Some people asked me on Twitter what my top 5 books of 2015 were. I’m not sure about the last two, I’ve read more than 60 books last year, but I do have a top three that made the most impact on me. Here goes:
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
I read this during my Minimalism experiment and it was really eye opening (as was te experiment). In his words The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.
Buy it on Amazon: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath
This also links to an experiment (about getting more energy). It’s a great read. It’s not a specific diet, or training schedule, or sleeping schedule. But I followed pretty much the ideas in this book and the effect it had on my energy, and even my life, was… well, profound might be an understatement. Read this, but more importantly, follow the advice. It’ll change yoru life!
Buy it on Amazon: Eat Move Sleep
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
I can’t stick to one thing for very long. While I know I should keep working to achieve something, it never hit home enough for me until I read this book. It perfectly illustrates the power of compounding interest. You can use this in every area of your life.
Buy it on Amazon: The Compound Effect
All of these had a big impact on me and I’m pretty sure they’ll be important to you, too. Let me know if/when you’ve read them. Love to hear from you.
It’s been three weeks, and I’m still cleaning up. I gave away more of my comics and some books. I found boxes of CDs, old clothes, books, spare bathroom tiles, and (gasp) video tapes…
The hardest stuff to get rid of are the boxes with memories. I’d kept old cards, trophies, the first computer my (late) father gave me, letters from when I started dating my wife. I kept all of this, because throwing them away seemed like saying farewell.
But these objects aren’t memories. They are physical reminders and I found that I don’t need them. I haven’t opened those boxes in over 6 years and while my father passed away over 20 years ago, I still think about him weekly, and many times more often than that. Similarly I enjoy being with my wife, but I’m happy with her *now*. I’m not happier when I read her old letters.
For the really great memories I use and app called Day One, but I’m not keeping any objects anymore. Those are not my family. Not my friends. Not my memories. They are mostly clutter, just taking up space.
Taking a good look at my house, I see so much stuff. I look in the drawers, and it’s full of things I never use. Broken sunglasses, instruction manuals (often of items that are long gone), remote controls (same), wires, more wires, and cables, ten year old paperwork, clothes I haven’t worn in ages, birthday cards, old phones (10!), an old computer (Commodore 64), an even older one (Atari), dried up pens… I can keep going for a while!
I didn’t think I was a hoarder, and I know there are many who are worse, but I never knew just how much shit I’ve bought. And kept.
And those are just my drawers…
What’s in yours?
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. – Joshua Becker
This excellent definition contains three important points:
- Promotion of things we value first,
- Removal of not valuable things second,
- It’s intentional.
The advice of many minimalists is to start with reducing the number of items we own. Looking at the above definition, this may seem less important than promoting things of value, but they actually have a good point. Reducing the clutter in our life removes distractions. It teaches us we’ve bought too many things we don’t need and it’ll make us think twice before buying something new.
So yeah, we’re still allowed to have collections if that collection adds value. We don’t have to adhere to strict rules about living with less than 100 items. But we have to be intentional about the items we keep and the items we buy.
It is important to know, or find out, what things add the most value to your life. In most cases these are family, friends, and experiences. But it’s not one size fits all. This is something you’ll have to find out for yourself. One of the easiest ways to find out is to take a good and honest look at your past. Were you happiest when you drove that new car, or where you happier when you visited the Grand Canyon? Chances are your fondest memories are of the unique experiences you’ve had, the places you’ve been to, the people you’ve met. But, if you’re honestly happy while driving a car, then minimalism for you means buying a luxurious car and remove other things that add no value to your life.
The key is to be intentional about it.
A popular approach for people starting out with minimalism is The Minimalism Game. Though it would be a fun way to start, I quickly dismissed this idea. It’d take too long to see any benefits and it’s also not very structured.
Another approach Joshua and Ryan of The Minimalist write about is Ryan’s 21 day journey into minimalism. They describe how Ryan put everything in boxes, and the following days was only allowed to take out of them what he really needed. After 21 days, everything left inside he would either sell, donate, or trash.
Since I’m starting my journey on a work-day, this approach is a bit impractical. I don’t have enough time to pack all my stuff. Though my approach will be somewhat similar, I will only pack up my stuff in a small area, such as one room.
Since I have a wife and two kids, I can’t pack everything. I like doing experiments every 4 weeks, but I don’t want to trouble them with everything I think I need to do at the moment. I’m not touching the kids’ toys. I’m not packing my wife’s stuff. Though she’s interested in slimming down our inventory, she won’t be as thorough. We’ll go trough her stuff at some point during the next 4 weeks, too.
For now I’ve packed over a hundred dvd’s and a few hundred comics books. It’ll be hard to let go of those, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to read them in the next 4 weeks.