How To Balance Minimalism And A Hobby

How to balance minimalism and hobbies
Hobbies can certainly take a lot of space and for those who are striving for a minimalist lifestyle, which gives more freedom with schedules and time, hobbies that require a lot of stuff seem counter productive.
Most hobbies can be fairly minimal. If we stay with the basics, which, is typically what we start with when we begin that hobby, then it is simply more enjoyable.
The problem comes with a consumeristic mindset: we think we need more, bigger and better. We get hung up on the next best thing, rather than just enjoying something for what it is.
Take golf, for example: To enjoy a game of golf, one simply needs 3 clubs: wood, iron and putter (Maybe even less?). You can walk the course, enjoy the outdoors, work on form and swing. Visit with friends while you play or enjoy some quiet time to yourself. That is really all that is needed to enjoy golf.
Talking with a friend that enjoys sailing, he said he finds most sailing hobbyist will start with a small boat, then purchase bigger and bigger, until they get to the point where they simply have too much, they sell the big boat and go back to the basic small boat and find they enjoy it so much more.
It’s the same with the tiny house movement. Bigger and better doesn’t mean we will enjoy our home more. Rather, when we try to improve on it (I will be happier when…) it becomes a burden to us. Larger homes require more upkeep.
“Bigger and better” cost more, which means we spend more time earning money to pay for it, and we spend less and less time actually doing those things that we are working so hard to enjoy.
Eventually we have so much stuff and our items are so big and overwhelming, we stop spending time doing it.
The majority of hobbies require a minimal amount of supplies to do them. The key is balance. In the same way we have limited what is in our homes, hobbies are more enjoyable when the items we choose to include are minimal.

Remember, the key is balance. All of these activities have a plethora of options available to “add to your experience”, but if you think about the basics, you can enjoy the activity simply for what it is.

Investing in good quality equipment makes the activity more pleasant, so you can enjoy the experience without fighting the equipment.
Hiking. Shoes/boots and weather-appropriate clothing
Bird watching. Binoculars and a guidebook.
Fishing. Fishing rod, reel and minimal tackle.
Running. Just running in general can be great. If you need a challenge, sign up for a 5k, 10k or more.
Cycling. If you have children, get them riding too. My kids love family bike rides. A bike, shoes and a helmet is really all that is needed.
Collecting sea glass. As a minimalist, collecting isn’t typically promoted, but I’ve seen some lovely collections of sea glass in a small jar. If you find an abundance at a certain beach, then limit yourself to the most unique piece. The object is to be out in nature, not having a large amount.
Cooking. It needs to be done anyway, why not enjoy it?! Experiment with learning different cuisines. Simplify it by cooking that particular cuisine for a month or 2 so you use up the spices and unique ingredients that you purchase. If you don’t care for a certain ingredient, pass it on to someone else. Avoid purchasing gadgets or pots- most meals, of any ethnicity, can be created with limited kitchen equipment.
Boating. There are many boat instructions to make yourself in about 40 hours, canoe or sailboat, etc. Keeping everything simple and including family members makes everything more enjoyable and is perfect for building memories.
Golfing. Just 3 basic clubs and a way to carry them, is all you need.
Gardening. Gardening can be done indoors with something as simple as houseplants, herbs in a window, bonsai, or outdoors with a patio garden or large gardens in your yard. Keep it to a manageable amount, where you know you will have the time it needs to devote to it.
Sewing/handcrafts. Purchase your supplies with a clear project in mind. Avoid buying things because they are on sale, or to do “someday”. Get what you need for the project you want to work on and then complete that project before moving on to the next one.
Photography. A good camera is all you need. Get one with a lens that is versatile and will work for a variety of images, rather than getting different lenses. Work with natural light and refine your skills until you are amazing in one particular form of photography. Delete duplicates or similar shots when you download your images and just post your favorite images on a blog, tumblr or flickr page. There are also many youtube videos on just using your phone for photography. Why not accept the challenge?
Painting. Brushes and primary colors, that can be mixed. You can purchase canvases as needed, or paint on repurposed wood. Donating paintings to silent auctions for charities are great ways to keep them from piling up.
Reading. You can have any adventure or learn about interests easily with reading. Kindles are a great way to store books, but there are many people who prefer holding a physical book in their hands. Libraries, used books, passing them on when you are done are good ways to keep balance.
Writing. Start a blog, public or private, it doesn’t matter. Go for something that is free like blogger or, or journal regularly in a notebook. You don’t need a fancy computer or special programs for blogging and journaling can be done on the computer or in a simple notebook.
Music. I have one son that loves creating music, he currently has a guitar and a piano. No other gadgets are needed and he keeps all his notes and records them on his phone, which keeps everything simple. Another son loves listening to music and keeps his collections digital.
Do you have a hobby that is “minimal”? What is it? Please share your tips on keeping balance in your hobbies.

