Decluttering [5 Life Areas]
[5 Life Areas]
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 8.5
“Even though we have about 3x more space per person than we used to in the 1950s… we’ve got so much stuff, we need space on top of that. So there's a 2.2 billion square foot personal storage industry.”—Graham Hill (Minimalism, documentary)
Our houses have gotten larger, but we feel more cramped than ever.
Our society has become wealthier, yet studies show we’re unhappier.
Why? We chase the wrong things.
Let’s change that.
In every edition of System Sunday, I assess the featured system across three superhuman dimensions: impact, setup, and maintenance.
Unlike your typical review, I focus on factors that influence personal growth. Get to know the evaluation system.
Minimalism is the disciplined pursuit of less.
Why is minimalism important?
- An uncluttered space cultivates an uncluttered mind.
- You can avoid the hedonic treadmill (i.e., pursuing one pleasure after another without experiencing any material change in happiness).
- If you own less, you have more options and freedom. Have you ever felt that a possession owns you rather than the other way around?
Perhaps you agree that minimalism is desirable.
But how can you actually achieve it?
Declutter 5 life areas…
1. Physical Clutter
Pare down to essential items.
Then, manage both inbound & outbound possessions.
- Choose quality > quantity
- Purchase less; love every single item more
- Follow the 1 In, 1 Out Rule: “If you buy one item—donate, sell, or toss another.”
2. Digital Clutter
The overlap of the most productive and happiest people of the future will share something in common: organized digital lives.
- Turn off notifications
- Organize projects in tools like Notion or Trello
- Manage email with the 3-21-0 Method
- Use a password manager (I like 1Password)
- Tidy your mobile images; offload saves to the cloud
3. Relationship Clutter
Evaluate your relationships.
- Spend more time with people who give you energy
- Spend less time with people who steal your energy
- If you're introverted, block out time to be alone
4. Financial Clutter
Simplify your finances:
- Use your money to buy time
- Cancel unused subscriptions
- Automate your bills, savings, investments
- Pay off debt with the Avalanche Method
- Budget with the 50/30/20 Rule (50% Needs, 30% Wants, 20% Savings)
5. Time Clutter
Create unstructured, open space in your life.
- Block out time for non-doing on your calendar
- Take a break from social media and the news
- Accept fewer meetings
- Make “No” your default
More on that last bullet:
Whether it's new work projects or social gatherings, saying ‘Yes' to non-priorities ruins your priorities.
In the words of Derek Sivers, “If your immediate reaction to an inbound request is not a ‘hell yeah!’ then your answer should be ‘no.’”
There are five months left in 2023.
Rather than trying to declutter everything immediately, focus on one life domain each of the next five months.
It could look something like this:
- August: Time Clutter
- September: Physical Clutter
- October: Digital Clutter
- November: Relationship Clutter
- December: Financial Clutter
Feel free to rearrange based on what you need the most.
I recommend starting with “time clutter” because it creates the space to work on everything else.
BRINGING IT HOME
Your environment is either creating clarity or complexity.
Make minimalism your path to clarity.
All systems go,
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