Updated: Feb 2
Ready to hit refresh? With the coming of a new year, it is common for people to use this time to start fresh in an attempt to quit bad habits, with a list of New Years resolutions.
Whilst it can be therapeutic to do so, it is also important not to forget the lessons this past year has taught us, to learn from our mistakes and to allow them to shape us into better versions of ourselves.
Photo: Getty Images
Below you will find our 30 Day Minimalism Challenge, which we hope will help you on your way to feeling focused and ready to start off the New Year with a level head.
PURGE YOUR WARDROBE
Start by pulling everything out and starting over. Only put back the things that you truly love. If you haven’t done this in a few years (or ever), that is the first step. Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up employs you to take every last item out and ask yourself whether each piece sparks joy, if not it's time to say goodbye!
If you fancy making a little extra money on the side, you can resell your items on Depop or Ebay. Otherwise, there are plenty of charity shops that are always delighted to receive donations.
Once you have completed the ruthless purge of your closet and removed all of the items you don’t wear and don’t love, you can start to rebuild your wardrobe into one you will love to wear. One that will give you joy, rather than a headache whilst you try to find that one top at the bottom of your wardrobe.
You will be trying on a lot of your clothing, so we recommend that you do it on a day where you are feeling good, perhaps after having your hair done, not after a large meal when you feel sluggish and bloated. Choose a time when you feel good, you look good, and you have a few hours to dedicate to the project.
Step 1: Empty Out Your Closet
Step 2: Sort Each Item Into 4 Piles
Love It, Maybe (keeping an item just because it has sentimental value, or because you paid a lot for it? Put it in a box and store it. If you start. wishing you had it, you can always go back and retrieve it. However, if you don’t find yourself wanting it by the end of the season, it’s time to donate it), Hate It and Seasonal (If it’s not in season, but you love it, put into a box and store it so you can add it back to your wardrobe when the proper season comes around).
Step 3: Assess What's Left In Your Closet
You may want to try wearing the clothes you have for a while before hitting the shops. This will help you define your personal style. Peruse Pinterest, Tumblr, Vogue etc., and keep track of what styles you feel suit you best. Keep a photo album and/or list on your phone of items you need or want. That way you can shop strategically.
Step 4 (The Best Step): SHOP!
TIDY OUT YOUR HANDBAG
In the whirlwind of running to meetings, picking up the kids or dashing from work to the gym, a girls handbag can end up as depositories for used tissues, old receipts and crumbs.
If you are a handbag hoarder take Marie Kundo's advice and change the regularity with which you clear out your handbag. Marie recommends ‘completely emptying your bag each day when you come home’, and ‘designate a place in your home to store the items from your handbag that you carry each day, such as your wallet. Then each morning, pack only the items you need on that particular day – this way your handbag will always remain tidy.’
Lastly, should you want to organise your bag the evening prior, you can purchase removable bag organisers, you can change its content and pop them back into a different handbag (because as we all know, different outfits require different accessories). Check out the Container Store's cool selection.
DONATE OLD BOOKS
Summer Brennan said it perfectly in an article on the Literary Hub; 'books are not impersonal units of knowledge, interchangeable and replaceable, but rather receptacles for the moments of our lives, whose pages have sopped up morning hopes and late-night sorrows, carried in honeymoon suitcases or clutched to broken hearts.'
They are indeed mementos of our past. Therefore, when it comes to clearing out your book shelf, throwing out every unread book because you’re not currently reading it makes about as much sense as throwing away all the perfectly good food in your home, simply because you don’t plan on eating it for your next meal.
Critic George Steiner once said that “a book can wait a thousand years unread until the right reader comes along”.
Make sure that when it comes to culling your collection, you employ the same steps as with your wardrobe. Any books that you know you didn't enjoy, could be donated to someone who might.
Looking for somewhere to donate your books?
General places to donate include local libraries, charity shops, thrift stores, and homeless shelters. Furthermore, if you have an excess of children's books, women's shelters are always in need of extra copies.
STAY OFFLINE FOR A DAY
Here are 5 benefits of going offline:
1. You sleep better.
2. You can focus on what matters.
3. The time you spend online is used to benefit you.
(you will notice that you waste less time online. Instead of browsing through endless content, read an article or book, learn another language or try a new cooking recipe)
4. You remember what it was like to be focused.
5. You reconnect with yourself
(it is estimated that the average American is exposed to 4000-10,000 advertisements per day - taking a break allows you to think and act without the influence of outside forces)
CLEAR OUT MAKEUP COLLECTION
If you have noticed recently that your skin has been breaking out more than usual, it could be from old makeup. Old makeup can start to build up germs.
“Anything moist that’s touching wet parts of the body—eyes, lips, open skin—lasts a shorter period of time,” explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Liquid foundation will typically last for 12 months, while mascara and eyeliner will only last three. Lip products and solid compact makeup generally last for around 2 years if stored correctly. Furthermore, make sure you regularly sterilise your makeup brushes so you don't transfer bacteria from your old makeup, into your new.