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Meryl @ Simple Family Home on 06/22/2015 at 8:27 pm

    Great post. I have thought about this a lot lately as I am really into crafts and sewing as well as aspiring to minimalism. For me the main thing is about not over-purchasing materials, finishing projects once I’ve started them, and finding projects to complete that aren’t going to increase clutter when it comes time to find them a home.

  2. Sam on 06/22/2015 at 8:32 pm

    I love to sew and quilt. Making a quilt can be very time consuming so I tend to have more than one project going at a time to keep it interesting for me. My way of keeping my supplies and projects in check is two-fold. All current projects are hung on one towel bar. It can fit about 4 projects at a time so I can’t start anything if the bar is full. I keep all my fabric and other supplies in one cabinet. If there is no room in the cabinet for more than I must use up some of what I have before I buy more. I also got off the fabric stores’ mailing lists. No coupons handy makes it less likely I will buy something I don’t need.

  3. Vicky on 06/23/2015 at 3:51 am

    Rachel, I have wanted to start blogging. Do you know what the difference between and Can you have a blog without maintaining a website? Can you provide PDF attachments or downloads just from a blog site or does one need a website, too?

    • Rachel on 06/23/2015 at 1:26 pm

      I should write a post on that Vicky! WordPress: is free. In order to have pdf files available for readers to view or download, you have to have pay for a hosting service, and then you would use

  4. Karen T. on 06/24/2015 at 5:48 am

    I’m a knitter, and I only buy yarn for one project at a time. Then I make sure to finish the project! The only things I store are various sizes/types of needles, stitch markers, etc.
    I also love to read, and the library is my go-to place for that. If my local branch doesn’t have something I want or have heard of, I can request it online through interlibrary loan. With current bestsellers I might have to wait a while, but older books are usually available within a week.
    My husband’s a birdwatcher, and he only uses a good pair of binoculars and a guidebook. He’s not trying to amass some number of sightings . . . he really just enjoys hearing and watching the birds of our area and those that migrate through. He’s not trying to one-up any other bird lovers.
    We also love taking walks together every day, and there’s a nice city park just a few blocks away that we often walk to and through. There are also a couple of exceptionally nice neighborhoods we’ll drive to and then walk through, enjoying the historic houses, mature trees, well-tended flower gardens, etc.
    Simple, low-cost hobbies are the best. We can actually enjoy doing these things almost any time, and for long into our middle and old age.

  5. Malinda on 06/25/2015 at 9:21 am

    Your blog is the most helpful thing I have ever read, and I have read a lot of books on the subject. Some of them are getting donated as I de-clutter. Thank you!!

    • Rachel on 06/27/2015 at 11:14 pm

      Thank you Malinda!

  6. Cody Doll on 06/25/2015 at 9:29 am

    Oh man this is so hard. I am a creator and I love painting, journaling, and scrapbooking but I also noticed that it was becoming overwhelming in things “I have to keep someday”. But I realize that someday might not make it. So now I only buy and keep what I already have plans for. I try not to buy extra. I always look at crafting supplies “Can I make something with this right now?” and “Will I actually make that?”. If the answer is maybe then I put it back. Still it’s a hard balance and it looks different for everyone.

  7. Jenny on 06/25/2015 at 9:54 am

    Could you speak into the world of models? What is reasonable? A family member builds model trains and half his basement is devoted to a layout (not to mention storage) that has been more than 12 years in the making. What about photography? What is a reasonable edited collection if one has been photographing for over 30 years? Thank you for your insight… sometimes I worry that without trying to be mindful, I’ll end up with the same massive hobby takeover in my life!!

    • Karen T. on 06/26/2015 at 3:24 am

      Don’t you think “reasonable” would be different for everyone? Especially if you were a professional (say a photographer), your collection of oft-used equipment and needed archives might be quite large. Of course, then it’s more than a hobby . . . .

      • Rachel on 06/27/2015 at 11:12 pm

        I agree with Karen on this, it’s going to look different for everyone. The best way to keep yourself in check, is if you are spending more time shopping/acquiring items for your hobby and less time activity doing the hobby.

  8. Myrte on 06/26/2015 at 4:19 am

    Funny: my main reason to minimalise my life is to have more space and time for my wool and fabric. To really let them spill into my room and life. So I’m consciously decluttering everything but that. And it is so encouraging. An empty room with yarn spilling from the cupboard and several projects lying about is my idea of heaven. And my motiviation to get rid of all other clutter. So Rachel, this is one bit of your wisdom I happily ignore while gratefully enjoying all the other inspiring lessons you’ve shared 😀

    • Rachel on 06/27/2015 at 11:02 pm

      LOL Myrte! Do what makes you happy. 🙂

  9. Anna Cragin on 06/26/2015 at 5:45 pm

    I don’t think that having a lot of supplies for a hobby or having a collecting hobby disqualifies you from being minimalist. The important thing is the reasons for having all the stuff. Sometimes, as you get more into a hobby, the research into better supplies is part of your growing knowledge of the field, and as long as those items bring you joy and you use them, there’s no need to “limit” yourself. It’s only if you never use half the stuff you get that it’s an issue and then requires some balance. But I don’t think it should be an arbitrary limitation on what you can and cannot do with a hobby.

