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Transcript – Beginner’s Guide to Becoming Minimalist (10-Step Minimalism Checklist)
Shawn: Hello BioTrust Nation. We are back for another amazing episode. Thanks for tuning in. And we are going to cover The Minimalism Checklist, and this is an article by Melissa Wilkins, and we love minimalism here. We like clearing away the unneeded stuff, simplifying your life, and then you feel clearer on how to move forward. Clear on how to live a better life. And who doesn’t need more clarity, more simplicity? So, we thought we’d cover this. This is a really good article. And it starts out by saying, “The average home in the US contains about 300,000 items.” What on earth? What are we even doing with all that stuff? But before we get into that, Tim, my co-host—and by the way, I’m Shawn Wells. [laughs]
Tim: Hey, Shawn.
Shawn: And Tim Skwiat, my co-host. He is going to read a review for you.
Tim: Man, that was like a cliffhanger. You put a little tease out there, like “Okay, he’s rushing into things here. I got some positive vibes over here I want to share.”
Tim: This is today’s 5-star iTunes review—which now we have 77 on iTunes. It’s great. Thank you so much for taking time to leave those reviews. They help us feel better about ourselves and help the show. And today’s review is titled Optimistic and informative and it’s by FishFoodFriday. And that review goes on to say, “Tim and Shawn offer great perspective and expertise on physical wellness as well as mental wellness. Always an uplifting message with something to take away and apply to daily life. Thank you. You guys are real, authentic, and making an impact. Keep it up.”
That’s an awesome, awesome review. I love to hear that. Every adjective that was used there, I love it. And I think something that’s most salient to me is that our goal is to not just put out a bunch of words, verbal vomit, but to give you some actionable things you can take away. And to hear that FishFoodFriday says that that’s something that he or she gets from every episode is a huge, huge feather in our cap, and we appreciate it. And FishFoodFriday, for taking time to leave that review, email us at [email protected] and we will send you a free product. And if you’re listening and you haven’t left a review, we’d love you to take time to do so, and you can also get a free product as well as support the show.
Shawn: Yes. So, getting back into it, “If your house feels overstuffed, your days are crazy busy, and you can’t find your desk under all that clutter, we understand. We’ve all been there and making changes can be overwhelming. What should you work on first? How do you decide what stays and what goes 300,000 times?” [chuckles] Again, that’s all the things that you have in your house, on average. So, we have this minimalism checklist we’re going to read. And we’ll have at BioTrustRadio.com, the full show notes. We transcribe every episode, if you want to read along. But we also have the links for everything that we cover, the sources for the research that we cover, everything there. But we also appreciate if you just listen on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and all those various places. So, thank you very much for wherever you listen, but BioTrust Radio has additional things, if you want them.
But getting into the minimalism checklist, “If you love the idea of living with less but aren’t sure where to start, try these 10 steps towards designing a simple life. And if you’re already a master minimizer,” I like that term, [Tim chuckles] “pass this on to a friend who wants to get started simplifying too.” So, “No. 1: What’s your WHY?” We love this one here. I think it’s Simon Sinek that has the Start with Your WHY, right?
Shawn: That’s a phenomenal book and we’ve talked about the Five Whys and peeling back the layers of the onion, on prior episodes. And we can link those in the show notes. “But ask yourself why you want to simplify. Are you trying to relieve the pressure of an over-full life? Do you want the calm that comes with a decluttered space? Are you making space for big dreams? When you need extra motivation, remember that WHY. See how far you’ve come, and focus on where you’re headed.”
I love looking at your WHY and being more clear. Again, getting back to clarity. That that’s what this is saying; when you remove the clutter, you can more readily see why you’re passionate about certain things, why you’re doing that business that you have. Why you’re saving money for your kid, why you’re at the gym, and all these things. You need to be more clear in your life and you need to have intention as you move forward. And you can’t have intention without the clarity.
So, I love the decluttered space. I’ve talked about on prior shows, just cleaning up you know. And maybe if someone’s looking for some New Year’s resolutions or whatever time, it’s certainly advisable to just clean up. Clean up your closet, clean up your garage, clean up your kitchen, the refrigerator, clean up your car. There’s nothing that gives you more peace. Clean out your backpack, clean out your locker at the gym.
