How taking up minimalism helped me get better at pool

I have been consciously practicing minimalism for over six months now. However I still have difficulties defining to others what minimalism is. Perhaps the most commonly used explanation for minimalism is getting rid of things that do not add value to one’s life.

My pursuit of minimalism did not just stop with getting rid of things. As soon as I was done downsizing my things, I began to wonder what the next step of minimalism could be – Can I minimalise my online activity? Can I minimalise at work?  Can I minimalise my habits? Can I minimalise my food intake and lead a healthier life? Can I minimalise the thoughts in my head? I can positively say minimalising is addictive. Here’s why.

It is addictive as the benefits are rewarding and almost immediate. As I began minimizing my clothes, I spent lesser time getting ready, meaning I slept more. My shelves magically became larger as I now could keep my clothes on hangers and not need to fold and stack them up. I stacked up all of my houseowner’s kitchenware in one corner and removed some of the ‘utilities’ that were not living up to their names. Voila, I had less items to clean & arrange!

Perhaps the one benefit I did not imagine in my wildest dreams was how minimalism helped me become a better player at pool. While I was thinking on more avenues where I could apply this change in my frame of mind, I thought to myself,

“What if, I halved the speed of my shots?”

Within a game or two, I realized I was able to strike the ball with higher accuracy compared to before. With higher accuracy, I was more efficient in disposing off the balls.

Another advantage was that with lesser power on the shot, I was able to predict where the cue ball would end up post each shot and hence plan ahead to my next shot.

Minimalism has proved once again that more can be achieved with less!

 

Disclaimer: For all purposes, I am only a novice at pool. Until very recently, the closest I got to being professional was when playing pool was “a state of mind” 🙂 So take my advice with a pinch, actually, a lot of salt!

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The Joy of Less – A book review

As a reader of this blog, I am sure you already know that I am smitten by the minimalism bug. For those of you who do not know yet what minimalism is, it is the concept of owning less things through intentional living in a manner that we only indulge in those that add value to our lives.

Ever since my tryst with minimalism, I have taken some measures to simplify my life:

  1. I reduced the number of shirts I use, frankly because I hated ironing them. I now have a white shirt and a black one for formal occasions and one shirt that I use for more social occasions. I have switched to wearing T shirts to work. Trust me, they are far more comfortable.
  2. I am giving away some devices that have just been sitting at home, unused. Hope they find better use than they did at my place.
  3. I packed up unused items provided by my house owner and stored them away in a far away place. My kitchen now has a bit more space for the regularly used items to dock themselves.
  4. I have setup a blocker in my browser that limits my social networking time to 10 minutes during a work hours. Though my productivity has not improved, I am writing more often as my mind is less cluttered by news feeds of others’ activities.
  5. I have also spent considerable time unsubscribing from various emails, disabled pop-ups from various news/sports apps and even whatsapp. Though “phantom vibrations”  were felt from time to time, the withdrawal is now complete and I don’t feel the urge to check my mobile every 10 minutes.
  6. With the free time I got, I am now able to devote more attention to things I love – Solving those 1000 pieces puzzles and actually reading a few books

Now that I could see more benefits of living an intentional life, I wanted to take the next steps in minimalism. This was when I came across “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay being mentioned quite often as one of the best books on living a minimalist life.

I found the tone of the book to be pretty light and breezy to read. It felt more like the author was talking to me rather than writing to me. This helps to make things fun and also keep my mind open to the ideas being suggested.

The book starts off with some philosophy about minimalism and why one should embrace it. For someone that was already sold on the concept, this served as positive reinforcement to the benefits of minimalism.

 

Next was a framework to minimize your stuff. This laid some basis on how to go about decluttering things from your house and also ensuring that things stay the same way post the process. I liked the way Francine brought to our attention, some of the methods through which stuff accumulates without our knowledge.

The concept of having circles to describe the placement of things around oneself makes a lot of sense. The inner circle would be those that one uses daily, the second circle would be those that we use often but not on a daily basis and the outer circle would be those that can be kept away for longer periods of time but still cannot be completely removed.

And the rest, you have permission to let go!

But wait, Francine gives you suggestions about what to do with these excess. There are many ways to dispose off them which can ensure that they find better homes or owners and also do not damage the environment with our excessive dumping.

Overall I feel that this book is a good read for those who want exposure to minimalism and are looking for ways to declutter their homes. Though the book speaks about issues we face, going from room, once can choose to pick the sections that concern them.

One aspect that I feel was completely neglected was applying minimalism to people’s digital exploits. The book was very focused on decluttering physical  objects that there was, pardon the irony, less room to discuss meta-physical decluttering.

To follow Francine Jay please visit – http://www.missminimalist.com/

Feel free to comment 🙂

Stayfocused in, Gmail Out – Increase productivity, reduce distractions.

Ok, one month into trying minimalism & simplifying my life, I have been making significant strides. For starts, I have felt bored more often in the past two weeks than I ever can remember. I am creating free time, which is good.

