Peter Skaronis

March 6, 2021

Cutting Out The Noise and Regaining Control

Declutter

Going through each area of your life with the purpose of examining what is essential is hard.

There are tools, methods, courses, books and gurus to help with that. The question though is not how to do it, but why.

Why?

Why change things? Why change anything?

Change

We don't like change. We like predictable situations. We know that the new iPhone comes out every October and we are fine with that. Someone else has decided when we are going to get a new phone.

Change is the price we have to pay for innovation. Change is necessary for our evolution.

The trouble begins when we refuse to change and insist on holding on to the way things have been and even hold on to possessions as a way of freezing time, even when these possessions have outlived their utility.

Why is that? What is forcing us to accumulate more and more stuff that only contribute to increased stress levels and mental fog?

Conditioning

My hypothesis is that we have been conditioned that way. We have adopted the social norms of our surrounding environment to the point where it is unfathomable to question any of it. We have also adopted some catchy one liners to that effect.

It is what is.

That's the way things have always been.

What can you do?

Who do you think you are to question things?

Proclaiming defeat without ever having tried.

Further along the path, there are those have started wondering if this is all there is, but still feel lost and overwhelmed.

Just thinking about it gives me a headache.

There must a better way of doing things.

Finally, there are those that have realised that reality is bendable. Reality is subjective. It's yours to create.

Bending Reality

Going through the different stages over the years, I've realised that every faucet of our life has compartmentalised and exploited for profit. If you have a need, there is market for that and of course an app. In many cases a product has caused a problem and the same company is selling the solution to the byproduct of their original product.

This is the definition of a clusterf*ck, but no-one questions it.

As a result most people including myself have ended up with a massive amount of commitments. Some of it is useful but the majority is junk or not fit for purpose.

The 80/20 principle applies here as well. Of all the subscriptions,  physical and digital as well as any kind of purchase, only 20% of it is consistently used and the 80% is dead weight.


Question Yourself

As I've been watching Marie Kondo on Netflix helping families declutter their lives, there is one question that she employs and advises her clients to use as a rule and deciding factor.

Does this spark joy?

As I'm looking around my flat, there are so many objects that don't even know how they ended up here and when. I don't feel joy. I feel stress.

This exercise is difficult as you have to revisit items that you bought on an impulse or received as a gift and have been sitting on the same spot for 5 years.

Another question I've borrowed from Mr. Money Moustache is to be used when deciding on a new purchase. This is really important regardless of your financial state. It can have an impact on your livelihood if you over extend yourself, but it is even more dangerous if money is not an object. You can very quickly drown yourself in stuff and subscriptions.

Is this purchase going increase my level of happiness? Am I going to be happy and excited every day I use it?

How many things in your life satisfy this criteria. This could be physical objects or digital subscriptions and purchases.

Out of the box Thinking

I've been going through Marie Kondo's program to declutter our flat which is more difficult than it looks on Netflix but it is totally worth it. This is one part of the equation. Clearing out what is already there.

The other part is stopping the flow of purchases. That covers Amazon orders, subscriptions and other purchases. It is very difficult to focus your energy on objects that have been so long there that have become part of the furniture, let alone trying to sort out the inflow of new stuff.

The obvious way to get a handle on that was to review any new purchases and cancel any online subscriptions on Amazon and other sites.

I tried that and it didn't work. Every month there was a monthly or yearly subscription that I had forgotten about, either because I hadn't noted the renewal cycle and there was no email reminder a few days before renewal or I wasn't using it and had forgotten I was paying for it.

After a while thought it is sad to realise that you don't have a clue of what you're paying for.

That's when I moved my money to a savings account and left my checking account empty and so I could see what subscriptions started bouncing.

If it was something I was not using and had completely forgotten about, I would cancel it.

There are so many areas that we commit ourselves and get tied up into monthly or yearly commitments that we don't even need.

This is anything from high level visible stuff to obscure stuff like digital subscriptions to in-app purchases that we don't have visibility unless we go looking for it or notice it on our bank statement.

Paradigm Shifting

Once in a while someone comes along that rethinks a problem in terms of first principles and builds something revolutionary in comparison to the current state of things.

Elon Musk has accomplished this with Tesla, Space X, Solar City, Starlink.

Basecamp has created Hey.com and now world.hey.com which makes the process of writing as frictionless as writing an email and it is what I'm currently using to write this post.