I’ve always been impressed by people who can juggle a million things. Confident multi-taskers. High flyers with numerous projects in train and tons of friends on rotation and what looks like a wildly exciting life.

But since discovering I’m an introvert and embracing my personal weirdness I’ve realised that’s simply not me. I’m more of a minimalist juggler. The kind of juggler who can handle one ball, maybe two. Maybe.

I suspect it’s related to the introvert tendency to feel easily overstimulated, easily overwhelmed.

Now I see it as a considerable strength. I may not be able to handle a lot at once, but I can go deep. I can concentrate and get pretty good at something. I can sustain momentum.

I’ve joyfully embraced having fewer possessions, but my approach to introvert minimalism is about streamlining and focus in non-material areas, too.

Here are some of the ways I’ve opted to go deep rather than broad in my life. In every case I’ve found this minimalist approach a calmer, more effective, happier way to live.

Friendship

In my younger days I used to go out whenever I was invited and be friends with whoever asked. I didn’t know it was an option not to. As a result I was chronically, profoundly, brain-crunchingly all peopled out.

I now have a handful of close friends, and my time with them is one-on-one or in small groups, usually over drinks or dinner. Hardly ever at functions or parties.

Because of this social minimalism, my friendships all grow over time. We get to know each other and ourselves better, we talk about important things, we learn from and are challenged by one another. It’s not uncommon for me to still be thinking about dinner conversations days or weeks later. And not because I’m only just getting the jokes. Though okay yeah, that too.

There’s nothing wrong with having large circles of friends or enjoying parties, if that’s you. If it’s not, it’s a great relief to give them up for fewer friends and quieter times.

As a bonus, some very good wine is often discovered in the process.

Social Media

When you’re growing a new website as I’m trying to do with Louder Minds, you feel pressure to be on every social media platform. Certainly the latest ones where apparently everybody is. Definitely those cool ones where that thing you don’t really understand is happening, like, big time.

I feel the pressure for sure, but I’ve chosen to take a minimalist approach and focus mostly on Facebook – with some low-key experimenting on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

No doubt I miss out on potential Louder Minds audiences by limiting my social media channels.

But the stress and faint sense of desperation I feel when I extend myself further on social media is not worth it to me. Much better to be authentic and sane with fewer readers and followers.

Like you!

Fashion Loyalty

Although I love clothes and fashion, there’s a kind of joy I get from ruling a brand right out of my realm of possibility. Of walking past a store and thinking, I don’t shop there.

This exclusion is often on the basis of size – once I’ve tried on a few things that don’t fit well on my frame, I’m happy to strike a mental line through that brand.

Or it could be the type of fabrics they use, the quality of their zips (a pet hate), a preponderance of logos (yuck), or so much stock it’s unpleasant to navigate their store. I’m happy to make a blanket decision that this store is not for me and let that decision simplify my life.

On the flip side, once I find a brand that fits me well, uses materials I like, and suits my style, I’ll happily sign up for their loyalty program and newsletter and shop there regularly.

It’s like having my own personal list of preferred fashion suppliers, and it simplifies my life.

Hobbies

There are so many things I’m interested in, so many hobbies I’d like to cultivate. I’m a polymath without the actual learning. Just a poly I guess.

I’d love to take up ballroom dancing again, be able to draw, master calligraphy, learn interior design, do a fine arts course, get a degree in science. I want to subscribe to Vogue Living and The New Yorker and New Scientist and read every issue. I have a secret desire to be able to play Morning Has Broken on the piano like in the Cat Stevens version.

But I know from experience, from money wasted on courses unfinished and subscriptions unread, that I end up feeling pressured when I try to do or learn too many things. Even things I love.

So each year I pick just a couple of interests to focus on. Last year it was French (I worked through the entire Rosetta Stone course) and art history (I watched a bunch of DVD box sets that taught me the basics).

This year it’s going to be creative writing (I’ll do a class or join a group) and digital art (using my iPad and Apple pencil).

I figure I can play around with my copious interests over time. But trying too many at once takes the pleasure out of it.

Personal Style

Like many people (women?) I used to feel frazzled by the multitude of options assaulting me from my closet each day. How to assemble an outfit from that confused mess?

Some people thrive on choice. I get immobilised by it.

A sense of wardrobe overwhelm is what led me to my 3-colour closet minimalist approach to personal style: working out my three core colours, radically decluttering everything else, and letting future purchases be guided by this limited palette. Buying more expensive things, but far fewer, and spending less overall.

This simplified system of closet taming has made it a breeze to shop, a pleasure to survey my wardrobe, and a surprising amount of fun to get dressed.

Dining Loyalty

Where I live I’m surrounded by take-away options. Neither Craig nor I cooks, so this is fabulously convenient and also a good way to avoid burning down the apartment or poisoning ourselves.

We could dine somewhere different every night of the month, but we tend to keep going back to the same few places. This might sound terribly boring to some, but I love it. For a few reasons.

For one, I seem to be pathologically incapable of ordering a standard menu item, which leads to a complicated ordering procedure everywhere I go. (I’m pretty sure my menu adjustments are vast improvements, so…)

Anyway, once they know me and my order, even if I forget one of my tweaks, they always remind me.

I also get preferential treatment, free stuff, and my order often gets expedited when there’s a crowd.

Plus there’s always a pleasant exchange, warm smiles, a nice little bit of human interaction.

And I feel as though my order is made with love. Probably that’s dumb but it’s how it feels. I like that the people who cooked for me, like me.

There’s a place near me that treats every customer as a minor nuisance. Everything is a problem. You mean you want to pay by credit card? You want to call on the phone and order now? They seem perpetually irritated that people keep turning up to give them money for food. I went there a few times when I first moved nearby, but after a while I realised it was always an unpleasant experience, and I stopped.

I feel good being loyal to the places that look after me and have a little love in their hearts. It makes dining decisions easier and it makes me happier.

Fitness

My entire fitness regime consists of one thing – body combat classes. This work for me largely because, despite the pretension to martial arts, it is essentially dancing. Choreographed moves to music. I dance around and sing loudly and off-key and fitness occurs and muscles develop completely as a by-product.

People often ask me if after all my years of combat classes I could defend myself against an assailant. The answer is yes, definitely. Of course I would have to ask them to wait while I found and cued the right music on my phone, and they’d have to stand in the right spot so I could aim my kicks, and they’d possibly run away quickly once I started singing. But yeah, I could take ’em.

Perhaps a minimalist fitness program is a personality thing. My extroverted friends prefer variety and wonder how I don’t get bored.

Although doing one thing must deprive me of the benefits of a broader, more balanced fitness program, what it gains me is the opportunity to really focus on technique and improvement. Wanting to get better, even at a strange, pugilistic form of dancing, is tremendously motivating. It keeps me turning up to the gym, day after day, week after week, pizza after pizza.


Not everyone is a multi-tasker who thrives on multiple balls in the air. Don’t worry what others do. Don’t feel there’s something wrong with you.

Maybe you’re a minimalist introvert like me, who is easily overwhelmed but finds strength in simplicity.

If so, then going deep rather than broad might be a very happy, effective, and peaceful way for you to live.

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