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Extreme Minimalism vs. Messy Minimalism

Extreme Minimalism vs. Messy Minimalism

Minimalism is a spectrum. There is a wide range of interpretations of what minimalism means, from extreme minimalism to messy minimalism.

All minimalism subsets share a common purpose: achieving deep-rooted desires. You can pick your flavor of minimalism to suit your larger life goals.

What is Extreme Minimalism?

Extreme minimalism is a minimalist approach that involves getting rid of almost everything you own. People who practice extreme minimalism often live with only a few essential items, such as clothing, bedding, and a few personal items. They think owning less leads to a more fulfilling life, focusing on experiences over material possessions.

An extreme minimalist is likely to know the exact number of possessions he or she owns. If you ever see someone proclaim they own just 120 items or some specific number, generally that person is an extreme minimalist. The internet often highlights polarizing content, using extreme minimalists to represent the entire movement.

Benefits of Extreme Minimalism

One of the benefits of extreme minimalism is that it can be liberating. Furthermore, getting rid of everything you own, you free yourself from the stress of managing and maintaining a large collection of items. Less time and energy go into cleaning and organizing, reducing stress.

If you choose to live a lifestyle of extreme minimalism there will be significant financial changes in your life. The sale of all your current possessions will free up cash and the elimination of basically all consumer spending is likely to dramatically change your disposable income. Your new financial situation can allow you to make choices such as going off grid or becoming a full-time traveler.

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Extreme Minimalism Tips

Extreme minimalism is very challenging. It requires a significant amount of time and effort to get rid of everything you own. Set realistic expectations regarding the time you will commit to making this lifestyle shift. This kind of change will not happen overnight or even over a weekend. You will need to set aside many weekends or spend vacation time working towards this goal.

Additionally, extreme minimalism can be difficult to maintain, as it requires a lot of discipline and self-control to resist the urge to accumulate more possessions. Create strict rules for yourself surrounding future purchases. Stuff creep is real and can happen so gradually you barely notice.

Why You Should Try Extreme Minimalism

You might be a good candidate for extreme minimalism if you feel extreme anxiety around clutter. If tight finances have persistently been a problem in your life this drastic shift in lifestyle could be your solution. Both people who are already flexible go with the flow personality types and those willing to adopt that attitude may thrive as extreme minimalists.

There are some that will put entire classifications of people as incapable of becoming extreme minimalists. I disagree that certain professions, life situations, or conditions prevent someone from practicing extreme minimalism. Social conditioning limits people, but I encourage you to follow your desires.

What is Messy Minimalism?

Messy minimalism involves decluttering and simplifying without extreme minimalism’s strict rules. People who practice messy minimalism believe that it is possible to have a minimalist lifestyle while still enjoying the things they own. They focus on decluttering and simplifying without strict rule limitations.

In a messy minimalist home you are more likely to find multiple pairs of scissors, a mantle filled with sentimental objects, and three sizes of frying pans. The minimizing concept remains, but messy minimalists have a looser definition of need.

messy minimalist

Benefits of Messy Minimalism

One of the benefits of messy minimalism is that it is less dramatic to get started. You can embark on the initial phases of clearing out unnecessary possessions over a weekend. There is very little chance that you will regret any elimination decisions you have made since the volume of stuff you remove will be significantly less than other types of minimalism.

Those that are not interested in the deep inner work of a minimalist mindset can reap some of the benefits of a minimalist home by practicing messy minimalism. Less clutter means easier object finding, less cleaning, and fewer worries about possessions.

Messy Minimalism Tips

The most difficult thing about messy minimalism is that it’s difficult to maintain. Because there was not a large shift in your mindset or behavior, the stuff creep happens very easily. As a messy minimalist you need to be extra mindful about your ongoing consumerism to continue this version of minimalism lite.

One way to increase minimalism is by applying stricter rules in certain areas and looser rules in others. For example, a parent might make a toy room more messy minimalist or an artist may keep their studio more loosely minimalist. However, in the most frequently used areas like the kitchen and bathroom you could choose to be more traditionally minimalist.

Why You Should Consider Messy Minimalism

Skeptical of minimalism? Try messy minimalism as an introduction. Stepping into the world of minimalism through messy minimalism is better than avoiding the concept entirely.

Everyone has unnecessary stuff, so being willing to admit that to yourself is an important life skill. Your everyday life and existence becomes easier when their is less clutter in your life. Even less clutter dramatically improves mental and emotional states in your home.

Extreme Minimalist or Messy Minimalist

The best approach to minimalism is the one that works for you. If you are someone who is highly organized and disciplined, extreme minimalism may be a good choice. On the other hand, if you struggle with self-control and prefer a more relaxed approach, messy minimalism may be a better fit.

Ultimately, the goal of minimalism is to simplify your life and reduce stress. Choose extreme or messy minimalism based on your needs and goals.

Both extreme minimalism and messy minimalism have their pros and cons. It is important to consider your personal preferences and lifestyle when deciding which approach is right for you. By finding the right balance between minimalism and your own needs, you can simplify your life and reduce anxiety, leading to a happier and more fulfilling life.


  • Veronica Hanson

    Veronica Hanson blogs from whatever country she happens to be in at the time, currently she's hanging out in Japan. She's been living as a nomad remote entrepreneur with her family since 2020.

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