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7 Common Struggles of Minimalist Beginners and How to Overcome Them

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7 Common Struggles of Minimalist Beginners and How to Overcome Them

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 October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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