Getting along with minimal lifestyle-design again – #ProjectDoMoreWithLess 🙂

2016 has been an interesting and learning year for me. Both personally and professionally.

Personally, I was into my new relationship and was learning to adapt to differential habits we as humans have. It’s interesting how we want everyone else to be like us i.e. force our likings/habits and in the process ruin the relationship altogether. My learning from this is to embrace difference we all have as humans. I am still learning and it’s a long way to go.

Professionally, 2016 was more like reading/learning year for me. I didn’t design much but was reading about design and product development/management. My learning from this journey is that don’t just read articles or watch videos, put them into action. Plus, do one thing at a time and keep your mind focused on one goal until you get a good grip on it. Pretty obvious, right?! Well everyone has their right to their mistakes – a Good mistake that I did, was taking up too many projects at work and doing average in all of them. A year passed and from a design point of view in my career, I was at the same place I was in 2015. I grew very little in terms of enhancing/developing my design skills. Again, that’s another story for another blog post.

This blog post is about a new habit that I am trying to adopt lately. It’s about finding happiness by owning less. It’s about clearing up space around, both physically and mentally for the things that matter the most. It’s about reducing stress while increasing satisfaction and thus happiness in life. It’s about practicing Minimalism in every aspect of life.

This realization of practicing and putting minimalism in place came sudden and strong when I moved to a new apartment this year. In past 3 years, I’ve moved to 4 new apartments, all in 4 different locations/neighbourhood.

House #1 [Delhi]

House #2 [Delhi]

House #3 [Pune]

House #4 [Pune]

This constant change has led me to know more about the things I own. Every time I move to a new apartment, I come across things that I haven’t used for ages, but still kept them for any x number of reasons.

This year, while moving to my 3rd apartment, I noticed that I wasn’t using about 20%-30% of my total stuff and probably will not in near future as well. To give the gist, I had 2-3 shirts that I never wore, a small fridge that I wasn’t going to use because I live in a fully-furnished apt. now which has a bigger fridge, 2-3 extra bed sheets, 3 blue inked extra ball point pens, 2 same color highlighters, so on and so forth.

It was clear that I have hoarded a lot and using very less of my stuff. I’ve tried shedding things in the past but I do it when I am free or have nothing to do on a weekend. But this time I wanted to take this seriously and make this a habit. I needed to shed my belongings.

[Side note: If you’re struggling to see the value in adopting minimalism, don’t read further. Go and read why & how Joshua Becker, Joshua, Ryan and Leo Babauta adopted minimalism.]

Starting this year, among my other new year resolutions, I decided to audit my belongings, from big to medium to the smallest thing that I keep, I’ll audit everything, every 3-4 months. But in order to audit them in the most effective manner, I needed a system where I can track all my useless belongings better so later I can come back to it and decide to throw, donate, or sell.

Here’s how I am doing it:

  1. I am auditing every section of my house every 3rd or 4th month depending upon my availability and stuff hoarded along the way. After shedding a little in the last 6 months, I still have 3 closets to review.
  2. I have divided 4 sections for 4 weekends for the audit month. For example, I’ll audit kitchen the 1st weekend, bedroom room on 2nd, washroom on 3rd, and if anything is left, I am keeping the 4th weekend for that. Since I live in a studio apt., I don’t have rooms i.e. there’s only one room which has attached kitchen and washroom + a small balcony, but dividing them into sections is still easy.
  3. Maintain a note – Track everything. I am using Evernote to keep track of things that I am not using. You can use a notebook or a A4 paper. Don’t let this be an excuse. Just use anything to remember what you’re not using and can shed. Ex:
  4. Action time! Sell, donate or throw – Just do it! Once I’ve identified the items I’m not using or going to use, from different rooms/sections of my house, I decide what to do with them. I am using a combination of The 20-20 Method and The KonMari Method to decide what to do with my items. [I’ve explained what both of these rules mean below]

Rules you can follow:

You can use different rules or a combination of them while auditing and deciding what to do. I’ll list 3 of them here:

  1. The 20-20 Method by TheMinimalist.com says: “If you can get the item within 20 minutes of where you are and by spending less than $20, then you donate, sell or throw the item”
  2. The KonMari Method™ by Marie Kondo says (simplifying here) that if your belongings don’t spark joy when you hold them or when you’re around them, you should discard them. This is quite subjective and needs to be understood before applying.
  3. One Job, Multiple solutions Method says if you have multiple items for doing the same job, you can just keep one and shed the rest. For example, if you have 10 pens and you usually use 1-2 of them, you should shed the rest. People often keep things for the sake of keeping it. A lot of us are hoarders in general and like to collect stuff. Remember that collecting for the sake of it, is dangerous. It adds up to your space mentally and physically. You’ll spend more time maintaining stuff that you don’t own compared to using that time to do something you love.

So what’s my progress?

I’ve started auditing my stuff this year but will be doing this more seriously now. Here are things that I’ve shed so far (with details):

This will be an ongoing process and I’ll keep updating this post. If you want to stay updated and follow me on my minimal journey, you can follow me on my Instagram Profile – I’ll be updating there too.

If you’re auditing your belongings or just starting up, I’d love to know your process and the journey so far. Feel free to mention in comments!

How I am in my 20s and am content

Ambition of big house, few expensive cars, global fame, a million dollars in the bank or a 7 figure salary or more, the list goes on. These are the things we, 20something put on our wish list. We keep dreaming of something more, something better and something bigger. It never ends. This is how we lose everything. This is how we lose our present, by chasing our materialistic and hence meaningless future.

