How To Ensure Minimalism Doesn't Go Too Far | Alyssa J Freitas: How To Ensure Minimalism Doesn't Go Too Far

May 16, 2018

How To Ensure Minimalism Doesn't Go Too Far

There are varying degrees of minimalism. There are the people who own 52 items, there are the people who aim to own the least amount of stuff possible in certain categories, the people who go on cleaning sprees when the seasons change...you get the point. While I cannot claim to be the most minimal of minimalists, I can say that I am exceptionally good at not bringing more stuff into my life than is necessary. However, I've recently realized that I can deprive myself to a fault.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Have you ever found yourself challenged by minimalism when you don't have exactly what you need? Find out how to determine if your minimalism has gone too far
For example, I was on a work trip and realized I didn't have my headphones. Instead of buying another pair (why have two pairs once I got back home?), I took the six hour plane ride with fussy children, sitting between two old lady friends (one liked the aisle seat and the other preferred the window) sans headphones. Not my best call. Or how about this guest post about a minimalist who purged his book collection with great regret? 

With determining what you will bring into your life and selecting what must leave, you can end up making decisions that are not optimal. I wrote a post a few years back about how to decide if you need something, and it was quite philosophical (may need to write a post on how not to take yourself so seriously to give myself a reminder haha). While the suggestions in that post are valid for a lot of items, I've realized that there are two key elements that can help you make decisions on purchases more quickly: usefulness and time.

Ask yourself, "Is this something that will help me save time/be happier on a daily/weekly basis?"


Since I have the tendency to say "no" more often than "yes" to physical purchases and spending money in general, I often end up wasting time trying to make things work. For instance, take the backpack I use for work and travel. I literally live out of that bag for days at a time and yet it did not have the right functionality to accommodate what I needed. The pockets weren't quite right, the closure was not secure, and still I insisted on using it instead of seeking out an alternative because I didn't want to spend the money. I'd spend extra time rearranging the contents and constantly adjusting the bag as I walked to prevent my items from falling out.

But then, I smartened up. I realized that spending money on a new bag that would better suit my needs and retiring my other bag for occasions when I'm not traveling didn't make me a bad minimalist; it made me a smarter master of my time and energy. Plus, it's something I use on a daily basis!

This also happened recently for a purchase that was not physical. I love to listen to music; when I sleep, when I shower, when I work, when I walk, when I read, just about any time. I was using a combination of a free account from Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon music (back when I wrote about music with a Prime subscription in 2015 there wasn't a distinction between Amazon Music and Amazon Unlimited). I would spend time looking for playlists, and jumping from platform to platform, and getting distracted by ads. 

Finally I decided it would be worth it for me to pay for Spotify premium. I can get personalized playlists, eliminating the time I used to spend searching around for songs, and ads are no longer a distraction and interruption to my work.

You have to find the right balance between the value of your money and your time/happiness. Especially when it's something that will impact you on a regular basis! The next time your minimalist side is urging you to hold back, examine if you could actually be better off bringing something different into your life.

How do you decide to make purchases? Have you ever held back on a purchase and regretted it later? Or find yourself struggling when a small investment could actually end up saving you? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

-AJF

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