Goal of minimalism is clarity, peace and mindfulness. Thus, extraordinary productivity.

Minimalism is fundamentally a materialistic concept. A “less is more” type of philosophy focusing on minimizing your needs and requirement to lead the highly functional life. But it isn’t all about materialistic reduction or optimizing resources and saving a lot of money through it. The materialistic benefit is the by-product of minimalism.

Recently I got a huge paradigm shift about minimalism. I like to see it as a philosophy rather than a concept. It is more about mental than material. Reducing the needs,  primarily not reducing on things you use.

On first look, it may appear all-materialistic approach, but it is not. Later you’ll understand it is all about “letting go” of things you believe you want or need to live or just to perform day to day. Clinging less to materials and make yourself wander more freely. In both mental and physical aspect.

Mental minimalism.

I don’t even know whether the phrase “mental minimalism” exists. It is just extending materialistic version of minimalism to the mental side for greater benefits. Greater productivity.

Eliminating and reducing is a minimalism process. For mental minimalism…

Eliminating the options. Fewer things mean, fewer options to choose. The choice is a conscious decision. 90 to 95 % of the things we do day to day basis are done with our subconscious. Will power and decision-making power (cognitive resource) are very limited, thus; precious resource. Instead of wasting it in choosing trivial things, one can use those conscious decisions in the critical areas of life.

Decision making is a discussion between your emotional mind and intelligent mind. Reducing ‘things’ opens the room to discuss somewhat better elements that moves you to the next level.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eliminating the distractions. The plain environment reduces or nullifies the distraction to aid your focus on the work at hand. Everything we see, we hear will kindle a string of thought in our brain. When you focus, all the strings in the thought thread is together and works towards solving one problem or different branches of the same problem. Whichever object that sets a new string that is entirely not relevant to the current focus is a distraction. It is somewhat easy to eliminate unlike ‘triggers’.

Eliminating the triggers. It is similar to a distraction. But it will take you somewhere else. Most of the time it is because the object is bound with emotional memories or it may kindle an emotional memory in your brain. When I say emotion, it includes fear, joy even infatuations.

The difference between ‘distraction’ and ‘trigger’ is; the hurdles or small hiccup in the thought process is a distraction, sometimes it ends up with a deviation from the actual intended path of thinking (maybe towards a finding a solution) and comes back to the track when you realise it. The triggers, on the other hand, it will set you in the path which is unintentional leaving the path you wanted or planned to take afore the ‘trigger’. Mostly this triggers act just before you start your work.

In short, distraction is a hindrance in the flow, whereas the trigger sets you in a different but unintentional path to flow.

To explain with an example, when you see a bill(invoice or something) on your table which has a deadline today. You take a moment to pay the bill online and resume back to work you were at is a ‘distraction’.

In another case, when you see the same bill and the bill amount is not making you comfortable, so you check it and check your bank balance, then you got worried about your financial state, then started to work on a plan on how to reduce your spending and it goes on. Now you forgot the work you were in, now carried away in a different path. Now the same bill becomes a ‘trigger’.

Any object or an event comes to your attention can be your distraction or trigger. So, minimize the things that come to your attention, limit the problems you take up to solve. Let go of other things. Make your intelligent mind dominate your emotional mind while you face triggers (if not all the time, at least during focussed work).

Eliminating unwanted influence. A general view on minimalism paves on spending less (time and money) with things and utilizing more time with people. Even the idea of digital minimalism supports that view.

I suppose there are no authentic guidelines for minimalism, so I take the liberty to set my own.

I am not concerned about how many people I meet or how many friends I have. But I am concerned about the influence they have in my thoughts and decision. This is entirely a different topic which I want to cover later in Alvistor.

You can’t totally eliminate the influence. Yet, reducing the influence of the outer world to help you to go deep into thyself.

What I propose is, be strong to eliminate the influence of others. If it is so much hard for you, then, reduce spending time with others or minimizing the interactions to preserve oneself if you find the other person is too much influencing. Whether it is a good or bad influence, I don’t want to argue on that. It’s up to you.

We are the sum of all the people we have ever met

Dirk Wittenborn

For those who in the position to work with a lot of people, I suggest making a habit of regularly spending at least 5 minutes a day to self reflect your own thoughts. Where it came from, who planted the thought, etc, etc. In other words, it is called “Meditation”.

Remember, any advice is an option to consider.

You may fail sometimes if you are on your own. But you definitely grow in the mental solitude. I am not talking about lone-wolf kind of life. Fair warning, this may not fit for all.

We are the sum total of our experiences.

B.J. Neblett

Mental Minimalism = Mental Clarity

How this mental minimalism works or benefits with greater productivity?

Clarity reduces confusion. Let you know what to do next with what. Gives mental space to fiddle with new ideas rather than shrinking with trivia.

Focusing more on meaningful ideas and thinking rather than sticking with things and meaningless choices and silly thoughts.

The clear mind rejects the urge to solve the unwanted problems. Reduces the number of projects you take up at a given time. Investing your energy on tasks which have to be done in the first place.

for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Paerto Principle

Invest your precious energy in that 20 % area with the limited attention span you have got.

Reducing the number of areas to think will let you think deeper in one area (which is now you at). The growth will be more vertical rather than spent wasted horizontally. I understand horizontal growth is also important, but too much is horizontal is no growth.

Even though you consider the wider scope, but the minimal scope and good focus will help you to aim sharper and go longer.

If you add something to your mind, it should make you worry less or lessen your worry/confusion. It should not add up to the worries or things you need to eliminate already. Minimal things mean, minimal effort to maintain them. As like materialistic minimalism, minimal thoughts reduces the effort to keep you calm and clear.

Finally, I wish everyone, More mindful, meaningful, peaceful mind. Feel more heart full rather than feeling tangibles and temporary emotional gratifications.

About the author

Sakthitharan Subramanian

Professor by Profession | Thinker by Passion | Researcher by Mission | Mentoring & Trainer by Vocation | LIke to code | Productivity Enthusiast | Loves Minimalism & Philosophy | PhD in Computer Science |