You know, whatever it is, just throw out some things. Just pare it down to the things you need. Don’t be a pack rat or a hoarder. There are things that each time you see them give you kind of negative energy.
Shawn: When you go to your closet and you want to put on a shirt and there’s like 300 shirts in there and you’re like, “I don’t know which shirt I should wear.” And they’re all packed together you don’t see some of the shirts that you love. And maybe you’re looking at some shirts that remind you of a negative time in your life. And even though they’re nice shirts, maybe you should just get rid of them. Because each time you go to your closet, you get negative energy.
Shawn: I mean, there’s stuff that’s like this, that’s been sitting in your garage and every time you pull into your garage you get this negative, overwhelmed feeling. Get rid of it. I’m telling you right now, donate it if you can, if it’s something like that. But just get some of this stuff out of your life. Clean it up so that you can start focusing on your WHY and have some clarity and some peace of mind. And you can feel like a good energy when you’re in these spaces. These are spaces that you’re in every day, but this these are spaces that easily collect a lot of stuff—your home, your garage, the gym, the office, your car, or wherever you’re at. Between the office, the gym, your house, the garage, your car, I mean, this is where 98% of your time is spent, and that’s where 98% of your stuff in your life is. So, clean up these spaces and you’ll feel like just an incredible sense of calm.
Tim: 100%, Shawn. I think we’re going to talk a lot about stuff here, but other things that may come to mind are people and relationships, and responsibilities, tasks, and things like that may be cluttering or distracting you from what’s really important. And just one other side note here is that a lot of times we talk about priorities—plural—but priority is the finding your WHY really helps clearly define what your main priority is in life. And once you understand what your priority is, then your actions and your behaviors and your attitudes fall in line. So, really spend time to think about what is the most important thing to you right now.
Shawn: Beautiful. That’s a great, great point, Tim. “No. 2: Start with easy. Even if you want to make big changes, start small. Clear out one junk drawer, say no to one coffee date, take one minute for quiet, relaxed breathing. Build up some small wins before moving on to bigger challenges.”
Oh, my goodness, this one is massive, massive, massive. I feel like we’ve talked about this on practically every show. But man, you can just be so overwhelmed at the massiveness of the task in front of you, and you’re just like, “I don’t know how to achieve this. I’m going to sleep in today. I’m going to ignore it. I’m going to go to happy hour. I’m going to watch Netflix. I’m going to go to the gym or just avoid this reality because it’s just too overwhelming.” But just break it down. Take it in small steps. Put it into a list and start knocking them out one-at-a-time.
Shawn: And you need to set aside time to do that. And you need to set aside time to make the plan. But once you do, you’re going to save time. You’re going to make it a priority. You’re going to not push it off any longer. And you won’t feel this overwhelmed once you start taking one step, two steps, three steps forward and you start checking off those boxes. So, this is the way it’s done, is start with easy. Start with the small ones and just start checking off the boxes.
Tim: Yeah, 100%. And this may be one area where a coach or a mentor also becomes handy, because not only can they provide you with a layer of accountability, they can also help you figure out what that plan looks like. Sometimes we need help with that plan. And then I also love here that you mentioned this saying no and how setting boundaries is actually a significant part of being minimalist and really understanding where your time goes. But you have to have that WHY first.
Shawn: Yeah. “No. 3: Separate wants and needs.” Man, this is a really good list.
Tim: Yeah, [chuckles] this is awesome.
Shawn: “You probably need less than you think. We all do. As you’re deciding what to keep in your life, ask, ‘Could I live without this?’ If so, you know it’s more of a want than a need. Needs have to stay. You get to choose about the wants.” And I’ll add something to that, too. There are things that you want in the moment, but a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, you don’t need it, you don’t want it. Your wants change. It’s sometimes a good thing to check yourself on the wants and revisit it in a week. You know, just say look, if this thing is something that’s really that great, then let me hold off because it’s not a need and it’s a want, and I’m going to check back in with myself in a week, in a month, and see if I still want it. And if so, then maybe I can set aside some money, some time, or whatever it takes to get this, if it’s a want.
