Minimalist Hobbies

I’ve received several inquiries from readers asking what I do in my spare time. At the moment, with a baby, I would have to say sleep :)—but I do have a few minimalist hobbies I try to pursue (or would like to pursue) when I have a few minutes to myself.

1. Walking. I love, love, love to walk. I don’t do it for the exercise, but rather the sheer pleasure of being outside, on my feet, and a spectator of the changing seasons. I can’t tell you how much I miss the public footpaths of England; the weekends my husband and I spent rambling through meadows, pastures, and the little villages in between are some of the happiest memories of my life. Although back in the US, we’re fortunate to live near a large, beautiful park, and routinely do 5- to 10-miles a week. I also take Plumblossom for daily walks through our neighborhood whenever the weather permits.

2. Jewelry making. I’ve dabbled in jewelry making, off and on, for many years. I stick to what I can do at my coffee table—no torches, heavy equipment, or harsh chemicals required. What I love about this hobby is that everything is so tiny. All of my supplies (gemstones, findings, and small tools) fit into a pencil case.

3. Digital art. This is a relatively new one for me. Sure, I’d love to have a little art studio where I could paint (and make a mess) to my heart’s content. But with an infant, I have neither the time nor space for such an endeavor. Therefore, I recently bought a Wacom pen tablet and Corel Painter software, and am trying out digital painting (the effects are surprisingly realistic!). My daughter is a catnapper, so I can only work in 30-45 minute spans—but with no setup and cleanup involved, I actually have a bit of time to create something. Another advantage: no toxic chemicals to worry about with a wee one underfoot.

4. Haiku. Writing haiku has been a passion of mine for years. I love the ultra-compact form, in which every word is precious, evocative, and chosen with the utmost care. And since they’re so short, I don’t even need pencil and paper (or laptop) on hand—I can compose them in my head when I’m on the train, in traffic, or waiting in line at the post office.

5. Reading. I think just about every writer is an avid reader. And even though I don’t have as much time as I used to, I still try to steal a few moments with my iPod Touch if Plumblossom’s asleep in my arms. My preference is nonfiction, on whatever topics interest me at the time. And every ten years or so, I do a Year of Great Literature—re-reading as many classics as possible, to see if my life experience brings a greater understanding and appreciation of them.

So those are my minimalist hobbies—a few leisure and creative pursuits that don’t involve the acquisition or storage of a lot of stuff. I’d love to hear yours!

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

39 comments to Minimalist Hobbies

  • Nicola

    My main hobbies are horse riding and knitting. I try and keep the riding kit to a minimum (I don’t have my own horse, so that limits the amount of stuff I need to have!

    My knitting supplies have got a bit out of control, so at the moment I am using yarn up, and not buying any new stuff. Lots of knitted presents for people this year! I would like to be the sort of person who buys the stuff for a project when they want to do it and no more, but that is probably not going to happen!
    Like your jewellery making, knitting small projects such as socks can fit into a small space- I like to take a project on any journey when I am not driving.

    I suppose also gardening is a hobby- again, possible to be very un-minimalist with this, so I try and have the smallest number of tools possible to do the job.

    I suppose what I am trying to say with is ramble is that I try and keep all of my hobbies as stuff free as possible so that I actually use all of the stuff that I own!

  • Mine are walking, reading, writing and meditating. Although I seem to be reading less these days and writing more

  • Kari

    My hobbies are reading and knitting/crocheting. These are not very minimalist, but I can’t just change lifelong passions to conform to some notion of how much stuff a minimalist should have. However, I do keep the volume down by only keeping those books I re-read (yes, real books made from real paper) and by only buying as much yarn as I need for my next project. It helps to live where the nearest good bookstores and yarnstores are an hour’s drive away.

  • Right now, my ‘hobby’ seems to be minimizing! Haha!
    I walk almost everyday and I am transitioning to barefooting and minimalist footwear, so soon I will be barefoot running for a hobby as well. ;-)
    I also enjoy making cuisine from all around the world.
    Husband, baby, and I will all be taking our first trip overseas in October… to London!
    We are very excited and I have been spending most my extra time planning for this trip. We plan on keeping world travel a priority as our family grows. ;-D

  • Hmm…hobbies…
    I guess when I look at how I spend my time when not having to parent, I:
    -Volunteer at an animal shelter
    -Watch shows/movies on Netflix
    -Jump around on our trampoline
    -Walk my pup
    -Go out/explore our city

    I have quite a few other “hobbies”, but they tend to be expensive, so I opt out for now.

