Have you noticed that the idea of minimalism seems to be popping up a lot these days? It's no wonder—everyone has way too much on their plate and even when we're home, just hanging out, we might have multiple screens going at any given time. I was listening to a podcast last week that really got me thinking about minimalism in a new way. And in the newborn/toddler mashup that is my life right now I regret not noting the source to share with you all, but here's the gist:
- Minimalism is about being intentional.
- Minimalism is about choosing possessions with intention.
- Minimalism is about choosing obligations with intention.
When I think about what it means to be a minimalist, I of course think about stuff. You know, how to get your house looking like this and how to keep only those things that are functional and bring joy into your home. During the design process for my first Hudson + Daughter collection, Bespoke Bamboo, I took a minimalist approach to product development by sourcing only the very best materials (high-quality ribbon from Studio Carta and eco-friendly bamboo) and let them shine and speak for themselves.
But the idea of minimalism as it relates to time, obligations, and scheduling? Whoa. It seems like such an obvious idea now that I've put it to paper but for some reason, this is something I struggle with, often—taking on more than I should and begrudgingly saying yes to things. Pamela Druckerman knows this (it's only taken her 40 years, but she knows this): "Just say 'no.' Never suggest lunch with people you don’t want to have lunch with. They will be much less disappointed than you think." Indeed.
An Exercise for you
Time is really the only finite resource—we all have the same number of minutes in a day, after all. So how do we steer our hours with purpose? One approach is to start with your values. If you can identify what is truly important for you, big-picture, crafting a daily schedule and plan around your vision will be no biggie. This is so similar to the way that a healthy organization operates—define your mission and strategic plan first—and the priorities for the day-to-day projects become clear and obvious. It's not exactly glamorous, but so worth considering. If you'd like to see, here's my go at this...
What's Really Important (To Me, Right Now)
- To be present with my children and husband.
- To be able to be a (mostly) full-time parent.
- To rest, sleep, and exercise. To care for myself.
- To do creative work. To write, to design, to make.
- The autonomy to answer to myself. To be responsible for my own body of creative work and for my schedule.
- To travel with my family and friends.
- To live with financial freedom and responsibility. To own less. To use what I own and clear my physical space with the stuff I do not use.
- To spend less time engaged in obligations and more time in whole-hearted, connected experiences with friends and family. I'm usually not too jazzed about going out after dinner for drinks. I don't want my daughter to be over scheduled with activities. I want to prioritize exercise, which always makes me feel better and and always improves my productivity and happiness.
I have a feeling that to make this work—to live a life that is aligned with one's values—will require a check-in every so often. (Where am I off-balance? How can I carve out more time for creative work? How can I save money for a trip I've been wanting to take?) Minimalism is, as I'm learning, not just about stuff. It's about approaching time, obligations, and overwhelm with intention and doing our best to embrace presence. After all, it's only our moments (hopefully well spent, with our family and our dearest loves) that string together to make a life.
First photo via Unsplash. Last photo by Rebecca Pitts at Stone Barns Center.