Have you ever heard of the “fresh start effect”? It’s the phenomenon that big goals and tricky habit changes are much easier to achieve after temporal cut-offs like our birthday, the holidays … or the new year. Moral of the story: If you have big plans for 2015, use the momentum and get started right away! With a little challenge for example!
For this post, I’ve compiled 30 one-day assignments to help you dip your toes into minimalist living, discover lots of new things about yourself and get a big head start. If you want to live a simpler, more intentional life with less stuff but more time and energy for the people and things you love, make January your month of change!
The rules for the challenge: Do one assignment every day, the order is your call. Don’t skip a day. That’s it.
If you like you can print out the assignments and cross them off one-by-one to keep track of your progress. Click here to download the print version.
All assignments + resources:
1. Stay offline for one day
Social media, endless news streams and articles all drain our energy and keep us in a constant distracted state. So today: Log off and enjoy the calmness of staying disconnected.
2. Meditate for fifteen minutes
Meditation reduces stress and anxiety and gives you a ton of extra energy and mental clarity. Use an app like Headspace to give it a try today.
3. Declutter your digital life
Take care of your digital clutter today: Spring-clean your desktop, delete any files you don’t need anymore and set up a simple, no-fuss folder structure.
4. No-complaint day
Complaining is never productive and a catalyst for negative thought patterns. Challenge yourself to not complain about small stuff today. Either accept the situation and move on, or find a solution.
5. Identify your 3-6 main priorities
Above all, minimalism is about figuring out what matters most to you in life and how to add more of that to your day-to-day routine. Today: Dig deep and make a list of your 3-6 top priorities in life.
6. Follow a morning ritual
Start your day with a relaxing and energising morning ritual, instead of immediately checking your email or social media feeds. Meditate, write, do yoga or read a book.
7. Streamline your reading list
Today: Downsize your reading list, unsubscribe and remove bookmarks. Keep only sources that are meaningful to you and that add something to your day.
8. Learn to enjoy solitude
Spend at least 3 hours (ideally more) alone, without social media or background chatter from the TV. Pay attention to what it feels like to be in complete solitude and, if you like, write down your thoughts.
9. Downsize your beauty collection
Tackle your beauty products today! Write a list of everything you use on a regular basis from the top of your head (without checking your beauty cabinets). Throw out or give away everything else.
10. No email or social media until lunch
Use your most productive hours of the day to get shit done and resist checking your feeds until lunch time. Then celebrate how much more you accomplished!
11. Evaluate your commitments
Write down all of your regular commitments, i.e. memberships, side projects and other responsibilities. Then be honest: Which of these do you only keep up out of obligation and which do you truly enjoy or are meaningful to you?
12. Define your goals for this year
Setting goals keeps you from living in a reactive, passive way and helps you align your daily actions with your true priorities. Today, set aside at least thirty minutes to select 1-3 big, exciting goals for this year.
13. Clean out your closet
Reserve a full afternoon to go through your wardrobe piece-by-piece and get rid of anything that doesn’t make you feel confident and inspired. Check out this workbook if you feel like your wardrobe could use a revamp.
14. Take a step towards learning a new skill
Learning expands your horizon and can be so much fun! Today, pick a skill you have always been curious about, gather whatever you need and get started!
15. Examine your daily habits
Today, take a closer look at your everyday habits, from your morning routine to the way you work to your evening activities. Which habits could you improve, which should you drop, which new ones could you pick up?
16. Don’t buy anything for 24 hours
Break through an unhealthy cycle of emotional spending by going on a one-day shopping fast. Don’t buy anything, not even food or essentials, for 24 hours (make sure you prep in advance). Then see how you feel!
17. Practice single-tasking
Nothing drains energy faster than constantly switching between multiple tasks. Practice truly focusing on one thing at a time using a timer like this one. Stick to short bursts of concentrated work with regular breaks in-between.
18. Unfollow and unfriend
De-stress your social media experience by being a little more selective about who you follow. Do you really need to stay Facebook friends with people you haven’t spoken to in years? Go through your list and downsize.
19. Go for a walk and practice mindfulness
Walks are a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. Pick a familiar route and pay full attention to your surroundings with all senses. You’ll be surprised how many new things you’ll notice and how refreshed you’ll feel after.
20. No TV all day, read instead
All electronic devices emit a blue light that disturbs our melatonin production and reduces sleep quality. So, instead of ending your night with a couple of episodes of your favourite show, cuddle up on the couch with a good book today!
21. Journal for twenty minutes
Writing helps you organise your thoughts and de-stresses. Sit down for twenty minutes today to write about anything that comes to mind. If you like it, consider incorporating a quick daily writing session into your regular routine.
22. Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Improve your sleep quality and energy levels by taking the time to properly wind down at the end of each day. Do some writing, read a good book, have a cup of tea, get everything ready for the next day, etc. Try it today!
23. Go bare-faced
Re-set what you consider essential by following a bare-bones beauty routine just for today (no make up and minimal skin care). You may well discover that many of the products you thought you need are really optional and can then streamline your regular routine a little.
24. Practice gratitude
Becoming a minimalist is above all about being mindful and appreciating the little (and big) things that are already a part of your life. Assignment for today: Write a long list of everything (and everyone) you are grateful for in life.
25. Leave a whole day unplanned
In our culture, we are so used to making the most out of every free minute of the day, it can be almost scary to not have any plans for once. Be brave today and see where it takes you.
26. Identify your stress triggers
The first step towards reducing everyday stress is to pinpoint your personal triggers. Try this: 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.
27. Clear out your junk drawer
Getting rid of clutter can have an almost therapeutic effect, because it helps you deal with all of the different emotions that are attached to your stuff. Complete your own therapy session today by cleaning out the most cluttered drawer/box/corner of your house.
28. Let go of a goal
The key to achieving goals as a minimalist is to set the right ones in the first place! Instead of chasing things you think you should want, figure out what would truly make you happy. Let go of any goals that aren’t meaningful to you for good today.
29. Turn off notifications
Email and social media notifications make for a very reactive workflow. Just for today: Turn off all notifications and check your feeds only at designated times.
30. Evaluate your last five purchases
Developing more ethical and less consumerist spending habits is key to living a simpler life. Today, assess your last five non-essential purchases. How useful did they turn out to be and how could you improve your purchasing decisions in the future?