  • Cindy

    I love going for evening walks with my husband, reading, and knitting. I am working my way through a large number of books and a hefty stash of yarn, and giving away the results. I do have a genuine minimalist collection, though! If I spot a penny on the ground I add it with great fanfare to the Found Money Jar – and then every so often I dump the contents, such as they are, into my change purse. For some silly reason this always makes me smile!

  • Bauunny

    I love to read, garden and declutter. Getting rid of items I no longer love or use gives me the most pleasure these days. I went for many years without “real” hobbies in my prime parenting years (working full time too and helping my elderly mother as her health declined) so it is nice to be able to have more self- directed free time now. I also enjoy baking but that can backfire in terms of added pounds :-)

  • Ashley Laurent

    A friend of mine has tried to get me into quilting. I really want to, but I find it very difficult to work in fabrics and not become a fabric hoarder. Any tips?

  • I love re reading books for that same reason! Right now my hobbies are figuring out this whole blogging thing, writing lesson plans, and to be honest…watching tv. I’ve been watching it too much lately. Maybe it next on my purging list!

  • Minimalist Housewife

    I’ve never been much of a hobby person. Right now, most of my life revolves around my DD (that mean daughter right? I’m trying to be more hip on my Internet lingo!). I would consider my current hobbies running (I’m training for a half marathon), walking, biking, reading, and watching a few tv shows. I would sort of consider cooking a hobby since I’m trying to obtain more of a plant based diet and I do enjoy it most of the time. I’m not artistic and decluttered my fantasy self of cute homemaker who bakes and scrapbooks after Miss Minimalist’s “declutter your fantasy post” awhile back. Someday I would like to add yoga and massages to my list of hobbies again!

  • I share a few of those minimalist hobbies! The simplicity of running (and walking) is one of the things I love about it. I spend plenty of time reading, writing, and cooking.

  • Nikol

    Please, please share one or two of your own haiku with us! You can’t tell us that writing them is one of your hobbies and then not share :-) I appreciate it when you share one of the greats’ though I would still like to read one of your own. I used to be a children’s librarian and I did a Haiku for YOU! workshop for 8-11 year olds. I asked them to use either back-to-school or the coming of autumn as their theme. They were wonderful. Next time you are at your local library, look for One Leaf Rides the Wind. It is a haiku counting book for children and I bet Plumblossom will love it when she gets a bit older.

    • Holly

      That book sounds fantastic. I have a 12 month old daughter who loves books and that one sounds like it would be great for her. Thank you.

  • Faery

    I am starting to get into jewelry making, like MM said it’s all small stuff and I’d love to get into painting but cannot afford to buy the paints etc. My main hobbies/passions are writing, drawing reading (I’m a huge bookworm) my animals, surfing the net and researching my obsessions, de-cluttering/organizing (I get quite high from this!) However, how about this for the ULTIMATE minimalist hobby….day-dreaming!!! I can waste hours staring at the clouds captivated by my inner world, people always say I look “so far away.”

  • Nicole

    My hobby is knitting. I don’t have much of a stash, everything fits into a large plastic box. I would love to get back into Yoga, but at the moment that is one commitment to many.

  • Brian

    My hobbies are pretty much the same as a lot of people have posted already! Walking (with our dog), preferably in the countryside or on the beach, reading (Kindle), regular decluttering, swimming, going to museums and art galleries.

  • Mims

    Ooo, Faery! I love the ULTIMATE minimalist hobby too! I love day-dreaming, when I’m walking, when I’m sitting on my balcony (preferably with a cup of tea in my hands), when I’m strolling through the city or window shopping, when I’m browsing the Internet…

    I do have quite many hobbies and try to keep the related stuff to a minimum. My least minimalist hobby must be throwing dinner/tea/brunch parties. We are not talking lavish decorations here, but there is just no way around needing at least as many plates, glasses, cups and cutleries as the number of people that you tend to have over for a meal. For me, six of everything but glassware and cups has been a great number. I can’t seat more than six people anyways, and for brunches and drinks you can always improvise with plates, bowls and cutlery (eating porridge with tea spoons, stirring coffee with table sppons) as long as everyone has a cup or glass.

