You might think that minimalists are all about white walls and clutter-free countertops, but that’s not the whole story. Minimalists know that having less stuff offers more space for focus, gratitude, and meaningful work.
Whether your own desk is clear or your bookshelves are overstuffed, consider trying out these ten things that minimalists don’t do.
1. They don’t lose sleep over keeping up with trends.
When it comes to stuff, minimalists aim to own just enough. They might invest in fewer, higher quality pieces, but they’re not spending a lot of time and energy shopping for those shoes/tote bags/coffee table baubles everyone else is after, the ones that will be outdated and disposed of before the season is over.
That’s not to say that minimalists don’t pay attention to style—they just tend to invest more in their own personal style, not the style dictated by consumer trends. Instead of trying to fit in, minimalists focus on who they are and what’s right for them.
2. They don’t succumb to decision fatigue before noon.
Energy spent on inconsequential decisions—what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, where to look for the keys that are missing yet again—adds up fast. We all have a limited amount of decision-making power each day, and using it on details takes away from our ability to be decisive when it really matters.
When you pare down your wardrobe, your kitchen, or your clutter, you cut out unnecessary options. You can save your decision-making power for creative projects, for your relationships, and for productive work. By eliminating the unnecessary, you create more energy for what matters most.
3. They aren’t drowning in email.
Decluttering isn’t just for office supplies. Minimalists keep their digital lives clutter-free too, and that includes unsubscribing from emails that aren’t useful. Just like the mantra from William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,” only invite messages into your inbox if they’re useful or delightful to receive.
4. They don’t worry about what other people think.
Minimalists have learned not to defer to the crowd when it comes to important decisions. Living with less is like swimming upstream, so minimalists get lots of practice at doing what they think is best instead of following popular opinion.
Most of us have a tendency to be overly influenced by other peoples’ opinions. What will they think about what I wear, where I live, what I do? Our best choices are made when we let go of that fearful inner voice. We could all stand to practice that more often.
5. They don’t spend Saturdays cleaning out the garage.
When you’re not using all those things you buy, they need to be taken care of: stored, cleaned, fixed, organized. Minimalists refuse to give up their free time for extra stuff maintenance. Instead of storing everything you’ve ever owned, let go of the things you don’t use anymore. Less time spent cleaning and organizing all that junk you’ve stored means more Saturdays spent doing what you love.
6. Or tidying up everything else.
Many minimalists say they love a clean home, but hate to clean. The easiest way to keep things tidy is to get rid of everything that clutters up a space. Clear counters are easier to wipe up. Clear floors are easier to vacuum. Don’t just reorganize; remove. And make sure that everything you do keep has a specific home in your house, so you can put things away when they’re not in use.
7. They don’t let the past dictate their future.
The things you’re surrounded by remind you of what you believe is important. If you don’t weed out the belongings you’ve outgrown, it’s like your past is living with you all the time. You don’t need to own everything you’ve ever used. Keep things that support who you are, who you’re becoming, and let go of the rest.
8. They don’t forget what their loved ones look like.
Minimalists have this crazy idea that maybe wanting less is better than buying more. They don’t spend time and money buying things they don’t need, to impress people they may or may not even like.
Whatever your budget, spending less will help it stretch farther—leaving you with more time to be with friends and family away from work, and less stress during your downtime so you can actually enjoy the people you’re with.
9. They don’t lose the habit of curiosity.
Creative thinking requires staying curious. Minimalists get to practice curiosity all the time, asking themselves questions like: Why do I own this? Why did I say yes to that? Is this habit still serving me? What would life be like without this? What’s really important to me? What can I let go of?
The practice of asking questions and seeking your own answers—not just the culturally approved ones—is helpful in all kinds of areas beyond dealing with desktop clutter.
10. They don’t skip out on great memories.
Many minimalists prioritize experiences over things. Instead of collecting knick knacks, they collect memories. Whether they’re having fun as a family, planning outings with friends, or going on solo treks, minimalists aren’t looking for the next great buy, they’re keeping an eye out for their next adventure.