Minimalism, Doritos and Heidi Klum

 

One of the most overlooked and understated benefits of minimalism is the sense of clarity and ability to focus that is granted to its practitioners.

I’m fortunate in that I absolutely love what I do, but because of this I also spend a whole lot of time doing it. Like, a LOT of time.

When I was running my branding studio out in LA, I was clocking in well over 100 hours per week, and that was just the time I considered work…there were many aspects of my job that I enjoyed so much I didn’t even think to charge for them.

And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you enjoy something, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do it just because the cultural standard says that work is bad and doing nothing is good. That’s not how I roll, so the cultural standard can suck it.

I did have one big problem with this situation, though, and it was significant enough to push me toward becoming a minimalist and changing the way I do business.

I hesitate to write it, because it’s a problem so terrible I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, but here goes: I wasn’t able to keep up with Project Runway. Hell, I didn’t even know who was kicked off 3 episodes prior. It was a serious issue.

I’m not a TV person…I haven’t owned a ‘stupid box’ for about 6 years, and in that time I haven’t missed it one bit.

I do, however, try to keep up with pop culture and what’s going on in the entertainment/marketing/pop culture world, and to do this I need to be up on what people are paying attention to. In order to achieve this, I make it a point to always be watching one TV show. I’ll go online and find old seasons and episodes and slowly whittle my way through the stack. It’s amazing how many popular culture references I was making with no idea where they came from. I was learning.

Along the way, there were a few shows that jumped out at me and hung on, and Project Runway was one such show. It has been a consistent source of entertainment since I started keeping up with it a few years ago, and after a productive day of drawing pretty pictures, coffee meetings and reading for a few hours, I’d grab a bag of Doritos and plop myself down in front of my computer, eagerly anticipating the bold style decisions that would soon bedazzle me.

At some point along the way, though, I got lost on my path to faux fashionista fulfillment. The shows weren’t able to hold my attention. The Doritos didn’t taste so cheesy. Something was up.

After a bit of deep thought and anxious glances at my untouched bag of tortilla-goodness, I realized that the problem wasn’t with the show or the snack, it was with me. I was distracted; so distracted, in fact, that it was starting to affect my sleep, my relationships and my stress levels.

I was becoming more and more successful, but along with the success came an ever-increasing level of tension that I couldn’t shake. There was always some little concern nagging at me from the back of my mind, and I wasn’t able to relax or focus. Something had to be done.

My Minimalist Solution

I stumbled across minimalism accidentally.

There was a striped polo shirt in my dresser that I had been sitting there for months, unworn. Every once in a while I would put it on in the morning, fully intending to wear it for the day, but before I would finish breakfast I would have my fill of ol’ stripy and I’d head upstairs to change. I don’t know if it was the fact that it was too short or the fact that it’s hard to pull off horizontal stripes even on a good day, but something about that shirt on me didn’t mesh.

So I did something drastic: I got rid of it. Or rather, I prepared to get rid of it.

I took that striped polo and threw it on the floor next to the dresser. I immediately got an incredible sense of clarity an empowerment. ‘That shirt is no longer my responsibility…I’ve washed my hands of it! Maychance I could partake in even MORE fruitful culling of my under-utilized frockery to prolong and enhance this feeling?’

And I did.

A mere thirty-minutes later, I had ransacked my wardrobe, pulling out any subpar pant or superfluous sock within range. I snagged a trash bag from the kitchen and filled it to the brim with unnecessary clothing. And then I filled another. By the time I had made it to the closet I had filled 4 trash bags with clothing that I hadn’t worn in a good long while.

I. Felt. Amazing. I could concentrate! Relax! I sat down in front of the computer, opened up a fresh bag of Doritos and let the artificially-amplified drama of reality TV wash over me like a warm, friendly tide.

After this brief hiatus into TV land I had an amazingly productive and happy day. I slept better than I had in over a year, and all the little things in the back of my mind were easily muffled until they could be sorted out and handled.

It was at this point that I started to consider minimalism as a key component of my philosophy.

If getting rid of excess clothing could have such a dramatic impact on my mood and the responsiveness of my brain, what would happen if I gave all of my possessions the same once-over? There was only one way to find out.

My Minimalist Business

Fast forward to now and I’m a minimalist heart and soul.

I’ve come to realize that the very things that we buy to help us deal with problems and free up time actually add to our mental clutter and take up more time in the end (not to mention the resources they eat up).

The impact that minimalism has had on my life AND my business has been immense, drastically increasing the quality and quantity of my free time, while at the same time increasing the amount of money I make (while substantially decreasing the number of hours I work per week).

My businesses all have zero overhead and are slowly evolving into more passive forms of income. Because of the simplicity of my business structure and lifestyle, I’m able to travel the world and have amazing experiences without worrying about, say, where I parked my car, if an employee will do the work they’ve been assigned or whether or not I’ll be able to earn enough money to make it through the month.

When you’re able to really, truly focus on what you’re doing, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.

Even if your only goal is to eat chips and watch Heidi Klum.

