I have been thinking a lot about simplifying my life recently. I started a stellar new job four months ago and it felt like a great time to change other parts of my life.
I used to be a slave to my startups. If I wasn't working, I had a perpetual feeling of guilt that I should be working. That lead to many all-nighters and eventually landed me in the hospital last year after fainting twice from fever and dehydration. That reads more like an accolade to the workaholic culture of Silicon Valley, which joyously consumes posts like how Marissa Mayer worked 130 hours per week. It was most definitely no accolade for me. My last five years have been stressful as fuck.
Whenever my mind would wander it would toss around a big to-do list. All the damn time. It's hard to relax when you keep thinking about things you need to be doing instead of relaxing. I even prided myself on my unwavering workaholic tendencies, notably in this TechCrunch guest post I penned, First-Time Startup Entrepreneurs: Stop Fucking Around. Consider this the sequel.
I was a digital hoarder. I had to check Hacker News and its ilk hourly. I had to open 10 tabs of articles to read or stash them away for later. Yet another task to complete. I had a revelation one day when I realized I didn't have to read everything I found on the Internet. And you know what? My life didn't end because I missed that TechCrunch article. It's all just fleeting information.
I had a revelation one day when I realized I didn't have to read everything I found on the Internet.
I learned that I don't need to reply to every email. I've always been a yes guy and that lead me to being meaninglessly busy with things I didn't actually care about.
I say no more often and now I actually have weekends to myself to do things I want to do, like hiking in the Marin Headlands, running 16.6 miles to catch sunset on the beach, getting brunch on Sundays and running into Sir Jony Ive, taking photos or just relaxing. It's pretty neat.
The end (or half-way point, havent decided yet) to a perfect 7.77mi sunset run. :) twitter.com/Stammy/status/…— Paul Stamatiou (@Stammy) April 22, 2013
I got rid of my car. I rarely used it and the monthly insurance payments were a constant reminder I had another thing to check on. Every so often I'd catch myself thinking something like this: "Oh I probably need to have the brakes checked soon", "I think I saw a nail in the tire, I should get that looked at", "tread seems low.. I should probably save up for new tires."
I sold or tossed a ton of stuff I didn't need, use or wear. I stopped wearing all those free startup shirts I gathered over the years and moved on to button-ups. I use Laundry Locker to deal with ironing them so I don't spend my Sundays doing this. I buy toothpaste, shampoo and the like in bulk on Amazon so I don't have to remember to make monthly errands. I moved to a slimmer wallet and carry less stuff with me everywhere. I cancelled unnecessary monthly billed services so there's less to think about when I see my statements.
I removed apps I didn't use daily from my phone's home screen and deleted ones I didn't use at least once a week. I stopped checking into places on foursquare 10 times a day. I got into a regular workout routine and ran 102 miles this month alone... I would have never had the time or patience to do that if I felt guilty I wasn't working.
I've pushed everything else out of the way so I can focus on what I'm doing right now, living life.