Tag Archives: Simplify

Stuff

I was referred to this article by Paul Graham.  I thought the article was very interesting.  The author explores how our possessions have increased in number and (in some ways) our value of them has decreased in a way.  He also talks about how stuff used to be less accessible in generations past, and as a result, people had less accumulation.  As opposed to today, when industrialized countries have access to more and more stuff at continually lower prices (and many times lower quality).

More stuff doesn’t equate to satisfaction.

Isn’t it amazing how you can buy and buy and never feel satisfied?  Shopping addictions are pretty common, and difficult to overcome.  The deal is, no accumulation of stuff will ever fill the hole that we are trying to make it fill.  It’s about the value of life, people and experiences we come into contact with that should fill our days.  When it comes down to it, stuff will never love us back or help us when we’re down.

No amount of organizing or redesign can hide the fact that one has too much stuff in their home or office.  It’s not something that can be contained by a new product or process.  Really dealing with how much we have, and how much we bring into our lives is paramount.  It’s not worth having if it’s not useful.  It’s not worth the footprint in our space if it doesn’t bring value to life – it’s just stuff.

Buy with purpose.

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I like a good quality handbag or a nice pair of shoes that will last.  (For me, quality is more important than brand names – I could care less about what people think of the name on my bag.)  However, unconscious purchasing (which runs rampant in the USA) is a real dead end.  Buying stuff should be something we do with purpose, keeping in mind how it will serve us as a useful possession – NOT how it makes us feel when we buy it.

What’s your thought on “stuff”?

Simplify Your Life: Ask For Help

What chore do I hate? Cleaning out my window sill & tracks. You know why? Because until yesterday, I didn’t know you could take the sliding window out, remove the track and clean it. How simple was that? Why didn’t I know that? Because I never asked. So, the process I went thru the clean the window was not only a royal pain, but wasn’t really effective. I couldn’t clean underneath, and my gag reflex kicked in today when I saw what was under there (thank goodness for vinyl windows!).

So, what the heck does that have to do with simplifying your life? A lot! Can you imagine how much easier it would have been, how many less bumps and bruises I would have had, and how much less time I would have spent on this mundane project if I would have known there was a much easier way? Well, my knuckles are all intact, but for argument sake, let’s talk about time:

Old way: 45 minutes per window, labor intensive, hated doing it so I avoided it (being honest)

New way: 15 minutes per window, very simple and fast to do, didn’t love doing it but definately won’t avoid it in the future

What does that mean? It means I saved myself 30 minutes per window (I have 12) and I now don’t hate doing this chore, hence I will do it more often.

What does that mean for you?

Well, think about a chore you hate to do. Since one of the subjects of this blog is organizing, let’s use that one. Say you’re struggling with your home office, and good grief, it is driving you crazy. So, you cope. You stack up the papers, avoid filing and generally go day after day trying to work in an office that you basically hate. You feel hopeless because what you’ve done in the past hasn’t worked. Instead, you could….

… ask a friend for help (who happens to have a rockin’ home office)

… form a “support group”, make a commitment to each other, help each other out with organization projects

… read a book like “It’s Hard To Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys”, by Marilyn Paul

… check out flylady.net for helpful tips to get you going

… subscribe to my e-newsletter!

6 Steps to Destress

Feeling stressed?  Maybe there is something you should or shouldn’t be doing.  If you’re shouldering your share of stress, here’s some tips to help you de-stress and take a load off.

  1. Do something that makes you happy. When was the last time you did something you truly enjoy? Read a book that wasn’t work-related (ok, so I’m guilty of this). Go take a walk just because, and notice how beautiful a flower can be. Go to coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Play a card game with your spouse or partner without the TV. Go see a movie.
  2. Stop and think about what is stressing you out, and how you can alleviate the problem. Beth, of My Simpler Life Blog wrote beautifully on this, so I’ll link it HERE, because I couldn’t have written it better myself!
  3. Simplify Your Life. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – simplify your life.  It’s east to let stuff (tangible or otherwise) take over and accumulate.  Sometimes you have to edit your life and get rid of things that are not making sense, or making you unhappy.  Is it easy?  Sometimes not, but having the courage to take control of your own life is worth your sanity in the long run.  (Incidentally, if you haven’t read Seth Godin’s new book, The Dip, I highly recommend it! It gives great tips on quitting, and what that means for you in the long run.)
  4. Will this matter in 5 years? A good, and ahem, more experienced friend of mine gave me some great advice several years ago: when faced with the day to day stuff, ask yourself, “will this matter in five years?”  If the answer is no, then don’t sweat it.
  5. Concentrate on what is good in your life, and how to attract more of the good. Almost everyone on the planet is talking about The Secret, and for good reason.  Concentrate on what is good in your life, and you will attract more of it to you.  What you think about it, you will bring to your life – so make your thoughts good ones!
  6. Review this list. A great list from Jobacle on 50 things you can do to destress.  Take 5 minutes to read it.  You won’t be sorry!

