Minimalism

How Minimalism Can Help You Eliminate the Distractions in Your Life

I woke up bright and early this morning with the basics of a game plan formed in my head. Rather than tackle the excess things in my life at first, I decided to tackle the distractions instead.

Distractions can take many forms in our life. It can be anything from that task that you keep procrastinating on to the massive amount of junk mail that hits your inbox. Anything that keeps you from applying your full focus to your life and your goals can count as a distraction.

I tend to get a large amount of junk mail in my inbox. Every single website you visit these days tries to strong-arm you into signing up for their mailing list so they can spam you. In many cases, that big pop-up gets in the way of actually seeing their content, so you plug in your email address just to make it go away. If you purchase something from a website, they flood your inbox with new “deals” in an attempt to part you with even more of your hard-earned money. Normally I delete it en-masse once a day but I realized that I lost a few minutes of my life each and every time I completed the action.

One by one I selected these messages and directed them to go straight to my junk mail folder. That way, if I ever do discover that I’ve missed something important I can search for it within that first month. After that they get deleted automatically, eliminating the need for me to deal with them every single day. I decided upon using this method rather than unsubscribing from them individually since some websites can make that a challenge. Frankly, they can waste their time emailing me all they want. It doesn’t mean that I have to read them.

It may take a few days for me to complete the process. Websites have different email schedules so I’m certain that there are a few that I missed in my initial sweep.

Once that was complete, I decided to tackle one project that I’ve been procrastinating on. Over the past few months one of the keys on my keyboard had starting sticking and the scroll button on my mouse began to behave erratically. Since I had been in the middle of writing when the incidents happened I’d swapped them out with spares and set them aside to examine later.

Later had yet to arrive by this morning so I decided that it was time to either toss the peripherals or attempt to fix them.

Since one of my dogs sheds immensely, I realized that the issue may be a combination of dust and pet hair. These were common issues back in the day when computers were much more expensive so I had learned a long time ago how to clean them. I pulled out my supplies and got to work.

Thirty minutes later I had restored both peripherals to functionality. Tackling the project had not only eliminated the small stack of non-functioning peripherals I had placed in an obvious spot as a reminder, it allowed me to remove “replace spare keyboard and mouse” from my shopping list. By extending the life of these devices I saved money and eliminated the need to send them to the landfill.

When you consider the fact that it would have cost half a day’s wage to replace them (more if I selected the higher quality that I prefer), I count the half-hour of cleaning as time well spent.

Since there was always the chance that one of the marketing emails would catch my attention and induce me to spend, I also saved an unknown amount of working hours by sending them to my junk email folder automatically.

Since I count every moment saved and every dollar conserved as progress towards my goal I consider today to have been a successful one so far as a result of my actions. Less than an hour from my life now allowed me to reduce the amount I have to work to achieve freedom by a half-day or longer.

Today is a very good day.

If you find your inbox filled with junk mail each day, create a rule to send these emails to your junk mail folder automatically. If like me, you don’t want to risk using spam filters (since they have a habit of discarding important emails as well), you can create the rules manually with your email software. This will not only eliminate the temptation to spend money but will free up the time that you normally spend deleting them.

And if something breaks around your home that you believe may have a simple fix, I urge you to take a look at it before you toss it in the trash. Since it’s already broken, you don’t have to worry about making it worse if your attempt is unsuccessful. In many cases a thorough cleaning may solve the issue, saving you a fortune over time.

How have you minimized your time and expense lately? And do you have any suggestions about what I should tackle next? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

On another note, I have made it a personal goal to restore this website to a regular posting schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I am not quite sure how I will find the time to write three quality posts a week along with my studies but I am in hopes that by applying minimalism to my daily life that I will liberate more than enough time to accomplish my goal. Please bear with me as I strive to achieve this, and feel free to offer suggestions.

Also, if you found this post helpful I would be immensely grateful if you would take a moment to share it with a friend. I refuse to add to the advertising that the world is inundated with on a daily basis so the only way that people discover me is when they learn about me from a friend. I hope that you will spread the word that I help others simplify their lives so that they can better focus on their personal goals.

Thank you.

4 Comments

  • Linda

    If you have contacts who send you tons of forwarded jokes with no meaningful posts, add them to your blocked list.

  • John Grebe

    The best way to minimize one’s distractions to maximize one’s time in my experience is to evaluate the apps on one’s phone/tablet/computer and eliminate the ones that distracts you from focusing on your values. The best way not to get caught up in time wasting addicting games is to purge those apps from your phone before they can steal your attention. The best decision that I did was to banish all games with the exception of a chess app from my phone and tablet. I find chess to be safe as it provides the benefits of mental stimulating and it is not something that I am able to binge on so it is safe.

    • Annie

      That’s an excellent idea, John! While I’m in the habit of playing a game of Mahjongg, Solitaire, or Sokoban when I first get home from work, those games usually don’t last longer than a few minutes. I tend to turn on some relaxing classical music (though right now I’ve switched to listening to traditional Chinese instrumentals) and unwind as I play a single game so I believe those are safe to keep. If I spent hours on them it would be another story.

      Facebook was a major time drain, however. Aside from sharing my posts (and humoring my kid when she tags me in something), I’m currently avoiding the website in order to break the habit. Once I reach the point where I can visit it for brief sessions I may try again.