Does what I wear matter?
Come on, bro,” my brother said. “Get a simple set for cheap and just use it to catch up on the news, or watch games,” he said.
“I don’t need to catch the news,” I replied. “I know what’s going on through my phone, and if I don’t know, it doesn’t hurt me in anyway. I like like things this way.
My brother had called that day, and after learning that I did not own a television set, he wanted to encourage me to get one. Sure, I had watched television in the past and know it’s use — and I could buy one — but I know now, as I knew then, that I don’t need it. It’s mostly a time-sink.
My auntie will call and say something similar. “You need the news just so you know what’s going on — a storm, a situation that requires evacuation could happen and you need to see what’s going on.”
My dad will not be any different. “You need to be abreast with the times,” he’d say.
“Television numbs your mind, dad.” I’d say in response.
Those days are somewhat in the past now, but I still don’t appreciate TVs near me. I purposely set my surroundings to serve my mind — my mental state, and how it helps me move toward my goals. Then, I had a single couch, a single chair, a single bed, and nothing else in my apartment. But during those days, the power of my mind grew in leaps and bounds.
Some may ask why and how that happened, but besides the fact that I prayed a lot — having set aside time to study God’s word — my mind was largely disconnected from the daily stresses of life, and I began to perceive a lot of things that are hidden to the average person’s busy mind. My joy also increased, which left me with a lot of enthusiasm for my work, my writing, and my other projects.
Also, when I sat to write, my ideas flowed easily and I’d punch the keys with joy. Before I knew it, I had filled lots of pages with thoughts as I worked on an article or a book. No wonder, this season also prepared me to later on write my book.
I didn’t know the term, but I heard it in college, but the first time I heard it I knew that’s how I wanted to live: as a minimalist. Though to some extent, I had lived like that pretty much my whole life, yet hearing the term and living it out more consciously the last few years, it has fine-tuned the concept for me.
So in that spirit, here are 10 things I do as a minimalist that you’d find helpful if you’d want to cut out clutter out of your life and make room for your mind to have a sole focus of making progress toward your goals — and also save some money while you are at it.
1. I wear ‘lace-less’ and polish-free shoes
Let me start with how I get my feet moving: I wear lace-less shoes. In the morning or any other time that I have to leave the house, I simply have to slip my feet into them and then I’m gone. I don’t have to sit to lace them— I can wear them standing up.
Neither do I have to take a few minutes to polish them off to a fine shine — they are ready to go right away. Plus, they are also easy to take off — I can slip them off my feet when I get back to the apartment, put them off to the side, and it’s over.
(Plus, it’s another reason I admire folks wearing Blake Mycoskie Toms shoes. Simple and easy; no fluff — and if you want to learn some key principles in starting something with nothing check out Blake’s book Start Something That Matters — a good read.)
2. I carry a water bottle
As you probably know, we all need a good amount of water throughout the day to flush our system, aid digestion, keep our organs functioning properly, and to make our thinking much smoother — 70% of the body is made up of water.
To help me with this — besides the fact that I like to drink a cup of warm water in the morning to kick-start my internal system — I carry a water bottle everywhere and fill it up at water fountains at various shops, restaurants, and supermarkets, campuses, libraries anytime I run out. And gulping down lots of it throughout the day, this helps keep me hydrated throughout the day!
Also, think about this. If a bottle of water is sold for about $1.00 a piece and we have to drink 8 bottles a day, that’s about $8.00 a day, and you have to buy each bottle while I’m you are out there. Why not buy it by the pack, you ask? Well, I can, but I can only carry so many bottles in my bag when I’m out, and I don’t want it to weigh down my backpack, which I carry on my back. Over time, that hurts your back.
Sure, I’m not perfect, there are days — when I ran out of the house — and I forgot to carry my bottle. But if I end up buying one, I will refill it for the rest of the day when I run out. But how about the benefit of saving about $2800, which is what 8 bottles x 360 days =$2880 will cost you?
3. I wear virtually the same clothes every day
You see our mind is made to process virtually every decision we make, including what we wear. This choice can be burdening in the morning when you have lots of clothes. To reduce my mind’s burden, I wear virtually the same clothes everyday — a couple simple ones, washed and clean.
Sure, I have 2 pairs of jeans, and 2 pairs of shoes, and… I’m not a big fan of suits. They feel restrictive and are not as easy feeling on my body as a simple shirt. This minimalist choice in clothes makes things easy for me, and I don’t have to wrack my brain in deciding what to wear each day. My mind has less items to deal with and is better able (with more fuel) to tackle the challenging and more fruitful decisions of the day.
Again, the brain is like a tank that’s full in the morning, and every decision seeps a bit of the fuel it has for the day’s tasks, so leaving a good amount of that for the ‘difference making’ decisions of the day will — over time — make for significant improvements in your life — and when it’s said and done, when I leave this world, the whoever will be reading my life’s story will not say what clothes I wore but the impact I had on the earth and the world.
Clothes don’t make the man — unknown.
4. I wear 2 socks to cushion my walk.
This is weird for some, but that’s what works for me. See, I’m a big walker — I like to take walks from time to time to give me a chance to clear my head. Also, sometimes walking gives me a chance to take my ideas out on the walk and process them, and that’s when I often see the flaws in them and take steps to correct them.
So having 2 socks on cushions my gait and that directly runs up my spine all the way to my head in terms of the relief I feel from the pressure it takes off my soles. The same idea is behind the manufacture of Dr. Scholls shoes. Plus, you can’t value the benefit my body gets from the physical movement.