“Remember America: Organization Will Set You Free”

So, if you’re an Alton Brown fan, such as myself you may know where that quote comes from.  The truth is,  organization can set you free.  With talk lately about a personal perception of the merits of “messes” these days, I just cant resist the temptation to put my two cents into the conversation.

Messy is highly overrated.

Let me tell you, as a former “messie” type, I was stressed.  Not finding things, working myself into an absolute tirade over lost keys (yet again), accusing my poor unsuspecting husband of moving lost items….it was not pretty.  For me, it didn’t work.  I had too much stuff.  When I started to go through it all, it was liberating.  I discovered a lot about myself, and some of that wasn’t pretty either!

Organized = doing what you do, only better.

There are those who would think that organization = perfection.  A conversation with someone close to me prompted me to say, “You know, you’d be surprised at how organizing oneself really is helpful.  It helps you do what you do better, like getting the important things done.”  It’s not about rule setting or shame, or any of that other nonsense.  Organizing simply helps you be a better…..well….YOU.

Simplicity Sweep

I read a post today that really resonated with me, and maybe it will with you too.  The author has tried many different things to organize and simplify life, and feels what she has done up to now hasn’t really worked out for her.   She knows there is something out there that will work for her, but hasn’t quite found it yet.  Man, do I know how she feels.  I commented on the post, and I wanted to elaborate here.

Rethinking time.

Reading this post was like looking in the mirror for me.  I remember feeling helpless, and I remember how it felt that those around me couldn’t really rely on me to be responsible, on time or whatever.  I was constantly late to work, social events and singing engagements.  Not exactly a recipe for success.  However, I’m also a naturally inclined perfectionist.  I remember an “aha” moment for me about perfectionism when I heard (on the Oprah show) that many people who are late are perfectionists and over-achievers.  (!!!)  Meaning, the reason they are late is they know they can do one more thing before they go: clean one more thing, put one thing away, make one more phone call…  Wow, did that hit home with me.  I realized that the time it takes to do something is really twice the amount of time I wanted it to take.  So, I started doubling my estimates of time.  What a difference that made!

I titled this post “Simplicity Sweep”.  I wanted to give you some insight to when it might be time for you to do one in your own life, home, business, home office, etc.  You might need a “Simplicity Sweep” if…..

….. you are getting that “heavy feeling”. Ever feel overwhelmed, tired and not know why?  Your body and spirit weigh down your shoulders.

….. you feel overwhelmed.  You look at your schedule for the day and think, man, how did it get like this.

….. you feel anxious, you don’t feel good and don’t know why.  Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate and get back to what really matters.

….. you can’t seem to “get it all done”.  It feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, and you know that if you just had a few more you could get it all done.  (Reality check: Not gonna happen.)

All of these things can signal that it’s time to do something. Simplicity can be a state of mind, but it’s also an action, a verb.  It’s something you do consciously.  Living consciously helps you see clearly, and simplicity can be part of that bigger picture.

So, is it time for a “Simplicity Sweep” in your life?

7 Steps to Travelling (& Packing) Well

Monica Ricci just posted on her blog about traveling light, and I just love that subject!  Having been a Rotary Exchange Student (*ahem* I’m sure it was just a few months ago…. 🙂 )  helped me learn to prepare and love to travel.  So, here’s some tips for you.  Have a great tip?  Let me know!

