Monday, 29 September 2014

My 3 favourite minimalist principles

Six months ago I started embracing a more minimalist lifestyle. I felt I wanted more time, less stress, and fewer distractions in my life. I don’t aspire to be an extreme minimalist who owns just 100 things. Instead, my goal is simply to own fewer physical objects, declutter particular areas in my life, and ultimately focus on what is important. I have since given away, recycled, and removed lots of objects that I decided I didn’t need. And as I was gathering momentum on the minimalism journey, I realised all this felt so good!

Here are my 3 favourite minimalist principles:

I get rid of at least one thing every day.

This can be anything: an old magazine; a household item that has seen better days; or a DVD that I’ve never liked. As a translator and a mum, I lead a very busy life and have little time for decluttering on a grand scale. The One-A-Day-Declutter approach does not take much time out of my day. Yet it has the positive effect that over time, I evaluate all things that I own individually. So by the end of one year, I have (at least) 365 fewer things to worry about. Any object that I decide to keep has to fulfil two requirements: is it a) functional, and/or b) beautiful? If the answer to either is no, then out it goes!

Minimalism: more time, less stress, and fewer distractions in life

I keep surfaces clear.

Clear tabletops, clear window sills, and clear bathroom counters communicate calm, serenity, and order. A clear desk will improve motivation and concentration levels. Note this: Horizontal surfaces tend to magnetically attract stuff – be that your own or OPC. (OPC is minimalist jargon for Other People’s Clutter.) Although it’s true that with children you cannot have a completely clutter-free home, you can designate clutter-free zones. Our kitchen counters are mostly clear now, too. I have never really been into cooking, but thanks to a few easy-to-follow minimalist principles, I now have started to almost enjoy cooking (not fully, but almost!).

I digitise more than ever before.

Maybe minimalism appealed to me instantly because translation in a way is a minimalist activity, too? After all, as translators we deliver intangible products. We need well-functioning brains to create them, but comparatively few physical objects to achieve this. I now digitise more than before, including old letters, music CDs and magazine articles, and then either donate or bin the corresponding physical items. (Turning things to bits and bytes should of course go hand in hand with a sensible back-up strategy.) It’s a great time to be a minimalist, which we have computers, scanners, PDF converters, smartphones, external hard drives, and the cloud to thank for!

You’ll likely hear more from me on the topic of minimalism, which has really electrified me. Stay tuned!