Last month, I wrote about the misperceptions around minimalism as they pertain to our physical clutter. But many of us still struggle with overly full schedules, to-do lists, and commitments. Our lives are full of “time clutter.” A wonderful quote by author and organizer Peter Walsh addresses this issue: “Clutter is not just the stuff on the floor. It is anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.” Perhaps we need to apply the questions that Joshua Becker (becomingminimalist.com) asks about our physical stuff to the hours in our lives as well:
- Does this [commitment, task, activity] help me fulfill my purpose in life?
- Does it help me to live the life I want to be living?
- What is it that [doing] less of would allow me to do more of?
Minimalism is about subtracting the stuff from our lives that gets in our way. For many of us, frantically trying to keep up and catch up with our time is keeping us from living the life we want to be living. Getting things done is indeed the key to leading a productive life. But when those things are getting in the way of taking care of ourselves physically, spending time with family and friends, or focusing on our priorities, they become just another kind of clutter. When I do presentations on time management, the first thing I talk about is establishing priorities. Stephen Covey calls them your “big rocks.” Until you take time to really figure out what’s most important in your life, you will allow your calendar and to-do list to be overrun with time clutter – stuff that just takes up space and keeps you from freeing up your resources to pursue your passions. Time is our most limited resource. We all have different levels of financial and material resources, and those levels can wax and wane over the course of our lives. However, we all get the same amount of time in our lives – 24/7/365. How you use that precious, non-renewable, non-refundable resource is up to you. Applying the principles of minimalism to our time means letting go of anything that doesn’t contribute to living your best life. What do you need to do to accomplish that? Spend less time on social media, or watch less TV? Perhaps it’s time to bow out of volunteer commitments that may have outlived their significance in your life. Maybe it’s being open to asking for more help at home, or delegating more tasks at work. Looking at how you spend your time with fresh eyes can have a significantly positive impact in helping you clear out the clutter from your days.
The next time someone asks you how you’re doing and your knee-jerk response is to say, “I’m CRAZY busy,” you may want to consider applying the principles of minimalism to your time as well as your stuff. Because crazy is just not sustainable, and probably doesn’t get you to the life you want to be living.