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The two jeans ten shirts man

jeans_denimThe TJTS man drove a small car. Actually a very small car. A car described by his wife as “a kid’s toy car being driven even after he grew up”.

The TJTS man liked his small car. He didn’t mind the stares, smiles and weird looks he frequently got at traffic lights. He didn’t know it then but it was the starting point of a strange growing obsession with mimimalism.

Some years passed. The TJTS man started noticing that when the car cleaner didn’t show up for a few days, his car DIDN’T look like Pig Pen.

“Hmm..” he thought. Maybe the car doesn’t need cleaning every day. Maybe once a week might cut it.

And it did.

So he fired the car cleaner.

Sure there were a few Thursdays when the car would look like a neglected jalopy. But it was worth it. After all, he was saving the planet 6 buckets of water every week.

Sometime last year, the TJTS man noticed another surprising thing. Apparel shops and malls were doing NOTHING to him anymore. While he was never a mall rat or a dedicated dandy, he did like to look sharp.. At least once in a while. New clothes brought joy. Maybe the joy didn’t last as long as it did for new gadgets but still.. It was something.

These days, he’d walk through malls, walk by brightly lit ‘hip’ branded stores and practically nothing would catch his fancy.

Was this a temporary phase? He wondered. Or was it the real deal? Of moving on to more meaningful things?

He had a hunch how he might arrive at the answer.

One weekend morning, he spent some time poking around his closet.

It wasn’t an impressive wardrobe by any stretch of imagination. There were clothes from numerous eras. Jethro Tull tees from concerts bygone, faded tech company employee giveaway tees, a few ‘party’ shirts, a pile of ethnic sherwani types preserved from his wedding, four formal trousers that hadn’t seen the light of day in years, sundry formal shirts, athletic DriFit tees, and two pairs of jeans.

As he surveyed the motley collection, he looked most fondly at his two pairs of jeans. Does a man need more than two pairs of jeans, he wondered? Maybe a few tee-shirts. How many?

An idea formed in his head. He’d rotate the two pairs of jeans every alternate week. Five workdays for two weeks  meant he needed ten shirts (or tee shirts) for the ten days. He had stopped wearing formal shirts so the ten would have to come from his tee shirt collection. He quickly picked his best ten tees (some with collars also thrown in) and created a pile of workday wear. Everything else (sans his DriFit tees and a few formals) were moved to the shelf earmarked for’giving away to Goonj.

He smiled with satisfaction.

His work was done.

No more inconsequential indecision in the mornings.

Step out of the shower. Pickup the ‘jeans of the week’ and the topmost shirt from the pile. Done.

The new system has been working for the TJTS man for  past six months. And he couldn’t be happier.

The TJTS man wanted this story to be told  because he had read this very interesting story about President Obama’s morning routine. The excerpt below is from Michael Lewis’s Vanity Fair essay’ but I read it in a Chris Guillebeau blog post.

And so, in a funny way, the president’s day actually starts the night before. When he awakens at seven, he already has a jump on things. He arrives at the gym on the third floor of the residence, above his bedroom, at 7:30. He works out until 8:30 (cardio one day, weights the next), then showers and dresses in either a blue or gray suit. “My wife makes fun of how routinized I’ve become,” he says.

You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

In a strange serendipitous way, the TJTS man had found validation in his modest efforts to reduce decisions in his life.

What could he reduce next? What could he automate next?

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