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Monday 12 October 2020

What is minimalism?

Like most of you, I spent the better part of 2020 in my pajamas, wearing the same 4-5 t-shirts throughout the lockdown and wondering about a lot of existential questions. Obviously, after exhausting the whole catalogue of Netflix. 

With an extra 2-3 hours extra per day, thanks to reduction in travelling time - to and fro from work - I was able to dedicate a lot more time to reading. In addition to the usual financial markets stuff, I was forced to read a wide variety of topics just to keep myself engaged. 

To my surprise, one of the topic that stuck started with reading en vogue book of the year by Marie Kondo. Though I also read a lot about the first principles behind it - the Zen way of life, minimalism, meditation and as Po would call it "inner peace". The only one that stuck was Minimalism.

To be fair, we are not monks. We cant renounce stuff and live life like master Oogway. We must take what is good and practical to apply and enrich our life. 

So how do you actually define Minimalism?

First I present you the definitions from the learned ones, and then mine.


Maybe you don’t need to own all this stuff. - Joshua Becker's Neighbor


Minimalism is defined as a design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect. Minimalism had its origins in the arts—with the artwork featuring simple lines, only a few colors, and careful placement of those lines and colors - Andrew Ongaro 


Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom - The Minimalists


It’s a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning.  - Leo Babuta of the Zen Habits

My definition is a derivation from the work of all these masters, and my MBA degree - Dude, its just Pareto Principle. Only 20% is enough to get 80% of the results! While we know this for business world, it is equally applicable in personal world as well.

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Being a certified data nerd, I tried collecting some random samples to test this out

- We have 8 HDMI cables at home but only 2 ports in the TV

- Got 5 suits, but only wear 1 lucky one for all key meetings [not taking questions on this one]

- More than 50% of the contents of the wardrobe were not used in the last 1 year

- iPhone has actually unloaded 35 apps of the total 50+ on due to long-time-no-see

- Don't even remember where do I know from ~500 friends on Facebook

- Not even going to do the same exercise for LinkedIn - already know the results will be worse

... and a lot more 

Certainly begs a question or two?

1) Does it matter - Yes, it does. Believe it or not, most of us are dealing with a cognitive overload. Too many processes running at the same time, leading to less than optimum resources being provided to the essential ones. 

For the same reason you see most influential CEOs always wearing same clothes - less optionality, less cognitive overload for non essential stuff. 

To take an example from your daily life, the famous words of IT helpdesks - did you try restarting it? The simplest solution to complex problems, as it simply shuts down all unnecessary processes that the laptop started in parallel during the day! 

2) What should you do about it - I have no idea, what you should do, but here are some things I am working on

- Start discarding some of my possessions [ideal target is one item per day]
- Reduce stock portfolio to less than 20 stocks
- Try saying no to at least 3 meetings per week
- Reducing time spent / connections on social media 
... and some more

My goal is to try 30 day minimalism game, but that is a very hard one. As of now, I am on baby steps of the process :)

See you next time with more updates! 

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