Minimalist Hobbies – Fun without a Lot of Stuff

minimalist hobbies

“Having too many hobbies can cost you unnecessary time and money. Figure out a small handful of core hobbies to focus on and discard the rest as active interests.”

–  Trent Hamm

As you sort through piles of craft materials, sports equipment and other fun-related items, you may start to think about substituting minimalist hobbies for your space-hogging interests.

I’ve found that for many people, hobby materials are one of the last decluttering holdouts, right up there with sentimental items. We often keep stuff for hobbies we’ve haven’t engaged in for years.

In some cases, we’ve invested a lot of money in the supplies and equipment and don’t want to lose the investment. Perhaps we just have too many hobbies, so we don’t have time for them all.

Other times, we hold on to unused items because of who we want to be. We want to be the kind of person who skis, scrapbooks or makes beer. Letting go of this stuff is also letting go of our dreams.

When you’re sorting through hobby materials and equipment, ask yourself why you’re keeping things you haven’t used in a year or more. Maybe you have a good reason – it didn’t snow, so you couldn’t snowshoe. Or your youngest child is about to grow into her sister’s old ski boots.

If you don’t have a good reason and you’re still having a hard time getting rid of the stuff, give yourself a deadline (no longer than a year) and calendar it. Commit to decluttering all items related to any hobby you haven’t engaged in by the deadline.

“My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.”

– Edith Sitwell

Are you looking for a new hobby that you don’t need a lot of stuff for? Luckily, even if you’re the type of minimalist who wants carry everything you own on your back, there are plenty of hobbies you can do.

  • Listen to podcasts or audiobooks. I can check out audiobooks from my library online – see if your library offers this service.
  • Have a pair of binoculars? Try birding, stargazing or butterfly watching. Many field guides are available online or in e-book format.
  • Photography requires only a camera – and if you have a smart phone with a good camera, you don’t need to buy a thing.
  • Learn a language online (one free site is Duolingo).
  • Make origami.
  • Obtain a pencil and an unlined notebook, and try your hand at sketching.
  • With a free Kindle app, it’s easy to read on your phone, tablet or laptop. Not only are many books (especially classics) free to download, you can check e-books out from the library as well.
  • Writing requires only your laptop or a notebook and pencil.
  • All you need for letterboxing will fit in a large pocket: a journal, a pencil, a rubber stamp and a stamp pad. Geocaching is similar, but you’ll need a GPS-enabled device instead of the stamping materials.
  • Learn to sing.
  • Depending on where you plan to hike, you may need nothing but a sturdy pair of boots and a water bottle.
  • Become a connoisseur of something consumable, like wine or craft beer.
  • Volunteer.
  • Do magic tricks.
  • If you’ve already got basic kitchen equipment, learn to bake bread or cuisines from different parts of the world.

If you have the space, consider productive hobbies. You’ll need to acquire some materials to get started, but you’ll also generate something usable when you’re done. These include gardening, sewing, beer making, canning and woodworking.

Do you need minimalist hobbies?

What if you truly need a lot of stuff for favorite hobbies? Don’t worry about it.

Stuff is not inherently bad. Problems arise from cluttering our lives with stuff we don’t need or want. If something improves your life, keep it without guilt.

“Hobbies are apt to run away with us, you know; it doesn’t do to be run away with. We must keep the reins.”

– George Eliot

Whatever hobbies you choose to keep or add, be mindful about purchases and think carefully about whether you can declutter some of the supplies or equipment you already have.

For instance, I may need several sizes of knitting needles, but I don’t need a closet full of yarn. (If you have too many craft supplies, check out my earlier post, Are You Buried in Craft Supplies?)

The same idea applies to digital items – if you’re done with an e-book and know you’ll never read it again, go ahead and delete it from your e-reader. The same is true for game apps.

What minimalist hobbies do you engage in? If you have hobbies that require lots of stuff, how do you keep materials from getting out of control?

6 thoughts on “Minimalist Hobbies – Fun without a Lot of Stuff

  1. Just came to your blog for the first time. Lovely post, and thank you for the link to the Learn a Language. I gave it a try, and I think I will get going on that. It will make a nice break when I am working on “other stuff”.

    re hobbies…
    -love looking at the local birds and animals. always find it fascinating when I spot a new one, and it truly seems a special treat when something like a pheasant comes to my yard. (as does happen sort of regular)..
    -also, I have rather a odd hobby, had since I was a small child. I LOVE looking at architectural features on (mostly) older houses/buildings. Especially like the details up towards top of the buildings…how the main parts are joined to roof/fancy details etc.. At one point I thought “oh I should carry a camera and keep a picture record of the various interesting ones I see.” then I thought “no, best not, someone might spot me taking pics of the top of their homes, and wonder just what I was up to….if you know what I mean..” so, no pics, but somehow, that does not matter to me.

    • Thank you. You know, I never thought of it as a hobby, but I love looking at architectural details too. That’s lovely you have pheasants come to your yard. Since we’re in an apartment now, I just have hummingbirds, but we’ve been taking a lot of walks and seeing many other birds.

  2. My hobbies are pretty diverse, I enjoy cross stitching, crocheting, restoring furniture, reading and listening to music. Then there is my garden. The thing is I don’t need a lot of materials or tools for any of these. I inherited my grandmother’s crochet hooks which she stored in a cigar case, nice and neat. I also don’t stockpile yarns. I purchase them as I need them for what I want to work on at that moment.

  3. My hobbies are reading, crocheting, and playing games. I read ebooks on my iPad. I crochet string bags which I sell for the cost of materials so I can make the next one. I play games on my iPad plus I have my game kit. My game kit is two decks of playing cards, six dice, a key chain-sized cribbage board, a small tablet, and a pencil all packed in a quart-size zip-top bag. Friends and I can play way too many types of games with this kit to ever run the risk of becoming bored.

    • Thanks for sharing, Linda. I especially love your quart-size bag game kit – my husband and I will definitely need this if/when we do our full-time living in a truck camper we plan for.

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.