and took a job with a good amount of travel. I joked for a while with friends that I was becoming a minimalist…but it slowly took root. When you physically limit your space, you realize what actually matters. It changed how I approach the things that I care about. I started to ask if I really needed something…or if I just wanted it. My money stopped paying for things and started paying for experiences.

    Now the same framework has spilled into other parts of my life or more specifically my head and spirit. Treating my them like a tiny apartment means you really decide what you want to bring in and stop accumulating junk.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I think you’re living my dream life! Haha May I ask what you do for a living? I love the idea of living in a small space and paying for experiences instead of material things. Have you found that you get more enjoyment our of the items that you intentionally chose to keep around?

      1. I work in the hotel business so I have the opportunity to travel a bit now. It’s been a huge adjustment. I wasn’t coming from some palatial Home into this or anything like that. But moving into a space this small really makes you question everything you own. I think the items I have kept or purchased all mean something now. I don’t have anything that I look at and wonder why I have it. Almost everything is used every week. Also I started to value my time outside of the home. I appreciate visiting my parents house now and having a massive couch that I don’t have to curl up into. It made me realize how much I had before and what I will need moving forward.

      2. Makayla, I must apologize for not getting back to you until now but I’ve been inundated with workshops, writing, and life. I’ve lived a truly blessed life and have learned a lot of what you are saying. One of the major lessons occured many years ago when I learned about simplicity. Living a simple life without all the “things’ that many people value makes life so much easier. Another major lesson was when I retired several years ago. I was a Plastic/trauma/maxillofacial surgeon (that’s a real mouthful) and upon retirement I discovered how much responsibility I had acquired over the years. My whole career was a 24/7 on-call life. Once that was over I had more time than I knew existed. Now, I’m very careful with my time and use of time. I call it “living a spiritual life”. Writing about it helps me keep on track and working with people helps me stay the path myself. For example, I have close to a thousand followers on Facebook. I just can’t keep up with all that requires so I’ve decided to stop my Facebook account and focus on that which give me pleasure like my website, working with individuals, and writing. I know I will feel better and less constricted once I remove what has become a very tiresome area of work. I’m sorry to go on and on but I feel you will understand and perhaps know your path is a path that in the long run will serve you well. Keep in touch and enjoy life. I’ve enjoyed reading your work and can feel you are listening to your inner voice and realigning your life to meet your objectives. Congrats.

  3. Though minimalism as often practiced strikes me as extreme, it does at least run counter to the materialism which has consumed our culture. We seem to believe we are defined by our possessions. That is not, of course, the case. But a focus on possessions — and how to acquire MORE — leads to an empty life.

    1. I think it definitely can be thought of as extreme if taken that way. That’s why I tried to stress the importance of minimalism being different for everyone. Thanks for your thoughts!!

  4. I like that you include that minimalism can be different. I love knick nacks and sentimental little things but I would love to cut down on my wardrobe and other material things. I just want my every day life to be more mainstreamed.

    1. I totally understand that! I have a small of collection of bears (which is kind of embarrassing haha) but they truly bring me joy so I can justify keeping them around! Haha

  5. Excellent post, Makayla! I agree that minimalism can mean different things to different people. And that it has several benefits. For me, it is a sort of knock against the extremely today’s extremely consumerist society. Status in America is built around stuff. Want higher status? Buy (or at least give the appearance that you have) more stuff. I have been doing minimalism for about a year now. Rather than minimalism, I call it Living Simply. I’m done with status. I love connecting with readers and new friends, but couldn’t care less what people think of me. As you rightly state, it’s about valuing what is important to me, not what others care about.

    1. What a great perspective, I think you’re definitely on to something! I love the idea of Living Simply, it seems like such a laid-back, happier way to live life. I’d love to hear more about the specifics.

  6. I really loved this comment you made, “By downsizing the distractions and junk that are constantly in our way, it makes it easier to focus on things that truly matter.” This is a brilliant piece of advice that I know I need to apply to my life. It is so easy to add distractions instead of take them away, but in doing that it takes away what truly matters.

    1. I agree 100%, especially about it being so easy to add distractions. I feel like I’m much better about the apps that I add to my phone now that I’ve listened to this podcast. If I don’t think it will add value to my life, I won’t download it. Because you’re right, it takes away from what truly matters. Thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts, I appreciate it greatly!

  7. I get so agitated when I’m surrounded by clutter! It’s taken me years to kick my packrat habit, but after moving every 1-2 years and lugging around an entire room full of boxes that I never opened I finally hit my breaking point. The hardest mental hurdle I had to learn to get over was the “I don’t know why I’m keeping this, but I KNOW I’ll need it sometime in the future” excuse. And I’ve definitely tossed things I did indeed need later, but not enough to warrant having to wade through piles and piles of junk first.

    Without the clutter, I love the time I spend cleaning house is now a fraction of what it used to be and I can find what I’m looking for right away. I feel more settled and happier and can live for weeks out of a backpack without needing much more than that to get by. Great article!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. I am so glad you took the time to talk about physical clutter, because I didn’t talk about it much in this post. I think that you’re so right, having all that junk is just extra stress that’s completely unnecessary! I’m glad you’ve been able to find your balance. Thanks again 🙂

  8. Enjoyed this. I travel for 7 months of the year with my husband who plays baseball. Last season we lived in hotels and I only had one suitcase. It’s really surprising how little material things you need, when it comes down to it.

    Also, from a creative standpoint, I think it’s good to “unplug” from technology, tv, “the noise” because when my mind is free to wander – that’s when I think of my best ideas!

