We’ve all heard the phrase ‘less is more.’ Obviously this can relate to over indulgence… Too much alcohol, drugs, fast food, sex with strangers and other types of debauchery are bad for the body, mind and soul.

Less of this is more happiness, well-being, and more life – you will live longer if you avoid these things. Or at least if you do them in moderation.

Here though, I want to emphasise the real meaning of this phrase:

The benefit of adopting a minimalist approach to your life.

This is learning to live with just the essentials to simplify your existence.

For anyone who wants to be uber productive this is essential. Look at Simon Cowell, he always wears a Black suit and White shirt. Einstein reportedly bought several versions of the same Grey suit. Steve Jobs always wore a Black turtle neck, but why…?

One less decision to make every day.

They can focus their mind on what matters – creating great things.

Everyone can benefit from a minimalist approach, I’m positive about that…

I am certainly more productive when I keep things simple and give myself a manageable amount of tasks.

At the moment I feel like I want to throw away all of my stuff. Most of my clothes, my car, all types of debt and monthly payments for anything.

I want to be free from everything, free to focus on what really matters to me. Not material things, not looking after pointless possessions and seeking new ones to make me feel good about myself.

I want to build myself back up from having no objects. I want to strip my life back of all the things that own me, like the credit card company and the car company.

I want a clean slate and to feel re-born! Maybe then I’ll buy new stuff, but in a minimalist way.

I only want things that could improve my life significantly or be seen as a real investment. Most things I own at the moment depreciate. They don’t make me anything and they complicate my life. That’s crazy.

So, I got thinking… What could I easily cut back on right now…?

Not obvious things like I’ve mentioned above but the hidden things that can poison the mind, bring you down and limit your success in life.

The more I thought, the more things became obvious…

Some things surprised me. Why do more people not live this way?

Here are some things I came up with that seem so obvious now. When less is actually more…

1. Food

As most of us do, I wanted to go on some sort of diet after Christmas. Well I didn’t, but I wanted to look and feel better. I didn’t want to give up my favourite food, so what could I do?

Simple. Just eat less. I started giving myself smaller portions. Rather than using every last inch of the plate and stacking food up like the Burj Khalifa, why not just cut this down by 1/3?!

I can now eat all the things I want to, but in moderation. It takes 15 minutes to feel full after a meal so the scientists say, so don’t be tricked into thinking you are still hungry straight away.

If you are still hungry you are probably just thirsty, have a pint of water. Job done!

2. Exercise

Someone once said to Warren Buffett, ‘you need to stop eating junk food or start exercising if you don’t want to put on weight.’

He couldn’t give up the food so he started exercising. There are probably many doctors out there thinking, you need to give up the food too! But, obviously exercise is important.

So, how then is less of this better for me…?

Because I need to make myself do it in the first place.

I used to want to go to the gym 3 times a week, for at least an hour and burn myself into the ground each time. I hated it. No fun at all and too much hard work, so I didn’t do it.

Then I thought, why am I putting this much pressure on it? Why not just commit to going 3 times a week and doing some form of exercise for however long I want? Why do I have to beat my personal best at each activity, every single time?

As soon as I started to allow myself to do a bit less each session, the more I went! Less pain each session, more sessions and more time in the gym overall.

3. People

We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. If you don’t want to be dragged down, don’t spend time with the people that are no good for you.

Do your closest ‘friends’ have your back? Do they support you in everything you do? Are they positive people? Can you learn from them…?

Or are they negative and self-obsessed? Do they drag you down and leave you deflated without even realising it? Are they destined to mediocrity for the rest of time? Maybe they are happy as this person, that’s fine, but do you want to be like them?

If you are the smartest person in the room you are in the wrong room. I like to think I can learn something from everyone I meet, but toxic people will be removed from my life without hesitation.

Harsh? Maybe, but life is too short and there is too much I want to learn and experience.

4. To Do Lists

Routines of some sort are vital. Setting a ‘to do list’ for my day is the most important part of my existence. Every day there are hundreds of things I’d love to achieve, and I want to do everything right now!

I get carried away. I have no patience and I underestimate how long seemingly small tasks can take to complete. Then I get annoyed when I don’t get everything done… I am more focused on getting through the list than actually doing the important things well.

What is the rush? I have learnt that if I select the 1-3 most important things for that day, I not only get things done… I do things better. The less pressure I put on today the better I will perform. Limit what you do every day to add more value to your long term vision.

5. Saying ‘Yes’

Every time you say yes to something you are saying no to things that are more important to you…

After a busy week do you really want to go to that 60th at the social club? You decide!

It isn’t rude to do what you want with your own life and to turn things down.

The most powerful word we have at our disposal in life is ‘NO.’ When we say this word we are taking control of our own lives.

As Derek Sivers says, ‘if it isn’t a HELL YES, then it’s a no.’

Too often people I know say yes to something to make others happy. Which, I accept, can sometimes be a good thing. The problem is if we don’t consciously make a decision to do what is right for our own ‘plan’ in life we will be swamped and end up neglecting what is important to us.

We will end up failing ourselves and betraying our dreams.

More importantly we may end up neglecting the people that are most important to us.

Time is our most precious resource, yet most of us don’t take the necessary steps to protect it.

6. Writing

Admittedly this is a long post. Believe me though, the first draft was a lot longer.

It has been proven that longer sales copy can convert more customers than a short piece, but this doesn’t mean that you should waffle.

If a sentence isn’t delivering value – delete it.

If you can use ‘but’ instead of ‘however’ do it. If you can use ‘so’ instead of ‘therefore’ then do it.

Whether it’s a blog post, an email, a client proposal, a letter, a text, or whatever: Make every word count. Keep it simple, relatable and readable. Write to a CEO like they are 12. Could a 12 year old read your work…?

If not, then the CEO doesn’t have the time to figure out what you mean by, ‘we deliver innovative customer payment solutions to maximise your bottom line and increase your throughput.’

Less waffle, more value.

Check it out below! This post could be read by a 5th grader (10 year old):

readability-stats-less-is-more

7. Information

In almost every post I bang on about how important reading is and how you should learn something every day. Whilst this is true, don’t let it stop you from taking ACTION!

You learn the most when you are doing…

When you learn to drive a car, you learn much more after you’ve passed your test and you are driving than you do with your instructor once a week…

If I read something inspiring, I write a post about it, putting my own thoughts and spin on it to help myself take it in and adapt it to improve my life.

Gather as much information as you need, and always learn, but if you are looking to achieve something with this information you need to take action.

If you want to learn to cook to impress your wife, learn the basics. Then start cooking. Learn on the job whilst you are still consistently learning on the side.

There are probably hundreds of other examples of less being more and for each of the points here I could have written a whole post.

The point is, we need to look deeper into how we are spending our time and understand what we value the most to make good things happen in the long term…

It will become easier to be more decisive. Be the captain of your own ship. Don’t blame the iceberg for preventing you reaching your goals, be in control, and avoid the hidden dangers that lurk in the night…

Know your destination, stick to your plan, and don’t get lost in the noise and chaos of all the lost souls out there.

Don’t surrender to the fake, deceitful ‘opportunities’ that we are all too often presented with. Follow your own path. You know where it leads and how amazing it will be when you get there.

-Matthew Brown

What else would you add to this list? When has less meant more to you? Let me know in the comments!

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