Minimalism Beyond Material Things

Ever since best-selling author and irresistibly prim and neat Marie Kondo talked about the “life-changing magic of tidying up”, there has been a dogmatic belief that one can solve all of their life problems simply by throwing everything out.

Netflix followed suit with its award-winning Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, featuring people applying a less-is-more lifestyle to their wardrobe, choice of home, and quality of relationships. Even the tech industry is acknowledging the need to step back. Former employees from Google, Apple, and Facebook have formed The Center for Humane Technology, launching a 2018 campaign called Truth About Tech. The campaign tackles the issue of digital addiction and encourages a move towards digital well-being.

But what if you love shoes, enjoy social media, or can’t let go of old books? Does that mean you’re doomed?

As with everything, balance is key, and you don’t need to be a radical to be a minimalist.

Joshua and Ryan of The Minimalists blog clarify misconceptions about minimalism, that “to be a minimalist you must live with less than 100 things… you can’t have a career, you must live in exotic hard-to-pronounce places all over the world…” They share how “Minimalism is a tool that can help you focus on living a worthwhile life. It does so by eliminating superfluous items in our lives in favor of what’s necessary, beautiful, meaningful.”

As with everything, balance is key, and you don’t need to be a radical to be a minimalist.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate minimalism into your life without throwing everything you own out to the trash:


  1. Revamp your relationships. It’s okay not to say yes to every invitation to hang out. Spend time with people that energize you instead of drain you. Decluttering your contacts can be just as beneficial as decluttering your closet.
  2. Declutter your meetings. Atlassian reports how most employees attend an average of 62 meetings per month yet 73% did other work during meetings and 47% complained that meetings were the number one time-waster. Before you send your next calendar invite, set an intentional agenda and ensure that all attendees really need to be there.
  3. Travel, simply. If you have ever felt like you’ve needed a vacation from your vacation, perhaps it’s time to take slower breaks. When plotting out your itinerary, try less to do lists and more downtime. You’d be surprised what will turn up if you simply allow more room for spontaneity.

The next time you find yourself overwhelmed with too many objects or plans, ask yourself, in the words of Marie Kondo, what brings you joy? What is useful? What is necessary? Minimalism is not about being anti-materialistic, but rather anti-superfluous.