The 7 phases of minimalism

In less than 6 weeks I will be packing up my belongings and moving to Maine. All my past moves have lead up to my biggest and longest journey yet. Since I’ve moved so often I’ve gotten pretty good at getting rid of things. However, this time I don’t have the luxury of a moving truck. I’m only bringing what I can fit in my car along with my dog and I. I’m essentially stuffing 26 years into 4 boxes which will be quite a feat.


Recently I discovered minimalism and have quickly adopted the mentality of getting rid of the excess so I can focus on what’s important. For me though, it hasn’t just been one phase of getting rid of things. There actually have been several phases:

  • Phase 1: Have I used it lately? If I haven’t worn or used something in the last 6 months, I put it in my donation pile.
  • Phase 2: Did I even know I had it? That cute sweater I found at the bottom of my dresser and swear I’ll wear in the future—yeah, I got rid of it. If you forgot you had it, you don’t need it.
  • Phase 3: Getting rid of duplicate items. 2 sets of mixing bowls, 3 sets of dishes, 30 pieces of Tupperware, utensils, and a variety of bar glasses went into the donation pile. When will I ever need 18 plates at one time? Never. 4 plates is more than enough.
  • Phase 4: Pitching the guilt items. I talked about getting rid of the seemingly sentimental things in a previous post, and it’s something that has really empowered me. I got rid of all the unused gifts I’ve been given over the years that I kept because I felt too guilty getting rid of them. I decided that I can’t keep things around just to make other people happy.


  • Phase 5: The small stuff that “doesn’t make a difference.” There were many things around my apartment that I didn’t think were necessary to get rid of because they were so small. They won’t take up that much room. What’s the harm? The truth is that these little things add up. 8 packs of Post-Its, 6 pairs of leggings, 4 cook books, 3 candles, and various office supplies could add up to a whole box! I pared all those things down to the absolute minimum.
  • Phase 6: Does it add value? Now that I’ve pared everything down to the essentials, I stop to think whether or not it truly adds value to my life. If you’re really honest with yourself you’ll know instantly.
  • Phase 7: Is it worth stuffing into my limited space over something else? Sometimes it really does come down to an either/or decision. What’s more important: coffee maker or popcorn maker? DVDs or yoga mat? Pie plates or crock pot?

Bottom line: For me minimalism didn’t happen in a day. I’m still paring things down and putting more items into my ever-growing donation pile. This is my biggest moving challenge yet, and I’m confident I can do it.

What’s your biggest challenge with minimalism? How do you decide what stays and what goes?


  1. ” I’ve pared everything down to the essentials, I stop to think whether or not it truly adds value to my life.”

    —Good point! Too often we waste our time and energy on the trivial, with asking ourselves this honest question.

    I guess by the time you are a minimalist, you also become an essentialist 🙂

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