Technology and the internet caused too much convenience which ended up in complexity. Just take a look at the average person’s notifications.
How does one person stay across so many things?
They don’t, which is why we have the digital dark ages right now. People’s brains are fried and some of us live like zombies, alive but barely here.
Minimalist habits are a great way to find a new version of Zen.
Here are mine.
The power of focusing on one thing
Humans thought we could do everything.
Multitasking has become the norm in society. I rebel against it. I’m a useless sack of potatoes whenever I try to do more than one thing.
Recently I sat down with my business partner. We’ve experienced a small plateau and our growth halted for a month which was unusual. Then we took the situation back to first principles.
What are we trying to achieve? Less work.
Since starting our business all we’ve done is work like dogs. We’re tired of it. We want some of our week back. So we’re trying to grow revenue to hire a team of freelancers to do most of our work for us.
One project I took on was to migrate us from Teachable to education platform Kajabi. We’d save about 5% per transaction if we made the move. The trouble is our goal isn’t to save 5%. No. It’s to make 200% more.
As silly as this sounds we realized we were focused on the wrong things.
What will get us the 200% growth is having an annual membership offer for our business. We know that because our research and customer data tell us.
So we all have to do is execute on this one goal and not get distracted by everything else, and we’ll achieve what we’ve set out to do. Already, we’ve seen a decent uplift in progress since we made this the only thing we’ll work on for the next 6 months.
That’s what focus does. It’s magic. It compounds everything you’re doing.
But you’ve gotta go full monk mode and get the heck away from all the small daily crap that gets you nowhere.
One goal only.
I’ve made a small fortune this year and I’m not that smart.
I set up automated transactions to occur every month to invest in my favorite stocks. Once it’s set up you just let it run. This small habit has funneled a decent amount of money into the market.
That portfolio is already up 20% this year in rough conditions.
Even cooler, the portfolio pays me a regular dividend which automatically gets reinvested into buying more stocks. The compound setup of this minimalist investing strategy we’ll make my family a fortune over 5 years.
When prices of stocks go up and down I don’t care. I don’t make a decision on when to invest and I have no clue what the prices are. I also don’t need to decide what stocks to invest in. I did the homework and automated it.
Automate your investing. Financial freedom creates Zen.
Gmail filters for a clear inbox
I migrated from crappy Microsoft Outlook to Gmail this year.
A feature I’ve used the hell out of is filters. I have them set up for all different types of emails. When I wake up each day my inbox is clutter free.
If I want to dive into the weeds then I can select a folder based on a topic and my headspace. There’s something about inbox zero and the little graphic google shows when there are no emails that’s magic.
Don’t accept a full-time job as an email sorter.
Filter emails. Put newsletters in their own folder. Unsubscribe from crap. Block spammers. And get a virtual assistant to manage your inbox if you want to go a further 10 levels up the Zen ladder to peacefulness.
Try zero work on the weekends
I love to work.
When I had a job I’d write on my days off. Now I write full-time. The problem is it’s easy to overwork.
A creative brain needs:
- And time away from work
Most weekends I don’t work anymore. I check email once on Saturday morning and then don’t open my inbox until Monday. The sense of peace it has brought me is hard to describe. I just feel so light by Monday morning.
Truly disconnect from work on weekends.
Online writing to books
The internet is so damn noisy.
There is trash everywhere. People want to start fights with you or piss all over your peace and quiet. The quality of “content” is at an all-time low too. Old mate ChatGPT is doing more and more of the writing — and it shows.
I’ve fled back to Zen. I now have my iPad Kindle loaded up with books and it’s not connected to the internet. This is where I go to read right now.
Traditional books are far more edited and refined than some teenager’s self-improvement post about cold showers at 2 AM while wearing blue light glasses and chugging magic gym water inside of a hyperbaric chamber.
Read more books.
Declutter your phone
A phone is another place dreams go to die.
As soon as my baby daughter sees my phone, her eyes light up like a man addicted to crack who’s about to get a hit. She’s not allowed to touch a phone, and she gets zero screen time as a rule.
Phones are making us stupid.
We’ve outsourced our brains to Silicon Valley tech bros — and it shows. I use my phone to get calls and send old fashion SMS text messages. I don’t use it for any social media, and all notifications are turned off.
I’m crazy about installing apps too.
The more apps the more of my time is spent on the phone. I don’t need the phone, the phone needs me. And she ain’t marrying me, sorry Siri.
Turn your phone onto black and white mode. Delete everything on it but family and the camera app. Use it for the phone and try to do everything else on a desktop or laptop.
This level of discipline is how you feel Zen again.
Kids instead of Netflix
TV shows are addictive. And I love TV.
In primary school we had to do an experiment. The teacher wanted us to record how much TV we watched every day.
I told the truth and recorded everything. I had the highest TV usage in my class of more than 8 hours every day.
“No wonder you do no homework Timmy boy.”
So I’m programmed to watch TV. I secretly love it. The simple reframe I use when the temptation arises is “Could I use this time to be with my daughter?”
The answer is always yes, so I go do that.
Time with her makes me nostalgic, and it’s those memories that will last a lifetime compared to the trashy Netflix stories I’ll forget in a week.
Less tv, more family.
Make the default less, not more
Let’s finish here.
My whole minimalist habit routine is built around the idea of less, not more. It’s the same framework I apply to my finances.
Our brain tells us more equals better, but it doesn’t. The more stuff you buy the more unhappy you become. The same as the more stuff you try and do the more depressed and unconscious you become.
Trade more for less. It’s the secret to the good life.