There are certainly things that you can get in life that that are more of a want than a need, that’s healthy too. I mean, that’s okay. Not everything has to have a straightforward purpose. Sometimes you can just get stuff that makes you happy. But you need to be smart about them. So, it does make sense to separate wants and needs, because we can get in the mindset where it feels like everything is a need, and it’s not. We need to be realistic about that and delineate that.
Tim: Yeah, I love that, Shawn. And actually, that delaying gratification kind of thing also comes in handy when you’re trying to eat better. So, maybe you have a craving for something sweet or whatever it is, and typically we just jump right into it based on how we’re feeling, where it completely consumes our mind so we just jump right into it. But try what we call “delaying discomfort.” Maybe it’s just for a minute or two at first, for someone to say, “I really want this right now!” But give yourself a minute or two, or 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or whatever you can do, and see if you still want it at that time. You can do that with emotions and things like that. Do we really want to react a certain way or can we just simmer down for a minute? But with the delaying discomfort and eating thing, a lot of times if we distract ourselves from that craving or whatever it is, then it goes away.
There’s an interesting study where participants played Tetris. And by playing Tetris, or it could be anything. It could be a video game or it could be a book, or it could be writing a thank-you note. By distracting yourself from that thought of being hungry, it actually suppressed the appetite and hunger and cravings, and things like that, and they didn’t end up eating as much as a result. Anyway, delay discomfort. Distract yourself and the eating thing. And then if you think you really need something, does that line up with your WHY. Again, it comes back to the WHY. So, sometimes needs are actually just wants, as well.
Shawn: Yep. So, “No. 4: Look for the joy. A good rule-of-thumb is to keep things you know to be useful or believed to be beautiful. To find the beauty, Marie Kondo teaches us to ask if what we own sparks joy. If not, let it go. Maybe someone else will be overjoyed to pick it up.” This is kind of what we were just talking about before. [chuckles]
Shawn: Is one, figuring out what serves you in your life and what does not; what gives you positive energy and what gives you negative energy. And I’m not super “woo-woo,” but I mean, it’s a fact. There are things that are in your house, in your garage, in your closet that you attach to certain memories, to certain energy. And you do feel like “I love that thing. That reminds me of the time I went on vacation blah, blah, blah,” or “That shirt reminds me of a horrible date I went on where this girl broke up with me, and I’m never going to wear that shirt,” and yet you keep it in your closet.
Tim: Right. [laughs]
Shawn: Or you keep that thing in your garage, and it’s not serving you, so get rid of it. And yes, give it to someone else that’s like, “Oh, that’s a nice shirt. I’m going to go out and have a positive memory in this shirt.”
Shawn: So, that’s cool. It’s a beautiful thing to just clean up, have less stuff, to get rid of the things that don’t give you positive energy, and give it to someone that it will give them positive energy. Hey, I mean, that’s how you get joy.
Shawn: “No. 5: Clear your schedule. Designing a simple life doesn’t stop with your stuff. A simpler schedule can bring all kinds of peace to your days. Are there activities you need to let go of? Meetings you don’t need to attend? Dates to cancel? You know what to do.”
Tim: Yeah, I think we talked about this a little bit before is that clutter and distractions are not just stuff, but it’s also time commitments and relationships, and things like that. So, this is a tricky one for some people to learn to say no and to set those boundaries, but it’s powerful to free up your time. We have a tendency, I think in general, to want to feel busy. to feel like we’re always doing things, but like we’ve talked about before, it leads us to feeling a rush, to feeling stressed. And again, not you can do anything, but you can’t do everything kind of thing. Where you spread yourself too thin you can’t fully invest yourself in that one thing that’s most important to you.
And then we talked about multitasking before and how it’s a farce. There’s an opportunity cost every time you switch back and forth between things. And again, the perfect number one was “Start with your WHY.” Everything that you have on your schedule, is it feeding into your WHY? And if not, then it’s time to time to remove it or to start figuring out how you can pare it down.
