In a world that is moving at an ever more frantic pace, where there are always more things to buy and more commitments to meet, it is perhaps not surprising that an increasing number of people are looking to simplify their lives, limit their possessions and adopt a minimalist lifestyle.
Of course, such a significant change to one’s lifestyle is no easy matter. Even the concept of minimalism is hard to define. The idea of being a minimalist means different things to different people, and everyone has their own goals that they are hoping to achieve through minimalism. The thought of revamping your life and discarding possessions that you might have hoarded for years is often daunting, so it is useful to consider the examples and approaches to minimalism that other people have adopted, to see what worked for them and to think about what might work for you.
With that in mind, here are the six best books to help you get started with minimalism.
1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo is an expert declutterer and her hugely popular KonMari method helps you to transform your home into a permanently tidy, simple and tranquil space. This book is a step-by-step guide to taking charge of your home (and your life), evaluating what you actually want to surround yourself with, and blitzing through the decluttering process. Once your house is in order, all you have to think about going forward is what to keep and what to discard.
In writing this book, Kondo aims to do more than just help her readers to declutter their homes and do away with their excess stuff, she actually wants to help them change their entire lives. Kondo’s philosophy holds that when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. The KonMari method forces you to examine what you really want to have in your life. So, in addition to being an excellent guide to minimalism, this book can help you to overcome any negative aspects of your life.
2. Stuffocation: Living More With Less by James Wallman
James Wallman believes that having everything we thought we wanted isn’t actually making us any happier. His research actually suggests that the vast amount of “things” that are now available for people to consume is causing more and more people to feel overwhelmed and burdened by their belongings.
Wallman’s method for overcoming the problem of “stuffocation” is to re-examine what actually makes you happy. Rather than focusing on material things, he believes that people should concentrate on experiences. Instead of spending our time and money on procuring more and more possessions, Wallman believes that we should focus on activities and experiences that have real happiness value, for example, visiting family or hanging out with friends. This book can help you to sort out (and get rid of) your possessions, as well as perhaps inspiring you to live a more adventurous (or at least more active) life.
3. Minimalism: Living a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are best friends who both appeared to be living the American dream. They had good jobs, busy schedules, and plenty of money to burn. However, they were both suffering from depression and so, after turning 30, they both quit their jobs, got rid of the majority of their possessions, and went in search of what really mattered to them.
The pair discovered the concept of minimalism, which helped them to disregard the things (and behaviours) that were holding them back and focus on the important things in life: family, friends, health, passion, and contribution. Their journey towards a more meaningful life and their desire to get more enjoyment out of less stuff is inspiring reading. While everyone’s path to happiness and authenticity will be different, this book provides an excellent starting point and some very helpful tips.
4. Banish Clutter Forever by Sheila Chandra
Sheila Chandra questions why even the most disorganised person never seems to lose their toothbrush and then parlays this puzzlement into a means of solving the world’s clutter problem.
Applicable to everyone, “whether you live in a mansion or a bedsit”, this book will show you how getting and remaining organised can be easy, how to properly arrange your wardrobe so that you can always find the right thing to wear, and how to use your home office in such a way as to maximise your productivity. If you follow Chandra’s approach, you will tidy and declutter your house room-by-room so that you never have to worry about losing things again and you only have to spend ten minutes a day clearing up.
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5. Stress-Free Habit for Simplifying Your Home: 10-Minute Declutter
Living in a cluttered, messy home can cause you stress and hamper your productivity as well as your enjoyment of life. To help you achieve a relaxing home environment, this book provides a step-by-step plan for sorting, disposing of and organising everything in your home in easy to manage timeslots. There is a strong focus on mindset and the importance of forming a decluttering habit.
This is a book on minimalism that would suit even the busiest individual. There is no single, massive decluttering project, since the book instead helps you to formulate a schedule that suits you. There are plenty of useful lists to help you organise your time, plan the tasks that must be completed, and determine what you need to start and maintain the decluttering process. If you follow the common sense tips in this book, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in just ten minutes!
6. The Joy of Less by Francine Jay
Francine Jay is one of the leading decluttering experts in the USA and in this book she helps readers to declutter their homes and simplify their lives using her ten-step Streamline method. Jay advises readers on decluttering, organising, storing and, most importantly, saying goodbye to the things that are no longer needed. Her process helps you to determine whether to trash, treasure or transfer items, and the thought processes behind it have knock-on effects throughout your life.
Jay highlights how minimalism can give people the freedom and space to actually do what they want with their lives. It’s amazing how everything (whether it be relationships, career, hobbies, etc.) seems more straightforward and easy to tackle/overcome when your home and your mind are calm. For this reason, Jay’s approach extends beyond decluttering your home and into cutting down on appointments and commitments in order to give yourself space to breathe.