Becoming a Minimalist

Ever since reading the book Scarcity by Mullainathan & Shafir, I have been conscious of my own bandwidth. Bandwidth is not IQ, but rather, a multiplicative factor on that IQ. The more we are reminded of our financial woes or job insecurity, the more of our brain is processing and re-processing these problems, and not the challenge in front of us. It’s self-defeating, and yet we have no conscious control over it.

While wandering about Harvard Square, I came across two books espousing minimalism. This philosophy argues that the physical stuff that we manage (or fail to manage) takes a toll on our bandwidth as well. This is very believable to me.

The entropy in my own living space is high. I have no functioning file system for the various, occasionally very important mail I get. My desk drawers are roughly divided into “places I put things I want to find again” and “places I put things I don’t want to find again.”

So, I decided to jump on the minimalism bandwagon, starting with my bed room. For inspiration and possibly a little help, I played podcasts about minimalism while I rummaged, sorted, and, most critically, disposed or collected for donation as many of my possessions as possible. Watch out. These podcast folks can come off as holier-than-thou.

After 6 hours of work, my room still basically feels the same. My desktop is still littered with papers. Maybe I’m judging too quickly. I now realize that the real wins, however, may be in my virtual space. I am in fact capable of nearly filling what I thought was a virtually infinite local hard drive. (Yes, MacOS will send you slightly cryptic warning messages.) I have 1 TB of Flash storage. How is this possible? It’s not even movies or photos. MacOS just calls it 768.28 GB of “Other.” Can deleting and organizing my virtual environment be key to clearing my mind? I can only hope.

May 2016 be a minimal one.

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