This isn’t a hack to get more tax efficiency out of your crypto or incur massive tax deductions by donating art. This is about optimizing your strongest resource: your mind.
Are you one of those people who has 10+ tabs open on your computer? If you are, I don’t know how you do it. It honestly sounds horrific and dopamine frying. But don’t you love the feeling of closing 10 tabs at once? It’s freeing. Often, you’ll notice your computer runs faster afterward, too.
Our minds work like a computer. We have our long term memory, like that art project you did in 6th grade you still remember for some reason. But most of your day-to-day mental energy is spent on short-term tasks, like various chores you have to do at home and with your work.
When I feel overwhelmed with all my to-dos, I usually end up cleaning. Pickup up my room, taking out the trash, straightening up the kitchen. It’s instinctual. My guess is cleaning is the best ROI activity I can do in the moment. It’s relatively low effort, but it provides a clear visual reward of progress which pays dividends as long as I don’t immediately mess it up.
Now I’m going to get personal.
In my short life, I’ve had more and less money. The clear trend I notice is the more money I have, the fewer things I want to own. This bears repeating:
The more money I have, the fewer things I want to own.
From my family and friends this pattern holds up. Not necessarily with money, but when someone has positive momentum (which very tightly correlates with positive financial movement) they know how to organize their space.
To put it more bluntly, people with a lot of junk don’t know how to prioritize.
When everything is important, nothing is. It’s a Great Depression-era mindset. “Oh, I might need this old T-shirt from my work outing 6 years ago just in case.” What? The one you never wear?
This is when your mind starts to creatively invent excuses. “It’s a good workout shirt! Or pajamas! Or I’ll use it as a rag for washing my car (which I’ve done once in two years)! Or, or, or…”
Mate, just get rid of it.
I would take a bet that 80% of your belongings are superfluous. You use them once a year, maybe.
Audit Your Belongings
I love books. I love buying them more them reading them, truth be told.
I do actually read a decent number of books, but out of the dozens on my shelf, there are probably fewer than 10 I ever want to read more than once (Zero to One by Peter Thiel is one of them, if you’re looking for your next read).
I need to get rid of most of my books—especially the ones I’ve already read which no longer interest me.
When you get rid of excess books, clothes, boxes of useless childhood possessions like old school papers, you start clearing tabs in your mind. You start thinking more freely. Should you move to a different house or apartment across town? Now the thought isn’t overwhelming because you have fewer items to box and move. What about a move across the country? Or across the border?
Ultimately, it’s about reducing your reliance on “things” as much as possible. You don’t need to toss out your cutlery as you probably still want to eat. But those old chargers? Your broken laptop? 99% of anything in your house made of plastic? Chopping block.
I don’t hate ownership. I commissioned and own a beautiful painting just because I wanted it. But I look at it every day I leave my room and I look at it purposefully.
Every time I’ve moved somewhere, I’ve taken it as an opportunity to do an audit. I get rid of roughly half of my junk each time. And yet there’s always more to deal with (that’s how math works).
Yet every time I finish tossing or donating old junk, it’s always a relief. It lifts a weight I wasn’t aware of. And it reminds me I’m not taking any of it with me, anyway.