Pfft… I am not minimalistic enough!

Minimalism is a lifestyle and never a one time deal. Over time, your values will change and then you realise what you have now no longer bring you joy or give you any value. Then, probably, you will be like me and start to wonder whether you are minimalistic enough.

I have been into minimalism for about a year and a half and reached this point where despite my best effort, I’m find that I am not minimalistic enough. I still got a lot of stuff and get stressed by them. It is especially when I need to pack them up.


Clothes are one of the few things that most people will accumulate a lot over the years if they aren’t careful and especially so these days due to fast fashion. Therefore, it is highly logical for someone who want to adopt a minimalistic lifestyle to target clothes as the first step during the decluttering process.

I got rid of a lot of flannels, t-shirts, pants and polo shirts until I could easily move my hanging clothes left and right of the wardrobe.

And recently, I came to realise I didn’t declutter sufficiently. I had to pack up my clothes into giant bags because of an upcoming renovation and my current fixed wardrobe will be taken down to make way for new one. The packing process actually pissed me off more than it should because of the sheer amount of clothes I still have. More than 20% of my clothes haven’t been worn for months or even years and they had been sitting there collecting dust. It even make my skin itch when I pick them up.

So I pulled out a bunch of clothes that I know for sure I won’t wear them ever again and toss them into the bin. Even after doing that, I still got like maybe 80 clothes (pants, shorts, underwear, etc.) and I’m sure another quarter of those I probably won’t wear ever again.

Technology and Electronics

If you are someone who love technology and electronics, it is inevitable that you have old processors, motherboards, rams, phones, adapters and cables lying around that you no longer use because you have gotten new ones to play with.

During my minimalism journey, I had targeted these items to declutter and got rid a lot of them. Hell, I even got rid of my gaming desktop because I no longer find value in it and prefer to just stick to one computer for my daily needs.

Yet, recently when I was going through those boxes that I have to store these technology items, I found myself extremely frustrated when I tried to repack those items back. It turns out, there were a whole bunch of stuff that I really don’t use anymore but didn’t get rid of. I was cursing and swearing at those items as I put them back into the boxes. It took a while before I could close those lids.

And I don’t have the time to clear these items because I got other more important things to do.

Paper-based items

I don’t know about where you live, but in Singapore, chances are you will receive a ton of letters from the government for every little notifications or updates as well as statements for your taxes and CPF account. And if you are Singapore guy and need to serve the military, you will also get a ton of reservist call-up letters and whatever updates the military wants “disturb” you with.

Yeah, I never liked the military. Still hate it. But I digress.

And let’s not forget about receipts. Now, normally you don’t need to keep those if you aren’t running a business where you need to file taxes. However, if you are someone who buys a lot of technology products, you need to keep those receipts for warranty purpose. And I have a ton of those lying around.

You would think that I’m done. No. Because of my interest in writing since secondary school days, I actually have a ton of folders and notebooks containing a bunch of old writings.

And oh, printed lecture notes, tutorials and laboratory instructions from my diploma and degree days. Those are still lying around in my cabinets.

So during my cleaning up process over the past two days, I realised that I hadn’t really put a lot of effort into decluttering paper-based items in my room.

By my estimation, I actually have about 80 over letters and that’s not including the envelopes used to contain those letters, five folders containing my old writings, countless pieces of papers accumulated during my studies.

Now, I managed to reduce the letter collection down to about 30 physical letters by shredding a lot of them and digitalising the important letters.

As for the old writings, I decided they aren’t worth keeping and so I discarded all of them. The school stuff on the other hand, I simply don’t have the time to clear them yet since there are a ton of things to do too.


All the above definitely prove that I’m not minimalistic enough. And it’s a journey of trial and error.

So what’s next?

Going forward, I need to work harder. I still want to meet my goal of having all that I own in just two boxes the size of 1 x 1 x 1 meter. It would make my life easier when I need to move house or something.

