dankim.org

The Snowball Effect of Minimizing

12 Aug 2014

Over the last year or so, I've been able to minimize my physical clutter down to a level I'm pretty happy with (mental clutter is a topic for another time).

I remember it was really hard to get started, though. Once I embraced the idea of minimalism, everything in my home started to look like clutter. It was a refreshing perspective, but it was also overwhelming.

But I learned a trick early on that's been immensely valuable: everything exists to support something else. Getting rid of one thing means dozens or hundreds more will follow.

That "snowball effect" is really, really powerful. With that in mind, I was able to declutter my life much faster than I expected.

A real world example: Getting rid of cable TV

A while back I cut the cord with cable TV. When I made the decision, I didn't realize how quickly it was going to snowball.

Cutting the cord meant that I didn't need all the terrible Comcast equipment to support it. Right away I got to remove a few cable boxes and all the junk that went with them (power cords, wires, and remotes) from our home. The decision was already snowballing and paying off.

But I didn't plan to give up TV completely. I still really enjoy a good movie or TV show, so I was going to use an Apple TV for that. But a few months later, I realized I wasn't using that much either - cutting cable actually made me more aware of my habits and preferences. So I sold the Apple TV (and its wires and remote), and was down to a TV and a home theater sound system.

Of course it doesn't make sense to have a home theater system if you don't watch much TV. So without cable or Apple TV, I jettisoned the receiver, all my speakers, a nasty rat's nest of audio/video cables, remotes, manuals, tools, batteries, and countless other supporting accessories.

And then went the TV!

Cutting the cord: The effects

When I stop and consider that timeline of events, it's pretty amazing.

A simple decision to cut cable put hundreds of dollars of rarely-used electronics back into our bank account.

I freed up a huge chunk of space in our house, which gave our boys a lot more safe space to play.

I no longer had to expend a single brain cycle worrying about cleaning or maintaining those items, or even catching up on TV shows. With less distractions, I could focus on more writing, reading, programming, and cooking.

I saved at least $500 a year on cable service and electricity, which I reallocated in our budget toward things like family vacations.

All of this stemmed from a simple decision to cut something unnecessary out of my life, which snowballed into a hugely positive change. Truly amazing.

So take heart - minimizing clutter is hard, but just a few positive changes will naturally snowball into dozens more. Get started!