30 Areas of Life Where Subtracting Can Add More
“When things aren’t adding up in your life, it’s time to start subtracting the things that aren’t helping and that are holding you back.” —Unknown
The path to a richer, more satisfying life isn’t always found in adding more. Often times, the path to a richer life can be found in subtracting—in removing the things that no longer serve us.
Deciding to do and own less is counter-cultural. Especially in a world that constantly encourages us to pursue and acquire more. The decision to remove might even go against our nature.
But the process of removing the distractions that keep us from a better life is a step we must always consider and often take. And this idea applies to numerous areas in life—some may be more applicable during different seasons of course, but it’s wise to consider the option wherever it can be applied.
To get you thinking in that direction, here is a list of areas where applying the principle of subtraction might just be the change you need for a fuller, more focused life:
2. Furniture: Interior designer Francis Jourdain once said, “One can furnish a room very luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in.” A less cluttered space can bring peace and clarity to your home environment.
3. Decorations: Removing unnecessary decor won’t just enhance the calming nature of your living space, it will make your space more personal and meaningful because it elevates those pieces that most inspire us.
4. Cookware: Too many kitchen gadgets can overwhelm and complicate cooking. So keeping only the essentials can make meal prep more enjoyable and efficient. I stand as proof on this one. Since minimizing the items in my kitchen, I have learned to love cooking much more.
5. Bedding and Linens: Keeping only a few sets of bedding and towels simplifies laundry and storage, making home management easier. In our home, we keep just one set of bed linens for each bed plus one set for company. (Of course, it helps that our kids are older).
6. Beauty/Hygiene Products: Keeping your beauty and hygiene routine simple can save time, money, and reduce waste. Focus on the products you love to use, remove the rest.
7. Paper Clutter: Going digital with bills and documents can reduce paper clutter and make important information easier to manage and access.
8. Unused Apps: Deleting apps you don’t use can declutter your digital space, streamline your usage of it, and remove the temptation of going back to waste time on them.
9. Email Subscriptions: Unsubscribing from marketing emails declutters your inbox and reduces the temptation to spend.
10. To-Do List: Overcommitting dilutes focus, increases stress, and keeps us from doing our best work. Trim your to-do list to essential tasks to improve productivity and well-being.
11. Social Media: There is no need to be on every social media platform. Focus on your favorites. Cutting down on social media platforms can also free up time and reduce information overload.
12. Streaming Services: Limiting your subscriptions can not only save money but also reclaim time that could be spent on living your life—rather than watching others live theirs.
13. News Consumption: Limiting exposure to constant news can reduce anxiety and help maintain focus on your personal life and goals. It might also change everything you currently perceive to be indisputable fact and your opinions of others—especially of people you’ve never met.
14. Impulse Buying: Curbing impulse purchases can save money and prevent clutter from accumulating in your home. Here are 24 simple ways to help.
15. Mindless Snacking: Cutting back on snacking can lead to healthier eating habits and more mindful food consumption. Some of the best advice I ever heard concerning over-snacking was this, “You’re not hungry, you’re thirsty.” The next time you think you need a snack, try drinking a glass of water instead.
16. Over-Checking Emails: Limiting email checks to specific times can increase productivity, reduce stress, and help keep you focused on both the tasks and people right in front of you.
17. Dining Out: Reducing the frequency of dining out can save money and encourage healthier, home-cooked meals. Save money and improve health? Sign me up.
18. Sugar: Reducing sugar intake can lead to better health, more sustainable energy, and improved well-being. Also, sugary products can be quite expensive. Learning to live with less will change your life in more positive ways than you can imagine.
19. Relationships (if toxic): Not every relationship in our life should be focused on what you can get out of it. But letting go of toxic relationships can dramatically improve mental health and happiness.
20. Goals: Focusing on too many goals at once can lead to burnout. Prioritizing a few meaningful goals can lead to more significant achievements and satisfaction.
21. Commitments: Overcommitting spreads you thin and often distracts from life’s joys. If your life is currently overcommitted, subtract a few. Be selective about your commitments to help you live a richer life.
22. House Size: A smaller home can reduce expenses and maintenance, allowing for more freedom and less financial stress.
23. Hobbies: Focusing on a few hobbies that truly bring you joy can be more rewarding than dabbling in many or quickly jumping from one to another just for that next dopamine hit.
24. Kid’s Activities: Overscheduling children can lead to stress for the entire family. Choosing fewer, more meaningful activities can allow for more family time and relaxation. Developing new skills and learning discipline is important for children, of course. But so is downtime and learning to appreciate the warmth and comfort of family.
25. Your Words: Speaking less and listening more can lead to deeper connections and more understanding in relationships.
26. Debt: Reducing debt can alleviate financial stress and lead to a more secure and flexible lifestyle. Here are 101 ways to do that.
27. Habits: Breaking free from negative habits opens up space for positive change. Identify habits that don’t align with your values and work on eliminating them.
28. Negative Self-Talk: Cultivating a positive inner dialogue can boost confidence and mental well-being. Replace negative thoughts and self-talk with positive ones instead.
29. Worry: Harvey Mackay put it this way, “Worrying makes you cross the bridge before you come to it.” And sometimes, you spend time worrying about a bridge that never even appears. Subtracting worry allows you to focus more on the present.
30. Comparisons: Comparison is the thief of joy. Remove it wherever and whenever you can. Focusing on your own journey can increase self-esteem and personal fulfillment.
Minimalism, at its core, is about identifying what is essential and finding the courage to let go of the rest.
And there are countless places where its benefits can be appreciated in our lives. This is a short list of 30 places where subtracting from our lives can make them richer.
If you have others, leave them below as a comment. My hope is to spark new thoughts and ideas about where minimalism can be beneficial.