43 comments

  1. I’ve never been someone who has owned a lot of stuff so I’ve always been a minimalist to some extent, but only in the physical world. In the online world, it was nothing but excess! Talk about distracted. So many feeds, so many emails, so many websites, so many social networks, so many IMs, so many people. I was completely swamped just trying to keep up with what was going on.

    In the same way you ditched the striped shirt, I started ditching most of my information and since I’ve done that I’ve felt lighter than ever.

    For me, though, the major benefit of minimalism, whether it’s physical or virtual, is that it really does get rid of all the distractions so that you’re able to see what your priorities are and to create focused strategies to achieve your goals.

    Loved this post!

  2. I’ve never been someone who has owned a lot of stuff so I’ve always been a minimalist to some extent, but only in the physical world. In the online world, it was nothing but excess! Talk about distracted. So many feeds, so many emails, so many websites, so many social networks, so many IMs, so many people. I was completely swamped just trying to keep up with what was going on.

    In the same way you ditched the striped shirt, I started ditching most of my information and since I’ve done that I’ve felt lighter than ever.

    For me, though, the major benefit of minimalism, whether it’s physical or virtual, is that it really does get rid of all the distractions so that you’re able to see what your priorities are and to create focused strategies to achieve your goals.

    Loved this post!

  3. “So the Cultural standard can suck it”

    haha, love it.

    I did a similar thing about 2 months ago where I just went through everything in my closet and got rid of about half of it. I still have way more stuff than I need, but at least I’m not overwhelmed with it as I was before.

  4. “So the Cultural standard can suck it”

    haha, love it.

    I did a similar thing about 2 months ago where I just went through everything in my closet and got rid of about half of it. I still have way more stuff than I need, but at least I’m not overwhelmed with it as I was before.

  5. Getting rid of stuff is so freeing.

    It makes me happy to hear that you found this out.

    Have you ever seen the movie _I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!_? There’s a scene where Peter Sellers realizes that he doesn’t need stuff and he starts throwing all of his stuff out of the window of his car (where he was living). Lots of humorous self-discovery in that movie.

  6. Getting rid of stuff is so freeing.

    It makes me happy to hear that you found this out.

    Have you ever seen the movie _I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!_? There’s a scene where Peter Sellers realizes that he doesn’t need stuff and he starts throwing all of his stuff out of the window of his car (where he was living). Lots of humorous self-discovery in that movie.

  7. Mine has been a slow, but progressive path. I’ve never been one to have much in the first place, but when I get rid of things, I can literally feel my mood improve.

    It’s been so addicting that I go through everything I own at least a few times a year and give away anything non essential.

    Lately I’ve found something new to get rid of almost every day.

    If I ever join the “50 things” club, it will be entirely by accident, but I can see it happening.

  8. Mine has been a slow, but progressive path. I’ve never been one to have much in the first place, but when I get rid of things, I can literally feel my mood improve.

    It’s been so addicting that I go through everything I own at least a few times a year and give away anything non essential.

    Lately I’ve found something new to get rid of almost every day.

    If I ever join the “50 things” club, it will be entirely by accident, but I can see it happening.

  9. One of your best posts ever! I loved this – so much so that I am going to go ransack my closet because lately I have been freaking out with too much ‘clutter’ and having a hell of a time working at home… so much so I go to coffee shops to escape my own house. The less I own – the better this would get I bet. Thanks this is awesome :)

  10. Simply put, this post rocks. My favorite line: “That’s not how I roll, so the cultural standard can suck it.” I only wish I would have said it :)

  11. One of your best posts ever! I loved this – so much so that I am going to go ransack my closet because lately I have been freaking out with too much ‘clutter’ and having a hell of a time working at home… so much so I go to coffee shops to escape my own house. The less I own – the better this would get I bet. Thanks this is awesome :)

  12. Simply put, this post rocks. My favorite line: “That’s not how I roll, so the cultural standard can suck it.” I only wish I would have said it :)

  13. “(…) the cultural standard says that work is bad and doing nothing is good.” – Hmm, in which culture exactly? Probably not the contemporary Western one, or am I missing something? If you say you don’t like to work around the EU, the governments and most of your neighbors will want to lynch you.

    Anyway, your minimalist journey is really impressive and as an idler I’m personally very happy you don’t keep on working 100 hours a week! :)

  14. “(…) the cultural standard says that work is bad and doing nothing is good.” – Hmm, in which culture exactly? Probably not the contemporary Western one, or am I missing something? If you say you don’t like to work around the EU, the governments and most of your neighbors will want to lynch you.

    Anyway, your minimalist journey is really impressive and as an idler I’m personally very happy you don’t keep on working 100 hours a week! :)

  15. Great post. I too have discovered the power of minimalism and love the clarity and focus it reaps. Question tho – do you outsource anything? And I’d so how do u feel this impacts your minimalist mindset?

  16. Great post. I too have discovered the power of minimalism and love the clarity and focus it reaps. Question tho – do you outsource anything? And I’d so how do u feel this impacts your minimalist mindset?