Shawn: That’s so good, Tim. And you know what? We get mad at people for taking advantage of us and our schedule and our time, but we never set boundaries.
Tim: We let them.
Shawn: We let them. Whose fault is that? It’s not that person’s fault. We get mad at those people but we should we should be mad at ourselves. [chuckles]
Shawn: We never laid out boundaries. And if they don’t know the boundaries, they’re just taking advantage of us in a way that makes sense. They’re like, “Hey, this guy knows how to do such-and-such. I’m going to ask for his time.”
Tim: And naturally, they’ll probably ask for more, if you give them everything that they want.
Tim: If you never say “no,” I’m just going to keep searching for that boundary. I’m going to keep asking for more.
Shawn: Right. Right, and that’s not their fault. I mean, you’re a solution to their problems, so why wouldn’t they?
Tim: There was a book—I think it was the book, Boundaries—but it talks about boundaries as being like a fence around a house. And that fence around the house is designed to both keep things you don’t want in from coming in, but also keep things you want in from coming out. And so, you have to think about that. You don’t necessarily want all these things coming into your space. But you also have to protect what’s inside your space. And by giving away all your time, all your energy, all your love and everything like that, you don’t have anything for yourself or really for probably the people who matter to you most. So, to me, that that illustration made a lot of sense and wanting to protect what’s inside and outside.
Shawn: Hm, that is nice. Man, these are all things we talk about a lot. This is such a good summary. “No. 6: Unplug everything. You don’t have to unplug forever, but scheduling regular screen-free time can restore your perspective and bring more joy into your simple life. Use that time to get out in nature, connect more deeply with the people around you, and quiet the noise in your head.” Man, that’s so good. Yeah, we distract ourselves so much with looking at our various screens; be it the TV, the laptop, the iPad, the phone, listening to your music in the car, or whatever. You just you stay distracted and you’re not very mindful, you’re not very present.
It’s okay to be entertained sometimes, and obviously, it’s okay to use devices. They have certainly a pertinent place in our world, and simplify our lives in certain ways. There’s a beauty to some of these things. I was on a meeting the other day with about 10 people and they were all over the world, and I thought how amazing is this.
Shawn: And we were all looking at each other’s faces and having this meeting, and collaborating, and I’m like, “wow.” [laughs] I mean, there’s beautiful things. I don’t mean to bash technology because there’s amazing things about technology. Just think about how easy it is for us to pilot around and get from this place to that place with GPS, and some of these great things. It’s phenomenal. But we do need time where our brains need to disconnect and not be as dopamine-fixated on the next thing, the next screen, the next like, the next picture, the next thing that’s on your screen when you’re scrolling, or whatever.
We need time to just relax, be present, be mindful, have gratitude, to breathe deeply, to get sunshine, to take your shoes off and walk around and be grounded, to take that long walk, to spend some time with your friend and get into a deep, meaningful conversation. Those kind of things are just so incredible to your stress levels, to your longevity. So, it’s important to unplug.
Shawn: Life can just get too fast; way too fast, too quickly, when you’re trapped into screens. “No. 7: Schedule rest. As your physical space is becoming simpler, explore ways to build a rhythm of work and rest into your life, too. It’s hard to pursue simple living when your reality is more exhausted living.”
Tim: Yeah, I mean, that’s the whole goal of you simplifying, right? Is to be in control of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, your schedule, and things like that. [chuckles] And this is obviously not serving its purpose if you feel like everything is just draining you. Yeah, I mean, we’ve talked about how important rest is and actually resting and unplugging those. Six and 7 go hand-in-hand, to me, to some degree. I love that it talked about rhythm, and that there’s a yin and a yang to things and that having some predictable schedule is nice. Not that things always have to stick to the schedule, but just to be in control of that schedule is much more realistic when you simplify things.
Shawn: I love the line that “It’s hard to pursue simple living when your reality is more exhausted living.”
Shawn: “Schedule rest.” Yeah, that’s nice. “No. 8: Make it your own. Simplicity is not a competition. Simplify in ways that makes sense for you, and don’t worry about how you compare to anyone else. In fact, minimizing the comparisons will clear the mental clutter like crazy.”