Resident Evil 2 Remake – Why I think it’s the best survival horror yet

The first time I played a survival horror video game was during my early teens years at somebody’s house. This somebody was one of those temporary friends you make when you are playing with other people outside at the playground, etc. And that game was Resident Evil Director’s Cut on the Phone.

That game was one that I remembered vividly where I couldn’t seem to get past the first few zombies of the game. The reason probably could be I was too young, naive, and didn’t quite understand the game mechanics.

As I got older, I got to play every single numbered Resident Evil game. Until today, I always saw the franchise as one of the best survival horror entertainment product. And the Resident Evil film series is really enjoyable, not for its survival horror element but for what it actually is: a science fiction action series that has its own take on the franchise.

The other survival horror game that I liked was Dead Space until Dead Space 3 where Electronic Arts decided to bungle up what made the first game so good. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed all the games for the reason that I want to know what happened. I wanted to know who invented the Markers that convert organics, especially humans, into necromorphs. Until today, I hope that someone decided to buy the Dead Space franchise from EA and make it good again.

But I digress. My intention is to talk about the remake of Resident Evil 2 and why I think it is survival horror done right.

The first three games of the Resident Evil series relied on fixed-camera view of the game world as we move the characters using tank control. Due to the limitation of the hardware at that time, the implementation serves its purpose of making you panic when a zombie is coming after you since you will struggle to make the character move to get away only for the camera view to change to another angle, creating a somewhat disorienting experience where you know there is an enemy coming but you may have the best view of what’s around the corner.

Then there is the audio, limited ammunition, monsters jumping out when you least expected it on the first play through and your character do move slower when injured, with the latter being found in Resident Evil 2 and 3. All those elements contributed to making you feel more weary. I do remember quietly cheering my characters to move faster as I was running away from a horde of zombies.

Then with technological improvements, Resident Evil changed to a third-person view mode, starting from Resident Evil 4. This time, the game takes on a more action-oriented style with limited ammunition and sudden appearance of enemies, either in waves or a couple, to make it slightly more “scary”. But the real selling point by then was the storyline, the characters and environment design. As least in my view.

The remaining games just kind of further improve on the third-person, over-the-shoulder view until Resident Evil 7 where it got changed into first-person mode.

During those years between Resident Evil 4 to Resident Evil 7, Dead Space served as what I would call over-the-shoulder view survival horror done right. The dark, poorly lit game world with blood all over, necromorphs jumping out at you and attacking you when you least expected it, limited ammunition and the general creepy and eerie audio all contributed to make it the true survival horror game.

Resident Evil 7 then went ahead to redefine what it is to be a survival horror game by making you only able to see what’s in front of you with its first-person mode. But I personally found it to be nauseating because it was too close to the action. I didn’t quite enjoy that game

Then came Resident Evil 2 remake and there are a few reasons why I think it’s the best survival horror game yet.

The game went with using the same over-the-shoulder view pioneered in Resident Evil 4 but this time, it looks like they took elements from Dead Space to make it the perfect survival horror game based on the various YouTube videos I have watched. The dark corridors that are sometimes claustrophobic. With the over-the-shoulder view, you just don’t really know what’s behind you or around the corner until you turn around. Then there is good use of lighting. You need to rely on a torch light to see dark areas. Enemies like the Licker could be hiding up on the ceiling. The other game that I played which uses that to good effect is The Evil Within. I had to light up certain candles, lamps and whatnot to see what’s around me. Then there’s the enemies jumping out from certain places and hunting you. The good old jump scare technique.

Second, characters can make or break a game and there are few game characters that resonates with the players. You have got Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn that’s very well received and resonate with a lot of people. She’s a strong female character who fought against the traditions that defined the village from which she was birthed in to explore the world and understand what’s going on while still show compassion for the world around her, though she’s cold at times. Then there is Issac Clarke from Dead Space that’s memorable. And I love him because of his so call ingenuity in crafting weapons using tools used in engineering work in the game universe. He resonates with me considering that I’m a trained engineer too, though on the software side. For Resident Evil, the characters would be Leon and Claire. Unlike Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, Leon and Claire are the more average characters in terms of skills and abilities who got thrown into an impossible situation. Over the course of the game, we get to see them grow and survive the outbreak. And that’s in the original game. Now we get to see and experience their stories in Resident Evil 2 in a different way.

