Advertising

If You Think Minimalism Is Only About Having Fewer Stuff, You Don’t Really Understand It

If You Think Minimalism Is Only About Having Fewer Stuff, You Don’t Really Understand It
Advertising

Becoming a minimalist has captivated a new generation of people looking to pare down their lifestyles. It’s been all over the news lately, including in The New Yorker , where the #vanlife has taken over the site.[1] For me, minimalism is not about having fewer things—as a traveler and full-time digital nomad, it’s a necessity and a philosophy.

What really is Minimalism?

Minimalism is really the idea of having the chance to pursue happiness. Much of the philosophy is finding what makes you content as a human being and following your passions rather than acquiring things. This can mean having items in the traditional sense, like a car and nice sheets. As long as these things are essential to your goals and happiness as a person, then there is nothing wrong with having some items that you truly enjoy and make a difference in your life.

Advertising

Having more doesn’t mean it’s better.

When things become unnecessary, that’s when minimalism is important to consider in your life philosophy. Our current world culture encourages buying more in order to be happier person. Some of the pros of choosing minimalism include giving you the freedom to explore your interests on experiences rather than on clothes or styles that will change quickly.

Our society attaches meaning to how much you have and how expensive it was to purchase. This means often that we prescribe meaning to how many things you have rather than value as a human being. Instead of focusing on whether or not an individual is fulfilling his or her goals, we focus on how much money he or she is making and whether or not they have the newest gadgets and styles.

Advertising

The first time I realized that I was going to have to give up the idea of having things was when I landed a job as a travel writer that would require me to move to Italy . This meant renting an apartment that was mostly used for vacation rentals—everything was provided, including dishware, but it wasn’t mine.

Sometimes less can give you more.

There’s a freedom to being able to pick up and not feel tied down to a place. Because of a more minimalist lifestyle, my boyfriend and I have been able to travel the world and to have experiences that very few have. We’ve seen ancient temples in Kyoto and ridden camels in the Sahara Desert. All of our items fit into backpacks and we are able to pick up and move anywhere we desire.

Advertising

This has absolutely made me a happier person in the long run rather than tying myself to a place and job that makes me unhappy. Living an unconventional lifestyle can be scary, and it can be difficult when you are worried about how you are going to maintain your lifestyle and how you are going to build a foundation for the future. However, because minimalism is a philosophy and there are no set rules, you can still employee the ideas even when you have decided to settle down and have a more permanent existence.

Value yourself, not what you have.

Sometimes, I wish I had a more settled lifestyle. I see my friends buying homes and owning the latest cell phone and I wonder if I have chosen wrongly in adopting a more unconventional life. However, I have freedoms that they don’t, and I’m often told how many wish they choose the same as my boyfriend and I have and travel the world. As a result, I’ve achieved many of my personal goals and I feel more complete as a human being than if I had chosen to buy the latest and the greatest items.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Alex Schnee

Travel Writer

If You Think Minimalism Is Only About Having Fewer Stuff, You Don’t Really Understand It 5 Ways to Put Together an Event Without Stress 4 Ways to Make Learning a New Language Easier

Trending in Productivity

1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Advertising

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next