We get to hear things like “chase your dreams”, “become successful” so on and so forth. The question is WHY. No one ever told us about why we actually need to find our passion, or what it really means to be successful. To be clear, success means different things to different people. We unknowingly, throw our definition of success onto our loved ones, close friends, and shockingly to strangers too.

I have to admit that this is what my parents did. In fact, this is what most parents do. They push on their dreams or their definition of success to kids and one starts to think that it’s the only way in life. One starts to believe that they have to earn loads of money, marry a beautiful girl, own a business, own a big car, do this or do that.

The point is we have been given a rulebook since our birth and we keep working to get that checklist done, given by our parents or by anyone for that matter. And that’s how we keep running, running, running and one day die.

While in reality, what we really need to do is chuck the rulebook and find what makes us happy (could also mean multiple things) and then make it a part of our daily life. I really love how Tim Ferriss (author of best selling book The Four Hour Work Week) defines passion or doing things that make us happy – he says “find and do those things that excite you”.

Since a decade or more now, articles, books, videos and people have been telling us adamantly that one should find his/her passion until they die. WRONG! I recently was having a conversation with one of my juniors from my college and we were arguing about why it is important to find your passion.

The truth is you don’t. It’s a lens that has been sold to us and will be sold, now and forever, which says “if you want to be happy, find your passion”. While in reality, I see a lot of people working in industries and companies which have nothing to do with their passion. But are they happy in their job? Hell yes!

So, I would like to take this opportunity to define success. For me, being successful means to be happy. Period.

Let me give you few examples how one might not find his/her passion in life but still be happy and indeed successful:

  • Many people work in a company or have a job that excites them. For example, a lot of people love doing human interactions and work in HR while their passion lies in music. They work happily in their day job, go back home and play that instrument they love.
  • A lot of young engineers I know go to their day job, code for the product their company has, come back home and play football in the neighbourhood. And trust me no has complained anything about not finding their passion.

In reality, we need to pay bills. And it’s fine. Until and unless you have a job that you hate and bosses that suck, you need to find another. But I think jobs are okayish for the average of us. If we do it right then there are no complaints. And in return, we are getting to pay bills, eat our favorite food, give our parents that TV or car they were willing to buy for a long time and more importantly do that job we love or interests us. And that makes us happy.

Also, many of the folks I know, they come back from their “okayish” job which doesn’t make them sad or stresses them out, and do what they really like, love or are passionate about. And again, that’s fine. Finding your passion and just working on it day and night is all hyped up. Trust me, you’ll end up chasing your own tail in the long run and will never be happy and content.

Enough talk, but how I am happy now and content at the age of 23? Here are few points on what I did/do and how it helps me to stay sane, happy and content:

  1. I have a job which is of my interest: I know that not everyone finds their interest right after college and a job around that aspect too. Early on when I was in college, I just got lucky and found one of my interest i.e. design and worked to build a portfolio ignoring my majors. My portfolio was okay and I got a job, but not the degree. Right now I am working with a cool company called Wingify and I feel happy on the things I work on here. It’s okay if you don’t find a job in-line with your passion. As long as your job doesn’t suck, you’re doing fine in life 🙂
  2. I do things that make me happy after office hours: I cycle to work and back which I totally love. Once back, I play football with kids nearby, read something online, listen to music, watch some interesting videos I bookmarked while at work. All this keeps me away from stress. I watch a movie in theatres every alternate weekend and then eat at a local/popular restaurant.
  3. I have my loved ones around me to keep me away from stress: Whenever I start to panic about my situation or stressing about things, I call my girlfriend (she’s super cute), my mother or my close friends. It always helps to talk to someone and let things out. I believe that if you keep things to yourself which stress you, they’ll eat you from the inside and cause you 10x or more stress in the long run. Sometimes it’s better to just share the burden. It helps me stay sane.
  4. I don’t create unrealistic or materialistic goals: A lot of people I know talk about owning a big car, a big house, amazing bank balance, so on and so forth. In reality, we never ask ourselves that whether owning all that make us happy in the long run? I think everyone knows deep down that the answer is NO. But we still chase them. That’s why I follow and preach minimalism. The less you have, the less stressed you are. Owning less doesn’t mean being poor. It means you’re rich from the inside. It’s the simplest way of being content, otherwise one will always have things to chase, cry and stress about. It’s an endless loop.
  5. Lastly, I accepted that my future will not keep me happy at present: While in college, I learned a lesson that things about future that we bother ourselves with are in the future (it might or might not happen). Planning for the best and hoping for the worst is fine. But somehow I found that it’s ruining my present. I almost stopped doing everything that was making me happy and was working towards my future i.e. designing my portfolio at that time which I needed to launch. I realised that while I am involved in building my future and worrying about it too, I am losing a lot on my present. I am losing time with my loved ones. There’s a lot to lose when you’re just focused on your future. That was my lesson and I accepted and decided that I’ll always work towards a better future but will never let it ruin my present.

To sum this up, I love the idea of having multiple happiness baskets. This concept is about having/doing multiple things in life that make us happy so that if one basket falls, we have several others to rely on.

Most people give their everything to just one thing that makes them happy, and when that falls, it’s chaos for them. It’s simply plain logic to aid yourself with multiple things in life that make you happy so no matter when you fall, you’ll find happiness from the rest, stay happy and ultimately content in life.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. ~Mark… Click To Tweet