Third, we get to revisit a favorite location in the Resident Evil series. Raccoon City. That’s not the say the European setting in Resident Evil 4, the Africa setting in Resident Evil 5 or the multi-nation setting in Resident Evil 6 aren’t good. For the record, I actually like the Tall Oak or Lanshiang part of the game. I always love a good survival horror setting set in a metropolitan area or a place where ordinary people have to live their lives only to die from a disaster. Just like Titan Station in Dead Space 2. It’s just a personal thing. I’m morbid that way. That’s why going back to Raccoon City where it all started is a great thing in my view. And I believe there’s more story to tell there. I actually wish there are more single-player, numbered Resident Evil game set in Raccoon City to show the outbreak from a different perspective. And no don’t cite Resident Evil outbreak 1 and 2. I hated those games because they are so lacking in focus with so many characters, short missions and poor story telling.

The fourth thing is the inventory management system. I think it’s what made survival horror survival horror. And I dare say it’s more realistic. Put it this way, short of having a large haversack on your back, there’s just no way for a person to carry so much stuff. And even if you do, you won’t be nimble enough to move around zombies. In Dead Space, you also got limited space to carry your items. It makes you think about what to bring as you go through the game and then make you backtrack to a “safe location” to retrieve something if you forget it. The journey back sometimes is dangerous since enemies that weren’t there before may just appear. It adds a little bit of tension there.

The fifth reason is the limited resources. In a major disaster, I really don’t think you would be able to find caches of bullets lying around unless you raid an armory before it all began. Even so if you get to raid an armory, you will eventually run out of ammunition. So having you conserve your ammunition by having you decide what you shoot at or run is a great game mechanics. The Evil Within 1 and 2 are the two games that does a great job at this. It can contribute to creating a sense of helplessness when you run out of ammunition or health kits.

Finally, there just isn’t another survival horror game coming out anytime soon that could fill the shoes of Resident Evil. I have personally completed The Evil Within 2 and loved that game. Until the next The Evil Within or someone proceed to make Dead Space 4 the way it is supposed to be, Resident Evil is just the best-in-class survival horror game.

And I digress bit for a rant. Seriously, I just disagree with EA’s stance that they need to change a game so much to cater to a diverse market to make the most money and then killing the franchise just because it didn’t meet sales expectation. To me, it’s just not the right way to go. We have seen enough success stories where companies continue to build their niche products so that it is the best in class product and people will buy.

Now, I’m just really pumped about the game and looking forward to get it when it’s out.

Mastery and being inspired improves your productivity

Productivity is a measure of one’s output given a set period of time but it doesn’t mean quality or doing it right.

That’s my understanding of what it means when someone mention productivity these days.

Our modern economy places a high emphasis on this metric. With the advancement of technology, it is expected that everyone output 10x, 100x or even 1000x of what someone could output for the same amount of time and resource several years ago.

On a personal level, it’s suggested one sleep early and wake up early, exercise more, and maybe throw in some meditation to improve your energy level so that you can do more and faster in a short amount of time.

The 80/20 rule also applies here. One should only spent the least amount of effort to achieve the greatest result.

I for one don’t disagree with all those advices because they do help.

However, I have come to recognize that there are two more things that one should also acquire to be highly productive.

The first is mastery.

When you master something, be it copywriting, write codes, or draw art, you will find yourself doing a lot of things effortlessly because whatever it is you are doing is like muscle memory. This determine how much actual effort is spent to create something. Thus, it could take you as little as 15 minutes to do something that would taken you an hour or two when you were a novice.

I know because I have gone through that many times in my software development work. I can deliver way more than what my colleagues or friends could even when they are copying and pasting code within a set period of time. And with quality I might add.

