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Showing posts from May, 2020

95 Ways to Simplify Your Life - Unbusy

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If there's one thing many of us have learned from the Covid-19 quarantine and social distancing, it's that having more space on our calendars for relationships, creativity, and rest has been a blessing.  Maybe we didn't realize the toxic effects of constant commitments, appointments, and giant to-do lists, but in hindsight they are easy to see.  We have an opportunity to make different choices going forward. Part 5 - Unbusy 67.  Learn to say no. This can be a challenge, but you'll be happier if you have enough time and energy for what really matters to you.  If your heart doesn't say "Hell yes!" then just say no. 68.  Create white space. Don't cram your calendar – limit your commitments.  Let go of what has become a burden, and make space for serenity and serendipity. 69.  Delegate. You don't have to do everything yourself.  Get employees to help with projects, and your spouse and kids to help with chores. 70.  Slow down. Our s

95 Ways to Simplify Your Life - Office and Tech

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If there is any area of our modern lives that is supposed to bring freedom and ease, yet often wastes so much time and creates frustrating complications, it is technology.  We can't live without it, but we need to make sure it is serving us, not commandeering our energy and attention.  I hope this list inspires a positive change, however small. Part 4 – Office and Tech 50.  Stop as much incoming paper as possible. Get off mailing lists, cancel catalogs, and sign up for online billing and statements.  Don't accept flyers, handouts, or freebie newspapers. 51.  Sort mail now. Don't set it down somewhere it doesn't belong.  Piles grow when you neglect them, so take a few minutes right away. Junk mail can go straight into recycling (shred anything with personal information). File important papers (like a new investment statement or insurance declarations page) immediately; remove and shred what's outdated. Keep an "action file" for bills

95 Ways to Simplify Your Life - In the Kitchen

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Moving on today to one of the busiest rooms in anyone's home – the kitchen.  This is where we gather for nourishment and connection, yet it is also often the place where clutter gathers and sticks.  But little changes can truly have a big impact. Part 3 – In the Kitchen 37.  Plan meals in advance. You'll spend less time staring into the refrigerator, wondering what to make, and be less likely to give up and call for takeout. 38.  Shop with a grocery list. Avoid making extra trips for forgotten items, and control impulse purchases too.  It could be worth the effort to create a master list of items you use regularly.  Print copies and check off items as you run out. 39.  Eat real food . Simple, unmodified, unprocessed foods are healthier, cheaper, and delicious. 40.  Quit bottled drinks...  ...including bottled water .  Install a water filter, or buy a filtering pitcher.  And soft drinks have absolutely no redeeming qualities.  They're either full of su

Build a Hedge

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This is a chapter from my upcoming book, Resilient: How Minimalism Helps You Cope With the Challenges of Life   (paid link). Hedging, in finance, is a risk management strategy.  It deals with reducing or eliminating uncertainty.  For example, if you buy homeowner's insurance, you're hedging yourself against fires, break-ins or other calamities.  Generally, when people hedge, they try to protect themselves against a negative event. If you live in tornado, hurricane, or blizzard territory, you likely keep at least a few days' worth of non-perishable food, water, batteries, a radio, and other supplies on hand.  Some hedgers adopt a prepper mentality.  They stockpile large amounts of survival necessities, along with guns, cash, gasoline, and more. Having a few extra essentials on hand is probably a good idea, and certainly a means of reducing anxiety in the event of a likely scenario, such as a power outage or an illness.  The zombie apocalypse is pretty improbabl

95 Ways to Simplify Your Life - Wardrobe and Grooming

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Continuing my list of ways to simplify, saving time, space, energy, or money, and bringing more serenity and satisfaction every day. Part 2 – Wardrobe and Grooming 25.  Hang up clothes, or put them in a laundry hamper, as soon as you take them off. Keep re-wearable clothing fresher and wrinkle-free, and your room more spacious and restful.  Use chairs for sitting, not piling. 26.  Organize your clothes by category. Hang all your trousers, skirts, or shirts together so you can quickly find what you need. 27.  Corral accessories. Use a drawer for scarves, a rack for necklaces, or a box for rings and earrings, rather than scattering them about. 28.  Don't be a fashion victim. Chasing trends is a waste of time and money. 29.  Know what flatters you. Avoid accumulating a closet full of wardrobe mistakes. 30.  Choose a base color for your wardrobe. It's so much easier to create outfits when all of your clothes go with a neutral base.  This doesn't mean

95 Ways to Simplify Your Life - Around the House

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I've been striving to simplify my life for more than 20 years, and for the last 18 months I've been writing about it.  I've learned that little changes in our environment, habits, and attitudes can have a big impact. So I thought I'd compile a list of ways to simplify.  Of course, not every item on this list will work for every person who reads it.  But I hope that you will find something that inspires a change, however small.  I'd love to help you save time, space, energy, or money, and to show you ways to find more serenity and satisfaction every day. Part 1 - Around the House 1.  Ditch the TV (or simply turn it off). If you're like the average viewer, you could save well over 100 hours every month, leaving you with time to do things that add value to your life.  And as a bonus, less exposure to commercials makes it easier to buy less, leaving you with more money and less clutter. 2.  If you do watch TV, save it for after dinner. Don't tur

