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 BeckerJoshua, 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

Spending time alone, having a minimal wardrobe, staying fit and much more….21 life lessons learned – 21st birthday – Part 2

10_Feb_2014_21on21

This is part 2 of the post : 21 lessons learned so far. Read the part 1 here : [Link]

  1. Do you own thinking.
    Often I get advice from people and it never ends. Some advices are good, some are bad. If I had listened and acted on all of them, I wouldn’t be here where I am today. That’s why I love this quote by Robert Downey Jr., “Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.” Because in the end, you only take responsibility and credit of either failing or succeeding.

    “Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece” ~ Ralph Charell

  2. Read stories of successful people, don’t adopt their personality.
    I started reading few auto-biographies of successful people lately and have found the whole process very inspiring. One can learn a lot by reading biographies. It makes you wise. But, what I fear about immersing myself into such inspiring stories is I will start adopting their personality too which is the first step towards losing my original self.

    “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” ~Judy Garland

  3. People older than you also have had dreams. Start pushing them towards achieving it.
    My mother used to paint a lot before marriage. Gradually after marriage, her pace kept slowing down and after few years it completely stopped. But that passion for painting was never over. Likewise, everyone’s parent must have dreamt something. But over the years, after getting married and sacrificing everything for their families, they have just lost the spark.
    I strongly feel that it’s our (child’s) responsibility too to push them towards doing things they always wanted to do. Remember? It’s never too late to start something.

    “The stars are not going to align themselves perfectly for you to start any day.” ~The four hour work week

  4. Keep shuffling your music playlist.
    To my amazement, research have shown that listening to the same playlist for long enough kills creativity and restricts thinking. Best solution is to keep shuffling your playlist every now and then to stay fresh and to let creative juices flow in your body.

    “When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” ~Henry David Thoreau

  5. Always keep a book to read.
    I wasn’t a reader earlier. Not even in a least possible manner. In one of my trips to Varanasi in 2010, my cousin gifted me this book named :The Alchemist, mentioning “this is the book you should read or start with”. 2 weeks later I found that I like this process of discovering something new all of a sudden which gives a new perspective on life and also answers some of the questions. Since then I have read quite a few books. And the experience and knowledge I have gained, has made me more wiser.

    “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” ~George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

  6. Getting married can wait. Build something.
    There are lot of things we know without having done it earlier. Like we know how marriage works and what are the challenges (almost). We know how it feels to get a job and do a 9-5 work everyday. Seen my dad and many others doing it. And the list goes on. On the other hand building or doing something which no one has ever built or done, be it concept/real product or few years of continuous travel for example, is extra ordinary. Those are few things we have to experience ourselves.

    “Whatever good things we build end up building us.” ~Jim Rohn

  7. Success brings acquaintances, friends and lovers . But above all, don’t loose sight of the end goal.
    I designed a concept alarm clock (singNshock) and submitted the image to YankoDesign for publication in early 2013. They liked the design and published it the next week. To my amazement the design was all over the internet within a week after YankoDesign published it. I was flying high, I must say. It brought me a lot of traction and branded me as a designer in the industry. I have now friends from different parts of the world. Some are designers, some are entrepreneurs, some are writers and so on. But above all, that fame was only for the moment.
    And fortunately I am surrounded by people who every now and then keeps my goal in check. Never let fame lure you out of what you have dreamt of.

    “If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are.” ~Oprah Winfrey

  8. People are smarter than you think. Give them the responsibility and show that you trust them.
    While working with one startup few months back I realized that people around us whom we thought couldn’t take much responsibility of (for example) being in-charge of the project and running it successfully, did just the opposite. Not only they completed the project in time, they also added new features to the product which we never thought of implementing. This happened only because we gave them the responsibility and showed trust even when we weren’t sure.

    “The more you trust your intuition, the more empowered you become, the stronger you become, and the happier you become.” ~Gisele Bundchen

  9. Always smile when you enter a room.
    According to Mystery, one of the best pickup artists in the world, “The number one characteristic of an alpha male is smile. Smile when you enter a room. As soon as you walk in a club or a room full of people, the game is on. And by smiling, you look like you’re together, you’re fun, and you’re somebody.” ~Quoted by Neil Strauss in his book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.

    “A smile is the universal welcome.” ~Max Eastman

  10. Networking will only help when you have already done something.
    Recently I attended an event named THE COALITION, a platform to support creative entrepreneurs in India. It was a 3 day event aiming to be a platform where new collaborations can happen, people can get to know other creative fields, people can pitch ideas to investors and so on. It took me only 1 full day at the event to realize that this is not my time to be at these kind of events.
    I had my designs in place, I had my concepts at place, but in real world ideas alone don’t work. One really need a real prototype of his/her idea. Otherwise everything I say is worthless. That is why I didn’t attended the rest of the event because networking there only have had helped me if I had anything to show, a working prototype of my ideas.
  11. Practice writing.
    Doesn’t matter what I write. I just write about any topic now a days.
    Why? Because it has :

    • Improved my writing skills
    • Improved my reading speed
    • Enhanced my vocabulary

      “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Keep smiling and DO MORE 🙂

Spending time alone, having a minimal wardrobe, staying fit and much more….21 life lessons learned – 21st birthday – Part 1

10_Feb_2014_21on21

I am turning 21 today and am not as excited as it might seem. All I am excited and concerned is of what next I will be learning and experiencing in life and for that what I have to do today. I spent the last 21 years of my life doing almost nothing. But I had the opportunity to learn great things which most people learn later after their active lives (18-50).