What I did was by picking a specific area in software development and then focus all my attention on it.

For example, I picked UX/UI design and implementation for my current job and then spent weeks after weeks doing that. Right now, you can get the best possible UI (compared to my colleagues on the team and possibly my current division) from me using just the UI controls provided by Microsoft’s WPF and Telerik. I even took care of a lot of detailed stuff that help ensure a smooth and great user experience when they use the application. Something that I know for a fact my colleagues can’t do.

And I’m not boasting…Ok, maybe a little. I’m proud of what I have achieved.

My team lead saw it with his own eyes over the past year. And even my colleagues also recognize some of the stuff I have done that are better than their work. Even the customer, despite not knowing who done what, knows which part of the user interface they love the most and commented how good it was, which was done by me.

What I have realized too was you don’t need to reach 100% mastery (which is quite impossible) in something. All you need is to reach roughly 60% to 70% mastery in something and you can quite easily do anything that require you to use that skillset. Anything more than that will probably see diminishing returns and not worth your time to pursue.

The second thing to boost your productivity is being inspired.

Being a master at something isn’t enough to improve your productivity when you are completely drained and uninspired. In fact, being uninspired can reduce your productivity by some 50% or maybe more (not scientifically correct, just a gut feeling).

I have gone through days feeling depressed or uninspired. Even the thing I could have easily finished in less than an hour took me half the day and sometime, the whole day.

To feel inspired, sometime you just need to reframe your mind.

You can try to think of the problem you are trying to solve from a new perspective. This is where you need to figure out your WHY. You need to have an honest conversation with yourself about WHY you are doing what you are doing now. Once you do that, you could find the spark that you need to drive you forward.

And if that doesn’t help much, sometimes, you really do need to move around. Go for a walk or a run. Even step out of office and sit at the pantry or cafeteria can help.

Please don’t take my word at face value. Go and try the two suggestions out and see if it helps with making you more productive at work. So far, it has helped me in delivering more with quality over the last few months.

Write daily to improve (not) – Finding my own writing process

I’m pretty sure you will see this kind of content everywhere. I’m writing it anyway because I want to share my process and how I make my writing work.

The general consensus amongst writers, especially those what we deemed to be high-performers based on metrics like how many views, how many pieces of content they put out, how many claps or likes they get, and the amount of engagement they have, is that you should write daily. As wise people always say, quantity over quality. Keep putting yourself out there and not be paralyze by the fear of not putting out a piece of viral content.

Those advices are not wrong. I tried writing daily and now I can just hit publish without worrying whether my content is good enough. The market will decide by giving me likes or views or comments. And thus far, based on those metrics, my content sucks. Big time. But I digress.

Anyway, there are days when I simply don’t feel like writing because they are dry in terms of things that I have done or learnt or seen. My only excuse is that I live through most of my day following a fix routine => Wake up, go to work, go through my task list, do them, go home. Rinse, rise, repeat. Fixed routines can dramatically drain one’s inspiration but it is also one of those things that keep me sane in an insane world.

I’m neurotic in that sense.

And my day job does make me write a lot. I’m a software developer and so I write codes. Those things, when you do them for eight hours straight, they are bloody draining on one’s mental energy. Then there are those menial tasks like meetings and customer support.

I also do freelance development work for a long-time client. My mind is constantly working and churning.

By the time I get home, I’m already floored. I’m a highly-sensitive person and do need more personal time than the average person to relax and clear the toxins from my body.

Being highly-sensitive is not an excuse. I have also been building up my emotional immunity but there will be days when the balance is off and I didn’t have enough time to tip the scale accordingly. That’s when you will see me spiral out of control, have lots of mood swings.

Well, I don’t want that. It’s bad for my health too. My friends and family don’t want that because I do get extremely grumpy when I don’t rest enough. So I will find ways to shut down my mind for just a little while. Have a massage or something.

