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The Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism

The-Beginners-Guide-to-Minimalism

Productivity experts the  world over are paying increasing attention to Minimalism as a way of life. But what is minimalism? Is it a new concept, or something that is seeing a resurgence? In simple terms, minimalism is reducing to the essential. It is the “simple life.” By eliminating the unnecessary, we focus our resources on what is important and what gives us happiness.

Why do people choose minimalism?

So you think you might want to be a minimalist, but you’re not sure what that entails. Minimalism requires significant changes in the way you think and live and does’t work for everyone. The choice to become a minimalist must come from within you. Is it going to make you a better person? Is it going to help you save time and money? Is it going to make you more organized? These are the questions to ask. If the answer is yes, then you’re doing the right thing. It is important to remember that changing your lifestyle is for you and the decision is a private one.

Clear out the extra stuff

The easiest way to begin your journey with minimalism is to begin with your physical space and belongings. Start with your wardrobe or work desk. Keep a trash bag with you and start eliminating things. If you haven’t used something for the past 6 months, you probably don’t need it anymore. Throw it away or donate it. The first step towards minimalism is clearing out your physical space and keeping only the essentials. If you’re the hoarding kind, this will be tough, but it is also extremely important. Old clothes, old furniture, fancy glassware, the super-sized bean bag; these are the things we might want to keep, but don’t really need. Start small and tackle one area at a time.

Stop buying things

You’ve decluttered and gotten rid of unnecessary items in your life. Now don’t step out with your credit card and buy new things to fill the empty spaces. Believe it or not, minimalism doesn’t require you to buy anything. We often make resolutions that involve buying a treadmill to lose weight or getting a gym membership, a planner, a huge organizer with a calendar, notepad et al. But if your resolution is to become a minimalist, you don’t need these things. Minimalism is about what you do, rather than what you spend money on. Taking a walk or jogging will serve pretty much the same purpose as a treadmill won’t it? And it’ll take you one step closer to nature. A simple to-do list on a piece of paper will serve the purpose of an elaborate organizer that does more to complicate than simplify. In minimalism, less is always more.

Reduce your connections

This might sound strange, but hear us out. In this age, with the excessive technology that surrounds us, we’re always connected. We have conversations happening on IM, Facebook, text messages, emails, everywhere. The incessant need to be up-to-date, to know what people are doing, is causing more harm. We have a thousand connections with people we don’t even know. Reduce these connections. Keep people in your life, but only the ones you actually interact with. The 500th friend on your Facebook friend list might have met you at an art gallery 6 months ago and you never spoke again. Having every channel on your cable subscription isn’t important either. The TV, internet, radio, newspapers are all forms of media which increase our connections with people. If you can’t eliminate media connections, reduce your consumption of the same. You don’t need to have Facebook open at your workplace. It’s as simple as that. We all know where we tend to go overboard, and with some control, minimizing is not only the ideal but the rational course of action.

Make it count

When we are living on less, it is essential to make everything around us count. For one, we need to make everything we already own count. If you can’t find a worthy reason to keep something, it is probably not worth keeping anyway. Minimalism is also about making our relationships with people count. As a minimalist, you want to make sure that the people you are investing your time in are worth that time.  There’s no right way of ‘making things count’. Every person is different. Try and strike a balance with people and things in your life. If you have eliminated intelligently, then what is left is what matters.

More single-tasking

If you’re a multi-tasker on your way to minimalism, you need to pause. Multi-tasking is often something we are proud of, but does it cause you more stress or headaches than it’s worth? At your workplace, you might find yourself talking on the phone, filing papers, reading emails and eating pizza all at the same time, doing none of these tasks fully or to your satisfaction. Minimalism is about learning to single-task. Taking one thing at a time will not only give you more time to finish it, but also finish it well. Saving time doesn’t come from doing a lot of things at once; it comes from planning things out so you can do them with ample time to spare. So if writing the report for your boss is what you need to do, keep the phone away and concentrate. If working nine to five, going swimming with your kid and relaxing with a book or your favorite TV program is all you can manage in one day, then that’s that. Don’t cram things into your schedule and half-enjoy the tasks at hand. Simplify. Say “No” to the things you can’t do.

Minimalism doesn’t stop

Minimalism is a continuous process. It doesn’t stop the moment you declutter or log out of Facebook. The process of living a minimal life involves editing as you go. We’re all prone to excesses in a modern day lifestyle, and you might find yourself failing at minimizing. But that shouldn’t stop you. If one plan of action fails, figure out another. If you still find a crowded desk despite eliminating things, start fresh. This may involve going back to where you started, but it’s always the right way to go about it. Starting over might seem tedious and like a waste of time, but realize that you’re doing it again with the idea of getting it right this time around. It’ll be vastly satisfying and a much-needed productivity boost if you’re able to declutter and reduce expenditures successfully.