Less Is More - Declutter These 4 Areas for a Happier, Healthier, & More Effective Life

Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away. - Antonie de Saint-Exupery

What do you want out of life? 

If asked this question, we may have different answers, but at the root of our responses is typically the desire for more money, more time, and less stress.

With that being the case, does the accumulation of more "stuff" get us there?

In this article, we will cover four common areas that unintentionally clutter our lives while we search for satisfaction, and how a quick purge of these will provide instant returns on well-being, time, and money.

Area 1 - Possessions 

Our most basic survival instinct tells us that having an abundance is safe and will best promote success.

Although this may have been true in caveman days where another fur could mean the difference between life and death, now-a-days the ease of accumulating one more gadget to sit in the closet or tool to sit in our garage is overwhelming. 

Looking through the lens of desire for more money, time, and less stress will easily tell you that unintentional accumulation is providing the opposite on a daily basis. 

What to do about it?

1st - Purge - Agree that if an item has not been used in the past year to give it away or throw it out. Try 3 months if you want to be more extreme, but a year should get you started. You will be amazed at the freedom more and more space in your home will provide.

2nd - Break the cycle - View each item brought home as an anchor keeping you from reaching your true desires. The last area in this article explains further, but if we are not organized and intentional about our goals we will always be prone to falling into our natural ways of accumulation.

"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity." – Bruce Lee

Area 2 - People 

"You are the average of the five people you most associate with." Tim Ferriss

We all require social interaction. We are social creatures. Even if some of us require a little less human contact, we can still list typically 5 individuals that we spend the most time with. 

The quote above says it all.  

We each know who we are investing the majority of our life around. Challenge yourself to write this top five list down. Ask yourself if each of these individuals are making you more into the person you desire to be and if they make you happier or they are toxic to your well-being.  

After this, have the strength to drop those toxic people ASAP. It will be difficult, but this is one of the best things you can do to instantly improve your time, focus, and happiness. 

Your next step will be acquiring new individuals that better represent the person you desire to become. This, again, will require reflection on what that even means to you.  

Stop wasting life being unintentional about what you are looking for. Get your goals on paper today and start gathering people around you that share your common outlook and desires.

Area 3 - Mental Input

Some folks may disagree with this area, but another common waste of our time and mental capacity is in the pursuit of knowledge. 

Two main areas to watch for:

1.) Knowledge for "some" future day: Seeing a book on a shelf about a subject of way future interest, purchasing it, reading it, and (if the day ever actually comes where we need the knowledge) we find ourselves rereading the book or often having more accurate question that we can just search for the answers. I have completed this exercise countless times. 

2.) Pointless Input: Biggest culprit here is the news. If you spend hours per day riding in the car mad at talk radio and you will be doing nothing other than voting for the party candidate that you always vote for, turn it off. I promise if it's a big enough headline you will hear about it. This will be more difficult for some of us than others. So, for now try a one week break from all forms of news or any form of information that is not instantly actionable for you.

The main point here is many times it is better to let knowledge of a subject play out when it is actually needed. We really do have a limited mental bandwidth that we all to often use up with useless information. 

Area 4 - Aspirations and To-Do's

This last area is the most difficult to recognize and one of the most weighty areas on most people.

This is the mental stress that comes from a multitude of incomplete/competing to-do items and the countless unachieved goals in people's lives.

These ever-growing lists take a toll on people. If you are reading this article, you are likely a "Type A" personality focused on achievement. People like this are wired in such a way that hard work is our go-to tool and putting our heads down to trudge forward day after day is natural.

So what can we do to reduce this growing stress cycle?

If you have not noticed, there is a trend throughout this and many of our articles about living more intentionally

1.) To-do item stress comes typically from there being no clear prioritized list of tasks showing a path forward on the important and placing the unimportant lower or off the list all together.

2.) Our goals and aspirations are even more difficult to manage without some very intentional long-term thinking. Many can tell you their aspirations, but few have these organized in a fashion that provides a clear process for achievement.

The cost of failure in both of these areas is huge. Many of our primary fears are not wanting to wake up in 20 years still going to work at 5 a.m. working 60 hours a week having missed a large portion of life that we wish we had experienced and not even knowing how we got here.

The only solution to these fears is intentionality in both your long-term aspiration and your daily execution of work/goals.

The best method is to complete and regularly update a goal list and get yourself into a cycle of daily journaling

Action Steps - 

  1. Follow steps in area 1 through 3 to clean up and provide much-needed whitespace/simplicity in your life today. This will provide you not only increased time, money, and wellbeing, but you will find the more white space you can create the more you can actually see and focus on things that really matter.
  2. Move onto area 4 to start defining what those important things are and start living more intentionally. The person who can most effectively aim their daily activity at achieving their larger goals will experience the most success. 
  3. Get the daily fires under control with a journal system. Skip the painful process of developing your own system by starting with a designed journal/planner system that fits you. If you are a construction project manager and/or business owner, The Manager's Journal has been made for you.
  4. Take journaling to its full potential by incorporating your personal aspirations on a daily basis. If you do not have a clear written set of goals that you can put your hands on right now, use our Goal Setting Guide, to get your fulfilled life defined and brought down from an ultimate level to a one-year actionable level. This goal guide will implement directly with The Manager's Journal

Blessings In Your Endeavors,

Ruben Watson

Like what you just read? Sign up and make sure you never miss an article!

* indicates required