Take Out the Trash


When your kitchen is your bedroom, you need to take out the trash. When your space is limited, you need to take out the trash. And when you want to move forward and be a better person, you need to take out the trash out. Often.

You have zero time to mess around with trash. Do not compromise; just find out what's important and build backwards. 

Founder of Squarespace, the website-building platform, Anthony Casalena tackles trash by embracing minimalism. “Minimalism is a process, it's not an aesthetic," says Casalena. Too often minimalism is paired with visions of boring Buddhists with little to no furniture or the ceiling-high canvas with one stupid blue line painted on them. Casalena sees it as more of an understanding and appreciation for the core of the idea. In his Creative Mornings talk "The Process of Minimalism" Casalena explains the journey by showing Picasso's "Bulls" where the painter broke down the detailed drawing of a bull to a simple wireframe still resembling the animal. This is the minimalism we can use in every area of our lives. You can deconstruct elements of your days to see the entire journey, back and forth. 

If finding a significant other was your journey, you wouldn't spend your days alone and away from people. If defining those six-pack abs was your journey, you wouldn't eat an ice cream sandwich for breakfast. Every decision matters, or as Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi wrote it: "If you know the Way broadly, you will see it in everything."

And Casalena wonders why we all don't recognize and do this. Why aren't we familiar with the process of recognizing and working toward the core idea? It's not that hard to realize. Casalena says,"Why doesn’t everyone just reduce things to the essence? I think the answer is because its really, really, really hard and time-consuming."

There is no shortcut. To whittle down your decisions to their most important elements, it takes some fine handiwork. But before we start chucking things out the window like an episode of Hoarders or cutting off toxic people on our Facebook feeds, we need to meditate on the main idea. What is it we are working toward here?

Tim Ferriss provokes this mindset with a thought exercise in The Four Hour Work Week. Ferriss asks you to imagine your life if you suffered and survived through two back-to-back heart attacks. Doctor's orders: you can't work more than two hours a week. What would you do? What could you do?

Time has a wicked way of showing us what's important.

Always thinking I should stay home and enjoy the weekend in my apartment, I took the risk of scheduling some activities this time around. A buddy and I saw Joey Diaz demolish an audience of devoted fans at the Gotham Comedy Club Friday night. Two hours of sleep later, I was headed to New Jersey to tailgate and watch Rutgers take on Tulane for a noon football game with my family. And you know what? It was great! It's hard to imagine all the weekends I spent before, imagining my apartment was where I wanted to be, but the process showed me that what's most important is enjoying your time.

The harsh truth is no one can do this for you. As personal development legend Jim Rohn said, "If you will change, everything will change for you." Because minimalism is a process and not an achievement in itself to be conquered, you need to roll with the circumstances. There will be obstacles. There will be failure. You need to focus and challenge yourself. Learning your way through this process can be a hard pill to swallow. It forces you to recognize you were wrong or unprepared. And then you move forward.

Ryan Holiday knows a thing or two about conquering obstacles because he wrote the damn book on it: The Obstacle is The Way. And for Holiday to focus his mind on the mission at hand, he has a practice of hanging index cards in his office with the best advice he can find written on it. Holiday explains the reasoning behind this, "So you cannot run from the advice, so you see it enough times that it becomes imprinted in your mind." It becomes a mantra, a tuning fork. You're forced to recognize the minimalism.

Give yourself some time, but not too much. Ask yourself what's important. Write it down. Build your life around it and take every opportunity to look back and recognize the Way. You might just like what you see.