Essentialism: Decluttering Your Life

You want to live a stress free life? Embrace Essentialism. You have limited time – only give attention to what’s really important. Have you heard the story of golf balls in a jar? If you haven’t, I quoted it below:

A Professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the Professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The Professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The Professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the space between the grains of sand.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else -the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. “Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.” One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The Professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

ESSENTIALISM – living with the bare minimum

Let go of stuffs you never used in the last 12 months. Pass them on to family members not living with you. Clothes, gadgets, appliances, and what’s not. By statistics, we only wear 20% of the clothes in our wardrobe. Reduce, and give away the excess. Some notable personalities wear the same color of clothes everyday for minimalism.

Organize Your Working Area & Digital Life
Are you working on a desk? A workstation or cubicle perhaps? Have a place for the essentials and keep them there. Allocate a nearby waste bin and remove the clutter. Clean as you go.

Clean up your mail inbox. Unsubscribe from mailing lists you don’t have time to read.
Organize mail with folders and tags/labels. Scan important documents and keep online backups.
Only install the apps / software that you need, it will save your gadget some memory space and make it run faster.

Manage Your Time / Energy
Reduce commitments. You only have 24 hours a day (as with everyone else) and you need ~5 hours of sleep in low average to function properly. That gives you 19 waking hours to divide among your career, family, hobbies, business, friends, church, school, etc. Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity. It states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It means that if you focus on the 20% high ROI inputs, you can get up to 400% production.

Ammend Toxic Relationships
You can either ignore people you hate, or love them. You choose.
You can’t please everyone, but you can love them all.
You can kill haters with kindness.

How do you keep organized and decluttered on the long run? Keep regular self-checks, best to use a dream monitoring journal or an online app (like As you spend time with the people you love, also don’t forget to spend time with yourself – have fun, meditate, pray, be grateful, and enjoy life’s journey.

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