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How Minimalism Can Make You More Productive?

How Minimalism Can Make You More Productive?

I write blog posts for quite some time now but I always find myself wasting my time for the most part of the day. On average, I can write, edit, and finalize one full article that’s somewhere between 1500 and 2000 words in 4 hours. If I’m working 8 hours a day that should mean that I should be able to produce 2 articles per day with ease. Well, that’s not even close to what happens in reality. Fortunately, I’ve become a minimalist at some point, which allowed me to become more productive and create more good quality content faster.

Except having a tidy closet and a clear mind, there is one extra advantage of living a minimalist life that is quite huge. That is, being more productive.

By removing the extra bumps from your daily life you will gain more free time for creating more stuff. It might sound a bit odd. Some people might say: “Why do you want more if you’re focusing on owning less?” Well, for me, personally, the best way to spend a life is by creating. Whether this will be creating art of any sort, applications, buildings, it doesn’t quite matter. As long as it helps humanity in a positive way, it makes sense. The point is: consume less, create more. That’s how I understand minimalism and that’s my simplest explanation.

One of the biggest benefits of being a minimalist is that you will become more productive and have more time to pursue what’s important for you. Let me point out how exactly minimalism allows you to be more effective:

 

Set One Task

Multitasking is a skill quite popular among the larger companies. When you seek for a job, you can’t unnoticed that every company requires you to posses the ability of multitasking. This usually means that you will have a ton of work every day and the only way to handle it will be growing additional pair of hands. Since the previous is impossible to happen we simply settle for the alternative: working overtime.

The debate about which is better: single-tasking vs multitasking, is quite intense online and there are a lot of people who support either one of them. Realistically, it’s possible to talk over the phone while writing something. However, it really depends with who you’re speaking and what you are writing. If either of the two tasks is unimportant, you can surely do them both. However, if what you’re writing is a book or an important email, it’s surely best to stop writing while you’re speaking over the phone. Otherwise, the quality of the two will be poor.

Once you pinpoint your main objective: writing a book, for example, you need to abandon everything else. Disable your phone. Close all other applications. Turn off the TV. Stop Youtube, and etc. All your attention should be focused on the task you want to execute.

 

Say No

Disciplining yourself to say no is something that happens once you embrace a lifestyle focused towards owning less. You learn to refuse to things that are not essentials and this helps you stay focused on the current project you’re working.

Very few people understand the importance of saying no to things or to people who are trying to gain ownership over their attention. Whether we like it or not, there are constantly such cases: The friendly neighbor is rining on your doorbell to chat because he doesn’t have anything better to do; Your friends are inviting you to the mall to hang around; Facebook messages from people who you barely know are beeping and are literally forcing you to stay online.

Most of the people don’t quite understand the importance of blocking outside things and refusing to people when you’re trying to focus on a specific task. According to a recent study made by the University of California Irvine, “it takes around 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back into the swing of things after you’ve been interrupted.”1 That’s a lot of wasted time as you can see for yourself. If you get distracted for about 10 minutes on every hour while you’re working, this will mean that you’re actually busy for around 25 minutes an hour.

Learn to say yes to only a few things, the most important things and refuse the kind offers you regularly receive. Educate your friends that when you’re working in the office, or when you’re doing some kind of a project you’re offline for the world, you basically don’t exist these hours. It might sound a bit harsh in the beginning, but eventually, people do understand that it’s not personal.

 

Remove Distractions

I got a very cool wooden stand for my phone a couple of months ago and I thought that it be a really cool addition to my desk – I have wooden coasters on my white desk and they look pretty good together. Only after a couple of days since I started placing my phone on this stand, which was right next to my laptop, I realized how unproductive I was getting. I was seeing my phone with my peripheral vision and everytime my phone beeped I was checking it instantly. Of course, this was a huge downer for my productivity.

See, it wasn’t the cell phone stand that was the issue but its purpose: to help me see my phone better. The same tools that allow us to create websites, music, videos, applications, and etc., are also the main distractions. Our sworn enemies in the fight for creating more meaningful work. As a person living in the 21st century, you’re surely owning a computer and a smartphone, also, probably a tablet too. Well, this means that you’re 3 times less productive because you have 3 tools which allow you to quickly distract your mind from the work you do.

What I do, to keep my flow going while I write is shutting down from the rest of the world around for a specific time frame. These are my steps:

  1. I put my wireless headphones on and I play a background noise from either Youtube or from my phone.2
  2. I throw a few notes in my notebook to outline the main paragraphs of the article, book, I will be writing. I use it also during my writing to add or remove things. Sometimes I prefer writing on paper.3
  3. I pour a glass of water and sometimes even a big cup of coffee with milk. I also go to the toilet to ensure I won’t be getting up for the next 30 minutes.
  4. I set a timer for 30 minutes and I put my phone away.
  5. I write for 30 minutes without doing anything else.

