Over the past week I’ve been ill. I really don’t want to get into it, because I’m not here for sympathy, but it’s a case of multiple things converging, and one ailment exacerbating another. The part that’s useful and constructive is that I had to prioritize what absolutely needed to be done, because I don’t have the strength or energy for anything beyond those essential tasks. It made me appreciate that fact that I’m already a minimalist. I also grew to accept the self-applied label of spoonie even more. What I started to picture in my head was a Venn diagram where the two overlapped. I’m officially calling it “spoonie minimalism”. Here are some preliminary thoughts; this is probably going to be a work-in-progress.
My Take on Minimalism
I’ve always defined minimalism as getting rid of what you don’t need or want in order to make space for the things you do. Most people see this as material possessions and clutter. It also extended to not spending money where you don’t have to, so you can afford necessities and a few luxury items. Don’t waste time on tasks that don’t serve some larger purpose, so that you have time for stuff that’s actually important. Never waste time on toxic relationships, giving you space to establish healthy ones.
The new factor that I’ve added is getting rid of unnecessary tasks that sap your strength, so you have the energy to do the things you truly need and want to do. This hit me on some very fundamental levels. I love to cook, but I realized I don’t have to prepare a full meal in order to feed myself. When I need to save my strength for other things, I can let that go. It’s okay to have some fruit and a piece of toast, make a simple sandwich, or a bowl of yogurt and muesli. If I’m going to the store, and can only carry so much, I have to be sure to only get the items we absolutely need. Even going from one room to the other to get something has been a bit of a planned trip; the kitchen is only three meters away, but why make five trips if you can make one?
My Take on Spoon Theory
Spoon theory states that people with chronic illnesses only have a finite amount of energy, and they need to spend it wisely. Everything they choose to do has a cost. This means that things need to be prioritized. Choices have to be made. You start by determining what is necessary. From there, you have to look at what yields a return, the things that will be beneficial later. Sometimes that’s “I should do that now, because later I won’t have the spoons for it”. When possible, you need to save some of your spoons for things that make you happy, just to keep yourself sane.
All of which dovetails with various takes on minimalism. Sometimes it’s not about what sparks joy, it’s about what doesn’t leave you exhausted. It’s not always about what’s beautiful, it’s about what’s convenient and doesn’t cause pain. Fewer possessions means less cleaning and maintenance. A concise task list means getting the most value from the smallest number of actions. It’s never about less for the sake of less. It’s less for the sake of not having the strength to do more. Like time and money, energy is a finite resource that needs to be carefully budgeted for maximum impact.
My big learning of the past week is that I need to stop finding resources – time, money, strength – for things that aren’t worth it. You’ve only got 24 hours in a day. There’s only a certain amount of money in your bank about. You can only do so much before you’re too tired, or in too much pain, to function. There are obligations to be met, things that need to be done, but you also need to save something for yourself.
Spoonie minimalism is the fusion of productivity and self-care. If I can get eight hours of work done today, then I will get eight hours of work done and make the most of those hours. But if I only have the energy to work for an hour, I need to make that the most productive hour possible, and then not feel guilty or ashamed of the fact that I need to take an extra seven hours to recharge my batteries and tend to my health.