How do i have a simple life

Sustainability: Minimalism blogger reveals how a simple life works

What does minimalism mean?

Christof Herrmann: For me it is the attempt to lead a life without ballast. Minimalism is not a state to be achieved, but a lifelong journey. Everyone defines the ballast in their own way.

What ballast are we carrying with us?

Herrmann: Too many possessions are stressful for many people. The goal could be to sell or give away superfluous things like clothes in order to feel more free. But ownership is just the beginning. A minimalist life can also be expanded to include obligations. If you are dissatisfied with your work, you might ask yourself why. Am I in the right job or is it because of the working hours that I could possibly even reduce? The same goes for annoying contacts. Do I meet old friends regularly just out of habit, even though we are no longer on the same wavelength? Do I keep in touch with the unloved aunt because the parents expect me to? You should ask yourself such questions and draw conclusions from them in order to have more time for the important people in your life and for your own passions.

How was that with you?

Herrmann: I've also parted with thousands of things over the past few years. My main construction site - and thus the source of my dissatisfaction - was my job. After studying computer science, I worked in the IT sector and earned a lot of money. But I quickly saw the work as ballast. The job did not bring me any fulfillment. It was a long process before I found my calling as an author, blogger and long-distance hiker.

Why is minimalist living a trend right now?

Herrmann: In our modern world we are becoming more and more jerky: at work, in our free time and on vacation. We try to do a lot in parallel, make speed a virtue and fear slowness and standstill. Much free time has disappeared due to the internet, especially social media. Staying in contact with people is a great thing on the one hand, and on the other, many of us spend hours chatting, texting, surfing or gambling. We follow the lives of people from whom we used to receive a postcard once a year. In this way, we not only communicate at home, with our smartphone we have all these contacts in our pocket.

And how do you handle that?

Herrmann: I realized that I was online too much. The constant network, the many groups - all ballast. That's why I broke up with WhatsApp and Facebook and try to be offline more often.

How is it to live without?

Herrmann: Well. I'm not completely out of the world. With my most important contacts, I switched to Threema, where security and privacy are important. I have agreed to make regular phone calls with two or three others. Otherwise, I like to meet people in person.

If someone feels that they are overwhelmed and everything is getting too much for them, how could they start?

Herrmann: You have to try to find out where the overwhelming comes from. Sometimes it is not that easy to precisely define the ballast. Then many find the classic mucking out, for example of the wardrobe, as liberating.

Do you have any advice on how to go about this?

Herrmann: Completely empty the cabinet, clean it thoroughly, and then pick up every single part. You ask yourself a few questions: Have I worn this for the past two years? Does it give me pleasure? Is the garment still intact? If not, can I still have it repaired? The goal is to only have favorite clothes. I should like to have everything I own and / or make my life easier.

What if someone finds it difficult to muck out?

Herrmann: You can also feel your way around with small steps. First, you should choose a time span, three months for example. Every day you then take the time to walk through the apartment and let go of something - be it a book, pen, vase or pants. Best to give away, donate or sell. Sorted out clothes find new owners at Oxfam, the Salvation Army, in the clothing circle or at a clothes swap party. I once had 100 shirts myself, today only five.

Do you have any other tips that can be easily integrated into everyday life?

Herrmann: A consumption diet, for example. Buy only essentials like groceries for a month. You won't miss anything. Or how about banning the television for the summer? Unplug it and put it in the basement. In autumn you can then consider whether the time-wasting person can go back into the apartment.

Above all, annoying habits leave a void at first. Do you have any advice on how to fill them?

Herrmann: It may well be that you have to force yourself not to do something for a few weeks. It's best to fill the void with people. Go out and spend time with loved ones. You should also use the time to pursue your hobbies and passions.

Which consumption traps could one fall for?

Herrmann: You should be aware that we are exposed to up to 10,000 advertising messages every day. Then you should realize that we buy a lot out of the impulse. The classic trick: only go shopping with a shopping list. When you see something you want, force yourself to sleep on it for a night. In most cases you will have forgotten it the next day.

What advantages has a minimalist life brought you?

Herrmann: I focus more on what gives me joy and fulfillment. I have more time for the people around me and for my passions. I have no financial problems because I don't consume much and limit myself to things that I really need. I live many more sustainably than before. And: This way of life gave me the courage and the opportunities to realize myself and to set up my own business as an author.

Christof Herrmann, 46, from Nuremberg, is a blogger and freelance author of, among other things, hiking books. He initiated the crossing of the Alps from Salzburg to Trieste and will go from the southernmost to the northernmost point in Germany from the end of June. On his blog, Einfach conscious, he writes about minimalism, sustainability, vegan nutrition and hiking.