The 3 Things I'm Doing to Kick off the New Year

Read time: 4 minutes


I’ve been reflecting on minimalism. The day after Christmas, I was doing my best to clean our less-than-1000-square-feet home, and I suddenly felt trapped. I felt like I was tripping over our belongings, trying to find places for the new ones, and ultimately just moving stuff from one place to another.

I’m not proud of it but I collapsed in a corner and cried for a few minutes because I felt buried under stuff. And that is an absolutely ridiculous problem to have. (This was before I even knew Marie Kondo was doing a show on Netflix. More on all of that later.)

The idea of minimizing is one I’ve been entertaining for a while. I’ve tried in the past to minimize my belongings. I’ve gone through seasons where I didn’t buy anything new.

However, taking a hard look at my possessions the past few weeks made me realize that it wasn’t just my physical space that was cluttered. It was my entire life. My habits, tendencies, even my digital life.

So as I’m working on minimizing my physical possessions, I’ve adopted a few other habits/rules in the spirit of minimalism.

1. Read one book at a time.

This is probably my worst offense. I love reading. I love books, and I’m always so excited to read every single one of them that I start 7 and finish none.

My nightstand is usually home to an average of 6 books that I’ve started, but never the one that I’m currently reading.

So I selected the books I want to read this year (there are 25 total right now) and cleaned off a shelf just for them. Now, I can only choose one at a time. A book doesn’t come off the shelf without having a finished one go back in.

Not only is this keeping my nightstand clear, but I’m actually finishing books! I’ve made it through 3 books this year so far.

2. Simplify my morning routine.

A few years ago, I got serious about making the most of my mornings. Successful people swear by productive mornings, so I set out to create a solid morning routine. It’s morphed over the years, including things like a workout, bible and prayer, walks outside, reading, and writing.

But lately, my mornings were getting a little… crowded. Because I am ambitious and always want all the things, I was trying to cram to much into a short time. Everything I use for my mornings is kept on the bottom shelf of my coffee table. It was so full I was afraid to touch it.

My bible was there, but so were a few other specialty bibles. Not only one, but two bible study books joined them. There were a few other books written by pastors and spiritual leaders. I had a regular journal and one I had designated as a bible and prayer journal.

How in the world could anyone do that much stuff in an hour?

I’m getting back into my routine but to start, I’m simply reading for about 45 minutes in the morning. That’s all. Sure, I’ll add a little more structure as I go, but for now, I’m allowing less to be enough.

3. Keep my phone out of the bedroom.

To preface this let me set the scene: My phone alarm goes off at 6:00 am. I snooze once, twice, three times. It’s 6:30 and I finally grab my phone to turn off the alarm once and for all. Instead of getting out of bed, I open Instagram. Then my email. Then Facebook, maybe Pinterest, sometimes Poshmark. One of those eventually leads me down a black hole of scrolling. Sometimes I see a sale so I browse it for 30 minutes, usually buying nothing.

Now it’s after 7 and I’m still in bed staring at my phone.

This isn’t even mentioning the other 16 hours a day that my phone turns into a problem. The thing is, I am always complaining about our addictions to screens. And yet, I am still hooked.

So that brings me to the final rule. I moved my phone charger from my bedroom to the kitchen. It’s one way I can start kicking screen addition.

My phone doesn’t even go into my bedroom at all. We use a regular alarm clock. (GASP!) It sits on the dresser across the room so I have to physically get up to turn it off, knowing I don’t have a backup alarm set on my phone. When I get up in the morning, my phone stays in the kitchen until my morning routine is over.

I’d love to establish screen time limits, a period of time at night when my phone is out of reach. I already have a box in the kitchen for phone-free times. I’ve haven’t gotten there yet, but simply not waking up with or going to bed with my phone has been so freeing. The distraction isn’t there. I can’t just grab my phone, roll over and scroll until I absolutely have to get up.

It’s this habit alone that is allowing me to accomplish the first two on this list. It seems crazy that something as trivial as a phone has become such a distraction. When my phone is out of sight, I spend more time doing meaningful things. And if it takes a few rules and tweaks to make it happen, I’m okay with it.

So there you have it. Three ways I’m practicing minimalism on a deeper level. What ideas do you have to spread minimalism beyond physical possessions?