7 Ways to Overcomplicate Minimalism

Inside: If working to simplify your life has you feeling even more overwhelmed than you were before, perhaps you’re overcomplicating this minimalism thing. Here are 7 ways in which that can happen. 


I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to overcomplicate absolutely everything. From big ideas and small next steps, to meal planning and practically anything involving technology. I always tend to make it significantly more difficult than it needs to be.

I start by panicking, quickly moving through all of the worst case scenarios, and eventually create a forty-seven point plan to complete the task. What I’ve found however, is that nine times out of ten, if something feels overly complicated it’s because I’m missing the most obvious first step. Like just push the POWER button kind of obvious.

When it comes to implementing minimalism, it’s so easy to overcomplicate the process. What starts off as hopeful aspirations, turns into feeling completely overwhelmed, followed by tossing in the towel. We let the pursuit of simplicity leave us just as drained as our previously cluttered and hurried lives.

overcomplicate minimalism

7 Ways to Overcomplicate Minimalism

1. We Make It All or Nothing

Starting small is a perfectly acceptable place to begin. Many times if going minimalist feels overwhelming, it’s because our minds keep immediately going to the hardest parts first. We ask questions like, “What about those cook books handed down from my grandma?” or “What am I going to do with all of those photo albums?” Meanwhile, our linen closet holds more towels than a Marriott. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look around your home for an easy win and be willing to start small.

2. Chasing Picture Perfect Minimalism

As you begin your minimalist journey you’ll quickly arrive at a fork in the road. One path takes you toward a grace-based, real life, often messy approach to minimalism. While the other leads you toward the pursuit of perfectly executed minimalism. You know, the stuff minimalist Instagram photos are made of. At first I chose poorly and headed down the path of decluttering for the sake of controlling my environment.

Read more about that misstep here.

A grace-based approach to simplicity is a much better fit for our family. Especially because there are five of us under one roof. It allowed me to let go of the unrealistic expectations that continually complicated what was meant to simplify.

3. Over-Research Purchases

At what point does “conscious consumerism” cross over into obsessive indecisiveness? When I decide to buy something, I do it with intention. I spend lots of time researching the best option for me. But what I find often happens is that days, or even weeks go by, and I’m still aimlessly wandering through the land of Amazon reviews.

No matter how much you research know this, at some point you’ll still end up buying something you wish you didn’t. Relax. Minimalism let’s you course correct and learn from those mistakes. Don’t spend your one wild and precious life over-researching the perfect winter boots. Take it from me, you just may find yourself knee deep in snow with no boots at all.

4. Trying to Force Family Members into Minimalism

Instead of simply embracing minimalism where it applies to us, we try and make everyone in our home dive in on day one. We forget that our significant other or children may not have had the same “ah-ha moment” we did. They are going to need more time or perhaps they’ll never join you at all. That’s ok.

minimalist family

Trying to force anyone to declutter or own less is an exhausting waste of energy. Let me set the record straight. Your husband’s shopping addiction may make your home more cluttered, but it does not make you less minimalist. Start leading by example and work on the areas of your life you do have control over.

In the words of my friend Sarah, “I do me, and let them do them.”

5. Looking for Simplicity in the Form of “Stuff”

Instead of trying to live with less, we look for simplicity in the form of stuff. We believe the problem with our stuff is that we don’t have the right stuff. While getting rid of our clutter, we continue to accumulate more.

You can’t buy your way into the simple life. There is no such thing as the perfect kitchen gadget, monthly delivery subscription, or storage system to fast forward your simplicity journey.

6. We Treat Decluttering Like a Two Week Juice Cleanse

While yes, you will certainly see immediate results, you can’t expect long term habit change without consistency. Just as a two week juice cleanse won’t provide you with life- long healthy eating habits, neither will a two week or thirty day “decluttering challenge” transform your home for the long run. We must change the way we look at the stuff in our homes altogether.

There is a difference between decluttering and minimalism. Decluttering helps eliminate the excess, while minimalism holds the line.

how to become a minimalist

7. Start a Blog About It!

When I asked my husband if he could think of any others ways in which we overcomplicated this simplicity thing, his immediate response was this.

“Yeah, you started a blog about it!”

Ha! He’s right, that certainly complicated things for us. If I had just taken my newly simplified home and stopped there, life would be much simpler today. But I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t keep quiet about what getting rid of our excess stuff did for my home, mind and soul.

That’s the thing about minimalism. We aren’t just simplifying so we can do nothing. Though that’s certainly a possibility. We are making room for growth, rest, purpose, meaning, adventure, new challenges and the occasional change in occupation.

Sure, Abundant Life With Less requires a lot of me, but if it wasn’t for first decluttering my life, I never would have never discovered just how much I love to write. That new found love of writing lead me to discover an incredible writing community called, Hope*Writers. From there I met some incredible minimalist writers, many of whom have now become very dear friends.

Side note: If you’re a writer, Hope*Writers is currently open for enrollment until January 17th. —>You can learn more about it here! <—

It’s funny how one small, next right step can lead to something big.

Who knows where a life of less may lead you. Just keep in mind, sometimes the simple life itself isn’t so simple after all.

It’s Really Not So Complicated

If the simple life has you feeling more exhausted than you were before, take a step back and look for areas where you may be unnecessarily overcomplicating it. Perhaps you’ve wandered down that perfectionist path or you’re trying to get your family on board too soon.

It’s okay, the simple life is very forgiving. Look for your small, next right step and just take that one.


Need Some Serious Decluttering Motivation?

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