  10. Jennifer on 07/07/2015 at 4:17 pm

    I shared this post with my belly dancer friends and they ran screaming — ha! We dancers tend to accumulate and even collect costuming (some of the vintage stuff is pretty cool). But I find myself feeling like my hobby has become less about the art and more about the accoutrement, and I am uneasy with that. In the last month I’ve been playing around with a capsule wardrobe for costuming and think I’ve refined about 20 pieces that combine with one another (a typical costume is around 7 clothing pieces, jewelry and adornment not counted). Last night I pulled out the remaining pieces and am almost sure I can part with them. Gotta do the 5 Whys to loosen my grip.

    • Rachel on 07/08/2015 at 10:43 am

      LOL- no doubt. Belly Dancing attire is anything but minimal, I can only imagine! But I love the capsule wardrobe for costuming idea- that’s awesome.

  11. Rachel on 09/22/2015 at 6:08 pm

    Crocheting can be done minimally with an I9 crochet hook, a ball of medium weight yarn, and maybe a pair of sharp-tipped scissors. You would be limited in what you could make, but you would spend less time having to decide your next project. If I take up crocheting that is all I plan on using.

  12. Tiffany on 01/09/2016 at 3:36 pm

    This was a very great and informative post, but I still have one main problem: I think, I have too much hobbies; I like diffrent kinds of crafting as well as drawing and writing. Besides, I enjoy reading and making music a lot.
    Supporting all these hobbies, even if I would do it the “minimalistic way”, would not be very minimalistic and take both a lot of time, money and space.
    What should I do?

    • Rachel on 01/12/2016 at 8:10 pm

      That’s really something you’ll have to figure out on your own Tiffany… maybe set up certain stipulations for yourself, like how many hobbies you take part in at a time, or limit it to one a year. I’m not sure.

      • Tiffany on 01/21/2016 at 3:09 am

        Thank you for yoour answer!
        What I am planning to do is reflecting my own leisure behavious to figure out, what hobbies are really giving me pleasure ans satisfaction. I wrote down all my hobbies, I am currently pursueing and I am trying to “abolish” a hobby each month. As a limit, I set myself five hobbies, it are currently 17.

  13. JV on 04/17/2016 at 1:17 pm

    My hobby is to listen music! It is minimal for me as I don’t have CD’s or buy music. I subscribed to Google Play Music All Access and I listen all the music (dancecore and jumpstyle) using my Internet on my laptop and smartphone. I support music and I am myself happy because I don’t like music transferring, labeling, organising etc. On my service music collection gets organised automatically when I just add item to it. Also playlists are easy to create and maintain. The only thing I need for music: laptop and headphones, smartphone and earphones and Internet to home (14 €, 10M) and to mobile (10 €, 2M). All unlimited, the first even 4G! Very simple hobby and I enjoy it a lot!
    Also when I have Google account, I digitalised all my other life. All my photos, videos are on Google Photos. I watch YouTube, not TV. I do blog and write with Blogger. I call using Hangouts. I use basicallöy everything from them and even all my paperwork is in Drive. I even use their Office apps online. My laptop, it have barely any apps. Only Chrome and I am so happy without all this clutter. I like digital life and there’s no way back for the old way! If you want to have best hobbies, listen music and write a blog!

  14. Maria Sze on 04/17/2016 at 1:25 pm

    Wonderful post. Thanks!
    one of my hobby is Chinese painting, – so what I need is basically ink, three nice brushes so I can paint in different strokes, and iyenga yoga.

  15. Dan Erickson on 06/30/2016 at 1:26 pm

    Great post. I like your style here. I also blog about simple living and have a post about “minimalist hobbies.” I’ve always had fairly simple hobbies myself: writing, music, gardening. I shared your post on my FB fan page today. If you get a chance, check out what I’m doing at Hip Diggs.

