There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding minimalism. Some people think that it equates to not owning anything. Others believe it means painting all of your walls. It is, of course, neither of those things. In this post, I’ll explain what minimal living means to me and explore the ways in which minimalism can help you achieve the perfect work-life balance.
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There is no strict code or set of rules that you must follow in order to call yourself a minimalist, thus the meaning of minimalism is often personal to the individual.
The term, in a general sense, refers to anything that has been reduced to the basics or has been stripped of any superficial elements. It’s usually used in relation to art and architecture. In recent decades, however, it has increasingly been used as a term to describe an entire lifestyle.
If you asked the average person what came to mind when describing a minimalist lifestyle, they would probably reduce it to the aesthetics and mistakenly relate it to the amount of belongings a person owned or the amount of money a person spent.
A minimalist lifestyle, in my personal opinion, means reducing life to the essentials. I don’t just mean in relation to material things either. It’s about considering the complexities of all the things that occupy space in your mind – your work, your relationships, your passions, etc. Imagine simplifying all aspects of your life and reducing them to their most basic expression. That’s what minimalism means to me.
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus from The Minimalist define it in a way that makes the most sense to me: ‘Minimalism is a tool to get rid of the excesses of life in favor of focusing on what is important, so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom’.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what it means to me to follow a minimalist lifestyle, let’s see how that definition works within the context of daily life.
Minimalism is a great identifier of the things that are necessary and worthwhile. Owning less material belongings, however, does not make a person more minimalist.
The issue lies in treasuring what is important to you and your life, forgoing owning things for the sake of owning them and regulating the meanings we attach to our material belongings. A minimalist rejects the false concept that happiness is achieved through paying attention to our possessions, instead focusing their efforts on the fruits of experience and knowledge instead.
This responsible and sustainable consumption allows me to conserve more time, energy and money, meaning that I can be more selective with how I spend my free time.
In being selective about what physical things I own, I also ensure that I have a functional workspace which, in turn, means that I’m more motivated during my work hours.
Being minimalist does not mean being poor, living with scarcity, being stingy or going hungry. It means identifying what you need and staying within your means, often managing money more consciously in the process.
A minimalist, however, does not necessarily spend less than other people. They instead eliminate their consumerist desires without renouncing their whims by choosing to spend money on the things that add value to their life. For example, I like to travel as I’m curious by nature and enjoy trying new things. The money that I would’ve spent on frivolous disposable items now gets spent on enriching experiences that will last a lifetime. Minimalists often prefer to focus on being rich in experience than in wealth.
Using my weekends to their full potential benefits my working life, as it means I return to the office feeling rejuvenated, inspired and ready to take on challenges.
An organised life means an organised mind. People are often not aware of the importance of order until they experience the benefits for themselves.
Minimalism allows me to be more ordered in my day-to-day life, in a physical sense, as it means that I cut down on the visual pollution that would otherwise prevent me from creating a space that truly represents me as an individual – without compromising my passions or my aesthetic preferences.
Being surrounded by things that truly speak to you, or serve some sort of purpose, is an excellent way to centre yourself – whether you’re at work or at home. Creating synergy between your personal and professional spaces can also help to ease anxieties and can often help you to feel more comfortable.
This order also allows me to be more organised in my working life, ensuring that I can work to deadlines more effectively and create a schedule that works for me.
Minimalist thought often goes hand-in-hand with mindful philosophies. I have found that minimalism has improved my headspace tenfold, allowing me to see things more clearly and thus make important decisions more easily.
As you can imagine, living a minimalist lifestyle can thus be hugely influential when it comes to making career-related decisions – whether that’s by informing what job positions you’re most interested in or helping you visualise what advancements you’d like to make.
In realising what is the most important to you, you’re able to clearly gauge what will challenge you, what environments will work best for you and it will also help you to reaffirm your value.
Simply applying the very basic concepts of minimalism can often make us more productive as individuals because we are actively eliminating distractions and unnecessary tasks from our day-to-day routine.
Focusing on the most pressing responsibilities on a day-to-day basis has helped me to be productive in both my professional and personal life, helping me to forgo the temptation to fill my work schedule with tasks that will have no real effect on positive outcomes and also encouraging me to spend my personal time more wisely.
Streamlining my approach has also helped me to communicate more effectively in both of these spheres – meaning that I’m more present and aware of my core responsibilities.
Nurturing relationships and making connections is, for the majority of people, one of the most important things in life.
Our relationships ground us, bring us happiness and help us to grow as individuals. If we surround ourselves with positive people who share our values, we’re able to stabilise our minds and get the most out of each and every connection we make.
A minimalist is often not afraid to say ‘no’ to people they consider toxic and they’ll often have the strength to cut ties with people who absorb their energy, as they know how important it is to conserve their efforts for relationships that will otherwise nurture and sustain them.
This can also aid our working relationships, too, as it means that we devote more time to the conversations that really matter and spend less time arguing or feeling unsure of where we stand. Quality always comes before quantity.
Do what you love and love what you do.
As I mentioned earlier, minimalism and mindfulness often work in tandem. In knowing what is good for you and making positivity a priority, minimalists are often extremely happy people.
The more simplified and happy a life we have, the more freedom we will have to make decisions based solely on what we want and what we need. This mental freedom creates a more tranquil headspace where we are able to best consider our next steps.
This tranquil headspace, in both work and in life, comes from the very opportunities that living a minimalist lifestyle can afford us. For instance, a minimalist mindset encourages us to live in the moment – reclaiming our time and energy for us and us alone. This freedom then seeks to promote creativity over consumption, passion over possessions, which in turn has positive effects on our overall physical and mental well-being. In decluttering our mind and strengthening our bodies, we’re able to consolidate who we are in both our personal and professional spheres – leaving us enough time and space to grow as individuals free of societal expectations.
Many people, without even knowing the concept or true meaning, lead a life that fits perfectly within the definition of minimalism as it is based on shared common goals.
Minimalism is a return to basics. It’s about living a lifestyle that grants us the permission to nurture and cherish the most essential aspects of our lives, in order to cultivate an existence that is governed by balance, meaning, and fulfilment.
It may not be for everyone but it is for me.
Do you practice a minimalist lifestyle? If so, how has it impacted your own work-life balance? Tweet us at @WeAreMobile1st and we’ll retweet your responses. If you’re struggling to strike the perfect work-life balance, check out our Twitter thread on achieving it.
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(Image credit: Samantha Gades via Unsplash)