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What Does Minimalism Sound Like?

We talk a lot about what minimalism looks like but to change things up a bit today I wanted to talk about what minimalism sounds like.  (I also talk about this in my book)


Minimalism in stuff means going through all our belongings and deciding what we need and love and getting rid of the rest.  Minimalism in time is the same.  Look at what is on your schedule now and treat it like it was your closet.

I have said it before and I say it again – time is so much more valuable than money.  There will always be a way to find more money but time is limited.  

Somehow society, especially with women, makes saying ‘no’ really hard to do.  There are books written on the idea and it is talked about in most self-growth and scheduling books.  Still with all this information and the head knowledge of it’s importance it is still hard to remember.  I am still practicing in this area.  I think it has been easier for me now that I have practiced on my materials belongings to apply in my time.

Using the fitness metaphor I wanted to talk about two important ways we need to apply this minimalist idea:

  1. Aerobic  – action.  Right now assess what is in your life and how you are spending your time.  Need it?  Love it?  Keep it.  Otherwise take a look at how else that time could be used better.  Family time?  Time for your self?  Proper sleep?  Working on your passion?  Aerobic exercise :)?  You don’t need to do everything, or be everything.  Say ‘no’.  Cut out all you can so you can fit in what matters most.
  2. Weight Training – strengthening.  Learn to say ‘no’ to future things.  Just like household minimalism is dependent on changing shopping habits, schedule minimalism is dependent on learning to say ‘no’ to time commitments when they come up.   This is harder than just remembering not to put more in your cart.  There are lots of places that pull our time for lots of good things (we will talk more about this Wed).  This is something that takes practice just like strengthening muscles.

Having trouble in this area like me?  Practice saying ‘no’.   Even with the little silly things be argumentative just for practice sake.   (not to your kids, that doesn’t count…parents are always well practiced on that).

  • No thank-you
  • Not today
  • I can’t make it this time
  • I’m sorry I can’t commit to that right now
  • We are not interested (great for sales people in person or on the phone. I don’t want to be rude by ignoring or hanging up, but I want my response to be clear)
  • I’m sorry, I can’t do something like that now, but you could check with _____
  • I don’t agree, I believe ____________

It sounds so hard sometimes to say these things and it is often hard to work with people with strong ‘no’ muscles.  However, when it comes down to it I really would rather know what people truly think or want.

Have you exercised the ‘no’ lately?  What have you used your time for instead?

Photo Credit:  Bryon Lippincott


  1. I love your analogy: Look at what is on your schedule now and treat it like it was your closet.
    It is much harder to say no than to donate a skirt. Thanks for the reminder.

    • totally way harder 🙁

  2. I can so relate to this! I have a much easier time letting go of possessions (especially clothes), than I do in giving up all the ‘reasons’ why we feel we must say yes and overload our schedules. Very timely piece for me today.

    Thank you!

    • I can also come up with way more ‘reasons’ to say yes. There is so much good out there that I want to fit in my life… but it just doesn’t fit.

  3. Thanks for the suggestions of “what to say”. I often feel I need to share my current situation and over-explain, I’m trying to get better at choosing simple words to communicate clearly but kindly. I love the idea of minimizing our schedule, sometimes the toughest part is making the choices.

    • explaining my way out of a situation never works for me. If I say ‘I don’t have time this day’ they say ‘how about another day’ or if I say I don’t think it would be the right fit because______ then they have a good reason why that isn’t the case. Keeping a clear ‘no thank-you’ takes practice 🙂

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