You cleared hundreds of unworn clothes that once resided in your closet. You left boxes of your books at the secondhand bookstore’s doorstep. You finally threw away that stack of amateurish poetry you wrote in college— the ones you hoped your future kids would read in awe.
You’re no longer bringing home an ocean of bric-à-brac that your life doesn’t need. You’re also wearing either black, white, or neutral colors from your 15-items collection to work these days. And now you’re standing in your bare, austere-chic living room with a cup of coffee in your hand.
You’re officially a minimalist.
Or so you thought.
The act of minimizing in gaining clarity, freedom, and happiness doesn’t only apply to rid tangible, everyday objects per se. Reducing the number of material things from your workspace or living quarters isn’t enough to get you to by in attaining maximum zen. To equate minimalist living with the conscious habit of decluttering accumulated possessions, in fact, is only skimming the surface of the philosophy.
So what else holds?
There’s no point in basking in all spartan glory if your cognition is as chaotic as the pre-KonMari closet you once had. Part of the reason why mental clutter happens is the distraction that comes from the device in our pocket. A study suggests that even the mere presence of the smartphone can put the brain in a state of chaos. Being in a permanently-wired position—with the risks of running into the comparison trap and feeling digitally overwhelmed— is enough to tamper with your efforts in maintaining real minimalist habits.
Moreover, there’s an actual heap of electronic mess you need to consider:
How many promo emails did you empty into the storage bin today? When was the last time you deleted a hundred photos you took of your cat sleeping belly-up? How many random accounts did you pursue on social media this week for the sake of boosting your follow-back numbers?
If you have no definite answer to these questions, then there’s a higher chance that your brain is overwhelmed with digital clutter and excessive engagement. Just like how amassed physical stuff can lead to stress and anxiety, the constant bombing of clicks and pings in your tech-driven daily life is enough to cost your sanity.
However, before you spring clean the digital junk that you’ve created and collected over time, you may want to go on an unplug challenge to test your commitment. For starters, it’s best to give yourself a few days to complete this digital detox that calls for gradual disconnection from your favorite device.
You may hold onto your phone just yet. But once you’re ready, here are 3 things you can do to kickstart your journey to full minimalist immersion:
No social media (or even emails)
You may not want to quit cold-turkey on these two daily digital essentials because doing so may give a shock to your system. You can set aside a couple of hours in a day instead and make a point not to succumb to curiosity about what others are up to online. Allow yourself to send emails or share your quiet breakfast moment via story in the morning. But anytime after lunch, or best yet, a couple of hours before hitting the sack, is a no go for anything electronic. You may notice that you suddenly have ample available time that allows for other activities outside of the digital realm.
Unfollow or unfriend
As you’re scrolling down your social media feeds, you may realize that you have no idea who these people are, and yet you take notice of their posts regardless. At one point in time, you’ve probably accepted their friend request without thinking, or you’ve blindly followed any accounts that may remotely take an interest in following you back. Treat this task as if you’re emptying your crowded email. Only allow your mind to take in content that you genuinely are invested in from people that inspire you to be your best.
Go out without your phone
In this day and age, our perception of certainty relies heavily on having a phone in hand. There’s Uber for the ride home when your car has broken down. And nobody can use the ‘I got lost’ excuse anymore when there’s Google Maps. Having spent 4 hours and 30 minutes on average per day on this mobile device, the best thing you can do is to run for groceries or head to the gym without it in hand. And if you need to find anybody in the crowd or some ad hoc info, you can start developing your intuition as a reliable compass instead.