Back to Simple: Making Life Richer Through Experience & Minimalism

Through early enculturation, we learn to spend. From the time we’re kids, we’re taught to value the new kicks over time spent with Grandma, or that new car over time a trip to a museum. We spend all year looking forward to consumer holidays and sales rather than reflecting on those for mourning or remembrance, and often forget what really matters at the core of it all.

Minimalism is about the return to what we really need. It’s about finding air again through the mess– putting the J’s down and turning off the noise, and taking a breath. It’s about leaving the comfort zone of excess; letting go of needing more in order to be happy, and reassessing what physical possessions are actually required for fulfillment in life.  The rest just clouds the pathway between you and the roses, or stands between you and your jet.

I use minimalism to try something new: to focus on new flavors and experiences, see new places, focus on quality and not quantity (longevity and value over the rest). I simplify and put to work the things that are on the outside of my efforts. I return to function with minimalism, monetize the things that matter less, and declutter my thoughts, my home, and my life, regaining my space. I stop trading my time, space, and confusion for money.

So how do you shift to a more organized physical space once you have primed your mental space for minimalism? How can you help this newfound physical clarity to be reflected in your life? Ten steps:

First, declutter your space. Now that you’ve decided to do it, execute. Clean it out. Sell what you can, consign what you may, donate what’s left and have a yard sale. When it’s over, put a trash alert out to the neighborhood, ‘cause your house is CLEAN! Remember, a less cluttered space means a less cluttered mind.

Create a schedule: plan it out. Exercise your foresight, When I first started, I began by block-scheduling my day in 15-minute increments, so writing everything down helped me to determine when things would happen (from studying to travel) and when they wouldn’t (so that I could actually meet my own rest requirements). For visual people, this is particularly helpful, but it’s also incredibly helpful for people who are over-committed and natural procrastinators with a series of due-dates that tend to cluster around federal schedules or large organizations.

Write it all down. But by “it” I mean everything. Make organization part of your go-to reference activities, where you record your daily life and reinvent the way you record your daily happenings. But I’m not just talking about things that are to happen (aka planning), but I’m also talking about things that have happened (like what and when you ate, when you got a headache, that stomach ache you had, etc). This is how you notice patterns! As a pain patient, I learned the critical relationships between what I was putting in my body and the way my body reacted or felt the hard way. You may have that headache on the 14th day of the month, you may find that it only happens when you drink red wine, or when you eat gluten. Either way, sometimes you have to see things written down to see the patterns emerge.

Build in space for meditation, breath, rebalancing and turning off. Seriously. One thing I’m guilty of is not building in space during my day to turn off. At this point, I literally schedule a “screens off” time, meditation at various intervals, and bedtime. I also set pop-up reminders on my electronic calendar to remind me to breathe, which helps me to take a moment to inhale, exhale, and let the tension out of my body, mind, and soul.

Remind yourself. I give myself permission to need and use reminders, then create systems for success using these as the best way to meet my personal needs. The process of building reminder systems into my day has been very deliberate and calculated, and still, has allowed me to also drastically increase productivity by allowing me to encourage my own progress through my daily activities, and to remind myself to return to the moment when I’ve drifted too far.

Be patient and be flexible. That is, be patient with yourself through the transition to mindful organization and be flexible enough to figure out what works for you.

Lean on your tribe. Learn how to ask for help.

Make a personal strategic plan. Create a personal strategic plan for your life with S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals and milestones, then incorporate them into your daily life.  

Manifest. Speak it into existence.

Ritualize and repeat. Make this part of your daily practice, then repeat!

What’s your best organization tool?

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