Intentional: (adjective) done on purpose, deliberate
It seems that many times we start projects or have great ideas, we find it hard to follow through and see whatever it is we’re doing to completion. Maybe there is a good reason to put off or entirely halt something, especially if it is not a priority.
But what if it is a priority? What if a new idea will bring you joy? What are we going to miss out on? It seems like we can find examples of this dilemma anywhere: there are a lot of great ideas, but for a myriad of reasons (or excuses), we don’t see those ideas to fruition.
Minimalism can bring us closer to achieving our goals – no matter how high or low on the totem pole those goals are. When I began my journey to living as a minimalist, one of my primary motivators was that I spent so much time working on a bunch of little tasks that would never be fully completed and I did not enough time focusing on what would make me content.
Feeling bogged down by a bunch of low priority items on my “to-do” list, I knew I needed to make a change in my perspective in order to accomplish what would be empowering and make a difference in my life. Minimalism helped me sort my goals from my tasks, creating a vision for how I wanted to proceed with my life. Before I became a minimalist, I was not intentional about making time for things that made me happy; running, exploring, even having downtime seemed always slightly out of reach. Either I compromised on my agenda to fit in a run here or there, or I simply didn’t run – feeling frustrated that I tied myself into this mess.
Minimalism helps me keep the menial tasks at bay. Sure, there are little “housekeeping” jobs that need to be done, but I am no longer caught up in a cycle of writing and checking off those jobs.
So how did I make the switch?
First, I ditched the spiral-bound planner all together. I knew my competitive streak would wear me down if I felt like I needed to fill out every single line in that booklet’s pre-designed pages. I resolved to stick with my wall calendar and a simple mini notebook or bullet journal.
Second, I began to write two lists: one for the week and one for my day. Every week, usually on Sunday or Monday, I check my calendar for upcoming bills, deadlines, or events and write my weekly list. Then, based on the order of priority, only those items get redistributed each morning to my daily list. I found that limiting my list to two or three items that could be done anytime during the day, I opened my schedule to fit activities that make me happy. I add those activities to my list too.
My list every day looks something like this:
- pay phone bill
- vacuum/dust room
- mail letter
Third, I identified areas in my life that I spent more than enough time on in order to prioritize my goals and remain intentional about reaching them. I already knew that my health and exercise come in high on the list, but what else was important? Traveling, learning a foreign language, and spending more time learning tasty recipes, among other things. I singled out these activities and brainstormed ways I could fit them into my schedule.
When I simplify my life, I simplify my stuff, my calendar, my list of priorities. Since reconstructing the way I schedule my day-to-day tasks, I have found time to invest in my health, relax after work, and accomplish some goals without needing to worry that my furniture needs dusting or that my car needs cleaning out.
Before adopting a minimalist lifestyle, I fell into the routine of stocking my daily to-do list with way too many tasks. I wanted the gratification of completing the list, but I wanted it instantly, and forgot to consider how long it would take me to actually complete the list. I burned out. There was no intentional planning of my list to compensate for reality: oh yeah, that wash cycle will take fifteen extra minutes/ oops, I forgot to get gas so I need to do that first. Now, armed with my tried-and-true new planning strategy, I can roll with the pop-up tasks and still have time to pursue my goals. Pass it on!