Finding Time: Can Minimalism Get You to a Place Where 24-Hours Really Are Enough?

Finding time may be the central quest of our often hectic and harried 21st century world. Getting more, spending more, having more, doing more, connecting more … it all eats up time, not to mention money.  And when you’re finished with another day filled with “stuff” how do you feel?  Full?  Empty?  Someplace in-between?

I recently read a very interesting post by Penelope Trunk (check out her blog – it’s listed in our sidebar) titled “Beware of Leo Babauta’s minimalist lifestyle” in which she good-humoredly takes the zen habits guru to task for his move to San Francisco … and what it might say about what minimalism is (and is not), both for Leo and for the rest of us.

I was interested to see that minimalism is more or less defined in this post in the negative.  “So, here’s what I do not have …”  And topping the list of non-possessions is “Anything that is not functional …”  She also notes “I think a minimalist life is a product of many small decisions rather than a single big one.”

So, taking a step back, I am especially intrigued by the question of what is left after one has made a choice that could be considered minimalist.  What is the goal of your choice?  What lies behind it?  Making your choice – whatever it is – leaves you, not just with what you don’t have but with something new that you have. What is that new thing that you have?

I thought it would be interesting to look at these three assertions from the perspective of time … finding time, to be precise.  What can I find, when I apply concepts of minimalism to my time?

“So, here’s what I do not have …”

Rather than coming at this from the vantage point of scarcity or deprivation, I like to think of minimalism as about creating time boundaries and, within them, creating the time you need for whatever you choose.  Time is, by definition, finite.  There are 24 hours – no more and no less – within each day.  Taking in this fact is half the battle, when it comes to time management.  Then, it’s a matter of deciding what to say No to … in order to be able to say a meaningful Yes to something else.  So, in thinking about minimalism, when it comes to time, it’s important to be able to say No … but the fundamental focus is on my Yes.  I would reframe Penelope’s statement to say, “So, here’s what I am making time for …”

“Anything that is not functional …”

This is a useful way to approach minimalism, when it comes to time or to “stuff.”  My only caution here would be to make sure that your self-critical or self-sabotaging voices don’t step in and try to “help” you decide what is functional.  Remember that things like self-care and plain old fun can be very helpful.  This is about YOU and what helps you to function at your peak.  It can be tricky to get clear about that … but you can do it.  Listen and learn!

“I think a minimalist life is a product of many small decisions rather than a single big one.”

I couldn’t agree more!  Our individual relationships with time (and with ourselves, by extension) are defined, not by some overarching credo or set of beliefs, but by the everyday choices that we make as we negotiate the details of our lives.  It’s a process … and one that we are intimately engaged with for our entire lifetimes.  After all … the way you use your time is the way you live your life!

So, here’s more help…

What if you could find another hour every day? You can! You are invited to sign up for your FREE Finding Time Success Kit. It puts 3 key tools for your time success right into your hands! Grab it and see how you can recharge your energy, reduce overwhelm and frustration, and come to learn that 24 hours really ARE enough!

Let’s explore time together …


  1. Thanks, Paula. I really appreciate the wisdom of this! And the more I live in the present, the less I find that I “need” to acquire or to shoehorn into my day…

  2. Paula,
    I love your focus on the positive: “here is what I’m making time for,” instead of “here’s what I don’t have time to do.”
    For me, the carrot pretty much always works better than the stick, especially because as soon as I decide to cut an activity out, it’s the one thing I really want to do. Apparently my inner rebellious teen is alive and well.
    Thank you for this thoughtful piece.

  3. Thank you, Eve and Alison, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I find it fascinating how being in the moment and focusing on the positive are so simple and so endlessly expansive! That’s minimalism at its paradoxical best. But it’s so easy for us to tip over into deprivation and scarcity (at which point, I think many of our “inner teens” awaken and want to get into the driver’s seat).

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