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Why minimalism increases your happiness and productivity

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Why minimalism makes you happier

Being a minimalist isn’t just about throwing out your surplus physical possessions – its about minimising your schedule, your to-do list, getting clarity on your priorities and really being clear about who you are and what you want out of life. It’s the process of decluttering your mind. Once you experience the inherent benefits of living with less clutter, argues Gardner in his article Minimalism: A Happier, More Productive Way to live – you’ll have no reason to go back. In fact, you’ll realise your busy diary, the messy wardrobe and your extensive to-do list was just in your way of the truly  important stuff.

This way of living has changed the lives of many. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, have appeared all over US media and TED advocating the benefits of minimalist living. When asked why they chose this lifestyle they confessed;

“By incorporating minimalism into our lives, we’ve finally been able to find lasting happiness—and that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it? We all want to be happy. Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself; thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life – Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”

Why minimalism increases your productivity

For many the appeal of minimalism comes from the idea that your life can be simplified and streamlined without sacrificing quality. In fact, in terms of productivity minimalism is solely focused on quality over quantity. Olivia Derby in her blog The minimalist’s guide to productivity suggests that to truly reap the benefits of minimalism in your work day you have to be really comfortable with the idea that more does not equal better. She continues, the minimalists guide to productivity starts with a simple theory – a lot of the items on your to-do list do not need to be there. By simply focusing on your most important goals you can start to spend more time on the things that actually matter and produce higher quality work. Here are a five pointers on how you can incorporate the minimalism way of life into your work

1) The real to-do list

It’s time to put your to-do list on a rigorous, cut throat diet. We all have extensive to-do lists but in reality they are burdened with trivial, irrelevant tasks that takes our attention away from the important stuff! To really minimalise your to-do list you need to clearly identify what your goals are. This will allow you to cut tasks that are irrelevant. Try drafting an overriding objective that encompasses your goals and place this it at the top of your to-do list. For example, at work this might be to “increase sales by 200% and increase client contact by 25%.

Having your overriding objective above your list –  not only enables you to easily source tasks that are irrelevant but it also helps you to start saying “no” to additional tasks that do not support your goals. And saying, “no” is one of minimalism’s most valuable skills.

2) Batching

A lot of the tasks we do are repetitive. For example, marketers will need to send a few tweets a day which can be batched with tools like Hootsuite. Batching is simply the act of combining similar tasks and completing them in one sitting. Figure out which tasks on your list can be batched and then plan your schedule accordingly.

3) Set your MITs

Derby, advises starting the day by organising your top three MITs (Most Important Tasks). For low energy days, when realistically you’re not going to power through your to-do list as quickly as you may have hoped, think of the three MIT’s as your “minimum viable product” and at least you can be rest assured that these three tasks got completed – if nothing else.

4) Cut out distractions

Daily, many of us will come across unplanned distractions that urge us to forget the task at hand. This is increasingly likely to be tech related for example social media – which has impacted our brains so vastly that we now have shorter attention spans than Goldfish. Obvious ways to avoid these distractions are to turn off phones but it does also require will power to succeed!

Less obvious distractions are things like multi-tasking. The issue is many people believe they are being productive by juggling several tasks at once. However, studies prove that multi-tasking is  one of the most inefficient ways to work – it actually makes us more unproductive!

One of the best strategies for increased productivity is to identify once task and block out everything else whilst completing it for one solid hour. This “power hour” is minimalist by nature and really works – read why here.

5) Flexibility

The minimalist mindset allows you to under-book your day and be prepared for any unexpected bigger commitments. Building flexibility into your schedule is key for innovation and creativity. Don’t feel guilty about slightly straying from your schedule – it can be when industry evolution happens.

To find out how you can incorporate minimalism into your life check out http://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/

Image curtesy of enciktepstudio’s on Shutterstock.