7 Minimalist Ways to Regain Control Over Your Life

In times of mental strain and general uncertainty, minimalism can become a helpful companion. As such, certain minimalist habits can take you back on track when you start to question the trajectory of your life. On this basis, here are seven minimalist ways to regain control over your life. 

We all know the feeling. 

Professional projects cramp our daily routines. The people in our lives take their toll. And most importantly, we lack enthusiasm, drive, and energy. 

That’s where minimalism can reignite the fire in our lives.  

Whether we suffer from too many commitments, unhealthy financial habits, or a mere lack of motivation, prioritization can streamline our decisions. 

7 minimalist ways to regain control over your life

By setting the right priorities, revamping your budgeting and consumption habits, and becoming more mindful, you can retake the driving seat. 

The following are some of the most effective minimalist ways to regain control over your life.

7 Minimalist Ways to Regain Control Over Your Life Right Now - drone shot of road in snow
Picture by Mark Blackwell / Unsplash

Track your expenses and consume intentionally 

In today’s society, financial slip-ups and excessive credit card debt are all too common.

The bills pile up at the end of the month, and we look at a mountain of unnecessary purchases. 

That new pair of boots looked great in the shop, but I didn’t need it. 

Those new tech devices seemed useful on Amazon, but they were superflous in reality. 

And all those UberEats deliveries were tasty, but they leave worrisome red numbers on my credit card bill. 

In short, our spending habits dig holes into our budget while also causing mental uncertainty. 

That’s where proper budgeting and intentional consumption come into play. 

First, track all of your expenses and create a budget for consumer goods and services. If you’re new to personal finance, use the simple yet effective 50 – 30 – 20 rule

The 50-30-20 method gained a lot of acclaim in recent years and consists of the following:

  • spend 50 % of your income on “Needs” like groceries, housing, and bills;
  • spend 30 % of your income on “Wants” like shopping, dining out, and leisure activities; and 
  • spend 20 % of your income on savings and investments. 

Secondly, establish your consumption rules and buy products according to these self-defined norms. 

Whenever you buy something, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Does this item add value to my life according to my consumption priorities? 
  • Does it have more than one purpose?
  • Can I still use it in six months?

Questions like these will help you make an informed decision. You’ll consume according to your self-defined values, not external cues. 

In a nutshell, you’ll consume intentionally. 

Together, clever budgeting and intentional consumption will oversee your financial decisions – one of the best minimalist ways to regain control over your life.

Set priorities and question your decisions 

Much like consuming according to self-defined values, acting in line with your priorities is crucial to regain control over your life. 

To retake control over your personal and professional decisions, you need to start with a mental foundation. And self-defined priorities are the main pillars of this mental foundation.

As an example, your priorities might be saving 10k this year, traveling four weeks, and spending at least one hour a day with your partner. 

Once those priorities are clear, you’ll have a mental framework that will govern your decisions. 

Thinking about buying that new leather jacket for $1,000? That might conflict with your priority of saving 10k this year. 

Looking to take three weekdays off for sports events? Ask yourself whether this won’t hinder your chances of traveling four weeks this year. 

And finally, all those after-work drinks could prevent you from prioritizing time with your partner. 

The main challenge resides in taking proactive decisions according to personal values. 

If you want to be in control, you cannot react to other people’s decisions, you need to make your own. 

Say “no” more often 

In today’s world, saying no is an underrated skill few people possess. 

We believe that more commitments will build more friendships. More challenges will lead to more opportunities. And more office hours will secure more professional success. 

The problem is that many people confuse more with better. The more I say yes, the better my chances will be. But more is not better. Only better is. 

More yeses won’t improve your life, only better yeses will. No matter the area, too many yeses will lead to a lack of control.

By committing to someone else’s projects, you give up control in that particular area. 

By accepting invitations to social gatherings, you lose control over your time. And by saying yes to every professional request, you forgo the possibility of controlling your working schedule. 

Consequently, saying no is a major minimalist step toward retaking control over your life. 

Of course, some people have more opportunities to say no than others. Nevertheless, we all say yes or no in everyday life, often without noticing. 

Always remember the following: more yeses generate more commitments and less control. 

Reduce your screen time 

External distractions often hamper our mindfulness, productivity, and serenity. And these distractions can be a direct result of too much screen time.

As such, reducing your screen time and social media usage can give you more control over everyday life. 

In this regard, digital minimalism is an excellent way to regain control over your life. 

How does digital minimalism work in practice? 

In simple terms, define social media usage norms and stick to those norms. 

You could, for instance, limit your screen time to one hour a day, and only use a few select websites. 

Another method is to write down your reasons for using certain devices – like reading books on a tablet – and only using your devices in accordance with those reasons. 

And finally, if a mere reduction in screen time doesn’t suffice in your current situation, go on a digital detox

7 Minimalist Ways to Regain Control Over Your Life Right Now - man with smartphone - reduce screen time
Picture by Gilles Lambert / Unsplash

Re-evaluate your relationships

Relationships are essential, but akin to other aspects of life, quality should outweigh quantity. 

If you sense a lack of control in various parts of your life, ask yourself who contributes to this lack of control.

There are certainly people in your life that don’t support your wellbeing. They take without giving and suck out your energy. 

If you want more control, use a minimalist approach to prioritize your relationships. 

Ask yourself: what are my cardinal values in terms of relationships? 

These values could include family ties, genuine friendship, and mutual benefits. 

After finding out what you truly want from social interactions, the people who don’t adhere to those values might not have a place in your life anymore. 

Limit your news consumption 

In our uber-connected, rapidly evolving world, keeping up with the news is a strenuous chore, and poison for your mental serenity. 

That’s why limiting news consumption can work wonders for your mindfulness and increase your feeling of being in control. 

In this context, the news mostly reports things you cannot control. 

Consequently, if you want to regain control over your life, focus on the opposite: the things you can control. 

To stay informed and keep up with major developments, read bitesize news recaps after lunch, and don’t bother for the rest of your days. 

Why after lunch? Because in the morning, news reports will add negative headlines to the start of your day – weakening your morning motivation. 

In the evening, on the other hand, they will impede your night routine with that same negativity. 

Get rid of 10 items that don’t add value to your life 

Finally, perform a symbolic minimalist gesture to confirm your newly-found feeling of control. 

Get rid of 10 items like old clothes, tech stuff, and souvenirs. Sell them, donate them, or toss them – whatever their most logical end.

These 10 riddances will not change your life, but they will have a liberating effect. And this liberating effect will motivate you to regain control over your life. 

You’ll notice that the less you have to think about, the more control you have over your life. 

As such, you’ll be able to apply this mentality in other areas, taking minimalism beyond the act of decluttering.  

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