Author Topic: Simple Living Tips  (Read 9418 times)

PaulM12345

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Simple Living Tips
« on: October 10, 2012, 12:00:41 AM »
Okay, I just did the numbers for the past two months and was pleased to find that we are at a 60-65% saving rate; not exactly badass, but definitely moving in the right direction. The nice part is that as my income (small business) increases, and if we keep our spending stable, the savings rate can only go up!

In other words, I feel like we're on a good financial footing in terms of savings; what I realize, though, is that I am still being driven crazy by the non-financial side of mustachianism: too much stuff, too busy, too many things to do, dirty dishes, laundry, toys everywhere, and so on. In other words, I feel like I need to really get punched in the face about the level of simplicity in my life.

Example: You know how some people just can't give up their lattes and their cable? Well, I have a lot of trouble getting rid of things: Stamp collection (from childhood... maybe my kids will like it?), lots of drawers full of miscellaneous objects... I have printer ink cartridges from a printer that already died; and I have the dead printer itself, in my office, because I haven't gotten around to disposing of it properly and I want to give the ink away on freecycle but haven't gotten around to it in 6 months.

I know that this has been discussed in various forms here already, but I'm wondering if anyone has any groundbreaking ideas, or good reading recommendations that can inspire me in a similar that MMM inspires on the financial side of things. One idea I already got was the "give away 100 things" plan (very difficult for me!), but I really need a sort of global philosophical paradigm shift, and I haven't yet found it. Any tips?

gooki

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2012, 01:04:14 AM »
Two words. START TODAY.


happy

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2012, 02:29:15 AM »
It has been said that the hoarding of items is due to living in the past or living in the future: what we need to do is live for now. (I'm not suggesting you have a hoarding disorder.. just that the thought processes  are helpful  to understand). We keep things because of sentimental attachment to the past or in case we might need them in the future.  When we become over burdened with stuff, its time to try to let go of the past or the future with regard to our stuff!

What I found concurs with Gooki's advice - JUST START.  I found once you start it gets easier to let things go.  A number of years ago I had  accumulated a lot of stuff I felt obliged to keep (eg things like wedding presents) : stuff that I had never used, would never use and didn't like.  It was hard to do but when I cleared it all out I felt a lot lighter. Once I got into periodically decluttering, I found that items I couldn't part with ( but really should) the first time were often relatively easy to give away on a subsequent round. So now if I'm having trouble tossing something I leave it..often I can part with it later.

I'm also not good at getting around to selling things or having a garage sale, although I have done these things occasionally. More often than not, I don't get round to it. So I have developed my own system for "disposal" : trash goes in the trash bin straight away, and anything able to be recycled goes in the recycle bin straight away. Clothes go into the charity clothing bin, just down the road, a quick and easy drop-off.  Anything "good" I take to our family charity store. I personally try not to pretend I'm going to sell something when now I know I probably won't get round to it.  Twice a year we have a council cleanup where larger things can go.. they do recycle and re-home usable items so its not all going into landfill.

I now like decluttering. In all the stuff I've got rid of, I've rarely thrown something out, only to find I needed it a few weeks later, although it has happened. However in decluttering I often find things that I've forgotten I had or mislaid.. and have saved a lot more money not duplicate purchasing things, than I've had to spend re buying stuff I threw out, then needed.

So my advice - have a plan for how you are going to get rid of stuff and just start. Make yourself cull a pile of stuff and have a quick and easy way to get rid of it fast.  If you are taking it to a charity store make a plan to cull and take the stuff on the same day if you can. ( to avoid the pile sitting there for 3 months while you get round to it!) If you really are hesitating about something, leave it and move on, go for the easiest things first.


velocistar237

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2012, 06:35:53 AM »
If you have some storage space, here's one approach that might work well for you. Box up a bunch of stuff. If you really want to cut down, it's better to box up too much than too little. Put a date on the box 6 months (or whatever is appropriate; e.g., a year for seasonal clothing) from the day you box up the stuff. Later, if you need something from the box, open it up, take out the thing you need, and close it back up. When the date on the box comes, donate everything left in the box. Because you have months to go back and get stuff you need, there's no risk, so you can be more aggressive.

Another approach is to rotate things like children's books and toys. You still have them around, so it's not really a minimalist thing, but it does cut down on how much stuff can mess up your house at one time. When kids forget about things, they seem new when they appear again.

For Craigslist and Freecycle, I find it helpful to batch items and post them all in one day, since you sometimes end up waiting for people to come by and pick things up.