  1. Use a Master List:  Start making one now, do a Google search, or use your next trip’s list as a starting point.  Using a Master will relieve you from having to write everything all over again each time. If you use a PDA such as Palm, Handy Shopper is a great program to use for this!
  2. Pack early: Whether its a week or a day ahead, get your packing going.  Generally if I’m going for a week or longer, I start a week ahead, at least getting things together.  That way there is time for laundry!
  3. Mix n’ Match:  There’s no need to bring your entire closet!  Use foundational pieces and mix them up:  pick two foundation colors, and then add wraps or different tops to add some color.  Use your imagination!
  4. Toiletries in a bag:  Have a small travel bag that is filled with those little travel size containers.  Put your shampoo, conditioner, lotion and whatever else you need in there.  When you travel, grab this bag and put it in your suitcase, and you’re ready to go.
  5. Borrow the bulky stuff:  As Monica stated, most hotels have hair dryers, irons or steamers, so leave them home.  If you’re staying with family, check if you can borrow their appliances.  If you MUST bring your own, try a travel sized dryer or iron.
  6. Extra bags:  Fold up an extra tote bag for “just in case”, and bring a few plastic grocery bags for damp or wet swimsuits and dirty laundry.
  7. Returning home: before you leave your destination, do your laundry if possible, so clean clothes can be put straight away when you get home.  When you get home, refill your toiletries’ containers, unload your suitcase and put everything away.  Do it before you sit down, and then relax.  Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?  🙂

Happy travelling!

Don’t Make Product Part of the Problem

Products are only part of the solution.

Have you ever started an organizing project at the store?  “I KNOW this box is going to be the answer to my prayers…” you might have told yourself.  Now, before I go any further, let me just say that I have no issue with products (as you can tell by now), but for most, they are not the place to start.

If you are embarking on an organizing project, consider that when you go through your belongings, it’s important to sort – get rid of what you don’t need, keep what you do.  Once that process is complete, you have a way better idea of what will stay and how it should be housed.  Sure, research and an occasional field trip is great – just don’t go crazy and clean out the store, bringing it all home, finding it doesn’t fit or isn’t quite what you need, and have that stuff that was supposed to help become more clutter you don’t need, that you have to sort through, decided if you want to keep it, what you’ll do with it……  get the point?

So hey, sort first, then go and buy those cute containers at Storables or russell+hazel.  You’ll  save yourself some money, aggravation and time in the end!

Greener Everyday…

Sometimes I think my family thinks I’m a little nutty. They might be onto something, but that’s ok with me. Everyday I take small steps to be more in the “green”. You can too, and here’s a few tips to get you started:

  • Less packaging. Whenever possible, buy products with less packaging. This could be meat, poultry and fish with no styrofoam or plastic tray.
  • Turn down the thermostat. As the weather gets colder, help your furnace, your wallet and the environment by turning the temperature down and putting on a warm sweater. Better yet, cuddle up to your sweetie. 🙂
  • Take a day or two off. Group your errands together 2-3 days per week instead of everyday.
  • Recycle. Paper, plastic, glass, computers, ink cartridges and cell phones. Need some ideas where to take it all? Go to earth911.org.
  • Buy less stuff. Stop and think before you buy. Do you really need it? How long will it last?

So go ahead, get green!

“Stop Pouring”

As I sit watching Dr. Wayne Dyer’s presentation about his experiences with reading the Tao (his book, “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life“), I am struck by his comment:

…when your cup is full, stop pouring…

Our culture is overrun with having more and more and more stuff.  Advertisements abound that tell us our life isn’t complete without this or that.  What if we could just say, thanks, I’m fine, and I have enough?  Clutter overtaking our homes and offices, extra weight, too many commitments – these are all signs that we haven’t stopped pouring.  More stuff doesn’t always equal more happiness.

Do you have an area in your life where you need to “stop pouring”?

Simple: What Does It Mean?

There is a lot of buzz in recent years about “balance” and “simple life”.  Besides the ridiculous TV shows (you know who you are) about living more simply, we seem to crave a less complicated life. Why is that? If our surroundings are any indication, we are overloaded with information and advertisements. We buy things out of impulse or a perceived need.  Maybe it’s time to get back to what matters, but how do we start?

What does “simple” really mean?

To me, simple means less is more (to beat an old cliche into the ground).  Having more “stuff” can never fill an intangible hole.  Of course, you may be wondering, “what the heck does that have to do with organizing?”  Well, to be honest, a lot (some would say half or more) of the process of organizing is letting go of the excess we have piling up or lying around.  Clutter symbolizes many things for many people, and it’s not just about those things we can touch.  Clutter can run much deeper than we’d like to think it does.

Finding “simple” at the bottom of the pile.

Too much clutter can tip you off to a loss of balance somewhere internally – and it’s not just the pile of stuff teetering on the edge of your desk!  I was amazed at what I found when I started working on my office a few years ago.  I challenge you to do the same thing.  Take an area in your home office (or life) and start to peel away the layers of excess.  I bet you’ll be surprised at what you find.    You may just find out what you don’t need.  Simple, may in fact, be better.