Intuitively, we know that focus is a fundamental of greater productivity. Broadly and less instinctively, focus manifests heightened productivity by training and straining any resource, including but not limited to attention, time, money, and other resources. In Episode 98, I spoke about using time-based challenges for sprinting toward such productivity. Now, I’d like to discuss some ideas about limiting resources–the stuff we own–as a means to greater productivity.
I don’t promote one particular value system over another when it comes to having lots of possessions or owning few possessions, owning high-value over more modest-value ones. My value system stands on the form and function of everything one owns matching his or her style and productive needs. So, I have four foundations of limiting one’s stuff for greater productivity. These are guidelines, not rules, so you need to bend them to your needs and wants in life; don’t give your cat or dog away because of me!
First, own things that serve at least one or more than one purpose–everything you own should serve as many purposes as possible. Single-use, single-purpose things create clutter and diminish sustainability.
Next, all your belongings should be in good working order. If you’re not maintaining your things, your things cannot help maintain your productive output.
Also, your physical assets should not be in the way, unless they should be (in the case of putting your running clothings and shoes on a chair next to your bed so you can’t miss them in the morning). If such things don’t have a proper place that fits your home or work space, this is a trigger to reassess how it can serve you better, or any longer.
Lastly, not all things that are valuable to you contain positive value to you. If something is emotionally negative–an ex’s clothes still sitting in your closet in a box, a pile of outdated magazines that make you feel bad for not having read them while they were still fresh–these things need to be excised from your space.
On the flip side, there is a minimalism movement that’s become a global phenomenon and if that fits you, go for it. For one thing, minimalism fits into my productivity principle of nothing serving only one purpose. And, I think there’s veracity for those who believe in the power of less. There’s also the 100 Things Challenge and 50 Things Challenge, which is good to check out.
Altogether, limiting your worldly possessions shouldn’t be about giving up on that which you love and hold sentimentally. More, it’s about what is being productively used in your life and having that at hand when you need it.