Permission to let go

If you are a consistent reader of this blog, you probably know that I have been trying my hand at minimalism for the past six to eight months. Perhaps the biggest obstacle that I faced while I try to get rid of items is the emotional value of things.

Perhaps the shirt was gifted by a loved one.

That watch was presented to you by your best friend in school.

That house decor was bought by a dear colleague who comes home often.

That pair of shoes was gifted by your sister.

That display cabinet itself was a hand-me-down from a deceased relative.

Although we know it in our brain that these items do not necessarily add any value to your life, it is these items that are the toughest ones to get rid of.  It is a constant battle between the heart and the mind.

“What if my sister got upset that I got rid of the shoe?”

“That miniature tea set brings the memory of the trip to Beijing.”

“Am I am heartless person if I threw out a hand-me-down that belongs to my grand-uncle? Will he curse me from up there?”

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In case you are reducing your stuff, let me take the first step in making things easier for you. There could have been items that I gifted to you over the course of knowing you. Though I had given them with the best of intentions, I would totally understand if you decided to get rid of them as they do not add value to your life. I will not judge you for your act or be upset with you for discarding that gift. I sincerely hope that you do not equate me to the item as I would rather be seen as a person.

I give you permission to let go!

 

 

One Day

One day,

I will find an occasion to wear that suit.

I will find motivation to step out and try out that drone I bought.

I will risk getting the headache & use the VR device.

I will wear that Blue “Nehru” Jacket.

I will use the black formal shoe with laces that bites my foot each time I tie it tight.

I will feel comfortable to sleep in the loft bed room.

I will find courage to wear the pink shirt and prove to people I am not stereotypical.

I will put the laptop into the designated cover.

I will find a good spot to display the other clock in the house.

I will invite enough people to use up all the China wear at home.

I will care enough about client meetings to warrant a laptop bag instead of my casual one.

I will write something on that diary.

I will find use for the sticky notes.

I will expend all the rolls of toilet paper.

I will use up all my perfume.

I will go swimming again, wearing ‘the other’ shorts.

One day!

 

 

PS: Feel free to add your list of things you would do “One day” as a comment.If you list is longer, you could also guest blog here or post on your own blog and add the link as a comment on this post!

My ‘other’ pair of shoes

“Hey man, can you believe it has been five years already since this?” It was a message from Chirag. Yeah, we had kept in touch.

The picture was one of us five friends standing on a wall with Edinburgh beach at the background. Besides being a sweet pic, one realization struck me the most. The absence of colors in our dresses.

That got me thinking.

Kiran: My best friend for life. He was wearing a pink(ish) jacket, yet not looking gay. Always the giver & ringmaster. He isn’t in the pic because he was the one organizing us for the pose & taking the picture.

 

The rest of us, in order.

Kathir: He wore black. He always wore black. Super fun to be with. He is one of those that can make you cry, or cry out of laughter if he decides to make fun of anyone.

Chirag: Powerful eyes, he gave you the impression of a serious guy. But wasn’t. Don’t remember what color jacket he wore.

Sanket: Laddoo. A funny, plump guy. We did not keep in touch, no apparent reason why.

Me: I think I wore a grey jacket. Bought for 8 pounds. A wise purchase that lasted 4 years.

Mayuri: A sweet girl. Fun to be with, unassuming. I don’t remember what she wore as well.

 

The more I think back, I remember a lot of events and people that have been memorable. However, what they wore has never really stood out to me. They were all different. Sure, they had their own style which was unique. But then, they were all the same – I liked them for the person that they were, not what they wore that day.

 

Hence the question, “What do I do with this other pair of shoes that I have had for years but seldom wore?” Have I given it too much importance? Does it deserve the space in my rack? If not, does the shoe rack deserve as much space as it currently occupies?

Keen to know your thoughts!

 

 

PS: The reference to pair of shoes is a metaphysical one. It could be replaced by any item that you consider to be a ‘spare’ or ‘back up’

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.

Getting serious about Minimalism – How to eliminate clutter?

It has been close to three weeks since I bumped on minimalism and I am taking slow but sure measures to declutter. Most of you must have seen my initial measures which I wrote about last week. I touched upon the topic of downsizing my stuff and also enforcing check points for reducing my time spent on social platforms.

Here are a few ways that I have embraced minimalism and gone about changing my life, slowly but surely.

Resolve to be happy!

The entire point of the change is for me to find more joy and happiness in life. Being a math driven guy, I can find more happiness by increasing the number of things I do that brings me joy or reducing those things that don’t. While the former involves a higher level of creativity, the latter is much easier to identify as your heart grumbles to you when you engage in things you don’t like. For example, I don’t enjoy tasks like ironing clothes, sorting out bills, organizing kitchenware, buying groceries etc. Doing nothing excites me more than doing any of these. So my first and probably only resolution is to be happy as I go about minimalizing everything around me.

Plan your pursuit

Probably the greatest risk of going back to our unproductive ways is when you realize that you suddenly have so much more time in your hands. If it has been years since you had a hobby, the extra time could drive you nuts. Our inertia would prompt us to move back to doing what we usually do – check our phones, dig our laptop or watch something on TV. Don’t blame yourself, our brain incentivizes us every time we find something new, so the urge to check your messages is biologically natural. As for me, I enrolled myself into a library and am 30% through with the first book I have held in my hand since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!!!!

And my blogs have become more frequent, so I feel the creative juice flowing in my veins.

 

Now focusing on the question of removing actual items, here is how I got about it. I looked at some of the ways many minimalists (and there are millions of them) went about de-cluttering their houses. The most popular one is the 333 project where you live on 33 wearable items for 3 months. Then there is the packing party where you basically pack your entire home and then only unpack stuff that you need over the next 3 weeks. Eliminate just about everything else that does not get unpacked. You could also create a list of 100 items that you want in your house and remove everything else. I found all of these too radical & hence have found my own two-step process.

Two step removal of junk

Have a designated store area in the house. Put everything that you feel is not necessary into a suitcase and keep the suitcase in that area. You are allowed to get items back in from the suitcase if you find use for the item. If not, eliminate all items after 2 or 3 weeks. The main advantage of this process is that you don’t spend too much time making decisions on whether you need the item or not.

Twenty-20 rule

“But why don’t we keep this as backup, in case there is an emergency?” – There is always this question ringing in our minds. In fact, this question is the sole reason for us having 20 towels at home 🙂

A rule that greatly helped me overcome this anxiety was one I found at theminimalists.com. It goes like this, “If you can get the item within 20 minutes of where you are and by spending less than $20, then you can throw the backup items out.”

If only I had come across this simple rule, I would not have burdened my parent’s place with 5 suitcases full of items that I wanted to store when I moved from my Bangalore house to Singapore.

Remove off packaging

A simple but effective way to store items is to eliminate the packaging. For example, perfumes are always covered with cardboard. So too are fragile items and mobile phones. We keep the boxes as they help when we resell the phone, but is the cost difference so significant to warrant the space these boxes take up?

Stop those bills at the doorstep: Open them, take a picture, email to your account, pay immediately if possible and bin the bill.

One in, two out: For every new item that comes in, I eliminate two.

No more clothes:Dont buy them. If you do, then follow the one in, two out rule!

 

After following these, have I succeeded in de-cluttering my things? I am not even 30% of the way there 😊

I am keen to hear some ideas from you regarding how you got the clutter out of your house… Feel free to comment your suggestions.