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Learning to Do More With Less is a Personal Skill Everyone Needs
Some people are under the impression that having more stuff results in increased happiness.
While this may be true in some social circles, the field of modern psychology has actually proven otherwise.
Not only will the act of learning to do more with less save some of your mental health, it will also save some of your hard-earned money.
The Psychology Behind It All
According to the laws of hedonic adaptation, humans tend to get used to their new belongings after a short while. Once the novelty wears off, most of us revert back to the state of wanting more, newer things. This is a bad habit to get into, but it affects many consumers around the world.
Psychologists have taken their studies into hedonic adaptation one step further by analyzing what happens when people stop acquiring new stuff. According to their results, the vast majority of humans find more happiness in the act of doing something as opposed to having something. You might think that you want that new cell phone or laptop computer, but your subconscious is really more interested in the act of purchasing the item than actually possessing it.
Additional studies have shown that personal hobbies also result in more long-term enjoyment than material possessions. Recent research at the University of British Columbia indicates that most would prefer a shorter commute to work to owning a more expensive house. Studies like this prove most people value their free time over money or expensive possessions.
How Technology Can Help
The increased accessibility of modern technology and innovative software solutions make it easy to live a minimalist lifestyle.
Mobile connectivity has also resulted in a greater reliance on apps and utilities than ever before, many of which are aimed at helping you do more with less.
1. Reuse What You Already Have
A fundamental component of recycling, the simple act of reusing what you already own is a great way to stretch out the lifespan of your belongings without having to stretch your wallet.
Crafty types can easily come up with ways to reuse most of the items found around the home, but there are some basic tips to keep in mind, too.
Learning how to sew, if you don’t already know, can come in handy when mending and reusing your old clothes. Some electronic appliances can be repaired with little knowledge, including modern computers. Using reusable or washable dishes around the home and at work can save a significant amount of money over buying disposable goods.
The act known as freecycling is also gaining momentum. Popular among those who are interested in donating their used goods or receiving donations from others, it’s a trend that’s important to the minimalist mindset. Apps like “Trash Nothing!” can help you find others in your area to trade used goods with and share in the lifestyle.
2. Stick to a Budget
You’ll also want to establish a budget and, more importantly, stick to it. This is much easier said than done, but it’s critical when trying to do more with less and fully embracing the minimalist lifestyle. One of the simplest budgets, known as the 60 percent solution, has great user success rates.
According to this format, you should reserve 60% of your income for common monthly expenses. This includes your monthly rent or mortgage payment, food, utility bills and transportation. Many consumers have a tendency to stop budgeting after these things are taken care of, but this could result in financial issues in the future.
Instead, the 60 percent solution goes on to allocate 10% of your income toward retirement and another 10% toward debt reduction and minimization. Place an additional 10% in reserve for short-term savings, which can cover unexpected medical expenses, automobile repairs and even gifts for your loved ones. The final 10% of your budget, known as “fun money,” can be spent however you see fit.
There are countless apps available for consumers who need help controlling their spending. One of the most popular solutions is “Mint: Budget, Bills, Finance,” which was developed by Intuit. Not only does it help you track and pay your monthly bills, but it lets you manage any bank or credit card accounts, too. It even monitors your credit score.
3. Rearrange Your Living Space
Some of us are living with too much clutter in our homes. Apart from resulting in a messy appearance, this can actually cost us money. Unnecessary appliances can run up your energy bills, uneaten food can spoil over the course of time and those unread newspapers in the corner cost you money that could have been spent elsewhere.
Instead of diving headlong into a full renovation of your home, practice on a small project first. You can probably tackle rearranging your closet within the span of a day, freeing up space you never even knew you had. You might even find some old clothes or belongings you totally forgot about.
List Logic’s “Room” app, available on both the iPhone and iPad, is the ideal solution for rearranging a closet, a bedroom or your entire house. The app lets you create virtual blueprints of nearly any shape and size, and there are a plethora of furniture icons to help you visualize the new look before you even begin.
4. Share Your Goals With Others
Don’t be afraid to share your goals with others. It’s easy to be shy when discussing your plans for self-improvement, especially with the potential for criticism from friends or family members, but simply making your intentions known can go a long way in maintaining your progress and achieving your goals.
You might even consider seeking out like-minded individuals who share similar goals. Setting up a support group, either online or within your local neighborhood, lets everyone feed off each other’s energy and stay motivated without the fear or criticism or judgment.
Created by Goals, LLC, “Strides” is a useful app that lets you keep track of your goals and daily habits. Automated messages can be set to appear when you do meet your goals, which provides instant incentive for you to maintain your progress. The developers also regularly update the app with new features and functionality.
5. Establish a Daily Schedule
If you never seem to have enough time in the day, you might benefit from creating a schedule. Obviously you’ll never have more than 24 hours to work with in any given day, but some effective planning and motivation on your part can go a long way in making the most of the time you do have.
But it’s important to develop a schedule that works with your specific lifestyle. Mimicking the schedule of a friend or family member might be helpful if you’re in the same profession or share the same hobbies, but it can hamper your productivity in some cases. Instead, try to pick a schedule that works best for you.
There are plenty of apps to help you do this. One of the most popular apps on the Google Play Store is called “TimeTune,” which lets you establish routines, view statistics and add or delete activities as needed. For iPhone and iPad users, “Planner Pro” by Appxy provides similar features and functionality.
Using Technology to Do More With Less
Although computers once took up a lot of space on their own, the increasing availability of laptops, tablets and smartphones makes it easy for the average minimalist to use technology without negatively affecting their lifestyle. Even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a minimalist, some of their tips and tricks, as well as the mobile apps of today, can work wonders when trying to do more with less.
About the Author
Kayla Matthews is a productivity writer and self-improvement blogger. You can find her work on The Huffington Post, MakeUseOf, Tiny Buddha and The Muse. To read more posts by Kayla, subscribe to her newsletter.