Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash
Minimalism has been spreading like wildfire.
People who long for simple living, low stress, and no clutter (like me) are inevitably attracted to it.
For a long time, I used to interpret it in a limited context of owning less. But it goes deeper.
As I see it, minimalism is intentionalism. It is based on the simple concept of “less is more” which means you determine things in life that give you the most value and remove anything that distracts you from them.
Here are some ways I’ve applied the minimalist philosophy to improve my life:
I am not a master at reducing my physical possessions because a lot of what I own is what our family has had for a long time.
I am also not an extremist like Colin Wright who owns 51 things and travels the world (although the freedom is appealing).
However, fewer possessions do make me feel good.
The only problem is that I have to ask my mom/sister before I throw anything! The last thing I want is to throw something someone else needed.
If you want to start pairing down, make a simple list with three columns:
Things to throw
Things to sell
Things to donate
And keep knocking items off of that list whenever you get time. Set a goal to check off one item every day or 5 items every week, as it suits your schedule.
Getting an inventory also helps you realize how good/bad the situation is.
This reduces any anxiety that you have when you just start decluttering.
To see the cupboards get empty one by one is such a great feeling.
I used to live in “Tab Hell”. There would be at least 15–20 different tabs open at any given point of time.
Often the width of the tab is so small that I cannot see the name of the website itself.
While most people are okay with it, for me, it quickly became a source of distraction and irritation.
Every few minutes my eyes gravitate towards the open tabs which remind me of all the pending tasks that I have. It creates unnecessary background stress.
So I do one of two things:
I write down the tabs/links that I want to open in my notes, OR
I work on a new chrome window with only the tabs I need at that very moment.
I go for the first option usually as it makes me feel more organized.
I always read paperbacks or printed ebooks since I had a fascination with people who had big libraries.
Friends would come to visit and they’d compliment my shelf or how much more I used to read. This was doing nothing besides feeding my ego.
Lately, I realized the goal was inspired by outward influences and not a part of me. So I decided to give it up.
Also, a lot of books sometimes have the same concepts so it is convenient to go through a digital copy (PDFs/Kindle) rather than getting a paperback.
I get digital copies of books that I am sure I would not want to keep.
I am also selling/donating most of the fiction books that I read since I won’t touch them again.
I don’t buy as many books since I re-read every book at least 2–3 times to learn and apply rather than reading it just for the sake of it.
I used to go to meetups, conferences, etc and just collect business cards or LinkedIn profiles with no exchange of value whatsoever, hoping that someday some connection would be able to help me in some way.
That is just a very passive approach I realized. And selfish too.
I’ve started to approach it very selectively and aiming to immediately do more for the people that I meet (without an expectation) rather than waiting for “someday”.
Work and Goals
Inspiration: “Long lists never get done” — Rework
I used to make long lists of tasks that needed to get done, write the time that it would take to do each one of them, add them up and see if the total was less than the time I had on any given day.
If the total is less than the time I have, I’d assume I can do all of them.
I couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
Attention is a finite resource.
I now have a list called “Mind Dump”. This contains every little task that I need to get done — work or personal.
Every night I pick one or two major and a few minor tasks that I have to do the following day. Having a list of 5–7 tasks is much better than having a list of 30.
I practice Intermittent Fasting. The 16:8 protocol.
I have my dinner at 7 pm and the first meal is at 11 am the next day.
The 8-hour window gives me space for 3 meals and I am working my way to cut it down to 2 meals while still maintaining the amount of food I eat.
However, since I’m in the best shape right now I’ve ever been, I think I’ll stick to this system for some time.
The biggest benefit is that I don’t have to think about food a lot and it helps avoid cravings or emotional eating.
There is plenty of information on Intermittent Fasting. Just google it and you’ll get tons of research about why it’s good for you.
I do the Reverse Pyramid Training by Martin Berkhan to keep things very simple. Apart from deadlifts, squats, bench press, shoulder press, and barbell row, I rarely do anything else. Maybe a few movements here and there for arms or calves.
Each workout has 2–4 movements only. I’m out of the gym in 40–60 minutes.
This simplified focus on compound movements has given me the most benefit in terms of muscle gain and overall fitness. Plus it helps reduce workout time from 5–6 days a week to 3 days a week.
The workouts on 3 days are so intense that I can’t increase the days even if I wanted to.
Quality > Quantity
Side Note: The Minimalist by Martin Berkhan and Fuckaroundits — must-reads.
I felt that wearing the same thing every day had become a cliche. But once I did practice it for a while, I was amazed.
It is just so simple.
Although I’ve never liked shopping or the feeling of getting new clothes, my parents insist a lot — “We want you to look good!” xD
To them, it doesn’t matter if I wear the shirt once a year, they still get it for me despite strong denial from my side. But it’s their love so I can’t complain.
I donated a lot of clothes and chopped down the wardrobe by 50%. I am still working towards it.
In terms of building habits, my life was full of highs and lows.
Meaning, I decided I will build every good habit I can — meditation, working out, eating well, IF, reading, etc — at the same time.
And that is why the high of excitement in the start quickly led to a low point since I obviously could not build all these habits together.
So, as with everything else, I decided to stick with one habit at a time and once it is built into my routine completely, then I focus on something else maybe.
Some habits may go together (meditation and journaling, for example) but it is still safe to go with one at a time.
I cut this article down by about 40%.
Instead of being obsessed with length, I changed the focus to being conscious of the reader and delivering them value in as quicker time as possible without all the filler in the middle — Tim Denning is on point.
Nothing else to be said here in my opinion.
I hope you enjoyed reading the article and found it valuable. If you have any feedback, please reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter!
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