Profound point. Man, we can clutter up our brain with comparisons and competitiveness, and what’s so and so doing. You can get caught up in all that stuff. And going back to wants and needs, some of our wants certainly are not our needs, and certainly aren’t even our wants. They’re someone else’s wants.
Tim: Right, right.
Shawn: And we just want to be like them, so we’re taking on their wants, and we’re not living our own life. So, making it your own is a great way to minimize and simplify. So, make it your own. This goes back to your WHY and clarifying that. And now you’ll know how to make it your own and simplify in a way that makes sense for you to achieve your WHY.
Tim: I like this, too, because it’s also about the pace at which you do it. Maybe your pace of simplification is a little bit slower than someone else’s, but that’s okay. You have to do it at a pace that’s okay with you. And that’s why having that plan; whether it’s the cleaning out the garage thing or the whole minimalism thing, having a plan and starting easy and building up those small victories, and working in a rate and pace and getting rid of things that you feel comfortable with, at the pace you feel comfortable.
Shawn: Yeah, exactly. And sometimes someone may be way further along to their simplification and they’re living an extremely simple life. But if you’re living a crazy. chaotic, cluttered life and you just make a few changes, that actually could be more dramatic than where that other person’s at. [chuckles]
Tim: Right. And maybe taking the time to enjoy those small changes and starting to feel the difference.
Shawn: Yeah, exactly. “No. 9: Remember your relationships. Don’t let your commitment to simple living get in the way of the most important relationships. Others may not be ready to make the same choices you make. You do what’s right for you and enjoy the amazing people in your life without trying to change them.”
Tim: Yeah, that’s awesome. And also, like we talked about before, simplification may also mean analyzing the relationships in your life, and maybe people that are bringing negative energy to you or taking too much energy from you, maybe it’s time to re‑examine those relationships.
Another thing on this topic, too, that comes to mind is kind of like where you might sit on the introvert versus extrovert spectrum. Not to become like a self-fulfilling prophecy by any means, but you do have to know where you sit on that spectrum, so to speak. If you’re just wearing yourself out trying to be an extrovert, but you’re more introverted, that can be harmful to you. Or if you are more extroverted but you’re living more isolated, then maybe you do need more of those social interactions to feed you, to nourish your body, nourish your soul, and things like that. So, I think that’s part of it; understanding what and how many relationships are important.
I mean, like if you think about the social media world and how important it is to have quantity of likes and friends and things like that, we get a little distracted from what’s really important is the quality of those relationships. And I know that my wife and I have had to examine this at various times in our lives, like where we were investing our times in terms of couples and other people that we were spending our time with. And we had to be very careful and cut back in certain areas because it wasn’t serving us the way that we wanted it to.
Shawn: You know, one of the things that’s really helped me with reframing—this is actually powerful for me. This was a game-changer for me—is believing that when you stop trying to change people and you stop feeling like people screwed you over and did you wrong, and you start thinking they did the best they could do with where they were at in that given moment. And I just started thinking that way, like they’re not thinking like me and that’s fine. They’re not thinking I need to screw Shawn over. That’s just what they did in that moment and they were doing the best they could do, given what they had, where they’ve been, and who they are at that specific moment. And everyone’s just doing the best they can. And if you take a step outside of yourself, yes, people do some things that aren’t constructive and aren’t positive, and maybe end up harming other people, but that’s just where they were at that given time and they were doing the best they could.
And it takes the weight off of all these expectations you have on people. And just let people be themselves. And if they ask you for your advice, then give your advice. But don’t always push your will on other people. Let people pursue their own path. You know, they see you. They see you. People see you. And when the time is right, when they’re frustrated, when they’re down and out, they’ll ask for your advice. They see what you’re doing. They see that you’ve made changes. They see that you’re living a better life now. They see that you’ve taken on these new things. People don’t just not notice. So, you don’t need to push these things on them. When the time is right, they’ll come and ask you for your help or your advice.
But just let people pursue their own path, in their own time. And man, it just saves you so much energy when you’re not trying to force your will on someone, when you’re not disappointed with people all the time, and you just say, they’re doing the best they can at this moment. They’re on their own path and I’m here for them when they need me, but I’ll let them pursue their path.
