What is minimalism?
Minimalism is a way of living life with fewer possessions, by thoughtfully choosing which things to allow into your life—and which things to get rid of. This includes the things in your home, office, relationships, food, schedule, downtime activities, and work.
Minimalism isn’t just about owning less (although that is the effect it has). Minimalism is about reassessing your priorities so that you can eliminate the things that don’t bring value to your life. It’s a mindset you use to frame your life so you only let in what’s important.
By deciding if something is absolutely essential to your daily life (or not), you naturally start to eliminate the things that don’t measure up to your standards.
Some people choose to eliminate almost everything they own, while others opt for a less extreme purge.
The natural result of eliminating so many things from your life is more time to focus on fewer things, and this is the magic ingredient when it comes to productivity.
How does minimalism help increase productivity?
Think of it like this:
You have a work task you need to finish so you’ve opened a blank document page in your browser. You have an hour to complete the task and you really need to concentrate. But you also have 15 open tabs behind the document you’re working in.
Suddenly, a little (1) appears on one of those tabs to inform you that you have an email waiting. That’s all it takes. Just one distraction to take your eyes off of your current task will send you down a rabbit hole.
That main document represents our life, and the 15 open tabs represent all of the things that are distracting us. We’ve all left tabs open to remind us of what we need to do next, thinking that it would make us more productive in the long run. But the fact is, getting distracted makes us less effective.
In a study published by the University of Chicago Press, Boyoun (Grace) Chae and Rui (Juliet) Zhu showed that undergraduates who were exposed to a messy office environment were 1.5x less effective at completing difficult tasks compared to undergrads who were exposed to an orderly office before attempting the same tasks.
Every object we interact with in our environment stimulates our mind. We can’t help it. That’s how our brains work.
It’s hard to focus when we’re continually distracted by the things around us.
When we remove the distraction of too many possessions, our environment is more orderly and requires less attention from us. Thus, we become more focused and therefore more productive.
This means that minimalism itself is a productivity tool. When you have a minimalist outlook you remove distractions and keep only the tools that prove to be useful in your life.
Some of the benefits of minimalism that enhance productivity are: