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Part 6: Less is more: make room for what really counts

Discover a life with more time, more money & more freedom.

24 August 2016
5 minute read

less is more text

This is the sixth in a seven-part series on how South Africans can survive a tough economy and build wealth in the face of inflation and price increases.

What is Minimalism?There are as many definitions for minimalist living as there are blogs dedicated to it. We love this definition from The Minimalists however:

Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth and contribution.

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus argue that there are many flavours of minimalism: a 20-year-old single guy’s minimalist lifestyle looks very different to a 45-year-old mother’s minimalist lifestyle. Even though everyone embraces minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money and more freedom to live a more meaningful life, they say.

So if this idea intrigues you, we’ve got 7 pointers to help you find your way. It’s not only about saving money. It’s also about learning to spend less, whilst loving what you do have, more. About the freedom that comes from being intentional about what you do – with your money, your time and your possessions.

1. Discover your whyWhether it’s more time, money or space you’re after the allure of the minimalist lifestyle is: that it can offer you all three. Unless you have a very clear reason as to why you’re wanting to change your routine, lifestyle or purchasing behaviour, you’re likely to lapse back into old habits. So pick the single most important thing to you and write it down somewhere where you’ll see it often – and perhaps even when you’re tempted to buy more things that take away from your time, space or money goals. Our suggestion: a post-it note in your wallet or wrapped around your credit card. It’s a great way to kick-start you on your way to intentional behavioural change.

2. Closely observe where you’re spending most of your money & timeAnd then ask yourself if that’s working for you? And if something you’re spending a lot of time, money or energy on isn’t making you happy – then consider stopping, changing or removing it from your life.

How much, for example, do you spend per month on your car – including payments, petrol, insurance, licensing, parking and the like? Mike Stopforth is a Johannesburg-based entrepreneur and digital advertising executive who recently wrote a post about his experience of living without a car for a year – including what he saved, and gained from not owning a car during that period. “While many of the perks of using public transport are obvious, there were some unintended consequences that were genuinely surprising,” says Stopforth. “I don't miss feeling like I have to constantly upgrade my car to keep up with the Joneses,” is just one example among many he cites.

3. De-clutterIt’s kind of obvious, we know. But you’d be surprised how liberating it is just to have less stuff. I know that when I packed up most of my clothes whilst pregnant – when I could no longer fit into a lot of my stuff – I hardly even missed them. So when it came to unpacking my ‘old’ cupboard of clothes, I found it easy to take them straight from storage to the ‘donate’ pile. Marie Kondo, the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up says that you should put your hands on everything you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and get rid of it.

4. Minimise distractionsIt’s hard enough trying to concentrate on the tasks at hand in an open-plan office or working from a home office with pre-schoolers who know how to open the door. Throw in a million different beeping, buzzing, flashing, flickering, pinging notifications from emails, apps and social media sites and it’s almost impossible to get stuck into anything that requires your undivided attention. Simply reducing, or eliminating this noise from your day will feel enormously liberating. is a great place to start as it’s a free service where you can easily unsubscribe from email newsletters, or alternatively, roll them up into one daily mail which they send that you can skim through to check you haven’t missed anything super important.

5. Eat the same stuffMeal planning and shopping for food takes time and money. Trying to keep things interesting by cooking like a MasterChef contestant every night seriously ramps up the complication factor. Lindsey Parry is the South African National Triathlon Coach and he says that when he was training for Iron Man he used to shop for one meal that he would prepare once at the beginning of the week – chicken, potato and veggies or salad – and freeze or refrigerate to eat the same meal every night the rest of the week. “I was too tired to do anything else, and this way I ensured I ate healthily and remain focused on my work and training,” says Parry. So not only would you save money ensuring there is no wastage with the food you buy, in this case Parry reduced stress and saved time by simplifying his meal planning.

6. Do lessWhen you started out on this journey, if your goal was to have more time – rather than money – then this will probably be a harder challenge for you than buying less. Most of us keep ourselves busy for all sorts of reasons. There’s even a sense of bravado about telling friends and family just how incredibly busy you are. The hard part is not filling up your time; its figuring out what or who it is that you’re avoiding seeing, doing or working on if you had both the time and space to do, well, nothing.

7. Pick your battlesFigure out what’s most important to you – in your home, personal or work life – and then focus on those key areas. When someone comes to you asking for your input in areas, check your mental list and if their request falls outside your ‘sweet spot’ delegate or relegate the decision with a smile, empowering whoever it is that asked for your input to make a call on something that is more important to them, than you.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of 1Life or its employees.

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