DON'T SPEND ANY MONEY FOR 24 HOURS
After the expensive Christmas season, this one is probably easier than you think.
COMPLETE ALL OF YOUR ERRANDS
Many of us put off seemingly manageable tasks (canceling subscriptions, sending Christmas thank-you cards, clearing out your email inbox, dropping off the dry-cleaning) until they coalesce into one giant, stressful ball of life admin.
Many of the errands we put off, could be actually done in minutes. The mere thought of doing them is so much more daunting, than the act of actually doing it.
WRITE A GRATITUDE LOG
Write out a list or few short paragraphs expressing your appreciation for the good things in your life. Reflecting on the areas of life that we are grateful for is extremely therapeutic.
The negativity bias is a well documented phenomenon, that describes the tendency we have to focus more of our attention on negative events, rather than positive ones. Focusing on the negative experiences in our day to day lives, actually causes us more harm than simply being able to move on from them. Writing a gratitude log, is one way we can counteract this habitual thinking.
DON'T WEAR MAKEUP FOR A DAY
This will save you time and help you to look more fresh faced. In addition, when we suffer from breakouts we tend to try and cover it with layers of makeup. Applying makeup will most likely make your breakouts worse by causing further irritation, as well as preventing the skin from being able to breathe and heal. Cleansing and toning your face twice a day is the most important way to refrain from clogged pores.
11 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
1. Reduces Stress
2. Controls Anxiety
(For example, yoga has been shown to help people reduce anxiety. This is likely due to benefits from both meditative practice and physical activity).
3. Promotes Emotional Health
4. Enhances Self-Awareness
5. Lengthens Attention Span
6. May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss
7. Can Generate Kindness
8. May Help Fight Addictions
9. Improves Sleep
10. Helps Control Pain
11. Can Decrease Blood Pressure
The benefits of fresh air are well-known. More oxygen results in greater brain functioning, improving your concentration skills and providing you with more energy.
In addition, venturing outside helps your body in its production of vitamin D from the sun (when it does come out), which is essential for many bodily functions.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
The majority of us inevitably spend our days doing things we have already done hundreds or thousands of times before. Rarely do we make a conscious effort to allocate time to trying new things for the purpose of engaging a unique experience. Familiar daily routines can sometimes leave us feeling like we are stuck, cruising through the same day over and over again. Engaging in fresh experiences will help reinvigorate your life, with more energy and excitement. Try a new sport, travel somewhere solo, start a side hustle or become a “yes” person. Avoid making excuses and push yourself to accept new challenges and ideas. Life is too short to allow yourself to relive the same bland routine.
RE-EVALUATE YOUR TO DO LIST
Allison Rimm, a time management consultant and executive coach, wrote in the Harvard Business Review that ‘once you accept that you have more to do than time to do it all, that is actually a liberating concept. This realization forces you to acknowledge there are lower priority items that you will likely never complete. Delete those non-essentials, put them on your not-to-do list, and commit to letting them go. This will prevent you from wasting precious time continually re-evaluating whether you might get to them that could be better invested in actually completing your work’.
TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
Smartphones aren't the problem. It is the endless stream of notifications we receive, consistently calling for our attention.
A Deloitte study in 2016 found that people look at their phones 47 times a day on average; for young people, more like 82. Apple proudly announced in 2013 that 7.4 trillion push notifications had been pushed through its servers. The intervening four years have not reversed the trend. The solution? Kill your notifications! Yes, really. Turn them all off. (You can leave on phone calls and text messages, but nothing else.)
You'll soon discover that you don't miss your lock screen being crowded with notification alerts, because they never existed for your benefit.
REMOVE ALL UNHEALTHY FOOD FROM YOUR KITCHEN
Food manufacturers sometimes create foods with the goal of igniting a cycle of addiction in consumers. You body functions at different levels, depending on what you feed it.
Try planning out each week's meals, and make sure to include a variety of different foods. You can prepare large batches of brown rice, beans, vegetables, cold salads etc., and store in food containers. Throw in some oven baked salmon the night before, and you're set.
That way, it is quick and easy to grab on your way out the door in the morning. If you find yourself feeling hungry and tempted to snack, grab a piece of fruit (banana, apple, chopped mango).
Fruit is packed full of antioxidents. It also contains fibre, which will help to balance out your blood sugar levels and calm your cravings.
ORGANISE THE FILES & FOLDERS ON YOUR COMPUTER
Removing excess clutter, organising nameless documents and removing duplicate photos will help increase productivity.
Having a messy desktop on your laptop does nothing for your sanity. Once you have removed any excess documents, organise all files into main folders (resumes, family photos, taxes, social media, client work, etc.).
Once everything is seperated, you can begin to organise subfolders (e.g organising family photos based on the date they were taken).
