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  • Writer's pictureGary Grewal

What Being Minimalistic Means and Why it Should be Your Theme for 2022

Why are we still talking about new year’s resolutions? If the last few years have taught us anything, it should be that you can’t control what happens in the year, whether it sometimes impacts just you, your community, or the entire country. Who says you can’t make a goal in April to learn how to ride a bike or make a goal in October to read 50 books?

We have enough deadlines in our lives. I mean just look at the word, DEADlines! It’s so ominous, and it’s just letters on a screen! From being on time for meetings each day, getting to the mechanic before they close, and paying bills before late fees hound you, there are always deadlines…I mean, due dates, that require us to worry about if we’re going to be ok. How many times have you driven to the airport all the while sweating if the lines will be long, and if you’ll make your flight?

Now there are good reasons for these due dates. It’s a social contract that normally all parties agree to so that things get done, people get to where they need to be, and services can be rendered in an efficient manner.

That being said, you should not look at your phone every hour to make sure you cross everything off your to-do list or get angry with yourself for not reading at least 10 pages of your book last night. It’s ok! Tomorrow is a new day, take it one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.

Now, have you thought about what you want your life to look like this year? What are some things you want to keep the same, and things you definitely want to change?

Hmm Minimalism Sounds like I have to Make My Own Shampoo

Several years ago, I came across The Minimalists TED Talk, and like many others, it changed the way I look at things. Not because I thought it was trendy or egotistical to be the person that only has a toaster in their entire kitchen, but because of how it relates to my message on personal finance.

Being minimalistic, in my view, enables you to fend off impulses to spend your time or money in ways that don’t align with your personal values. It forces you to think if you’re really going to use something long-term, and even if you are, can it be done using things you already have?

A minimalistic lifestyle doesn’t mean that you live off the grid in a mud hut or use stones to grind mint leaves for toothpaste. It just means that you shun accumulating things and obligations that don’t really mean much to you in the grand scheme of things.

I Don’t Have Time to Do the Dishes! I have 12 Episodes in my Watch Queue

This has to do with possessions as much as it has to do with commitments of time. Please don’t buy a bread-making machine just to try that one recipe you saw on a blog, or buy a treadmill because you want to stay in shape in all seasons (Honestly, you can run outside in any season. I lived in Denver and ran outside every single Saturday I was in town, whether in June or January! Layers and good traction on your shows will serve you well.)

There has been a movement about doing with less. Everything from The Minimalists to Marie Kondo, to an actual book called The More of Less. While each comes with a unique perspective, the overarching message I got was that joy and fulfillment don’t come from material possessions or being “busy” all the time. It comes from relationships, owning your time, and practicing gratitude, among other things.

Being minimalistic is also about not wasting your time as much as not wasting your money. What do 98 apps on your phone do for your well-being? How much joy do you derive from scrolling mindlessly on social media? If you just narrow down how you spend your time to activities that are productive, necessary, and fulfilling, then you’ll end up feeling like you actually do have time to do other things, like make new friends or learn how to play tennis.

If your mind is constantly bombarded with animated screens, beeping notifications, and the clatter of another podcast, then you won’t have the mental capacity to be present for yourself, for others, and for your job.

Ever notice how you have a hard time remembering certain to-dos or the name of the brush you were supposed to buy? This is probably because your mind is playing catch up from being pulled in all different directions by your app and social media addiction.

If you adopt a minimalistic view of how you spend your time, you’d be surprised how just in a few weeks you feel more at ease with your daily life, and how you have creative thoughts bubble up to your attention.

How to Put an Extra Hour in Your 24 Hours

Try this for a week. Go through your phone and “offload” any apps that you don’t “need”, such as fun apps. This basically will keep the app on your phone along with the data and info, but remove it from the storage and have a little download cloud icon next to the name (iPhone). Then, at the end of the following weekend, see how many apps you still have not reloaded onto your phone. Those, consider deleting.

Then, move all of the necessary apps to the home screen, and organize the fun/social apps to the last page of your scroll. Necessary apps refer to phone, contacts, email, text messages, camera, maps, and calendar. Fun/social apps, well if you have to ask, then move it. Social Media apps, games, internet browser, etc.

Also, unless you are expecting a call or waiting for someone, keep your phone on vibrate and remove notifications. Checking your phone constantly breaks your concentration and takes you away from “flow” and fulfilling activities.

On your computer, remove all the easy ways for you to check pop culture websites and things unrelated to your work. This means the shortcuts tab, desktop icon, and on your favorites.

Make a habit of clearing your browser history at the end of the week. When you are working on a project or completing a task, try putting your phone in Airplane mode or Do Not Disturb, so you can get done with what you need without distractions.

Better yet, place it near the door or away from your desk, so there’s a little barrier between “Oh I wonder what’s trending on Twitter today” and “I’m so close to getting this design rendering done”. Remove your card information from online retailers, so you have to get up out of your seat and type in the info, making it harder for yourself if you really need it.

Then once you're done, reward yourself by sharing a texting a friend about weekend plans, or reading up on a recipe you want to try for meal prep this week.

Hopefully, as you’re starting to see, adopting a minimalistic lifestyle isn’t about depriving yourself of anything; it’s about making space in your life for the things that matter the most. When you think about what purchases, or ways you spend your time, will really matter to you in 1 year or 10 years, you stop wasting your precious personal resources on things that are superfluous.

When you find yourself with extra time, take a walk outside, or look at pictures of national parks if being outdoors isn’t feasible at the moment. Notice how you feel when you do this rather than scroll on Facebook.

Schedule your weekly cleanup/organizing the day before your waste pickup. Adopt a “one in, one out” mindset for clothing, decorations, or anything that’s not perishable. Anything you sell that you didn’t need, spend that on a paddleboard rental or take a friend to brunch. Again, notice how you feel now versus after a shopping trip to the megamall of e-commerce.

Soon, you’ll find how a minimalistic lifestyle lifts you up and puts a little swing in your step. You’ll enjoy the way you spend your money and time and not feel guilty about it. Your bank account will improve, your health will improve, and your relationships will improve. Plus, you’ll find yourself actually smiling at strangers you normally would avoid eye contact with!


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