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In our times, where progress is speeding up exponentially, and life is becoming more and more complex, it is easy to become overwhelmed. In this video you will learn a couple of techniques you can use to simplify your life.

Looking for the video on the article? Here it is:

Hey there, I’m Nick Redmark, your effectiveness coach. If you want to become more effective in life and appreciate a rational and intellectually honest approach to self-help, subscribe to this channel.

One of the things that make life complex is the stuff that is in your life. A cure for this is called minimalism: basically, give a hard look at everything you own and ask yourself something like: “do I really need this?” This can be a very emotional process, so the question you ask yourself is important. Marie Kondo, the author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” would ask: “Does this item spark joy?”

I had a minimalistic phase in 2015 where I went through everything I had, repeatedly for weeks and weeks, until almost everything would fit in a bag. I had a lot of fun doing it, so my question became more and more categorical. Towards the end I would ask: “If I didn’t own this, would I go out and buy it within the next year?” It was a fun process.

Minimalism isn’t just about emptying your life. It’s about making space (physically and mentally) for what’s really important for you. For me it literally created the space for my girlfriend to move in with me in my 12m² student room – the beginning of our life together. Meanwhile we live in a larger apartment and own many more things – perhaps a bit too many – but almost everything I see around me fits my values and priorities. So I can definitely recommend you go through it at least once in your life.

The most obvious application of minimalism is with your things in space. But something I’ve been asking myself recently is: what about activities in time? What is the magic question you can ask yourself to simplify the way you spend your time?

Here is a proposal. There are two main areas of life: your foundation and your mission.

Your foundation is all the things you have to do to maintain and strengthen yourself. I’m talking about taking care of your body (sleep, physical activity, nutrition), your mind (reading, writing, meditation), your house (admin and errands) and your relationships. I see the foundation as the backbone of my life, as solidified experience. The older I get the more my foundation grows. For example, working out 5 days a week is becoming a non-negotiable (at least when it comes to planning). What characterizes your foundation is habits and routines.

Your mission is your “one thing”, what you are trying to accomplish out there in the world, the way you want to transform it. While the foundation is stable and repetitive, what you have to do for your mission is highly dynamic and variable: at times you have to learn and study, at times you have to stop and orient yourself, at times you just have to just go and execute. Your mission, fundamentally, is about good decisions.

It takes 2/3rds of your time to keep a strong foundation. There are approximately 9 hours a day left for your mission.

If you have a day job that pays the rent but isn’t really aligned with your mission, the remaining time is even less (around 3 hours a day).

Fill that remaining time with mindless activities, and you won’t have any left to pursue a long-term vision.

So, this is the question you can ask yourself when simplifying your time: does this activity contribute to my foundation? Does it contribute to my mission? If not, consider spending that time differently.

Do you want to evaluate for yourself what should belong to your foundation? You could try out the exercise laid out in this video about setting priorities. Meanwhile is there something you would like me to cover, from creating new habits to making better decisions? Let me know in the comments.