Simple, right? I repeat the steps above a couple of times during my day. Well, except going to the toilet so often, probably.

These 5 simple steps allowed me to boost my productivity with probably 200%. See what else you can do to become more effective.

 

Organized

Being a minimalist means that you have the smallest range of clothes and possessions possible, which means that you’re basically organized by default. Since you don’t have a lot of stuff, your home, and your working space are tidy without needing to do anything extra.

Being organized is one of the first benefits that you’ll find when you remove most of your physical stuff. Less things lying around means less cleaning, less distractions, which basically gives you more focus and more free time.

Of course, being organized is essential for becoming more productive. You will never ever have to spend time searching for your pen because you will most probably have only one pen placed on your desk.

This same approach should be also applied to our digital files and things. Since we’re spending so much time on our computers and smartphones, we should create our own system that allows us quick access to the things we’re searching in our own computers.

My laptop was previously full of files, pictures, eBooks. I had a bunch of files on my desktop and this was driving me nuts. These days, I have only two icons on my desktop: My Computer and Recycle bin. Everything else is carefully arranged in folders and I know where to look if I need to.

It takes a bit more time to setup a system for your files in the beginning, but once this is done, you’re simply following your own rules and you will be saving a lot of time in the future. I take the same approach when I write articles. All of the posts and books I write are following the same logic, the same system, which I spend several days creating but now, I only sit and write without having to spend time thinking about the design of the post or the book.

 

Basics

Minimalism helps you identify the basics, the essential things on the project, task you’re working on. When you’re tackling a task with a clear mind you know where to focus your efforts in order to complete it as soon as possible. For example, the basics when creating a website are not which font or what picture you should put on the front page. The main things you should focus on when you want to establish a site, any site, are the mission of the website and the potential benefit for the end user. What type of products you’re going to sell? What kind of people will be interested in buying these products? How can both your content and your articles help the people visiting your website? The essential here is to think carefully before you actually start. Only once you have a few articles and the idea is finally stated, you can then worry about the design.

I was previously so obsessed with finding the perfect font for my site or designing the best logo that I’ve spent hours, even days redesigning logos and changing fonts. Eventually, I realized that it’s not the looks of the website that people mainly benefit from, the content is.

There are hundreds of websites that look awful but are generating millions of views each month.4 Why? Because people are in love with the information inside. The actual content is what turns a good site into a great one. Like the famous saying goes: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Focus on the essential while you do your work and worry about the other things at the very end.

 

Finding Vision

Minimalism leads to a clearer future. When you say no to the things you don’t want in your life, you only say yes to the things that matter to you. This kind of thinking helps you determine your vision.

If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there.” Lewis Carroll

If you want to be truly effective, you should carefully think about what should be your main goal, your lives vision. What do you want to do? What type of work you want to handle? What kind of people you want to surround yourself with?

Unfortunately, the busy people don’t have the time to think about such things which is why they settle for average jobs and average incomes. Such people constantly buy things because they let their emotions decide what will happen. They never think about the future and that’s why they live only in the present – consuming as much as possible.

What you see is what you can be. By clearing up your closet and your unnecessary thoughts, you can finally see what you truly want to be and focus all of your efforts towards this direction.

 

CONCLUSION

Minimalism can make you more productive by helping you remove all unnecessary things that are blocking you from doing your best job.

Still, don’t leave with the impression that productivity means working your ass off every day. No. Productivity means to work, really work, in a specified time frame without doing anything else.

If you decided that you will write for an hour in the evening, do it. But really write for that hour. Stop everything else you’re doing and write. Create a sustainable system that works for you and keep up with it daily. The results will soon follow.

 


FOOTNOTES:

  1. I found the previous data inside this article, here.
  2. I use Sony XB960B1 (headphones). I play one of these tracks: Track 01; Track 02; Track 03. I also use this site quite often for background noise.
  3. I use a simple ruled notebook with black cover.
  4. I’m sure you’re visiting such ugly sites daily yourself. I do it also. We both know why, right? The offer valuable content although they look very bad.

Ivaylo Durmonski

Before embracing the minimalist lifestyle, which promotes owning less, I was quite an irresponsible person. Obsessed with making more money and spending them on things I didn't need. Now, things have changed. My new mantra is: focus on the essentials and remove everything else so that you can live better.

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