PJ

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2012, 08:00:35 AM »
And if you'd like the support of a community while decluttering, I know someone else recently posted a decluttering challenge (presumably in throw down the gauntlet?)  As I mentioned in that thread, I also participate in the forums at www.unclutterer.com - I'm PJ there too.  They are a kind and gentle community - no face punching allowed!  But lots of challenges, like the "Fifty by Friday" thread, and ongoing places for people to post ATAD (A Thing A Day) and FATAD (Fix A Thing A Day). 

I'm a serious fan of getting community support (it's just taken me a while to find an equivalent place to get support with my finances) and unclutterer is, IMO, one of the best online communities ever.  I don't read the main site as much, but love the folks in the forum!  (And for the record, I'm not the PJ who writes for them - that would be pretty weird, if I didn't read the site that I worked for?) 

Anyway, the increased peace of mind and efficiency that comes with decluttering is priceless.  As gooki says, "Start Today."  If that's hard for you, the simple solution is to go find one thing - just ONE - and throw it out or put it in a designated donation box.  Then go post in the decluttering challenge thread here or the ATAD thread at unclutterer.  Then do the same thing again tomorrow.  Slow and steady.  Trust me - won't take long til the space around you expands!

totoro

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2012, 08:15:52 AM »
I did a big decluttering and am about to do another because we are moving.  My test was "am I willing to move this again".  That helped a lot with decision making.

I find that I get a real boost from decluttering.  I feel calmer knowing there is less unecessary stuff to maintain and manage.  It all takes time and if you don't spend the time managing the stuff the stuff gets in the way of everyday living.  I look at stuff from the perspective of how much time I am going to have to spend on it vs. the value it brings to home life.  Fewer and fewer things pass this test these days.  I find I have less emotional attachment to keeping given the emotional freedom I feel from letting go.

My goal is to get rid of 1/3 of our stuff during the move.  We have two weeks to sort and throw, recycle or donate.  I don't hold garage sales or try to sell stuff on craigslist because I've learned I hate selling and just won't do it.  My dh does sell the bigger items online.

CB

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2012, 08:30:35 AM »

Another approach is to rotate things like children's books and toys. You still have them around, so it's not really a minimalist thing, but it does cut down on how much stuff can mess up your house at one time. When kids forget about things, they seem new when they appear again.

We have a "toy quarantine" area up high in our hall closet.  Toys left out in common areas of the house once get a warning.  If it isn't put away or is left out again the same day (or is otherwise a serious repeat offender) it goes "in quarantine" for an indeterminate amount of time.  Once the quarantine area gets full, we pull everything out and decide what kids want to play with again and what can go to Goodwill or smaller kids we know (or sometimes just the trash).  Rediscovery of existing toys can be like Christmas for the kids if it's something they did really enjoy playing with.  It also gives them an incentive to keep the living room/kitchen/solarium/etc. clear of their stuff.

I have decluttered using Craigslist in the past and know that it's hard to part with some things.  I have a set of speakers that I bought using money from one of my first summer jobs in high school (~25 years ago) that I resisted selling for a long time as they provided much of my music experience from high school through college and beyond.  They're huge, though, and get in the way so I finally decided to let them go.

kkbmustang

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2012, 08:36:56 AM »
I'd recommend reading the book The Joy of Less by Francine Jay. It was transformative for me. She also has a blog, missminalist.com. Don't freak out by the title of the site. The book is amazing. I've been working on this issue myself. You might also check out www.bemorewithless.com or www.theproject333.com.  I have been working on the decluttering for well over six months. Realize it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Start with a drawer, a bucket, a shelf, whatever.  Find a local charity that will pick up stuff and schedule the appointment. Then you'll have a hard deadline.

LiquidSapphire

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2012, 08:59:33 AM »
I just started decluttering yesterday and here are my two cents.

Just do 15 minutes a day.  You can do anything for 15 minutes and anyone can find 15 minutes in a day, even if you have to break it up into 3 5-minute increments. 

Don't take out more than you can do in just 15 minutes.  Take just one drawer, one shelf, or one corner, etc. 

Baby steps, just start somewhere.  Like today, right now, sign up for Freecycle.  Then tomorrow, list your printer with the ink.  You don't even have to take a picture.  You only have to write like two lines.  Then pick your person and put it out on your driveway for them to pick up.  You don't even have to be around if you don't want to be or deal with them.

I found this link (It's a miss minimalist link!) about questions to ask yourself when decluttering, It's one of the best I've found anywhere. 

http://www.missminimalist.com/2011/11/twenty-questions-to-clear-your-clutter/

Bakari

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2012, 10:34:31 AM »
How about a week long camping trip?
See what you actually miss while you are gone.
Give away everything else.