  • Windsor

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned dancing! It’s a great way to meet people plus excellent exercise and all you need is a pair of shoes! I own a pair of ballet flats that fold up and go in my purse and I’m ready to go. I started off in swing dancing and then took up blues dancing and that’s where I met my husband. We still go out dancing together about once or twice a week. If you’re spending any money on this hobby it’s to go to dances and classes, or if you want to, one really nice pair of dance shoes.

    • Mims

      Windsor, how awesome you met your husband dancing!

      I actually slapped my forehead when I read your post, dancing slipped my mind (most probably since it isn’t dancing season right now). It truly is a social hobby, that can definitely be minimalist. I have to admit though, that the days are long gone where I just had a pair of dance shoes and I don’t think I’ll ever get back to that unless I stop doing demos and/or going to formal balls. My normal dance gear (2 pairs of ballet slippers, a tool to rough up the soles, a fan and a support bandage) fits nicely into my shoe bag (my “injury kit” consisting of a different support bandage, a roll of tape and a tube of voltaren gel can be squeezed in as well if you use a bit of force). But then I have the demo gear (skirt, blouse, dress and sash), and the winter gear (2 pairs of legwarmers), and the formal dress and shoes, and the comfy skrit and suddenly it’s not that minimalist anymore even if I do use everything several times a year. I do use the demo dress as a summer dress and the comfy skirt year round, but I guess guess I could do without one of the legwarmers…

  • Darlena

    I agree with some of the other posters in that decluttering can be a full-time hobby! Listing things on ebay takes time in researching, photgraphing, weighing, packing, shipping, etc. In the short-term, I have lots of packing supplies on hand, but the hope is that eventually I will no longer have a need to keep these around. Even donating or freecycling takes time to sort and coordinate.

    For exercising, I discovered using the library for videos or a website that streams videos,, in order to keep my exercise video library to a minimum and yet still have lots of variety. I hang onto more equipment than I would like to, but I have also freecycled anything that I wasn’t using regularly.

    I also manage a feral cat colony in my neighborhood: trapping cats (with a borrowed trap) to get them neutered and vaccinated, and monitoring them by video for their health and to see if anyone new shows up.

    • Linda

      Darlena that is SO awesome that you care for feral cats! Esp using your own $ to get them spayed/neutered and vaccinated. You are a blessing from God for these animals! I myself have rescued one stray, took it to the vet and got it back to excellent health, after being on the verge of death. It is a wonderful feeling to take care of strays, we are their voice. Take Care and Have a Fabulous Day! Linda

  • Reading on the iPad and researching on my MacAir appear to be my primary hobbies right now. I am thinking about about going back to crocheting string bags, though. When I used to do that I would sell them as fast as I finished them so supplies were never more than a crochet hook, a couple balls of string, some elastic thread for the self-storing pocket on the bottom of each bag and a small pair of scissors and tape measure for cutting the elastic. Now that people are becoming ecologically conscious once again they probably would sell well and crocheting is better than eating while watching Netflix movies with Dave.

  • Michelle

    I love repurposing!! Taking all that old junk and turning it into something useful and beautiful feels great. My latest repurpose was taking an old t-shirt and making it into a cute skirt for my daughter. It’s one of her favorites. I’ve made sweaters into winter hats, men’s dress shirts into sundresses and old jeans into tote bags. Castoffs can become free crafting materials.

  • Kathy

    If you are liking digital art with your tablet, you might want to give digital scrapbooking a try. For me it’s a good way to have a hobby I enjoy, without all the normal supplies (and set-up/clean-up) the hobby normally has, then I just put my “pages” on my digital photo frame.

    My hobbies are reading on my Kindle, digital scrapbooking when I have time, listening to music, and my absolute favorite hobby is taking a nap since our days in this heat start well before daylight.

