Let me preface this and say that I am not a writer, and that will quickly be made clear. For the past few years, I’ve been on a personal journey to lead a simple, more mindful life. Along the way I’ve shared my ideas and methods with friends and family and found many were interested in pursuing a similar path, but didn’t know where to start.
I wanted a platform to share my journey and encourage others to seek out a more intentional, effective lifestyle. As human’s we’re all different in our own unique ways. If something I write about works well for me, don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t have the same effect for you.
Who am I?
I’m the husband to my beautiful wife, father to my precious daughter and my two crazy dogs. Together, we believe in the basic principals of Christianity and practice living a simple life focused on faith, family, and friends.
I’m the head of marketing & design for one of the largest independently owned building supply stores in Canada. My position has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge as a marketing professional; at the same time, design creative assets for brands across the world.
Where I began
Approximately five years ago, I stumbled upon Leo Babauta’s website, Zen Habits. I remember scrolling through the list of archived articles when one in jumped out at me. The article talked about living a clutter-free life. Little did I know this article would start me on the path to living a happier, more fulfilling life.
Weeks after discovering Zen Habits, and other sites alike, I began to realize just how much excess we were living with. I clearly recall reviewing my Amazon Order History in disbelief at the amount of stuff I had purchased, with no recollection of most of it.
I started clearing out my closets and drawers, and it felt great! Soon after I shifted my focus to the boxes of nick nacks that had built up over the years; flashlights, pocket knives, watches, bags, accessories.
If something I found hadn’t been used in the last 6-months, and I couldn’t see myself using in the next 6, it was gone.
I still assess my possessions on a regular basis, throwing away the unnecessary. The more possessions you release, the more clarity you gain as to other areas of your life where you can let go, reducing your possessions down to only the essentials. Before I purchase anything new, I now add it to a list in which the items need to sit in for a few weeks, or months, after which I review to see if those items still spark joy.
No two humans are alike. We all have different hobbies and passions. Maybe you’re into sports, or maybe you love cooking. Your idea of a clutter free life might be selling all of your possessions and living out of a backpack, maybe you still own a modest sized home, but you only keep the items that truly spark joy in your life. There’s no right or wrong way, as long as the end result brings you happiness.
Un-cluttering your digital life
Clutter doesn’t just build up in your closets and drawers, it can be found on your desktop, folders, pages of apps on our phones, social media accounts, news feeds and more.
I used to have a purchase every productivity app I would come across in hopes that one would “stick”. After a few weeks, like clockwork, I would forget about the app and move on. Pages of unused apps built up, and it was clear that something had to change. I ruthlessly deleted apps off my phone, reducing it down to no more than the “stock” apps. I removed Safari, turned off all notifications, turning my smart phone into a “dumb phone”.
No more evenings sitting on the couch, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.
The difference it has made in my life has been amazing. One issue I discovered was it was still to easy to access these time-wasting website on my MacBook. That’s where SelfControl came in. It allowed me to block those sites for up to 24 hours at a time. 24 hours still wasn’t enough though. After a day without the site, I would bounce back and waste even more time in an effort to “catch up” on what I had missed out on. A few modificationswere necessary to Self Control to allow me to block the sites up to 1-month at a time and voila!
It’s been over a month since I decided to block the majority of the time wasters I used to visit, and a few weeks since blocking Instagram. As with any bad habit, the first week is always the most difficult, but now I don’t even notice they’re gone.
I still see many areas where I can unclutter my life, but it’s no longer a struggle to break free of their hold. Simplifying my possessions and freeing myself of clutter has transformed from a habit, to part of my lifestyle.
Where we’re going
Now that my life is clear from clutter, a new challenge has become clear. It’s been heavy on that I need to start using my time more effectively.
My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.
— Steve Jobs
If you’re like me, your todo list is full of wishful ideas that likely will never get done. To combat this problem, I’ve started integrating a method called “Time Blocking” into my daily routine.
Time Blocking is a method of translating your daily tasks into calendar events. To succeed at this, you need to be aware of how much time common tasks normally take to complete. Once you have added the block of time into your calendar, you need to commit to starting that task at your set time and complete it within that “block”.
I’ve just begun with time blocking and the results have been astounding. I’m sticking to my morning and evening routines far more than ever before, and I’m taking deep work to the next level.