“Minimalism, for me, is about curating my life. It’s about creating enough time, enough space, enough resources to really stay in line with my long-term values and beliefs. I really try to keep all my short-term actions in line with those long-term values and beliefs” Ryan Nicodemus
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things I most value and the removal of anything that distracts me from it” Joshua Becker
“Minimalism means making important choices about what’s important” Leo Babauta
“Somos todos escravos do que precisamos, Reduz as necessidades se queres passar bem.” Jorge Palma
What is minimalism? Unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ formula that anyone can pick up, implement and that’s it… you’re a minimalist. It works differently for everyone and what works for me will possibly not work for you. Fortunately, there are guidelines that help finding that unique personal equation.
In its essence, Minimalism comes down to removing the excess of one’s life in order to live more meaningfully.
Since I decided to commit to the practice of minimalism I have been trying to come up with a definition for it. Yes, I’m human and I need labels. My personal approach involves three interrelated actions:
Constantly asking questions: “How am I using my time? How can I make better use of it? Who do I want to spend it with?”; “Does this thing/activity/habit/person add value to my life? How? Do I need it, or is it just a burden?”; “What is it that I want to do? Is it what I am doing?”; “What am I doing to take care of my health? Am I exercising? Eating well?”; “What are my interests and how can I cultivate them? How can I turn them into passions?”; “Am I living in accordance with my values? Am I growing? Contributing?”
Get rid of the excess – declutter. I have identified the superfluous to take the form of personal effects, habits, relationships, commitments and activities.
Conduct small deprivation/habit change experiences: with these I get to witness how my life is affected by the exclusion/inclusion of these conditions. It helps answering some of the questions I pose and assists in deciding on what is or isn’t clutter.
I think my questions are generally common to ‘wanna-be minimalists’, but the experiences are far more personal as they are based on personal habits. Here are a few ideas:
- Cut internet at home for a week/month. Turn off your modem and use the internet exclusively at work and places with free WI-FI (libraries, coffee-shops and the like). Your use of the internet will be more deliberate and you’ll find yourself with more time (no social media, no games, no useless chitchat. No pacifiers basically);
- No TV for a week/month;
- No media consumption for a week/month;
- Try a different diet for a week/month. Vegetarian, vegan, paleolithic, mediterranean, raw foodism, etc. – google it and go crazy, but make sure to listen to what your body tells you;
- Wake up before sunrise for a week/month;
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier than you do now and use that time exclusively on a personal interest (sleeping doesn’t count);
- Exercise daily for a week/month (20-30 minutes);
- Book 1-2hrs/day, every day for a week/month, exclusively for doing something you’re interested in. Put it in your calendar and commit to it. Seek the support of your loved ones so you have this time exclusively for yourself.
In a nutshell, deprive yourself of something you think you need (and/or implement a new habit), for a pre-established period of time. Be disciplined and commit to it. At the end of this period, deliberately consider how much you really needed it in the first place (or how that new habit has added value to your life).
Replace your opinions with curiosity and take action. And no matter how you approach it, I have found this to be true: Deprivation does increase creativity and healthy habits do add value.
My minimalist formula is still being developed, and I believe it will be ever mutable as time goes by. So far, however, I have been able to find more time and purpose, and that’s something I can’t disagree with.