I’m also predominantly a fiction writer. Those take a lot of time to write. It’s even worse when you ran out of ideas, and feeling exhausted mentally and physically. Yes, you do see non-fiction writing coming from me but those are out there because I felt the urge to write them. Including this one. I am not specifically looking forward to write them. I don’t even write my daily log or journal daily.

Of course, you can say that there are other fiction writers who can put out daily content without problem.

Yes, I know. I do read content from these writers too. Good for them. They found a writing process that works for them. Some of them are even full-time writers. I’m not them. I have a day job that is equally draining for someone like me. I don’t do micro-fictions. I’m a long form fiction writer. The average length of my short story is anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 words. Those take a lot of effort on my part to churn out. And need a healthy dose of inspiration. And a rested mind, not a moody one after a long day of work.

So I do spent time playing video games (sometimes for hours non-stop), watch movies, exercise, and read. If I need it, I will nap for four hours straight. This is how I take care of my mental state and health.

Then there will be days I’m feeling it. The inspiration just struck. I will just sit there and write. I could hit up to 9,000 words, maybe even 10,000, if I wanted to. After all, I did that a few times when I want to write a novel.

There was once, I even managed to churn out 14,000 words over three days as I was writing a novel. I was in the zone (or flow state) after being well-rested, full of motivation, and inspiration. That was one of my best records ever.

So yeah, you won’t see me putting out daily content just because it will improve my writing. I do believe in consistent practice but rest is equally important. Play is equally important. Balance is key. So I will put out content when I have the capacity to do so. I have other means and ways to improve my own writing.

Now that’s my writing process.

Rebooted Writing, One Year Later

I started out my writing first on Blogger before moving to WordPress in May 2010 because it was a so much better platform to write on. I posted at least one article every week in the past until October 2016 when I stopped completely.

I cleaned out all my posts, images and pages because of my desire to protect my own privacy after experiencing multiple data breaches in 2016 alone. Over time, I convinced myself I didn’t need to write anymore.

I was wrong.

I restarted my writing in mid-March 2017 because I needed an outlet again to deal with what I was going through in my working life. I posted something at least three times a week before graduating to posting everyday over the last 6 months.

In November 2017, I joined Medium because I wanted to put myself on more places to build up a portfolio of sort as I wanted to be a full-time writer. On the other hand, it was also to prove to and convince myself and my friends that I’m a writer.

But the truth is my self-esteem is low and I am easily influenced by others’ opinions, e.g., when people say I’m not a writer, I tend to agree. It’s the same with any other endeavor I take on. That’s why I keep falling into bouts of depression. I admit I was trying hard to be somebody else that I’m not. Again.

So now it’s time for me to stop listening to those opinions because I know I’m a writer. I’m just a different kind, so is every other writer.

I also came to realize that creating and publishing content curated for different platforms is splitting my focus, making it hard for me to write. For example, Medium is a platform better for those listicles, self-help, personal growth, entrepreneurship type of articles whereas I can treat WordPress as my personal blog.

Couple that with my strong desire for the perfect piece of writing, I’m constantly stressed. My day job as a programmer is already making me pull my hair out metaphorically. So it is now obvious to me that I’m doing it all wrong. Writing is supposed to be therapeutic for me and not contributing to my stress.

Gary Vaynerchuk always talk about doubling or tripling down on your strength and why it’s important. If you think deeper about it, it’s a good strategy because you won’t find yourself expending too much energy on something that you just isn’t good at. That’s why I have decided to pivot myself towards more fiction writing and less non-fiction writing in this ratio => 6:4. After all, I started out writing fiction and done it for most of my teenage and young adult life before going into non-fiction writing.

And I will put more attention on WordPress and get my own domain name.

As for what I will do on Medium, well, it will just be another platform where I re-post stuffs from my WordPress account that I think are suitable. I will remain a paid member because there are paid articles that I like to read.

P.S. This article alone saw me changing the title four times and I re-wrote the first few paragraphs at least thrice.