This is the Chapter 24 of my Amazon Best Selling Book 25 Tips for Productivity, that it is for sale in Paper and ebook. Until the end of december the ebook is exclusively on Amazon Kindle, and will be available in Apple iBookStore, Barnes and Noble, Sony & Kobo on 2013. This Chapter is sponsored to you by Nozbe & Productive Magazine!
The Do Not Need List
This is a much more recent item in my arsenal of tricks. When I began reading about minimalism, I started to understand that a more minimalist lifestyle was a good complement for productivity. By having less stuff, I spend less time maintaining and taking care of stuff. This means I have more time to enjoy the activities that I like and that call my attention. However, people practicing minimalism often aim to levels of reduction that far exceed what I’m comfortable with. Like Colin Wright who lives with only 51 items, or Tammy Strobel and her 72 things or Nina Yau who claims to need only 47 possessions. Without a doubt, there are things that I want to have and many more that I want to enjoy, and that number surpasses Tammy Strobel’s 72 possessions (and honestly, by a lot).
Without aiming for extremes, I am attracted to the idea of reducing the number of my possessions, especially to eliminate all those things that I don’t use, that don’t work, or whose only purpose is to take up space. I want my possessions to be useful stuff. Essayist Patrick Rhone doesn’t speak of minimalism, but instead about ‘enough.’ It was when I discovered Patrick’s writing that I recognized what it was I was looking for. I want what I need, but not the excess. When I tried to understand what having enough means to me, I began to consider those things that I don’t need, that even when they call my attention and I’m able to buy them, they aren’t going to improve my life. Once I understood what I really wanted, I felt much more freedom of let go all those things that I’m not using .
The a perfect example of a “Do Not Need” item on my list is the 27 inch Apple monitor. It is simply beautiful and each time that I see it, I imagine how beautiful will look on my desk (ok, maybe on the desk I dream of having, since the one I have is a temporary one that I’ve had for the last five years or so). When I think about owning this Apple monitor, I imagine the incredible feeling I’d have when I was working on it, and all that I would be able to do see on that huge expanse. But honestly I don’t need it, and in the end, I think it would be a cause for distraction. A monitor that big, without a doubt, would allow me to get distracted without me noticing it how distracted I am. I have learned that my monitors need to be small, because it’s hard to see more than one application at the time.
I have an incredible weakness for suitcases, bags, backpacks, books, pens, electronics, accessories of all kinds, and more. The Do Not Need List contains more than fifty items. From clothes to electronics everything in between including a convertible that I’ve dreamed about for years. Once in a while, I consider that car again, but in my notes is the reason why don’t need a convertible, including that I had one and didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I was going to. I was uncomfortable in it when was too hot and uncomfortable in it when was too cold. Also, I didn’t like being that close to the ground. As part of that same explanation, I remind myself how much I enjoyed my Jeep Wrangler, so if I ever do need a convertible, that should be the model.
The objective of the Do Not Need list, is to help me to reach that place of having enough. It is not that I can’t use one more shirt, or one more pair of shoes or a pen or a new notebook. Is simply that I don’t need it; I have all the shirts I need, and the shoes that use and are comfortable (the most important prerequisite for a shoe in my opinion: they need to be comfortable). I have a pen that I love how it writes and white paper on which to write my ideas. I don’t need more than one pen, nor do I want a different notebook, in this department I have enough. (Yes, Pens are on the list.)
As I said before, my objective isn’t to be a minimalist, but to have enough, and even if that is a state that changes and evolves, I understand that when I have fewer possessions my attention is less fragmented and the higher chance I have to make something useful, which is, at the end of the day, the reason why I want to be more productive. Many of the items on my Do Not Need list are things I think about constantly, and are things that I would love to have, just to have them. That is because in some part of my mind, I’ve convinced myself that these will do me good, make my life easier or help me to enjoy something much more. But when I considered it more deeply, I understood that the item is not something I really need and that many of these are whims from a time in which I believed that things (especially an abundance of them) were going to make me happy.
Here are a few of the items on my Do Not Need list:
– 27 inch Apple monitor
– iPhone 4S (My iPhone 4 is perfectly serviceable)
– iPad2 (if I get a new one, it will be a newer model)
– Cheap t-Shirts
– New TV for the house
– The printed versions of my books
Today, these are the things are on my list because in this moment I only need to have enough and I understand that none of these will make me happier or a better person. Having these things may disrupt the equilibrium that I am trying to create, that of having enough.