  • Great post! Here are some of my minimalist hobbies:

    – Walking, especially at night with my boyfriend
    – Cleaning/organizing (not much to organize at my place so I help friends out when I can)
    – Performing and watching stand up comedy
    – Writing in my diary
    – Learning foreign languages
    – TV
    – Tennis
    – Video Games (old ones..)
    – Karate
    – Playing my keyboard

  • Holly

    Some of my hobbies are becoming minimalist. Being active requires a minimum of gear. My library is becoming more digital since I got my smart phone and I’m getting rid of all the books I don’t love in my physical library. My biggest source of hobby clutter is my craft room. I knit, crochet, spin, sew, quilt, bead, scrapbook and do cross stitch. Some of those crafts I have put physical limits on how much I can have in the way of materials, but I have so much yarn and fabric. Some level of stash is great, for being able to start a project and not have to go to the store with small child and also for times when money is tight. But I’m struggling to pare it down to where everything in my stash is stuff I use frequently and love. If anyone has any suggestions for culling crafting supplies, please let me know.

  • Karen T.

    Like Aisha, I like to take night walks with my husband (we look at the stars). I’ve always been a bookworm, though I recently decluttered by bookshelves down to one (only books I love and plan to re-read someday). Otherwise, I use the library. I like watching Netflix-rented movies and doing the hardest crossword puzzles I can find (especially NY Times Friday and Saturday puzzles). I’d like to learn to knit, if I could find someone to teach me (I’m left handed, and the knitters I know are not).

    • Mims

      Karen, any good knitter could teach you how to knit basically by sitting opposite you and purl (normally you would sit next to the one you teach and knit). That would give you an idea of how it works. Showing you how to position the thread and the fingers can be done with the help of a mirror. Also, google and Youtube is your friend, there are plenty of instructions on learning to knit even for lefties. :) Good luck!

  • Caelen

    One of my favorite hobbies is probably minimalist- I do improv comedy. :) No supplies needed for that! But I do activities because I love them, and if I have to buy stuff and/or pay money to do the things I love, then that’s totally ok with me. :)

  • Sara

    Hey Miss Minimalist! What caught my curiosity was your list of great classics. What books are on it, please share! :)

  • Rita

    *Also wanted to add, I know there’s categories on the right of the screen, but sometimes I’m looking for a specific article and such.

  • Rachel

    Gardening can be minimalist if you go the square foot way. This requires the fewest tools and very little gardening space.

  • Pamela

    It took me a while to take up a new hobby that I felt reflected my minimalist values. I finally decided to take up crocheting. I find it to be the perfect minimalist hobby. All my hooks and other supplies (measureing tape, yarn needle, etc) fit into a pencil case. I found a charity for single moms which was willing to take my creations (hats, etc.) for the babies and their moms. And, I love that I can recycle/repurpose yarn from old projects and create new ones. Recently I took apart an old scarf and am planning to make some baby hats with these. I know that there is the potential to get crazy with the yarn, but I’ll try and limit these to a small grocery bag I have at home.

  • Anne S.

    Francine, have you ever thought about having a forum on your blog were other minimalist might go to ask for help and other readers could leave advice for them? For example, knitting is a popular hobby. How does one control their yarn stash? I read in a comment once that a reader only has one pair of knitting needles. That really got me thinking about my knitting stuff and how I’ll go out and buy a needle size I need for a project but perhaps I should just look for a similar project that uses a size needle I already have. Or I’ve learned to use scrap yarn as place markers instead of buying little plastic holders. Just a thought. I’m sure it’s not as easy as just creating a forum lol. As I have no idea what it takes to have a blog. I’m sure there is a lot of work involved and also having to monitor what people are saying. Sometimes I start wanting to get more extreme in areas of minimalism and it would be great to have a place to go and ask what others did and what worked for them.

  • Shallim

    I’m very late commenting on this but my hobbies are:

    – gardening. I’m obsessed with this. I love that it’s exercise, thinking, planning, learning and you get fresh produce. You really don’t need many tools.

    – walking.

    – cooking and baking. If I’m unable to garden cos of illness or the weather, I switch to cooking.

    – reading/researching

    – decluttering but I’m hoping this will eventually come to an end

  • Tina

    I have been doing a lot of volunteer work- teaching crafts to children at our park district. I also take an elderly friend to her DR. appointments and visit my mom at her nursing home a few times a week. I like to make collages and draw. I used to quilt and crochet quite a bit but I don’t want to start building up collections of fabric and yarn again so I kept the tools and instructions only.

  • Tina

    I have been reading a lot of 1930’s British mysteries. I take them out of the library. some of the new ones are too violent for me. I have also been trying to keep getting rid of the unnecessary things in my life. me.

  • I like to make collages out of scrap paper. I also make jewelry out of found objects. I take worn out clothing and paper and make beads out of them.

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