Minimalism seems to be a buzzword lately — in fashion, in design, on the web, even in home decor. More and more we’re seeing, both in word and in action, that less is more. Simple is better. But is minimalism here to stay?
As we begin to answer this question, it feels important to mention that minimalism has been around for centuries. This is not a new concept, although it’s been popularized by a generation of people who have lived through economically lean times.
They’ve learned, as they’ve had to, to reuse and recycle, to do the best they can with what they have, to focus on sustainability, and to live without the luxury and extravagance of previous generations.
So, if we’re asking if minimalism is a “trend,” the answer is: sort of.
My journey with minimalism began a few years ago when I started realizing how the clutter in my life — my schedule, my mind and even my home — was making me feel less than happy with my circumstances.
I wasn’t lacking resources. Quite the opposite, actually. I had all the building blocks of a great life. Still I felt a lack of focus I couldn’t quite explain, a dissatisfaction that didn’t make sense in light of my surroundings and a heaviness in my soul. So I started to get rid of some stuff.
For me this wasn’t as much about throwing out a bunch of physical possessions as it was about minimizing my schedule, getting clear about my priorities, and being really clear about who I was and what I wanted out of life.
And for me, since I’m a designer, one of the main ways this materialized was in the way I design websites. I started to see how many of the elements I had been including for so long — especially sidebars — were really unnecessary.
In fact, this is how the idea for this website, No Sidebar, came along. I found myself asking the question: do we really need sidebars?
And when I ask that question, I’m not just talking about literal sidebars. I’m talking about the metaphorical “sidebars” in our life — the things we keep around because everyone else has them but clutter up function and design.
At the end of the day, I realized: minimalism doesn’t have to be about living in a tiny house with only a few t-shirts in your closet. Minimalism is about paring down and focusing on what really matters. We can interpret that in whatever way we want. And in that way, I would say, minimalism is here to stay.
Because once you’ve experienced the inherent benefits of living with less clutter, you would have no reason to go back. You’ll realize your clutter — your sidebar, all those extra activities, even the mess in your closet — were just getting in your way.
So say what you will about minimalism, but it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The trends in fashion may fade, the design tides may turn but the effects of minimalism have changed all those who have experienced it.
If you’ve yet to experiment with minimalism — or even if you have — consider some new ways this age-old concept could impact your life for the better.
No Sidebar: At Work
And if you’re the kind of person who needs a little inspiration to see what a pared-down workplace could look like, you’re in luck. This CEO shares his secrets for getting his workspace clear, decluttered and down to the bare minimum.
No Sidebar: At Home
One of the more practical ways minimalism can play out in our lives is simply this: pairing down our wardrobe. But before you worry to yourself a minimalist wardrobe would be too boring, check out Erin Loechner, who made the most of her 25 items.
And if living life with less clothing doesn’t seem so appealing to you, maybe this will. Minimalism in the kitchen. That’s right, our friend The Minimalism Baker shares her recipes you can make with one bowl, 10 ingredients or in 30 minutes or less.
Overall, minimalism is changing the way many of us see the space in our homes. Less is more. Just because you have a tiny space doesn’t mean it can’t look great.
No Sidebar: In Your Soul
One of the most powerful things minimalism can do is help us to focus our energies and attentions, so that we feel more centered and calm, happier and more productive. This has less to do with decluttering our workspace and more to do with decluttering our minds.
If you still aren’t sure about the connection between clearing physical clutter and mental or emotional clutter, here’s how you can get there.
The most difficult part of all of this is there are all kinds of mental and emotional clutter and you won’t be able to get rid of it all at once. Just like “spring cleaning,” this will have to be a habit you cultivate over years.
But the results are amazing. You won’t regret it. I promise.