Do Less, Be More

A lot of people think of "minimalism" as a huge white room with a white couch, a glass table, and some modern art.

And while that is one minimalist design aesthetic, and minimalists do talk a lot about decluttering, it would be a mistake to think that purging physical items (along with all color and personality) from your home is the ultimate goal.

Decluttering is a valuable tool that brings many benefits, but minimalism is a complete lifestyle that impacts much more than your physical space.

savoring time

Make space on your calendar too.

Blogger Emma Scheib originally thought that minimalism was just about clearing the clutter.  She eventually realized it's about much more – removing busyness and stress in order to focus on the things you personally value.

She writes:

I [used to be] quick to answer "yes" to any new request for my time, resulting in an overflowing calendar.  These "yes commitments" meant I was living under constant duress.  I began to feel fearful of the life I was creating for myself....  Thankfully, the concepts of minimalism taught me the importance of saying "no" and the courage to enforce personal boundaries that I'd never had before.

The conventional wisdom is that we must multi-task, we must be on the go, we must push to have a valuable life.  We become too busy to be flexible, too busy to stop, to engage with others, to listen, to observe, to pay attention, to reflect, to imagine, or to properly rest.

But time and energy are finite, and you simply can't do it all.  In fact, when you try to say "yes" to everything – when you let the Fear of Missing Out drive your schedule – you experience burnout.  And the blur of activity isn't only stressful and tiring.  It will make you feel that your life is racing past while everything important falls through the cracks.

Minimalism lets you focus.

It lets you breathe.  It's about being intentional.

Advertisers work hard to convince you that you'll be more confident, happy, and fulfilled with the newest this or that.  You work longer, shop more, and rest less in order to satisfy the cravings they create.  But aren't you sick and tired of wasting your precious life on paying for, cleaning, organizing, and maintaining stuff?

When we choose to own less, we gain time.  When we sign ourselves up for fewer activities, we have more time to create, learn, appreciate nature, and connect with family and friends.  We must learn to say "no," even when it feels uncomfortable, and guard some open spaces on our calendars.  We need to make time to do the things we love.

So consider social obligations, volunteer commitments, your children's extracurricular activities, and how you use your smart phone.  Evaluate time spent on your beauty routine and in front of the TV.  Savor the people, activities, and things that add most meaning to your life, and minimize everything else.

How you spend your time defines who you are.  Are you a machine that never stops?  Are you driven and restless because you always want more?  Or are you well balanced, aware of your values, and free to act on them?

Updated January 2023


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