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7 Common Struggles of Minimalist Beginners and How to Overcome Them

7 Common Struggles of Minimalist Beginners and How to Overcome Them
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Let me paint a very familiar picture for you – you wake up, go to your bathroom and get a bit agitated because your family members misplaced all the hygiene products, which along with those that already don’t have a place make quite a mess.

Then, a bit agitated from the very beginning of the day, you enter your kids’ room to wake them up and can barely see them because of the piles of toys and school stuff scattered everywhere. Already feeling a bit nauseous, you decide to calm your nerves by having a cup of coffee in a clutter free room, so you can take a few deep breaths and not kill anyone, only to realize that there’s no such corner anywhere in your home.

Now, you can pull your hair out, yell at your family and have a nervous breakdown, or you can go minimalist. However, with each item you encounter the same thought will appear in your mind; to throw out or not to throw out – that is the question.

Going from being practically a hoarder to starting a new life as a minimalist requires a serious transitional period, so I broke down the whole subject into eight different dilemmas you will most probably face. I had to go through the same thing, so I’m sure you’ll find my pointers helpful.

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Is it trash or a memory to me?

Getting emotionally attached to items[1] was the biggest problem for me. When a random object was in your life for years, even if it didn’t play a significant role, you can’t but become fond of it.

I’m not suggesting that you should become an emotionless monster here and throw out your children’s blankies right now – that should be kept safe and sound – but you do need to develop a realistic mechanism and be able to determine what needs to go. Otherwise, your home will become a pile of objects (if it hasn’t already) and you won’t have a place to sit.

How often should I declutter my home?

Purging isn’t something you can do once and be done with it for all eternity – random stuff has a way of finding its path to your home. And it’s not just you; each one of your family members brings items to your home every day, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a receipt or a huge stuffed bear toy, it still takes up space in your home.

As far as I’m concerned, extreme purging needs to be done at least twice per year and my family is on it around New Year’s and at the beginning of July. The first time you organize your loved ones to purge your home from unnecessary stuff will be a disaster, because everyone will probably refuse to give up their stuff.

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However, after a certain period of time, after when everyone starts enjoying their new clutter free life, the amount of purging that needs to be done will decrease as everyone will stop bringing a lot of things in. And don’t worry, this will eventually happen, because they will subconsciously realize that all of that extra stuff will end up in trash eventually.

Should I keep the duplicates?

Well apart from the obvious – having enough plates and glasses – the answer is no. You don’t need two tooth brushes, unless you plan on growing another set of teeth and no, you don’t need three measuring cups unless you plan on starting a business and becoming a caterer.

Most of the duplicates you have in your home, and which you’ll start seeing as trash very soon, can be another man’s treasure. Therefore, get a nice clean box, pack everything up and give it away to a charity of your choosing – I’m sure there are a lot of them nearby that will gladly accept your clutter.

What if I decide to wear it again?

You won’t. That shirt that’s been hanging in your closet for a decade now will hardly become a permanent part of your style and, unless you’re going to a costume party that has some of the previous decades as a theme, you won’t feel comfortable wearing it.

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The fact is that there is someone out there who won’t really pay attention to whether or not an 80s garment fits their style or not as long as it keeps them warm. So, do yourself and that certain someone a favor, clean out your closet and give those clothes to a person in need.

Is there any clutter free zone?

Other than cornering your kids toys, there are other ways to make some parts of your home free from unnecessary items by declaring them to be clutter free zones. So, you should call up a family meeting and make a deal with them never to leave random objects like pieces of clothes or bags or toys in your kitchen and living room, for starters.

The common space everyone uses should be completely minimalist and always without anything that doesn’t belong there. The thing is that clutter doesn’t only take up room, but it also burdens the human mind.[2] The quality of time you spend together will most definitely increase when there’s nothing bothering you.

Can digital form replace the hardcopies of paper documents?

Except if a document is mandatory in paper form, you really don’t need it. Every receipt or a certificate you need to hold on to can be transferred into digital form. Another suggestion is to upload them to a cloud platform – this way you will have your files ready to use whenever you’re in need of them.

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Will “just in case” ever happen?

And another no. Just ask yourself this question – did this happen sometime in the past? Did you ever really think “God, I was so smart to save this, I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have this item at my fingertips?” Unless it’s medicine or duct tape, my suggestion is to get rid of it.

There you have it – all struggles you’ll face on your journey to becoming a minimalist and living a simple, clutter-free life. Just remember to insist on this lifestyle by not allowing anything unnecessary to pass over your doorstep, or at least make sure that it leaves your home the first time you see it, and I promise you it will get a lot easier in time.

Reference

[1] The British Psychological Society: The Psychology of Stuff and Things
[2] Psychology Today: Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies

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Djordje Todorovic

Blogger, Gamer Extraordinaire

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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)
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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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