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Authors: Rachel Jonat

Do Less

BOOK: Do Less
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do less
A minimalist guide to a simplified, organized, and happy life
Rachel Jonat



What Is Minimalism?





Your Minimalist Life



Tired, broke, and stressed out? Overwhelmed with cluttered junk drawers, a bursting calendar, and mile-long to-do lists? Feel like you're always behind on bills and work? The answer to the ailments of modern living and the constant busy-ness we all experience isn't a new organizational system, an app, or a manifesto on how to do it all.

It's minimalism.

Minimalism can help you get rid of the clutter in your home, life, and work so you can spend your time, money, and energy on the things you really love. The essence of minimalism, originally a movement in design and art, is using the fewest elements to create the maximum effect.

Voluntary simplicity is the act of embracing minimalism. Note the word “voluntary.” Yes, you have a choice. Do you want to live with clutter, with things you don't need or use? Do you want to spend your hard-earned money on clothes you never wear and décor you have to spend your free time dusting? Or do you want to live in a soothing, spacious home that's easy to clean and have all the time and resources you need for the activities and people you enjoy? If you scale back your possessions and commitments to just what you really need, you will have more time and energy for those things that truly bring you joy and enrich your life.

Minimalism can make your living room more inviting, bring you more sleep, and help you find your dream job. But where do you start? If you're already tired, stressed out, and broke, how do you find the time to declutter your home, the energy to resist the sale signs, and the resources to create that streamlined life you dream about? This book will show you how.

This is a simple, realistic guide to getting simple. You won't have to spend weeks or years emptying your garage. You don't have to give up your favorite television shows. You don't have to live like a monk, eating meals out of your one pot while leaning over the sink because you sold your dining room table. You won't find cutthroat checklists or complicated philosophical exercises. Just simple, easy ways to quickly declutter your life and home so you can focus on what you love most.

What Is Minimalism?

“Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.”

—Oscar Wilde

As a lifestyle, minimalism is using the simplest and fewest things to create the maximum effect possible. It's about removing whatever isn't contributing to the desired outcome. The minimalist lifestyle movement centers around living very simply and with very little.

Can Embrace

Some proponents of minimalism count everything they own and live nomadically. They've found peace with very few possessions and living in small spaces. Although their resolve is admirable, it's also extreme and certainly not for everyone.

Instead, this book shows you how to adopt the essence of minimalism, the “do more with less” edict, to tailor your life to include just the things you truly need and enjoy. This book is about getting more of what you really want in your life. We'll examine a few more radical ideas for scenarios like getting out of debt or transitioning to a new career; however, the ideas in this book are mainly geared toward those of us looking for a bit more time and space—without having to move to Ecuador or give up every single small luxury in our lives. This is a practical guide to minimalism and how to make small changes that have a big impact.

This book is about getting more of what you really want in your life.

After you take away the things, both physical and mental, gathering dust that you haven't used in years, if ever, you'll find that you suddenly have space to enjoy things you love, and the energy to achieve those secret goals you shelved away because you didn't think you had the time or money for them. You might need time and space for a whole range of reasons: the fitness goals, the annual resolution to get more sleep, the household chores that pile up. You'll see how embracing minimalism will help you get those things done.

Minimalism is also a way to reimagine your life on a grander scale. It sounds dramatic, but it's true. Removing what is unnecessary in your life gives you the space and time to revisit old dreams and create new ones. If you've put away dreams because you thought they were unattainable, it's time to say hello to them again. Using minimalism to streamline a few areas of your life can help you finish writing your novel, run your first 5k, or even take a three-month sabbatical from your job to spend the summer in the south of France. No far-flung goal is too small or too big.

Why Do You Need Minimalism?

The busy-ness of twenty-first-century living has most of us mired in stuff and obligations we can't remember why we bought or signed up for in the first place. We struggle to make it through the workweek without at least one takeout meal, and we feel pinched in every avenue of our lives. We don't have enough time for breakfast, let alone time for all those tasks on our long and ever-growing to-do lists.

This abundance of things and activities is relatively new. In fact, life used to be very simple: Securing shelter and food were the goals. Cavemen and -women didn't suffer from paralysis by analysis, because they didn't have forty pairs of shoes and half a dozen social commitments every weekend. No hunter-gatherers lost sleep over plans for a bathroom renovation. As recently as a hundred years ago, most people only owned a few outfits and wore the same pair of shoes every day. Most families lived in homes that had just a few rooms and children shared a bedroom. An orange was considered an exotic food. Pinterest didn't exist. These were much simpler times with fewer choices for leisure-time activities and nondiscretionary income.

With many choices and opportunities comes great responsibility. We are living in an abundant yet complicated era. Work is no longer limited to the office, socializing is no longer limited by the need to meet face-to-face, and shopping is no longer limited to store hours. Today we can buy, socialize, and be entertained whenever we like. We have more demands on our attention and time than anyone a hundred years ago could have imagined.

