LESS IS MORE: THE CASE FOR MINIMALISM IN A CHAOTIC WORLD
You can't flip through the channels these days without coming across another reality show about people living "off the grid." Risking It All, Alaska: The Final Frontier, Livin' Off the Grid, Mountain Men, the list goes on. And have you seen Tiny Houses? What's the appeal? The lack of indoor plumbing? Risking life and limb living in remote areas with no emergency medical facilities? Hunting your food simply to stay alive? No taxes? (OK, the latter would be nice.)
I'll admit, at first glance they seem a bit out there. But if you peel away all the layers of coonskin hats, squirrel traps, and hatchet-throwing, I think the appeal lies at the core of the lifestyle: minimalism. All worldly possessions are pared down to only the bare essentials. They surround themselves with only what they truly need (or love). Nothing is superfluous. Their life is uncluttered, uncomplicated, maybe even peaceful.
In my own personal quest to declutter my life (i.e. clean my office desk), I recently picked up a fantastic book on the subject of minimalism called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like - a book written by a professional organizer who's clients primarily consist of housewives trying to declutter their homes. Truth be told, it's a bit touchy-feely in parts (read: objects have feelings too.) However, the basic lesson of the book is something often overlooked and grossly undervalued. In a nutshell, the author advocates going through every single object you own (at home and the office) and discarding or donating all items that do not "bring you immediate joy." Translated in pragmatic terms, this means if you don't use it regularly or it doesn't hold some deep rooted sentimental value, toss it. This isn't your annual Spring Cleaning, Garage Sale type of evaluation either. This is a life-altering event, and according to the author, should be done in one fell swoop.
All those cables you've kept in that drawer "just in case." Those swag key chains you picked up at that conference and haven't seen in six months. Those training manuals you've "been meaning to review." You won't need them. You won't use them. You won't read them. Ever.
"But I might," you say.
No. You won't.
As the book explains, by eliminating all objects in your life that don't make you happy, you'll only be left with items you really need and enjoy. If that's not enough, the author even tells you how to organize and store what you have left. Am I the only person on the planet who didn't know you are supposed to fold and store your clothes vertically in your drawer?
What about the office? What about papers? The author has a simple solution: get rid of all of them. Yes, all of them. Well, aside from the handful that you must keep (contracts, prenups, etc.) When you think about it, very few requirements necessitate original documents, especially in today's world of digital storage and reproduction.
Ultimately, you will be left with only what you absolutely need or enjoy in your home and office. With everything we have going on around us these days, a little less might be just what we need.
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