I am also through 300 pages of the first ever book I read since Harry Potter!

While minimalism at home makes sense, I have realized there is much more than physical objects that clog up our lives and work. My major breakthrough has been in using the chrome extension called “Stayfocused”. This app allows you to add websites that you are addicted to and allocate only few minutes to them per day after which they are blocked off on your device.

I have used this for the past couple of weeks and almost stopped looking at Facebook, goal.com, bbc sports and a few more of the sites I am addicted to. I now have the choice of channeling the additional time towards work or writing.

Though Facebook has taken a large amount of bashing for being unproductive, I also believe we need to look at another deterrent – GMAIL. When was the last time, you got a personal email on this platform?

For me, it was about 6 months ago. Yet I have not only had the app installed on my phone, also allowed it to auto sync continuously but also allowed it to throw up a prompt for every new email.

Over the past week, I have unsubscribed to all marketing emails. For those that do not allow me to unsubscribe (WTF man!!), I have created a rule to mark them as read. I have also muted the mail app and turned off the Autosync. I have experienced peace!

You can try this out too 😊

 

 

 

Feel free to comment some tips to increase productivity.

Is minimalism necessary for Indians?

Ever since I got introduced to minimalism, one question has kept ringing in my head. “Is minimalism necessary for Indians?”.

In true Indian sense, I want to deny and dismiss the thought and say “no”. How can a western concept be applicable for India? Have our elders not always taught us to save and not be consumed by consumerism? On the flip side, if we were so good at saving money, why are we faced with so much debt? And why are our bedrooms so full of stuff?

There are economic factors involved here. Back when I was at school, we had two important decisions in life – the 50paisa samosa or the 75paisa samosa. Now the same samosa costs 75 Rupees in most coffee places. So, our elders did not account for inflation. But what has that got to do with minimalism?

I am not an expert in finance & will never claim to be one. But my belief is that irrespective of which era you belong, you are paid a sum that will help you keep your lifestyle intact. If that is not the case, we find jobs that satisfy these. So, finding the appropriate income is not a problem. Then the problem is at the other end of the spectrum – expenses. Minimalism can help a great deal when we consider where our incomes go to.

As is the case with most of the world, we have developed at a rapid pace over the past couple of decades. We can boast of our cities hosting skyscrapers and multi-national companies. We have developed many towns to cities and villages into towns. A lot of us own vehicles, and own houses. We live in a connected world and have owned a minimum of 10 mobile phones since our first.

There lies the problem. Almost all the money we have earned has gone into upgrading our lives. This is primarily due to social pressure. We need to own the latest and greatest gadget or most expensive car to be perceived as successful. Once the next version of the same device is released, we have to own it. This mentality leads to a lot of pressure as well as needless expenditure.

The next major expenditure that we undertake is owning a house. It is a status symbol to have our own flat. In some cases, marriages are determined by how many houses the bride or groom brings to the table.  When we work, it is quite easy to pocket a house loan and purchase the place. However, the banks do not let us pay back at our pace and instead force us to pay at theirs.

From a cultural perspective, as well, we have forced ourselves to take up so much stuff. I remember having a conversation with my house owner in Delhi where they said “If a marriage invite is not delivered in hand, we would not attend the same. Also, if the invite is not delivered with proper gifts to us, then we will not attend the same.” Coming from the South, I have seen so many occasions where one has to gift a dhoti & white towel for my dad and a saree for my mom. If I dig my house, I am sure to chance upon 25 towels at home.

A lot of times, we are also sucked into sentimental purchases. Jewelry for instance, something that we buy to show our status, yet seldom wear due to safety concerns. We are pressed to giving gifts for birthday & dresses during various functions. Though these occupy space & cost, we cannot not buy these.

So instead of pondering over the question, “Is minimalism required for India”, I believe we can look at some advantages that minimalism can bring for us Indians.

  1. Less cleaning – Own less stuff, clean less stuff .
  2. Less decisions – You don’t need version 7 or version 8 of the phone unless it adds value to your life
  3. Less stress – Less pressure to spend or own stuff.
  4. Less debt – Once you have more savings, you can concentrate on getting rid of your debt
  5. Not tied to job – A stretch, but you can choose another job that is more aligned to your passion though the pay may be lesser. I know of many IT engineers who just want to be writers
  6. Generosity – Donate your excess stuff
  7. More space – Your home looks bigger. You can feel proud about it.
  8. More freedom – More time to spend thanks to less cleaning & less social media. More freedom to spend on occasions and experiences than material stuff.
  9. Better example for kids – A chance to change our mindset and influence our next generation to make better choices in life.
  10. Less comparison – You only let in things that add value to your life. Extend that to people as well & remove needless comparisons.

 

Feel free to add your thoughts as comments. I am well aware that as Indians, we are happy to argue about any topic. If you disagree and believe minimalism is not for Indians, I am all ears.