  17. This is funny because I was just logged on facebook (which always makes me feel somewhat jealous for some reason) and saw an old classmate’s (who needs class reunions when you have facebook? pah!) status mentioning that her husband is cranky because he hasn’t gotten his precious flat screen tv yet. I’m glad you’re not one of those guys that needs his precious flat screen tv. Beautiful coming undone process you have! I like it.

  18. This is funny because I was just logged on facebook (which always makes me feel somewhat jealous for some reason) and saw an old classmate’s (who needs class reunions when you have facebook? pah!) status mentioning that her husband is cranky because he hasn’t gotten his precious flat screen tv yet. I’m glad you’re not one of those guys that needs his precious flat screen tv. Beautiful coming undone process you have! I like it.

  19. Getting rid of the clutter is liberating! The first few items are a bit awkward and painful but once you start it’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it? I managed to get rid of a whole house of big furniture and loads of clutter and “stuff”, though I still feel like I am holding on to more than I really need to. Posts like these encourage me to keep on down-sizing and trying to work out what really matters.

  20. Getting rid of the clutter is liberating! The first few items are a bit awkward and painful but once you start it’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it? I managed to get rid of a whole house of big furniture and loads of clutter and “stuff”, though I still feel like I am holding on to more than I really need to. Posts like these encourage me to keep on down-sizing and trying to work out what really matters.

  21. This reminds me of the first day that I went through my clothing and in about an hour eliminated 1/3 of it. Since then I’ve whittled it down even more. Such a great feeling!

    Really cool post, and long live minimalism!

  22. This reminds me of the first day that I went through my clothing and in about an hour eliminated 1/3 of it. Since then I’ve whittled it down even more. Such a great feeling!

    Really cool post, and long live minimalism!

  23. It blows my mind how much clutter and all the crap we have in our lives keeps us from getting our work done. As far as focus, I’m a person with ADHD and so I get focus in spurts of time. But I realized if I do all my work in during one of those spurts I can literally get everything I need to done in roughly 2-3 hours a day. It’s kind of crazy, but if you work while you are “in the zone” then you can produce 10 times the amount of work and maintain quality.

  24. It blows my mind how much clutter and all the crap we have in our lives keeps us from getting our work done. As far as focus, I’m a person with ADHD and so I get focus in spurts of time. But I realized if I do all my work in during one of those spurts I can literally get everything I need to done in roughly 2-3 hours a day. It’s kind of crazy, but if you work while you are “in the zone” then you can produce 10 times the amount of work and maintain quality.

  25. @Srinivas that statement is so true and it’s not just applicable to people with ADHD. But, making a practice of turning off distractions and focusing 100% on the task at hand is a productivity “secret” that many don’t take seriously enough.

  26. @Srinivas that statement is so true and it’s not just applicable to people with ADHD. But, making a practice of turning off distractions and focusing 100% on the task at hand is a productivity “secret” that many don’t take seriously enough.

  27. You are one awesome guy Colin. *sigh* minimalism is not for everybody. I still have letters and notebooks from high school, birthday cards 10 yrs old, my first baby wrap over[mom kept it to give me..now you know where I inherited my pack-rat genes from]. But I’m inspired..to let go of some more of the clutter!

  28. You are one awesome guy Colin. *sigh* minimalism is not for everybody. I still have letters and notebooks from high school, birthday cards 10 yrs old, my first baby wrap over[mom kept it to give me..now you know where I inherited my pack-rat genes from]. But I’m inspired..to let go of some more of the clutter!

  29. Minimalism is the way to go. I recently have been transitioning to a minimalistic lifestyle.

    It was always there on the tip of my tongue. All I needed as my laptop and friends so when I looked around my room and saw all that I’ve amassed over the years, I said ‘enough’.

    I recently sold nearly all of my items. I guess, in some ways, it’s a bit hippyish but I earned a nice chunk of money which I’m using to visit friends more often and going on a vacation very shortly.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is you don’t need all these items surrounding you. Start getting rid of things you haven’t used in months – if you really need it you can always buy it back.

  30. Minimalism is the way to go. I recently have been transitioning to a minimalistic lifestyle.

    It was always there on the tip of my tongue. All I needed as my laptop and friends so when I looked around my room and saw all that I’ve amassed over the years, I said ‘enough’.

    I recently sold nearly all of my items. I guess, in some ways, it’s a bit hippyish but I earned a nice chunk of money which I’m using to visit friends more often and going on a vacation very shortly.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is you don’t need all these items surrounding you. Start getting rid of things you haven’t used in months – if you really need it you can always buy it back.

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  34. I’ve thought a lot about this lately, discarding everything that prevents me from reaching my goal. It’s going to be tough and may bruise a few feelings but I think I’m finally ready to make the step.

  35. Shit. You are cute. Sorry – but I’ve been trolling the net all night and I’m getting that dazed/lonely kind of feeling. Living on the net and not in real life kind of feeling. Not good. Always puts me in a yearning, romantic sort of mood. Oh boy, what a wierdo. Me, not you. Time to go to sleep.

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