I use five fundamentals to help people to work through how they can ‘live more’ and the first one is Simplify.
It’s about being very clear about what you want in your life and what you want to do, and therefore clear about what you don’t want and don’t want to do, and then aligning your life so that you’re working more in the space of the things that you want to do and less around the things that you don’t want to do.
One of the ways you can simplify your life is to think about adopting a more minimalist lifestyle.
Minimalist is quite a buzzword at the moment and there’s a real spectrum of what that means from people who reduce their belongings to three items, four shirts and a sofa, and that’s all they have in their house (I might be slightly exaggerating there!), right the way through to people who still have quite a lot of stuff and stuff happening in their life, but less than they had before they started that process.
As with many things in life, it’s a personal journey, a personal decision as to what works for you and what doesn’t work for you, but adopting a more minimalist lifestyle can be a way to help to be happier and more fulfilled with what you are doing.
We quite often think that we just need to keep adding more stuff into our lives and then we’ll be happy but quite often the opposite is true. When we really start to focus on the things that we feel are important and that we want to do that can free us up to really enjoy our lives, which is sort of the premise of ‘POWER to Live More’ in the first place.
Getting less, having less, and committing to less can give us more time to relax and to recharge and to start each day refreshed because we’ve got less ‘stuff’ dragging us down and hopefully fewer money concerns, a less stressed calendar and so on.
How do you embrace it then? What are the five steps that can help you to do that?
1. Reduce your Surface Clutter
First, the big one for me is about reducing your surface clutter.
Just thinking about the stuff that you have in your house and in your life and in your business that you can see. How can you have less of it? How can you get rid of things? How can you clear work surfaces? How can you clear perhaps your desktop on your computer? How can you perhaps streamline what you’re doing within your business, take out some processes so that you just have less, so that you’re not seeing a ‘busyness’ all the time?
Again, I think it’s very personal. Some people really do seem to thrive in a really busy, overstuffed environment, but I think from talking to people that most people actually do appreciate some opportunity to have that clear space, whether that be in your house or on your desk or in your computer to really help you to think more clearly.
Have a look at your house, have a look at your business, have a look at your computer, and just work through on a daily basis, just a little bit each day, of getting rid of some stuff that you don’t need anymore. Perhaps taking it to a charity shop or deleting it if it’s on your computer, or if you’re thinking about things that you’re doing in your life, work out the things you want to do, work out the things you don’t want to do, and work out a plan to gradually cut out those things that you don’t want to be doing.
2. Cut Things Out
Moving on to the second thing on the same theme is about cutting things out.
Look for recurring commitments or tasks or recurring bills that are happening all the time, and that actually are depleting your energy and your reserves or your money, and just say no to them.
And have a look at your to-do list. There’s certainly things that I do on a daily or a weekly basis that every so often when I do a little review, I realise that I don’t really need to be doing them. I’m just doing them because it’s become a habit and it’s not actually doing my business or my life any good anymore, so I need to cut those things out.
So, have a look at those recurring commitments, tasks, and payments that you’re making and see if you can do something to reduce them.
3. Get Rid of Old Boxes
Here’s a bit of a radical one, for number three. It’s get rid of old boxes or if we’re talking digital, then get rid of folders on your computer.
The radical way is just to get rid of them, so if you’ve got a box that’s been in your wardrobe or under your bed or anywhere else for longer than, say, a year, and you’ve not looked at it, then you probably can get rid of what’s in it without really noticing.
Then at some stage in the future if there’s something you need and you haven’t got it, then you can always go and buy it again or find it from somewhere else. If they’re the sorts of boxes where you know that it’s stuff that thought you may have used but you haven’t, then just getting rid of them isn’t an issue.
If what’s in the box is mementos and that sort of thing then obviously it’s a slightly different scenario.
I do go through old boxes and make sure that I don’t need the stuff before I get rid of it, but really, if you’ve not looked in that box for a good period of time, then chances are you don’t need what’s in there.
The same with your computer. I’ve got so many folders on my computer from the last 11 years in business. I could probably delete half of them and never notice because I don’t actually know what’s in them.
Again, I need to make time to sort through them. I’m doing a little bit everyday and sorting out things in my business and my home and my office, and I probably will put looking at folders on my computer on that list of daily actions.
But there are probably some folders that can just go. One little tip for that is I tend to, on my computer, have a folder that’s called ‘To Delete’. If I have to save stuff that I know I won’t need in the future, for example when I have to save things to send them on to people or just to be able to view them, I save them into that ‘To Delete’ folder. Then every so often I can go in and delete everything in the folder, without looking at it, knowing that I don’t need it because I wouldn’t have put it in there if it was something that needed to be kept for longer.
4. Make a ‘One In, One Out’ Rule
The fourth tip is to make a ‘one in, one out’ rule so that every time you bring something into your house or your business or onto your computer you are replacing something. You bring something in and you must always take something away. That can be a good way of making sure that you at least don’t increase the number of items that you have in your life and business, even if it doesn’t go down as a result of bringing something new in!
And it doesn’t just apply to ‘things’. If you think about it, even in your social life for example, if you’re making a new arrangement to regularly meet up with friends, say once a month, think if there’s something you’re already doing once a month that you don’t really need to do anymore, or you’re not enjoying as much, that you can stop doing to make space for the new arrangement?
You can make that work in all different ways. Just remember, when you add something in, take something out.
5. Introduce Systems
The last tip for minimalising and reducing things in your life is about introducing systems links the second fundamental that I talk about as far as ‘living more’, and that is about systemising. Look at the things that are taking time in your life and in your business, and look at introducing systems to help you to do those things quicker, more efficiently, or perhaps in an automated way. Things like if you wash up a lot and you don’t have a dishwasher, then maybe a dishwasher might save you time, or you might have ways of managing your emails so that you don’t have to spend so much time on them.
I use a tool called ‘SaneBox‘ that sorts my email automatically into different folders for me. It makes it much quicker to go through and triage my email and work out the stuff that I need to do, the stuff that I need to save for later, and the stuff that I need to delete.
Think about all areas of your life. As I said, home, business, working on your computer and so on, and see if there’s a quicker, easier way of doing something by systemising and in some cases, automating whatever that task might be.
Those are my five tips for helping you to minimalise your life.
As I said at the beginning, I think sometimes by taking stuff out and simplifying, you can really free up and create space for you to either do more of the stuff that you want to do, or even just do less and be more calm and relaxed and look after yourself more which takes us into one of my other Ss, which is all about self-care.
I hope you’ve found these 5 ideas helpful: reducing your surface clutter; cutting things out; get rid of old boxes, old folders, things that you don’t need anymore; have a ‘one in, out out’ rule; and introduce systems to make what you do more efficient and more effective.