When we talk about minimalism, conversations all too often focus on the physical facets of it. How much clothing, how many possessions do we have / not have? Living simply is about far more than objects or the lack thereof. If we only focus on the “stuff” aspects, it is the same mistake as judging a book by its cover. Instead, let us spend some time looking at another aspect – non-material minimalism.
This is the simplicity not of what we do with our space, but what we do with our time. A main consideration in simplifying our lives is getting rid of items that don’t help us, don’t bring joy to our life. This guiding mentality is as true with how we spend time as it is with our items. It is all too easy to have our time consumed by work, hobbies, social engagements, etc. and not take time to sit back and look at each of our hours and how it was spent. Are we better at the end of the hour than when it began? Was how we spent it worth the hour out of our life? If not, what would have been a better expense of it?
Hobbies we feel obligated, socially or personally, to continue. Interpersonal relationships which have developed in to something detrimental. Undesired extracurricular time spent on professional duties. All the above are examples of expenses of our time many of us permit to continuously eat away at ourselves. I lost far too many hours to excess work at a previous job before finally choosing to call it enough.
Recently, I have been helping my partner to let go of a friendship which had turned toxic. This friendship rapidly went from having mutual benefit for her and the friend to a parasitic problem, eating more time than she wanted as well as being a significant source of daily stress for her. After trying to work on improving the relationship, it became clear the friend had no intention of changing the way she approached it. Therefore, we finally talked about it being a better, healthier choice to sever the friendship than continue the one-sided attempt to get it back to something mutually helpful. Afterward, my partners stress came down, she had more time to spend on hobbies and friends she enjoys and finds fulfillment in; her life was almost immediately improved.
This is the approach we should take towards commitment of our time. We are offering, to every undertaking we accept, an irrecoverable slice of ourselves. We are permanently giving a piece of our lives to whatever it may be. In many ways, this is a more important area of our desired simplicity than what we choose to fill our homes with. Simplifying our possessions can, in a secondhand way, give us more time. Simplicity of how we spend our time directly provides the same. Make sure you are spending the hours you have available in ways you will be glad to have spent them.