5. I carry a notebook in my bag
Piggy backing on the my practice of walking, I strive to carry a notebook with me at all times. Why? When ideas hit, I catch them, and you know they can hit at anytime.
When I’m out and about, during the day, I find pockets of time every now and then, and instead of doing nothing or surfing my phone, I read and write. I do this at the airports, coffee shops, on bus, the train, and while sitting in the grass when I go out for a walk. During this time, it’s just me and the ideas in the book, and I think about how to apply them, and flesh them out, or add more to them.
Also, when I look at things around me, I scan them mentally and search for connections that may not be apparent to most people and I ask where that connection could be useful in my life or business. This has led to some of the best parts of my books and my articles — and it’s interesting to know that these come simply from being a keen observer.
6. I don’t take calls when I’m engaged
I rarely take calls when I’m out and about or when I’m in the middle of a task. And yes, I know you’ve seen it too — -a lot of other people easily take calls in the middle of things and often easily hold conversations on the phone even when they are out shopping. I can’t do that.
There’s a lot left out if I can’t bring all of me to a task— including my conversations. When I have them, I want to be ‘present.’ The things I say matter, the words I choose mean something, and I know it has an effect on whoever I’m talking to. Plus, my listening skills have to be completely engaged when I’m talking to someone to make the conversation meaningful. 1+1=3.
Even, my observations when I’m walking — require my full attention. I know ideas will come to me, and I want to be ready when they do. When I’m working on a task or a project, I bring my full focus, too. And I don’t want my focus to be broken by seemingly ‘urgent things,’ screaming for my attention.
Sometimes being in the ‘zone’ is all you need to excel, and distractions keep you from getting there, if you let them. This is what some people call ‘deep work,’ and that is where you get real gems in terms of ideas, insights, memories, and mental connections. And because it takes a while to get into that deep work zone, you’ll have difficulty getting back into it after getting out of it when you take a call in the middle of it.
7. I meditate — in bed and early in the morning.
Sometimes I do this before I pray, and sometimes after I pray. But meditation is key in all I do. It simplifies the day for me. How? When I’m in bed before I get up, I visualize what the day could look like — I try to see the details of it, the people I will encounter, what I could do, say, or create — like what articles I will write, what thoughts I need to work on, what designs to add to my products. With all these, I imagine my responses to them, and see how I could improve them, if they are lacking in any way in quality.
And this is where the saying all things are created twice is true because God gives me a blank slate anytime I get a new day — tomorrow is in the tomb and done with, faults and all — and I have the power to ‘sculpt’ a completely new day based on how I want it to look like — and the first creation is in my head. The second is during the day.
This is invigorating for me. I can even see the chapters of a book in my head before I sit to write it out. This makes the writing process easier. What if I wait till I’m sitting in front of the blank page before I start thinking? Not much will happen.
So, if I don’t don’t meditate before my day, anything goes, anything happens, and that means I’m not in control. If I’m not in control of my day, how can I control my life, knowing that my lifetime is nothing but a collection of days?
8. I check the net for a coupon code before I buy something online.
This is a key point in business, and in life itself. Business is broken is broken down in this simple equation:
Revenue s— expenses= Profit.
And this equation is only true if revenues are greater than expenses. Other wise, you have a loss. So being mindful of expense are key to turning a profit.
So anything that will save me some cash when I have to take out money and spend is always in the right direction. This is where coupons and discounts come in. And keep in mind, you can’t always do this, but when you can, take it — there’s no shame or blame in that.
The benefits? This has saved me money from time to time, and left me with a lot more than I would have without using a coupon code. For example, I used a coupon code to save me 5 months worth of subscription payments when I signed up to use Digital Ocean. I have also asked for a discount for a website hosting company and gotten 6 months of free hosting! Ask and you shall…you know it.
Also, sometimes, before I make a purchase, I take a few minutes to call the company first to see if they are running a promotion before I finish the transaction. When I was about to sign up for a Wework membership ( Wework is a co-working), for example, I called and found out they had a discount that applied to me, and that saved me a bit of change off my first month’s subscription. And if you forgot about a membership you signed up for and will like to know how to get your money back, read about my experience.
9. I often don’t watch live events
Like Floyd Mayweather’s recent fight with Conor Mcgregor. Why? Live events are often available soon after on Youtube, and I can always catch it later; Or not at all.
Live events scream at you — you have to watch it, or else? That’s just promotion. Keep calm and soon the results will be out, and you will be the better for not having watched it — and you will have spent the time doing something more productive. There are exceptions, of course, based on what you are passionate about — but the general rule of not getting caught up in the promotion is healthier for the mind.
10. Coming full circle: I don’t have a television set.
Like I said in the beginning, in addition to the tendency of most television shows to numb your mind, TV does not help me much in anyway.
To actually watch things, I’d prefer Youtube. Why? because I can control the message. I get to choose what I watch. No so with television. The TV station chooses the shows, the ads, the programs, and how long it should last. They don’t care ‘really’ about the audience — save for a few that I like when I do sit to watch: Animal planet, National Geographic, History and the Discovery Channel.
Time is currency
A man — Dr. Mike Murdock, founder of the Wisdom Center in Fort Worth, Texas — once said this, and it has stayed with me:
The US uses the dollar, England the pound, Europe the euro, Mexico the peso…but the currency on earth, that everyone has access to is time…and everyone has an equal chance to use it to help themselves.
Be mindful of yours.
Like I said in the beginning, minimalism has saved me a bunch and could do the same for you, if you feel like it’s a path you’d like to try out.
If so, start with little steps, baby steps, and build up slowly as you begin to appreciate the benefits. That will make your progress easier, and you will be amazed at the gains you will come up with. All the best!