“Minimalism didn’t change my values, it helped me discover what they are”
“Minimalism helped me stop giving my values lip service and to take action”
In last week’s blog post I mentioned using a Habit Tracker as a tool for organizing ourselves:
“This [a habit tracker] is the perfect place to add any activities that you say are important in your life but you never seem to have time to do. Think about your values and priorities (family, charity, spirituality, health, fitness, education, etc.). Now look at your current schedule. Are all of those items included in your day to day? Odds are probably not. Most of the things we claim to care about tend to get put on the back burner until the weekend or the 12th of Neverary.”
This week we are diving a little deeper into the topic of values and discussing re-prioritizing them into our schedules.
According to The Minimalists Podcast (Episode 69), there are 4 categories of values
- Foundational Values: Health, Relationships, Creativity or Passion, Growth & Contribution
- Core Values or Principles
- Minor Values: Wants that add value but are not a need (i.e. a luxurious bed)
- Imaginary Values: Obstacles that get in the way of our real values
So how do we define what a value is? The Minimalists describe something as a value “if it serves a purpose and brings me joy.” Values by nature are individually defined and therefore subjective. For our purposes we will primarily be discussing Core and Imaginary values.
Take a moment to think about the activities you fill your time with each day. Not just working, showering and eating but the things you do in the in between time. For each activity write down a one word value that is implied by or associated with it. For example, if I spend 3 hours a day on social media or watching TV that implies I am giving value to instant gratification, stimulation, virtual social status, etc. In this example social media is an imaginary value. It’s something I do that may seem like it is satisfying or ads value in the moment but it actually gets in the way of and takes time away from me doing what really matters. Every time I say YES to Netflix binge’s or scrolling mindlessly through my IG feed, I am simultaneously saying NO to an alternate activity that may better serve my core values.
Now make a list of all the things you say are important to you (i.e. relationships, stability, trust, honesty, love, community, education, etc.) Compare this list to the values reflected in your schedule. Is there consistency or contradiction?
Next, list out small activities you can do that more accurately reflect your core values. For example, a value of mine is mental health so I include meditation, reading and Lumosity brain games in my daily habits. Relationships are also a key virtue in my life so I include connecting with a friend or family member in my tracker, be it via text, call or visit. These are the type of tasks that should be included in your habit tracker. I used to write mine down in a bullet journal (you can see what it looked like in last weeks post) but now I use Evernote for everything. I made a note titled “Habit Tracker” in my “Personal” notebook. I list them with check boxes instead of bullet points so I can mark them off as completed each day.
Once we define our values and select ways to take action on them, where do we find extra time to fit them into our already busy schedules? Well, unfortunately I haven’t come across Hermione’s Time Turner so we all still have the same 24 hours in a day to use to our advantage. The truth is no matter how hectic our lives are we all end up having a few minutes of down time here and there in between appointments, when waiting in line, in traffic, etc. We’ll refer to these as “micro minutes”.
“If you stay ready, you don’t gotta get ready”
In order to make the most of your micro minutes you have to be prepared. I am constantly on the run in between work, errands, clients, etc. I would often spend my days taking care of everything and everyone else. By the time I got home at the end of the day I was too drained to be productive and felt like so much time had been wasted throughout the day. I now keep an on-the-go tote full of everything I need to have a successful day including healthy snacks, water, current book, tablet, journal, charger, headphones, travel size toiletries, etc. Having a go bag like this makes it easy to use the micro minutes throughout the day to your advantage.
If you despise bag lady’s, it’s all good. There’s an app for everything (except bag lady haters :p ) so find a few that add value to your life and reap the benefits of dominating downtime! A few of my favorite apps at the moment are Audible, Evernote, Lumosity, Movement BE and Podcasts. I’ve seriously been hooked on Podcasts lately, to the point that it’s overshadowed my Pinterest addiction, which I didn’t think was possible.
Mastering the micro minutes is a great way to make sure your short term actions align with your values and long term goals. So do yourself a favor- the next time you find yourself in the midst of a micro minute, check out your habit tracker and take action!