It's these abundant choices and these constant demands that can undo your greatest intentions.

  • You want a tidy closet with fashionable, easy-to-wear pieces, but after a hard day at the office, you shop away your stress at a sale and come home with outfits bought on impulse.
  • You'd like more time for your favorite hobbies, but you seem to lose most of your daylight hours to work, commuting, and keeping your home organized and all your stuff in its place.
  • You want to be in the moment and have meaningful conversations with your closest friends, but your cell phone keeps buzzing with text messages, e-mail notifications, and calls.
  • When you try to stick to a budget, you end up just seeing more sale signs in store windows and your inbox.

How do you clear the endless clutter from your life and home when you see
at every corner?

Minimalism. Minimalism can help you tune out these distractions and focus on the simple pleasures in your life. You don't need a time machine to take you back to a simpler life; you can create that simple life today. You can enjoy the abundance available nowadays on your own terms, as you see fit. You can Do Less and enjoy more.

The Happiness Factor

Having so many choices allows us to clutter our daily lives with a lot of tasks, obligations, and sometimes even hobbies and friendships that don't actually make us happy. We're so busy checking things off a list we don't have time to wonder why they're on the list in the first place.

Think of the simple joys in your life, the ones that don't require opening your wallet or checking your e-mail. They could be things like getting up early to make a hot breakfast before work, calling your friend in another time zone for an evening chat, taking a walk after dinner, resting in your freshly vacuumed living room, sleeping in on a Saturday, or making bread from scratch.

If you have trouble thinking of things that make you happy, consider the last twenty-four or forty-eight hours. When did you feel your best? What were the highlights of those days? They could be small or big moments: a great conversation over a meal with friends, an extra-long shower, success on a work project, or finally painting the bathroom after putting it off for many weekends. If your best moment of the week was kicking your feet up and not having to do anything, that's okay too.

Next, make note of the big and small things that
make you happy or that cast a dark cloud over your day: the argument you had with your spouse, the complicated dinner you tried to pull off on a Wednesday night that caused you to eat an hour late and left your kitchen looking like a hurricane hit, or the shocking credit card bill that soured your mood for a day. Look at how or if these unhappy moments were tied to other negative things. Did the argument with your spouse come on the heels of opening that credit card bill that revealed a number of impulsive purchases?

When you think about what brings you happiness, note how little stuff is actually involved. A nice conversation over tea, a healthy meal, sleep, exercise—none of them requires deep closets full of stuff to enjoy. When you figure out what's making you happy, it's easy to let go of the things and obligations in your life that aren't making you happy. It's also easier to go through your possessions and clearly see what you use enough to justify keeping. That massive DVD collection doesn't seem so important once you realize you haven't watched a DVD in months and the rows of plastic cases require constant dusting and take up all the shelf space in your small living room. Just consider, what would your home and life look like without all that stuff?

When you think about what brings you happiness, note how little stuff is actually involved.

Minimalism can bring more happiness into your life. Some of that happiness is derived from simple pleasures; other happiness will come from creating the time and motivation for the challenging tasks that bring with them long-term contentment and satisfaction. It may seem like a strange concept, but yes, that DVD collection can hold you back from career leaps, financial freedom, and even that extra twenty minutes a day to linger over a cup of coffee and the newspaper.

Decision Fatigue

Consider this common scenario: As your day begins, you probably have all the willpower you need to eat a healthy breakfast. Your morning starts out well at the office and you're answering critical e-mails succinctly and easily and plowing through your to-do list. Then you're faced with three different options for lunch: a last-minute invitation to a birthday celebration, take-out from a gourmet deli, or your healthy leftovers from home. Your mouth is salivating at the thought of the deli's famous Philly cheesesteak and you'd love to escape the office for a celebratory meal, but you reluctantly eat your bagged lunch.

In the afternoon your willpower and productivity wane. You indulge in a piece of birthday cake, even though you told yourself you wouldn't eat any. The afternoon stretches on and you find yourself struggling to focus. A small decision necessary to move a project forward seems incredibly hard to make and you spend much longer than you anticipated debating each choice. You finally make a choice and then quickly make a larger, more important and much more costly decision. On the way home from work, you hit the grocery store for a dozen items. You spend five minutes looking at all the canned tomato options and calculating which is the cheapest. After saving yourself eight cents on the tomatoes you don't have the time or the energy to do the same for laundry detergent, so you end up quickly grabbing something that is familiar and missing the sale sign that could have saved you $3. By this point, your legs are tired and you can't face the gym workout you'd planned to face. You're starving too, so you grab some take-out because it's too late to go home and cook now, even though you just went to the grocery store. The rest of your evening, one you planned to use for some small projects around the house, devolves into a night of zoning out in front of the television.

BOOK: Do Less
13.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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