I couldn’t be happier to recall what I have learned and how it will help me shape me my future. So today I am sharing 21 lessons I have learned in the past 2 decades.

  1. Age is merely an excuse not to start anything.
    In the past 3 and half years while studying in Sharda University, I saw people ranging from age 24-60 procrastinating about starting/doing things they always wanted to do. The reply was more or less the same and was like this : “Oh! I am too old for this”. I hope this doesn’t happen with me or you. Start slow, but start.

    “Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” ~Napoleon Hill

  2. Don’t judge people. It’s a waste of my own time.
    People grew up in a different environment than mine and have their own reason. I wrongly judged many people many times and found later that they were just the opposite I thought they would be. I guess I can’t control everyone and everything. Can I? So it’s better to move on and let few things be as they are. I know it will save a lot of time.

    “Learning to ignore things is one of the greatest paths to inner peace” ~Robert J. Sawyer

  3. Practice mind control.
    In 2013, I read Robin Sharma’s The monk who sold his ferarri. The book was great and had a lot of positive insights. But out of all, one I remember in particular, i.e. the art of mind control. It suggests that those who can control their mind can control anything. Also, I recently bought a book (suggested by many elite performers around the world) : Getting things done by David Allen. I only finished reading the first chapter of the book and the result so far by applying the first few suggestions are great. Allen has advised to dump everything we need to do from buying eggs for home to finishing the work project into a piece of paper, note or a dairy. The essence of this routine is to clear your mind first and then to focus only on what’s important.

    “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.” ~Bruce lee

  4. Atleast stay fit.
    Since childhood I was quite active in sports. Played cricket mostly till high-school. Started playing football since I joined university. I see people craving for gym, healthy tips from experts and every other words of wisdom they believe can bring them the hot figure they desire. But the truth I realized is you don’t need a great figure to stay healthy. You just need to be fit enough. For that, one can exercise (yoga, running or gym) or play a sport. (I need to work on my skinny body though)

    “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ~Jim Rohn

  5. Treat work as every other general activity in life.
    I have noticed that when playing football, watching movies or doing anything interesting but in a limited amount of time, I don’t get bored or I don’t get stressed. Treating work in the same way as a general activity with a short timeline can really bring results for my work and my life too.”By working only when you’re most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It’s the perfect example of having the cake and eating it too.” ~4HWW

    “By working only when you’re most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It’s the perfect example of having the cake and eating it too.” ~4HWW

  6. Don’t sit in front of the computer without an agenda.
    Woke up at 8:00 AM, brushed my teeth, had breakfast, started using the computer while thinking to just check my email/facebook for few minutes and will quickly return to the project at hand, but it turns out 2:00 PM on the clock. This is what happens with me most of the time when I use my computer without any agenda. Internet is a great tool to push human race forward, but it’s also a tool to suck up time. Define first what you want to do with the tools then use it.

    “A goal without a timeline is just a dream” ~Robert Herjavec

  7. Spend some time alone.
    Here’s a quote from best seller book : The 4 hour workweek “After years of repetitive work, you will often need to dig hard to find your passions, redefine your dreams, and revive hobbies that you let atrophy to near extinction. The goal must be to pursue and experience the best in the world.” The quote pretty much sums up why spending some time alone is very important. I have experienced that a several minutes of meeting with silence can bring a lot of positive thoughts and the right direction for life. It frees your mind and enables you to think clearly again.

    “I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” ~Olivia Wilde

  8. Dress well.
    I am not talking about Armani Jeans or Van Huesen all the time, but there are a lot of clothing in the market that costs you 1/4th a pair of Armani and yet is drop dead gorgeous in appearance. One must spend some money on their clothing and I know, nobody has ever regret it. But don’t get carried away in the name of fashion. Keep it classic.

    “Clothing is the first step to building a character.” ~Sylvester Stallone

  9. Have a minimal wardrobe.
    I used to have 5 t-shirts, 5 shirts, 4-5 jeans/trousers and several sweatshirts/jackets. And what I found while traveling is that they restrict my freedom. It occupies a space in mind and tightens me up. From 2013 I have started donating clothes which got short or wore off. Once I gave more than half of my clothing which I didn’t wanted to have, I bought new ones only with a sense of minimalism. Now I only have 12 clothes including summer and winter wear. I feel lighter in mind and with my wardrobe.

    “Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

  10. Have multiple interests and source of income
    Most of the time I spend my days working on design projects or playing football. But there are days when I don’t like doing any of those activities. That’s why I have started cultivating other hobbies/interests like reading informative books, sketching and will be starting playing guitar again. The same goes with source of income. Most people rely on only 1 source of income i.e. their permanent job. In recent years, there never have been the worst time to rely on one and only job for paying bills. Jobs have become more and more insecure than ever and it will stay this way or worsen in the future.

    “Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” ~Henry Miller

Part 2 here : [Link]

Keep smiling and DO MORE 🙂