    1. I feel like that would be such a fun life! Living out of a suitcase can be stressful because of external circumstances that often accompany it, but at least you don’t have to worry about picking an outfit! Haha Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Starting small is the best way to go! I believe in you girl, you can totally start practicing minimalism and finding a balance that works for you.

  9. I use minimalism as a tool to focus on the important things in my life. If I don’t find value in it, then it’s not meant to be cluttering my life right now. It’s helped me to really focus on the things I love, and create a more meaningful life. (Which is actually the inspiration for my blog!)

    1. I LOVE THAT! I subscribed to your blog so I can follow your journey a little better. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  10. Excellent! My brain is busy. And has more ideas than I can possibly accomplish. This post was a reminder that I need to get it to be quiet at least every once in awhile.

    1. I totally understand that. I keep a little notebook with me at all times and write things down as I think of them. That way they can get out of my brain and I can revisit those ideas when it’s appropriate haha

  11. Great post! I’ve recently started applying the principles of minimalism to smaller aspects of my life (as it is a little scary to me!) and the other day, I de-cluttered and cleaned out my closet and makeup collection, leaving only the clothes/products I use a lot or make me feel good about myself. I’m slowly getting there!
    I’d love it if you’d check out my new post at https://khanakm.com/2018/02/25/legit-no-makeup-makeup-tutorial/
    Khanak x

    1. I read your post and thought it was great! I personally don’t wear makeup, so the idea of a no-makeup look was cool. You are a stunning person, and I’m excited to see more of your posts!

  12. Can apply to all generations. As long as you’re putting sensible thought and making healthy decisions in your life. Looking inward @ the whys and what’s of the things around you really puts things in focus as well.

    1. I completely agree. I think understanding the “Whys” and “Whats” should happen before you act on anything, really. That’s a big part of living an intentional life.

  13. I can relate to your blog post. I think it’s really difficult to unwind when we have the Internet in our hands. There is a high demand for instant gratification in terms of producing content and following up with it afterwards. As for the way in which minimalism applies to me, I try to think beyond material items. Not that I have much, anyway. It’s more about focusing and prioritizing one task at a time instead of doing multiple things at once, which is easy to do when there are so many interests that catch your attention all at once. 🙂

    1. I think we feel the exact same way! I don’t have many items either. I feel like if I did, it would almost be suffocating. I hadn’t thought about trying to minimize things other than material possessions until listening to this podcast!

    1. You’re welcome! I’m following your blog, by the way. I think your photos and content are great.

    1. I think a lot of people have been looking into it because our lives are so full of distractions and junk! I hope you found something helpful in the post, thanks for being such a supportive blogging buddy!

  14. I am waaaay past being a millennial and I can attest to the fact that there are many times in my life I just had to “drudge” through it. All your suggestions are good ones!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad that the suggestions are seen as “good” by someone who’s been through it. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

    1. You’re welcome! I think that point needs to be emphasized more often, because many people think minimalism is a radical lifestyle, but it really doesn’t need to be! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  15. I really have to agree with you on this one, minimalism can do wonders for your life if done right. I also love how you’re one of the only bloggers I’ve seen throughly emphasise that minimalism is all about balance! A lot to one person may seem very little to another, and I love how you acknowledged that minimalism isn’t one size fits all.
    I also loved the part about focusing on one thing. I too get lots of ideas that I want to pursue all the time, however I often find that I spread myself too thin and don’t really excel in any. I have found that focusing on only one or two things gets the best results!
    Awesome post as always, thank you!

    1. That’s one of the things I like about minimalism, maybe my favorite thing. It’s all about being intentional with the things you bring into your life, not necessarily about how MANY things you bring into your life. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it!

    1. You totally should! There’s also a minimalist documentary on Netflix if that sounds interesting to you. I watched it today and it was pretty interesting as an introduction to minimalism.

  16. Excellent post!! “I read scriptures online before I go to bed…” Me too! 🙂 Very inspiring because I spend a ton of time on my laptop, but I find myself spending less time on my phone, and instead have gotten more into reading. It helps me break the technology habit, even if just for awhile, and then I dedicate time to cultivate my passion (such as art and jewelry-making). Thanks for sharing your inspiring thoughts!

    1. I love reading for that same reason! I have a problem with being on my phone so much, I should really try to find a better way to fill the little moments in my day.

  17. Are the apps or websites you’re visiting adding value to your life, or are they simply distractions from the important things in your life? ~Great question. I feel like looking at my WP reader is the *productive* version of scrolling through FB.

    1. I feel the same way! I took the Facebook app and LinkedIn app off of my phone after listening to this podcast, because they were just total time-wasters. But the WP app is awesome when you can find good posts.

    1. No problem! I actually review a personal development podcast or book once a week on this blog if you’re interested in finding new material! There’s so much out there that it can be hard to find anything good haha

  18. I’ve always tried to be more minimalist. Trouble is I attach sentimental value to objects and possessions, therefore I find it hard to get rid of things, as I think of the memories attached to them. The struggle!

    1. I understand that 100%! One thing I loved about this podcast is that they actually talk about that quite a bit, because so many people are in the same boat. Episode 11 talked about it a lot, but I swear that topic is mentioned in almost every episode.

  19. I think you can pursue different goals at the same time if you´re very disciplined and able to schedule everything. But that also means minimising a lot of other stuff and distractions. Like going to partys every weekend, or watching netflix 20 hours a week.

    1. I totally agree. If my goals allowed me to watch Netflix for 20 hours a week though, I’d be fine with that haha Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

    1. I am definitely following you now, I want to hear more about that! Your blog is awesome by the way, I love the peaches 🙂

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