What Can Minimalism Offer to Procrastinators?

A look into how a minimalist lifestyle offers the recovering Procrastinator many more choices for freedom, growth, and personal calm.

 

Why all the fuss about Minimalism lately? How might it be relevant to you in your attempts to recover from Procrastination?

My plan today is:

  • to describe some of my own history with Minimalism and how it enabled me to embrace Procrastination recovery;
  • to share some things I learned this week after watching a screening of the Minimalism: A Documentary about the Things that Matter;
  • to recommend some wonderful bloggers who offer great content and inspiration for people looking to make positive changes for themselves; and
  • to inspire you to give Minimalism a try.

My own relationship with Minimalism

I haven’t written much about the actual steps I have taken to recover from Procrastination, but I can tell you that going simple and minimalistic was the very first step I took.

When I simplified my belongings, I stopped tripping over my stuff. Literally stopped tripping. That was a plus.

After that, I became more effective in the mornings, because I didn’t have to get through as much stuff. Another plus.

Soon after that, I started worrying less, sleeping better, and making better choices.

I really could go on and on, and I will because I think it’s important to share these growth points:

  • I was clearer mentally
  • my schedule became saner
  • I commuted to my office with a sense of calm instead of with a sense of dread or a panic about being late
  • I began to look more put together, because all of these small steps and decluttering led me to look that way
  • I was able to spend more time — really good time — working on the projects and relationships that mattered most to me
  • I explored more methods to break away from Procrastination
  • I started this blog!

Need I say more????

What I learned from a documentary by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists

I had the pleasure of attending the screening of the movie Minimalism: A Documentary about the Things that Matter this week.

*Now imagine me making a two thumbs up gesture.*

The documentary was informative, eye-opening, enlightening, and well-crafted. The love for the message of Minimalism was obvious throughout. The film drove home the message that we all have tremendous power over our own choices, and our choices matter so much.

Here are some of the lessons I took away from the film:

Minimalism allows you to work on your personal development. It takes the focus off success for success’s sake and puts the spotlight on the things and people that are important to you.

“Minimalism is not a radical lifestyle, it’s a practical lifestyle.” — Joshua Fields Millburn, of The Minimalists.

When we adopt a minimalist style of living, we come to value what we have instead of feeling anxious about what we don’t. That process of learning how to add value to our lives without pulling out our credit cards feeds our sense of well-being. We can develop our sense of personal freedom when we are not weighed down by our need to hunt (for stuff) or by the latest marketing message or throw-away fashion trend. We have enough => We are enough.

And now, my groupie fan-girl picture for your viewing pleasure #likemeetingtheBeatles:

The Minimalists and Me

What does this mean for you?

As with recovery from Procrastination, going minimal is a step-by-step process, where you learn more about yourself with each step. You go against the well-worn grain by making these changes, but these changes re-instill your sense of gratitude for the life and opportunities you’ve been given and those which you’re about to have.  That’s a plus.

You gain confidence in yourself and in your choices. Another big plus.

Yes, you get so much from going minimal. Funny, right?

If you’re struggling under the burden of Procrastination, I very sincerely encourage you to explore what Minimalism has to offer.

As promised, a list of helpful resources to get you started in your exploration:

One final resource is MY MINIMALISM START, a planning sheet I put together to guide you in your first steps towards trying out Minimalism.  Everything on the sheet is doable within the space of a single day.  It’s simple and practical.

Click here to receive the MY MINIMALISM START planning sheet to help you get on your way today!

It seems I have a lot to say about a movement that tends towards the minimal.  I think you’ll find when you try going in this direction, like I have, that embracing the tenets of Minimalism brings you energy, focus, and spirit like crazy.  I hope you enjoy the ride.

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7 Tips to Help You Become a Master Scheduler

7 Tips on How toBecome a Master SchedulerAll of us have limited resources: limited energy, limited brainpower, limited willpower, and limited time over the course of one day.  When we have multiple activities we’d like to get to in one day, leaving the schedule up to chance is a recipe for having our intentions go unfulfilled.

Give yourself a much better chance of feeling satisfied at the end of each day by training yourself to be a master scheduler.  No, you don’t have to micromanage everything to do this.  You just need to take an honest look at your own plans and engineer them so you can be sure to make them happen.

Here are 7 suggestions for becoming a master scheduler:

Invest the extra time to do proper schedule planning.  It may be as little as 7 minutes or as much as 45 minutes, but whatever amount of time you need to organize your schedule will pay off when you execute your plan.  Knowing where you are headed will enable you to invest your energy into making the plan happen. You won’t be wasting your willpower and mental energy constantly figuring out where to invest your attention throughout the day.

Ruthlessly eliminate unnecessary items on your schedule.  Gradually get rid of the tasks and activities that drag you down and make your free time seem to disappear. Decide what you want to focus your heart and mind on, and head in that direction instead of to the mall or to the black hole that is the internet.

Make sure to pre-plan what is necessary in your schedule.  One example of this is your meals.  So many people make the mistake of skipping breakfast, arguably the most important meal of the day, in order to feel like they are maximizing their time. Schedule in your meals and your exercise and any routine appointments to make sure you keep yourself in top form.  And remember — never skip breakfast!

Tightly limit how much time you allot to your projects.  Don’t throw time at your projects.  Instead, estimate how much time you will need and allow yourself just enough time, no more.  This way you’ll be more inclined to push yourself towards the finish line, saving yourself time in the process.

Schedule in significant breaks between periods of work.  When we work for hours on end our creativity and productivity wane.  Allow yourself a proper break whenever you are intensely focused or involved in medium-to-high-stress activity. Determine how long you want your break to be ahead of time, in order to protect yourself from turning your break into unnecessary Procrastination.

