Have you ever sat down to write a list of everything in your life competing for your attention? Demanding mental or physical space?
Dog, cat, baby. Husband. Messy house. Bathroom remodel. Back to work and childcare arrangements. Hair appointment. Oil change and car registration. Bill payments. Social media. Unfinished novel. Local and national politics. Netflix shows, Hulu shows, Amazon shows.
I could probably extend that list onto pages and pages, if we really got down into the nitty-gritty. What about all the things that come with the baby, like diapers and clothes and a breastpump and bottles and books and toys? Or rather than the umbrella term of “social media,” how about the individual social media accounts that I maintain, for both personal interests and my career—multiple Facebook pages, a Twitter account, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
We don’t always think about the mental space that things can occupy. When we talk about minimalism, we often consider only physical objects or physical space. We talk about cutting your wardrobe down to maybe thirty items of clothing. But what about cutting down on less tangible objects?
And how can you pare down some of these very necessary belongings when you start building up a family, a career, a life?
Because here’s the thing. Sometimes the things that matter to you just take up space.
I can’t get rid of my baby’s clothes or diapers. I can’t (and don’t want to) cut down on my social media accounts, because my career excites me and they’re a big part of that. I have to keep toys around for my dog or else he’d chew up our pillows and furniture and pens and anything he could get his paws on.
Yet still I feel this urge to simplify. Reduce. Minimize. I feel most sane when the house is tidy, when our living space is empty of clutter. In fact, not even just clutter. I feel most sane when there is LESS to look at. Full stop.
And I have this compulsive habit of carrying on three different tasks or behaviors at once. I sit down to breastfeed my child, then I turn on the TV, then I scroll through Facebook on my phone. All at the same time.
So how can I simplify in a practical way? How can I clear more space in my mind for the things that matter? How can I separate what is necessary from what is extraneous, what is fulfilling from what is destructive?
I don’t have the answers yet. That’s what 2017 is about for me—sifting through the junk in my life and minimizing where I can.
That’s my resolution for the coming year: simplify.