Tim: That’s profound, Shawn. That’s awesome.
Tim: Thanks for sharing that.
Shawn: So, the final one, “No. 10: Enjoy more and less. More time, more freedom, more room to breathe, less stuff, and less stress, less to organize, store, and take care of, less hassle, less hustle. Take a moment to practice gratitude for what you’ve learned from the things you’ve let go of and for the new chapter you’re moving into. Design a simple life. Start here, start now. You can design a life of less and more. More of what you love, less of what you don’t. It’s a process and we’re all in it together.” We have created a 30-day email course—and you can sign up here, and we’ll have the link in the article—that will inspire and encourage you on your journey.
And Tim and I do love this minimalism stuff. There are two sites that we really like: the BecomingMinimalist and this one is NoSidebar.com. But I encourage you to figure out a way to minimize stuff in your life. And you will reduce stress because there’s just less stuff to keep track of, less stuff that can break, less stuff that can be stolen, less stuff to worry about where to put. I mean, how much easier is it? There’s been times in my life when I actually had this thought about I liked the idea of my house burning down and starting over. That’s horrible.
Shawn: But it just it tells you how much stress stuff can create. And I I’ve told you before, like I love when I go to an empty hotel room and I just feel like a sense of peace and calm. And I’ve gotten more aware of that and it’s helped me pursue this minimalism mindset more that there’s stuff I can get rid of. Even if it’s good stuff, even if it’s stuff I just bought like a month ago, even if it’s a gift from someone, even if it’s worth a lot of money; get rid of it, donate it, give it to a friend, but just get it out of your life. If it’s not serving you, if it’s not serving your WHY, you don’t need it. And if you don’t need it, you can get rid of it. So, I would encourage people to do that.
Tim: Yeah and that’s a beautiful way to wrap things up, and I’m just going to put a little bow on it with [laughs] the thoughts about the relationships and even the nutrition and fitness and things like that, is that this simplicity and the minimalism applies to all areas of our life. And for me and my wife, I know that it’s had a profound impact on relationships and where we choose to invest our time commitments. But from a nutrition standpoint, here’s something that I think is really interesting, is that we’re exposed to a tremendous amount of diversity in terms of food choices, and that is one of the factors that leads to overeating, is it they can overstimulate your palate. You can overcome something called “sensory specific satiety,” where we get full of one thing, but we add a different taste, texture, or flavor, and it makes us eat more.
Well, one of the things that’s most common, one of the few variables that’s common among people who lose weight and keep it off is that they eat the same things pretty much over and over. I know it may sound boring, but literally it saves time, too. For me and my wife, we both do cooking, and we have a menu of maybe 10 to 14 different things that we cook. Maybe we’ll try a new thing everyone swap, but by rotating through that same menu—things that we enjoy—the grocery shopping is easy. It’s just like on autopilot. The cooking is easy. It’s on autopilot because I know what to do already. Plus, these are healthy things and whatever. So. that’s another one.
And then we’ve talked about fitness before and how minimizing. Like yes, if you enjoy running or riding a bicycle for an hour or an hour-and-a-half, that’s okay. But you can get similar benefits from 10 or 15 minutes of higher intensity exercise or strength training. Yeah, if you like to lift weights 6-7 days a week and split your body part up and lift like a bodybuilder, that’s probably okay. But you can probably get just as many benefits, if you want to be healthy and look good, from 2-3 days a week of full body weight training that may be 30 minutes a session. So, simplicity applies to not just stuff, but all areas of looking, feeling, and moving your best.
Shawn: Beautiful. That was a nice bow. Anyway, people, we love you. Thank you for listening and supporting us. Again, go to BioTrustRadio.com. Check out BioTrust.com/VIP to go to the VIP group, and you can ask questions there. And we appreciate you. Please give us feedback. Please listen to us wherever you can and share. That’s a massive one for us, if you can share this with your friends, if you’re getting value from it. We’d really appreciate it. Thank you so much, and we’ll talk to you guys soon.