Clearly differentiate between work time and play time.  This is an area that chronic Procrastinators have difficulty with.  When we Procrastinate, we end up thinking about work when we are playing, and being mentally checked out when we are supposed to be working.  Being able to separate work time and play time is a skill that can be learned over time.  Try to start putting it into practice by scheduling your time more wisely today and throughout the upcoming week.

Balance heavy and light.  Be aware of busier days and make sure you schedule lighter days around them.  This will prevent you from burning out and will increase your chances of making it through the week with some energy left over.  Weekends will be that much more joyful as a result.

There are many more tips on scheduling to share, but if you stick to the ones listed here, you’ll be well on your way towards having more time for your work and for the rest of your life.  Use the extra time you have to build a better week ahead and of course, a brighter future.

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Step of the Day: Get Yourself Organized via the Trello App

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There are so many times in life where simplicity seems to be the answer to our most complex problems.

One tool I use to keep me on top of my to-do list is the Trello app. I strongly and heartily suggest you download the Trello app immediately. You can use the Trello app on any and all of your devices, and any information you enter into the Trello app will be synched across your devices.

I first learned of the Trello app from the Zen Habits blog. I figured if the blogging king of simplicity, Leo Babauta, uses the app, it should be good for me too. And it is.  I have a view of everything on my plate on one screen.  I also have the capacity to slice and dice my to-dos until they are in shreds.

The app is designed with simplicity in mind. Your screen view will be of white vertical lists arranged from left to right. You get to decide how many lists you want to keep. You get to decide how to categorize them. You get to decide which order to you keep (or don’t keep) them in. Within each list, you will keep individual “cards,” each indicating a single task (or event or thing to remember or whatever). You get to decide how to prioritize and to organize each card.

Whenever I try to describe how well-designed the Trello app is, I get a little frustrated. My descriptions inevitably end up being more complicated than the actual process you will go through when you get your hands on the actual app and play with it. And it is like play. And who wouldn’t want to inject a little more play into their work?

If you’d like to get a more detailed look at how the Trello app looks and works, please read my recent Lifehack article. For some great ideas on how to use the Trello app to its potential, please read this piece too.

I hope you get as excited about the Trello app as I have been. Do you have any suggestions for other apps I should try? Do you have simple solutions for your own work that you’d like to share?

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Technique to Try: Get Rid of the Excess

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It’s very easy to accumulate things.  E-mail comes in without our asking it to.  Laundry piles swell unremittingly.  Daily snail mail brings with it a pile of paper.  Everything we say “yes” to tends to hang around until we actually do something to terminate it.  There are some things we say “yes” to that seem interminable (can we all say together “neighborhood association board?”).

When we are in our younger years, let’s say our 20’s, we tend to believe that the more we acquire, the better we have it.  By extension, the better we have it, the better we are.

I would say when I was in my 20’s (yes, I still can remember thank you), I was not so much about accumulating things because I was knee-deep in graduate school, not making much moolah, and had too little time to focus on acquiring things.  Too much on my hands already.

But then, in my 30’s, with the pressures of graduate school behind me and some income coming in, it seemed the wisest way to spend my leisure time was to accumulate things.  I wasn’t after anything in particular.  Whatever “need” arose, I suddenly developed the great capacity to acquire the thing that would satisfy that “need” so that I would no longer feel that “need.”  What a great system.  Following that system for several years, I convinced myself that I was capable, because I could take care of myself this way.

Unfortunately for me, only part of that taking care of myself was working.  Yes, I was able to spot a problem and handle it.  But I was not taking care of myself in terms of making sure my acquisitions balanced out other important items like:

  • my actual need (not just my perceived one)
  • my budget (I didn’t keep one)
  • my space to house these acquisitions
  • my time I had to spend to go get these items
  • my need for rest and errand-less living
  • whether these acquisitions made any sense in my overall life picture

Fast-forward to the present day.  I’ve spent the past few years — the past 12 to be exact — slowly learning how to curb the aforementioned system of self-care.  I reached a time in my life where real non-stuff matters easily trumped my desire to possess more.  I more recently reached a point in my life where I realized, I not only didn’t want to be saddled with stuff, I also didn’t want to be held back by living “the busy life.”  Being busy to look busy was making me tired, cranky, and pretty much unproductive all the time.  And please of course always remember whenever I tell you a personal story, you should factor in that you are reading about a chronic Procrastinator too.  I think that makes my story much more dramatic, don’t you?

So what does this mean for you?

I could go on about this forever, but I know you are reading this because you want to get on with your life also.  You want to be free to move about as you please.

I suggest you take that potent wish and decide today which of the following categories you are going to take on first.  Are you going to cut out:

  • e-mails?
  • clutter?
  • expenses?
  • debts?
  • appointments?
  • stressors?
  • memberships?
  • apps on your phone?
  • relationships that are purely not good for you?
  • activities that don’t make you feel well?

Recommendations for a successful go at this

With excess comes a feeling of being stagnant, heavy, and overburdened.  In light of that, please be kind and patient with yourself when you decide you are going to start getting rid of the excess.  I recommend chipping away rather than hacking away the excess in order to ensure your sanity remains intact.

Take an hour today and chip away.  Here are some general guidelines for doing so:

  • target your current zone of excess
  • spend 20 minutes in the zone with a focus on reducing, reducing, reducing
  • quickly reset your zone (especially if you created a bit of a mess)
  • set your plans for your next chipping away session
  • praise yourself, breathe, and go on with your day
  • repeat

Have a great day today.  And tomorrow.  Chip away.

Please share with us any stories you might have to share of reducing to get ahead.  I’d love to hear them.

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