  16. Joshua on 01/01/2017 at 6:25 am

    Me and my girlfriend are trying to become minimalist but we like to make things (sew, crafts, art…), go outdoors (Hike, backpack, run,swim…), cook (bake, pickle, ferment…). We have ADD. All of these hobbies require tools or special equipment which really adds up in terms of space and money. How do minimalist deal with that? Most of the videos or blogs never show where they keep their extra equipment. Thanks

  17. Ruth on 02/27/2017 at 6:16 pm

    I’m confronting this question at the moment.
    Again, WHY are you doing minimalism? Isn’t it to make room and time for what’s important to you? So get rid of the excess and keep what’s important to you, but find a way to store it adequately.
    I’ve been looking at the KonMari method and philosophy lately and the question “Does this spark joy?” seems to be a good one to ask in this context. I’m asking myself that with my fabric stash and now one shelf is delightful when I look at it, because it contains only what I really like. (I’m not disrupting our lives by piling everything on the floor all at once.)
    Don’t forget, though, that joy is not the same as happiness or thrill: one person got rid of an egg whisk because looking at it didn’t give her a thrill, then regretted losing the whisk that made perfect fluffy eggs. There is the joy of the right tool for the job; a really reliable tool; the relief of always having a low-key dress you can throw on for work (a kind of joy); the comfort of a blanket or pillow; the joy of a really good cleaning product, and so on.

  18. Dustin on 04/18/2017 at 11:40 pm

    Why limit yourself to 3 golf clubs!? If you lIke golf, carry the standard 14 clubs. Whether it’s 3 or 14, it’s still just 1 bag. Just my thoughts knowing you camt actually win with 3 clubs :).

  19. Joanna on 06/04/2017 at 3:19 pm

    Unless your hobby is collecting things then I see a major part of minimalism being making time for enjoying the things you want to do, making space in our homes for the things we love and want to shine.
    So hobbies are what we make time for after decluttering, because you’ve made your home easier to manage, life simpler. So they you can sit and enjoy reading or knitting or going out for that walk in nature

  20. Catherine on 06/24/2018 at 8:50 pm

    But how can you be minimal when you love big hobbies…like woodworking (lots of tools go into this, yes you can do it with minimal tools but it is not like a manual versus electric can opener which is easy to toss the unnecessary). My husband is an avid bread maker. And there are lots of simple things he uses for proving and what not that take up space and are harmless but necessary to make the experience more enjoyable. This is where we get at a loss for minimalist living. Same with true camping. A lot of gear goes into that.

  21. Ducky on 03/27/2019 at 11:32 pm

    What happens when you have five (or more) hobbies and don’t know what ones to pair down. I paint (miniatures and canvas), write, do photography, make jewelry, building useful things like shelves, and just about any crafty thing that I want to try. I have basic tools for most of these and a sewing machine that mostly goes unused but needs pulled it out every couple weeks to fix things, as I have two boys that always need things fixed or made. I have an excessive amounts of things but they each serve very different purposes for me and I do many of them each month when the mood strikes or need arises. I am also a teacher so I keep telling myself I can use this or that in my class and now I feel like I am taking my hobby supplies to my classroom to preserve them unnecessarily. HELP! I am better than this behavior and know I can do better than this. I want better than this. My home feels cluttered with my things. How do I tell what hobby I really want to do or if it is just a passing fancy? I genuinely like doing new things and don’t really like giving up a whole hobby but it is so much stuff there is no way I can do all of it all of the time.

    • Rachel Jones on 03/28/2019 at 2:50 pm

      There are “maker’s spaces” popping up across the country, ours is $10/mo to be a member, they have craft nights, or you can use a studio space and have access to all their supplies and tools without having to keep a stock on hand at your home.
      This works well for woodworking especially, since the tools tend to take up more space. But they have everything imaginable for crafting of any kind. It’s also been a great place to donate craft supplies.
      For me personally, I kept my sewing machine and basic supplies- it helped to limit the space of the supplies to one plastic bin. I kept my crochet hooks but got rid of all my excess yarn.
      I kept my paints, but again, limited it to one bin that I could store easily when not in use. I got rid of my scrapbooking supplies because I realized that I hadn’t worked on it for 10 years and when I thought about it, I only felt heavy “I should do that” thoughts, nothing motivating or in anticipation.
      Ask yourself questions: If you had to move across the world and only had room for one hobby, what would it be? And why?
      Are there certain crafts that you avoid doing or procrastinate on simply because you don’t like the prep work of setting up supplies? In those cases, do you turn to one of your other crafts instead?

  22. Stuart @ Simply Mindfulness on 09/06/2019 at 8:18 am

    This is a wonderful list. I just found myself almost getting drawn in to bonsai… I was about to buy the tool kit. And more trees.
    Then I realised… the world is abundant with trees. I can get outdoors and appreciate the ones that are already there.
    You’re right… we need so little!

    • Rachel Jones on 09/06/2019 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks, Stuart! I was just watching your video on that! 🙂

  23. […] Nourishing Minimalism shares a very good list that includes several hobbies and the essential items you should own if you want to practice such hobbies. Remember too, if you can, always buy quality equipment because it will last longer. […]

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