Life can be overwhelming. Not everything is worth worrying—or even thinking—about. To file away “the trash,” 81-year-old Don Nelson, a retired president of a security-systems company in Falmouth, Mass., has created a mental bucket. Then he sorts his information, addressing issues that are important—his wife’s decline from Alzheimer’s or charity work, for example. Everything else? “F— it and into the bucket.”…“Give it a try,” says Mr. Nelson. “It’s like cleaning your mental closet.” – Elizabeth Bernstein (WSJ)
Mr. Nelson is 100% correct. We all could use a less cluttered mental closet. The above advice was directed toward personal relationships but it makes in the bigger picture as well. We spend so much time worrying about stuff their either doesn’t matter or things over which we have no control. Either way we are wasting our energy.
Wasting energy (and money) is one reason why the minimalist or de-cluttering movement is seemingly gaining steam. Individuals are finding that stuff, in all its forms, takes up too much of our mindset. Ryan Howes quote in MEL Magazine:
Minimize. The growing movement toward simplification and minimizing “stuff” is popular for a reason — people who actively reduce the clutter in their lives say they feel burdens lift and an increase in time to focus on the relationships and experiences that matter. Before forking over your cash for yet another work shirt or tech gadget, spend a little time seeing what you can offload to Goodwill. The good feeling of letting go can become habit forming.
New Year’s is a common time to think about forming new habits. Unfortunately we may have been going about it all wrong for years. Jeff Wise at The Cut writes:
Part of the answer is to really prioritize avoiding the things that might lead us astray. As Milyavskaya and Inzlicht write, “The path to better self-regulation lies not in increasing self-control, but in removing the temptations available in our environments.”
Removing temptations is one reason why I see more people announce they have removed social media apps, like Facebook and Twitter, from their phones. If the apps aren’t available they won’t go there mindlessly and waste time following some Trump-related meme down the rat hole. A sampling:
In January I deleted all the social media apps from my phone because they were turning me into an idiot. – Lydia Smears
I’m happy to report that I’ve been living (mostly) Facebook free for more than a month, and I don’t miss it at all. In fact, I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time. – Karissa Bell
So, I deleted all the social media apps from my phone. I think my life is better without them. – John Birmingham
Now that I can’t open Instagram or Twitter on my phone, I spend a lot less time on my phone in general. – Elizabeth Stinson
In short, there isn’t much on Facebook or Instagram that you should give two f*cks about. Spending time on your phone actually moves you away from finding your purpose in life. You can likely only find that purpose when you stop the need to be constantly in motion or taking action. Or as Eve Fairbanks wrote in the Washington Post:
I suddenly realized what I wanted my resolutions to be: less. Less expressing, more listening. Less accomplishing, more meandering. Less doing, more being. Less making, more watching.
Morgan Housel writing at the Collaborative Fund has a great post up talking about the value of inaction. The value of waiting until the opportunity in front of you is the right one. Unfortunately that requires patience and some self-relflection that many of us don’t possess. Housel writes:
The pull toward constant action implicitly assumes the best opportunities are constantly presenting themselves to you at every moment…Doing nothing gives you options to do something different in the future. And options can be one of the most valuable assets in world that’s constantly changing and breaking down old rules.
Whether you are cleaning your mental closet, your physical closet or your e-mail inbox, the fact of the matter is that most of it can end up in the f*ck it bucket. In addition, as you get older that bucket is likely to grow in size. The ongoing challenge is two-fold: identifying what things/emotions/opportunities belong in each bucket AND actually putting them there. One easy way to start is to delete Facebook off your phone…