Minimalism in College

It seems as though people always need more storage. The more stuff they purchase, the more space they need. Some even rent out storage units for things they can’t bare to separate fully from. Try to let that sink in: There are businesses out there that make a profit by simply holding someone’s stuff since that individual doesn’t need it in their house on a daily basis. God forbid we dispose of these items we only use every two-five years. The truth is, we don’t need material items that we almost never use. Seems simple, but I can almost guarantee whoever is reading this has a few items they do not need. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, keeping the amount of items we own under control is a good habit to start at a young age.

College is a great place to start practicing minimalist techniques. Whether you live on or off campus, the habit of minimalism could allow you to work less, make life more enjoyable and declutter your living space,

Work Less

The heading of this section seems too good to be true but I can assure you, this concept is possible. The desired outcome, however, doesn’t start at your job. This magical change starts in your home (or dorm). Immediately when we wake up, we are faced with decisions. “What should I wear? Do I have time to eat breakfast? Should I answer all of these emails now or later? Will I need an umbrella today?” You may not realize it, but these small decisions use up energy. Work or class are similar. Both of these activities require a large amount of decisions to be made with full focus. By the end of the workday, your brain feels exhausted. Unfortunately, the decision making doesn’t stop there. We now have the privilege and the burden of having cell phones and laptops. These devices allow us to bring school and work home with us. Our recreational time for family, friends and rest has been tainted by the overflow of work. Maybe you burn dinner because you were busy checking your grades. Or maybe you don’t fully enjoy your time with your friends because you’re too caught up answering emails from work. More decision making leads to more multitasking. In case you haven’t noticed, human beings are not great multitaskers. When we try to do two or more things at once, we either make mistakes or divide our effort unevenly among the tasks. Multitasking leads to more stress and decision making. How do you fix this? Simply eliminate the number of decisions you have to make outside of school or work. This requires some planning ahead. Start by having seven-nine outfits selected for specific days of the week. That way, whether it’s Tuesday or Sunday morning, you know exactly what you need to wear without any decision making. Next, plan what meals you want to eat on specific days of the week. Planning ahead decreases the number of times one has to multitask or make decisions. Doing so will allow you to use all of that decision-making energy at school or work making it possible to focus on one task at a time.

Make Life More Enjoyable

As college students, going to class or working may seem like the most important task. Before we know it, work and homework completely take over our lives, as described in the previous section. Don’t worry. I’m not going to tell you to cut your hours at work or stop going to class. I would however suggest that you use your free time in a way that makes you happy. After a long day of classes, it’s easy to lay in bed and scroll through Instagram for an hour. While it’s sometimes refreshing to turn off your brain, I can guarantee that checking Becky-from-high-school’s awesome beach vacation isn’t going to make your life any more fulfilling. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time doing something good for yourself? Maybe you can get together with a friend. Maybe you can finally read that book. Maybe you can even take a nap. Seriously! Even naps are more productive than scrolling on Instagram. Activities that make you feel good are worthwhile. Social media rarely makes us feel good. In fact, it not only wastes time, but has the potential to make you feel worse. Much of social media is a highlight reel; a filtered, posed and edited way for people to try and convince everyone that their lives are picture perfect. The viewer however, only sees how awesome these people’s lives are. This leads to subconscious comparison and a feeling of inadequacy. If you only see images of striving perfection, you will start to expect perfection as well. Comparison makes you feel like you need to do better, own nicer clothes or a bigger house. Without the constant reminder that we want to be perfect, you can focus on enjoying what you do have. Once you stop desiring more and more items, the things you own gain value. You might find yourself buying fewer unnecessary items and saving more money. When we are content with what we have, we don’t need to buy new stuff. You can then save that money to use on a worthwhile necessity or experience. Overall, you’ll find your life more enjoyable.

Decluttering Your Living Space

Now that you know how to utilize your work time and your freetime, it’s time to learn how to declutter. Decluttering your home or dorm will add more meaning to the items you own and simplify your day-to-day life overall. What does your room look like right now? Is it a place where you can go to relax? Or is it a place where you can pile up your dirty laundry? Maybe nothing in your room has a place for itself. The goal is to make your bedroom an enjoyable, calming space. Let’s start by cleaning out your wardrobe. We are often fearful of throwing away clothes we never wear because “what if it comes back into style?” It won’t, so donate it. Really push yourself to have the most simple of wardrobes. Start with the 80% of the tee shirts you never wear. Then move to your nicer clothes. Many people are content with having a ton of clothes because they don’t need to worry about others thinking they’re wearing the same outfit twice in two weeks. The truth is, if your wardrobe only consists of clothes that fit well and compliment your body, no one will question the amount you wear them. In order to minimize the clothes you own, you need to identify your style. Just because you’re practicing minimalism doesn’t mean you have to exclusively own boring, black or white pieces. Clothing is not made to sit in a closet; it is made to be worn. To start this process, remove any piece you haven’t worn in the last year. Yes, that includes your high school, homecoming dress you brought to college for some reason. Next, style your best 7-9 outfits, hang them up, and dispose of the remaining pieces. Everything should have a purpose (even if that purpose is looking and feeling great in something). Next, minimize your room decor. Your room should be calming. Having exposed storage containers and crammed shelves isn’t exactly relaxing. These unrelaxing elements could stimulate your brain, causing your stress and making it harder for you to sleep. Your room should be a place where you don’t have to worry about external jobs or tasks. That being said, you might want to remove the television from your room. The goal of minimalism is for you to invest in your emotional and physical health. Having something in your room that could waste time will not help you with that goal.

By making these life changes, you have the power to work less, make life more enjoyable and declutter your living space. Now you don’t have to buy into the idea that you need more storage and can fully enjoy the items you already own.

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