MINIMALIST TOOL KIT: Build a Routine

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Most of us face an endless barrage of choices, one after the other, all day.  What should I wear?  What should I eat?  What should I do first?  What should I do after that?  Should I answer this text or email now, or should I finish what I'm working on? When we go to a store or a restaurant, we wonder Should I order the cheeseburger or the turkey wrap?  Should I buy the green skirt or the floral one?  Will I be happy with this car or that one?   This can be exhausting. And whatever we select, we may fear that another option would have been better.  Although we may think that more choice is a good thing, too many alternatives can slow us down, make every decision harder, and even make us question our competence.  As Barry Schwartz, a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College and author of The Paradox of Choice , writes, "It's not clear that more choice gives you more freedom.  It could decrease our freedom if we spend so much time trying to make choices.&quo

Other People's Clutter

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This is a chapter from my new book, Uncluttered . My husband came home one Friday at the end of a busy week, took his shoes off, and left them sitting by the front door.  He took his backpack over to the dining table and left it on the floor behind his chair.  Then he asked what plans I had for the evening. How did I greet him? Did I give him a kiss and say, "Hi, honey, I'm glad you're home"? Did I tell him I'd been thinking we could try a new restaurant for dinner? Did I notice the shoes and backpack and ask him to please put them away?  (After all, it would only take a minute.) Did I notice the shoes and backpack and simply put them away for him myself?  (Only a minute, remember.) Unfortunately, my choice was "none of the above." I immediately launched into a tirade about the fact that his shoes didn't belong on the floor by the front door and his backpack didn't belong in the dining room. Of course, he got a bit h

MINIMALIST TOOL KIT: Throw a Packing Party

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Okay, you want all of the benefits of decluttering:  more space, more time, more freedom, and a clearer idea of what really matters to you and how you want to use your energy and money to create your best life.  But you don't want to spend months slowly paring down your possessions.  Maybe you're afraid you'll get bogged down and sidetracked, or that you'll become discouraged and give up.  Maybe you're just impatient and ready to get on with a streamlined life. For more immediate results, follow the example of blogger and motivational speaker Ryan Nicodemus.  He threw a party -- a Packing Party .  He and his friend Joshua Fields Millburn packed all of his belongings as if he were moving.  All of it -- kitchenware, clothes, linens, electronics, decorative items, mementos, furniture -- everything.  After several hours, it was stacked halfway to the ceiling in his living room.  There were boxes stacked on boxes stacked on boxes. For the next 21 days, he unpa

MINIMALIST TOOL KIT: The Minimalist Mindset

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"Don't think of all you're giving up, think of everything you're gaining." This public service announcement on New Zealand TV is a good message for all of us during this Covid-19 quarantine. Don't mourn the loss of your always-on-the-go life.   Allow yourself to grasp how trivial some of your concerns were and how much false urgency you let yourself respond to.  Appreciate a slower pace.  Don't bemoan the shopping trips you can't take.   Celebrate your lack of new clutter, your freedom from new debt, and the creativity you're discovering as you use what you already have. Don't complain about your inability to purchase entertainment at movie theaters, bowling alleys, casinos, theme parks, restaurants, etc.  Relax and revel in all the time you have to read, garden, cook, craft, walk, bicycle, watch the sunset, and talk to your nearest and dearest. Don't fret that you can't travel.   Be thankful that you can save fue

Relax and Restore

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Yes lockdown poses its own mental health challenges.  But can we please stop pretending our former world of long working hours, stressful commutes, hectic crowds, shopping centres, infinite choice, mass consumerism, air pollution and 24/7 everything was a mental health utopia. Matt Haig on Twitter, 3 May 2020 Will we one day look back on the Covid-19 quarantine with gratitude? Of course, I'm not suggesting we'd be thankful for illness and death, or economic hardship.  But might we appreciate more time at home with our families? less commuting and more telecommuting? less indulgent and exotic travel and more learning to appreciate our local and regional attractions? less fear of missing out, because there's little to miss out on? fewer frivolous connections, while strengthening meaningful ones with phone calls, video chats, even handwritten cards and letters? fewer appointments and less hurry? more walking and biking? for schools, less emphasis on te

Happier Home, Happier You (Part 2)

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SPECIAL OFFER:  The Amazon Kindle edition of my book Uncluttered is available for a special price in the US and the UK through Friday, May 8. Your home is like a mirror that reflects you.  Studies demonstrate an interesting property of mirrors:  If you smile every time you catch your own reflection, you will, at least temporarily, feel happier and see yourself as a happier person. If your house makes you relax and smile, there's a pretty good chance your mindset will start to reflect your environment. 5 More Things You Can Do to Create a Happier, Healthier House 1.  Make room for connection and nourishment. Don't use dinner tables, coffee tables, armchairs, or your couch as storage spots and dumping grounds.  Clear off surfaces to facilitate easy gathering.  Encourage quality face-to-face time by turning chairs and couches toward each other instead of the television.  And speaking of TV:  Save it for after dinner.  Give your family 30 minutes for distractio

Happier Home, Happier You (Part 1)

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SPECIAL OFFER:  The Amazon Kindle version of my book Uncluttered is available in the US and the UK  for a reduced price beginning today and going until next Friday, May 8. Houses are like mirrors, and over time they come to reflect the people who live in them.  So a house can tell you quite a bit. Some houses say that the people who live there are bright, optimistic, and fulfilled.  Others send the message that the inhabitants are stagnant, overwhelmed, or that they no longer care.  What does your house say about you? 5 Things You Can Do to Create a Happier, Healthier House 1.  Create a working entry. Ditch the morning ritual of a frenzied search for your keys when you're already running late.  Instead, put your entry to work.  Consider a hook for your keys, a tray for sunglasses or mail, a small bulletin board for a calendar or reminders, and a mirror for a last-minute appearance check before heading out. Go deeper:  Place all of these things on a table wi