UNSUBSCRIBE FROM EMAIL MARKETING
Unsubscribe from any unsolicited emails you never signed up to receive, or updates you no longer want crowding your inbox. Look for the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
CLEAR OUT YOUR JUNK DRAWER
Getting rid of clutter can have an almost therapeutic effect. We all have that one spot at home where it accumulates. Empty out your draw and then sort and chose the items you really need close at hand. You can then organise your selected items using a draw organiser. You can purchase various drawer organisers via Amazon, John Lewis, Lakeland or Ikea, to name a few.
PRACTICE SINGLE TASKING
Switching between multiple tasks during the day can leave you feeling drained and in a panick. Practise focusing on one task and time yourself. Stick to short bursts of concentrated work, with regular breaks in-between.
DEVISE & FOLLOW A MORNING RITUAL
Design a morning ritual that is best suited to you, one that will leave you feeling energised and prepared for the day ahead.
Rather than heading straight to check your emails or social media pages, try doing yoga for half an hour, write down your goals for the day or read a chapter of the book you are currently reading.
CREATE A RELAXING BEDTIME ROUTINE
Sleep deprivation can have a profound consequence on your physical and mental health.
One in 3 of us suffers from poor sleep, with stress, computers and taking work home often blamed. For many of us, we can improve the quality of our sleep by making small lifestyle adjustments. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can be vital in preparing us for a restful nights sleep.
Here are 5 HEALTHY HABITS TO EASE INTO SLEEP:
1. Stay On Schedule -
Make sure you go to sleep at roughly the same time every evening.
2. Be Mindful or What & When You Eat -
A common suggestion is not to eat after 7/8pm.
3. Create a Comfortable Atmosphere -
Keep your bedroom clean, cool, quiet and relatively dark.
4. No Electronics! -
5. Stop Looking At The Clock -
Constantly looking over to check the time when you can’t sleep, can stress you out and make it even harder to snooze. Keep your bedroom clock turned away from you so that you won’t be tempted to watch time pass by. If 30 minutes pass and you still can't fall asleep, get out of bed and do something calming until you feel drowsy again.
IDENTIFY YOUR STRESS TRIGGERS
Take notes of your stress levels and your activities at regular intervals throughout a weekday. Once you have identified your stress triggers, figure out how you could prevent or counteract them in the future.
LEAVE A WHOLE DAY UNPLANNED
Most of us are so used to making the most out of every free minute of the day, that it can seem daunting to not have plans for fear of missing out. Be intrepid for a day and see where it takes you.
Complaining is never conducive to productivity and can be a catalyst for negative thought patterns. Challenge yourself to not get wound up over the small stuff today. Take a deep breath, accept the situation and move on, or find a solution.
IDENTIFY YOUR 6 MAIN PRIORITIES
Above all, minimalism is about figuring out what matters most in your life. Write down your top 6 and then decide how to incorporate more of them into your daily life.
UNFOLLOW & UNFRIEND
Downsize and de-stress your social media experience, by being a little more selective about who you follow. Do you really need to stay friends on Facebook with people you haven’t spoken to in years? Go through and shorten your list.
DELETING OLD APPS YOU NO LONGER USE
If you have an iPhone, finding and deleting unused apps is pretty simply.
To get to all your apps, go into the Settings menu and then select “General” followed by “iPhone Storage.” Your device will show you a list all of the apps you currently have installed on your device with the largest of those listed first. If you scroll down, you’ll see a “Last Used” date below each app that lists the last time you opened it. If it’s been a few months, you probably no longer need it.
If you tap on the app on the list you’ll be given two options: Offload app and Delete app. Offloading it will remove the app from your device but preserve the data you have associated with it, that way if you decide to download it again, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off. If you choose to delete, then all the app’s data will go along with it.
THROW OUT OLD SOCKS & UNDERWEAR
Throw out any socks, tights or underwear that have seen better days, don't have matches, or don't fit. We find it helpful to separate your every day undies from your date night lingerie. Amazon and John Lewis have some great drawer dividers available, to help you keep things organised.
ORGANISE YOUR BATHROOM
Condense and throw out old products. Replace any finished items with green cleaning products. Green cleaning products clean your home naturally, without the unpleasant chemical residue that can harm your family and your pets. Eco-friendly cleaning products are made using sustainable manufacturing practices and naturally-derived, safe, non-toxic, and biodegradable ingredients that don't negatively impact the environment or your family’s health. Some of our favourite brands include, Ecover, Method Home, and Puracy.
TIDY HOME OFFICE SPACE/DESK
If you create a space you love, that's calm and decluttered enough for you to find things easily, you're bound to want to go in there to work. Too much paper cluttering up your desk and surfaces? Keep on top of it by sorting every few months and invest in a good cross-cut shredder for sensitive documents. keep important docs in personalised files.
Home offices can accumulate lots of clutter – paper clips, memory sticks, rubber bands – keep them altogether in a stylish organiser. One that you love using and is asthetically pleasing.