Photo by Internet Power Lunch.

I’ve been thinking a lot about minimalism lately for some reason.  We all have an idea of what "minimalism" is, but I wanted to dig a little deeper.  According to Wikipedia, minimalism describes a movement where "work is stripped down to its most fundamental features … it is rooted in the reductive aspects of Modernism, and is often interpreted as a reaction against abstract impressionism and a bridge to Postmodern art practices."  Strip it down to the fundamentals. 

I like the concept of stripping stuff down to the fundamentals.  You can strip down anything and literally find that "less is more."  Try it.  I honestly believe that with the right amount of less, less can be more.  Why is that?  Well, quite simply because less equals the fundamentals and enjoying the fundamentals — with no excess — feels good.  Let me explain my thoughts on the lifestyle of minimalism. 

1.  Minimalism at Home.

We live in a square footage society.  But minimalists don’t get all cluttered up with square footage.  Minimalists don’t need a huge master bedroom because they’re smart enough to realize the only thing they do in there is sleep and, well, use the bed.  It’s a bed. room.  Minimalists are fine with small bedrooms, too, because like the master bedroom, bedrooms don’t get used like the TV room.  Minimalists can go without a dining room, too, because the TV room is surprisingly functional in that regard.  That is, unless you need to impress someone snobbish (and even then, minimalists can outsource the dining room requirements to the nearest Red Lobster).  Minimalists don’t need the two-car garage because they don’t have all the crap to store in the two car garage.  Once you apply minimalism to the home, you’d be surprised by home much square footage will set you straight. 

Similarly, minimalists don’t buy large homes because they don’t have enough stuff to put in them.  Some large homes can become so packed with things that it’s tough to breath.  Some small homes can feel bigger than huge homes.  Why?  You gotta use your space right. 

Large home people should rethink how they’re using space.  Take a pen and paper and list all the items in each room of your house.  Go through and eliminate stuff that you don’t use.  Get back to the fundamentals.  Cancel out some decorative items, too.  Baskets.  Trinkets.  Weird frillies that clutter and confuse.  Wallpaper of all kinds.  Keep the rugs, some pictures, and necessary lamps.  Keep the main pieces of furniture.  Seriously consider whether you need two end tables or a coffee table.  And don’t buy replacements in the future.  The list for each room in your house should be small.  Super small.  Know everything you have. 

The product that you don’t buy is the greenest.  Adopt a little lifestyle minimalism and you’ll be surprised how open the world seems. 

2.  Minimalism at Work. 

What does your desk, cubicle, or work space look like?  Minimalists get rid of stuff.  They don’t take on stuff to begin with, but you may have to start with getting rid of various items.  Recycle the various plastic items and sundry knick-knacks from all the previous training sessions and holiday parties.  Keep the sentimental items, but use some discretion.  There’s no reason to clutter the brain with all that distraction and trash.  And after you clear out some room, stop taking stuff.  And stop giving stuff to other people, too.  Branded trinkets and promo items, etc.  Don’t buy it, don’t take it, don’t give it. 

Let lifestyle minimalism take root in everything you do.  For example, instead of handing a draft to the assistant to print and send off, why not email the filename and path.  No need to have drafts floating around everywhere.  You’ll begin to realize that the less is more mentality goes a long way towards minimizing the various items floating around in your life (and the life of others).  Don’t float items to others and don’t take on others’ float. 

Also, let minimalism take hold of your email.  Write shorter.  Also, think twice about that email tagline that says, "think before you print this email."  Fundamentally, what does that thing do?  First of all, thousands of people read that everyday and most of them would never think of printing emails to begin with.  If someone has an email printing problem, chances are, the tagline isn’t going to stop them.  Minimize pixels for the benefit of your eyes and others.  Save the world some mental energy.

3.  Minimalism All Over the Place. 

I wish phonebook companies thought about minimalism.  They forget that people don’t use phonebooks anymore.  Phonebooks clutter up everything.  I wish the credit card companies thought about minimalism, too.  Even just one letter would be sufficient if you’re trying to get my business, but credit card companies forget that Americans are all cluttered up and have no room for credit.  I wish Subway thought about minimalism.  I don’t need a plastic bag with every 6" sub because the sub is already wrapped and taped.  Plus, I tell you I’m minimalist every time I buy a sandwich and you still keep giving me the bag.  I’m trying to downsize my collection of plastic bags, thank you.  I wish the grocery store thought about minimalism.  Those "I’m not a plastic bag"-type bags can really clutter the car and home storage.  I go commando when it comes to the shopping bag.  You’d be surprised how clean life feels without any of that stuff because you can honestly carry a lot with two hands. 

Less is more, remember. 

Let lifestyle minimalism take hold in every aspect of everything around you.  Gargoyles on buildings?  Don’t need ’em.  Nobs and curves on chairs?  Don’t need ’em.  Plastic covers for the research report?  A staple will do just fine.  Dice cubes hanging from the rear view mirror?  Cool, depending on the color, but you don’t need ’em.  Gnome for the garden?  The garden will be okay without one.  Right? 

That’s why they say to get back to the fundamentals.  Practice makes perfect, and if you get started, lifestyle minimalism will become addictive and involving — you can extend minimalism to any conceivable activity around.  It’s seriously the green thing to do.  Be a minimalist.

Matter of fact, I realize this article isn’t that minimalist — might need to chop a little off, so I’ll get back to you.