Or, put everything you haven't used in the last week (ok, month) into storage.
Wait a month to adjust emotionally, and then give away everything in storage (without looking at it or going trough it again!!)

Here's something I think is key:  When considering whether to keep any particular thing, do NOT ask yourself "will this ever come in handy?".
That's the wrong question.  The answer to that is always yes, for anything.

The question to ask is "will I miss this so much that I'll end up buying a new one?"
If the answer to that is no, you really don't need it.

too much stuff, too busy, too many things to do, dirty dishes,

I have one plate, one bowl, one cup, one spoon, and one fork.
So the dishes never pile up.
(I have spares, for company, but they stay tucked under the bed 99% of the time.)
It sounds like you realize this already - having less stuff actually makes life easier and gives you more free time.

caligulala

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2012, 10:44:46 AM »
It's dorky, but Flylady is a good system for decluttering and getting the chores under control. There is a 31 day beginner's program here: http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/31-beginner-babysteps/ The website is a bit of a mess, so I get the daily plan delivered by email. When I keep on top of the tasks, the house is miraculously clean and neat without much work or thinking.

Everything is all laid out, just ignore the purple puddles and other sentimental motivation if you aren't into that kind of thing.

Misstachian

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2012, 10:47:51 AM »
Flylady.net sends a 15 minute declutter reminder each day, and sets the house up into 4 Zones so each month you spend each week doing little missions in the Bedroom, Bathroom, Kitchen, etc.  There's a weekly under-an-hour cleaning plan to keep things decent when you aren't in that zone. There's also a monthly habit that's in the daily reminder - Making the Bed was a good one for me that has stuck, Laundry was another, this month is how to deal with Paper Clutter.

It's free, too, although they have a shop and it can be a little overwhelming with too many emails, some of which are testimonials about things in the shop and others of which are just encouragement, pep talks, and reminders. But you don't need to buy anything, and I don't mind deleting excess emails for such a useful free resounce. (Occasional there are also "spiritual" emails, which if I don't appreciate I just delete.)

I admit I don't follow it to the letter, but when I do the "missions" and daily declutter my house stays so much cleaner and I am less stressed, so it might be worth a look.

PaulM12345

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2012, 10:55:03 AM »
Thanks for all the tips, everyone. I'm going to go through your responses and come up with a plan for myself, based on all your advice. I appreciate the START NOW perspective, although the first thing that came to mind was, I've already started "now", many times! I will check out Flylady and the other sites you all posted.

I will just add that while clutter was one big example of simple living tips, it's not the only issue. Keeping the house clean (obviously linked to clutter, but not the same issue), getting tasks done efficiently, not feeling stressed, getting ready for work on time, not losing things (amid the clutter...)... I feel like those things would also provide me with a lot of peace. If there are any other tips for simplifying life, or recommendations for books with practical focus (as opposed to vague and inspirational), please post those too!

Actually, Bakari, you mentioned something that I've been wanting to do for quite a while: downsize to one bowl, one cup, etc. that I always use and wash right away. What is holding me back? 1) 30 years of habit, putting dishes in the sink/dishwasher and going off to do something else; 2) The fact that they always say dishwashers are much more efficient than washing by hand (That said, I lived without a dishwasher for five years recently, and I still let the dishes pile up, so I think it is mostly habit); and 3) I can't put all the dishes under the bed until the rest of my family is on board with my "one object system" in the kitchen, so the extra dishes will remain in the cupboards, tempting me each moment... but I think one practical thing I can do is go out to the thrift store and buy a distinctive plate and bowl (to tell them apart from the others) and start just rinsing them each meal, one day at a time. Maybe I'll aim for a week and see how it goes. There, I've thrown down the gauntlet!
« Last Edit: October 10, 2012, 11:00:41 AM by PaulM12345 »

totoro

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2012, 12:16:41 PM »
I personally would not start with dishes if you have a family and own a dishwasher.  On my own I would be tempted by one of everything.  Bakari lives in an RV so his plan makes sense but I find that a dishwasher is a great timesaver and counter clutter remover.  If you are going to start in the kitchen, you might want to look at gadgets and see if you have some you don't use or "good dishes". I dont have good dishes - just everyday ones.  For me, I use lots of stuff from the kitchen regularly so it is not my hot spot, but I still had too many baking tins.

For me, linen organization is an issue.  In our new house each bed will have a change of linen in the closet.  That is it.  Each kid gets two colour coded towels.  That is it. 

We have way too many CDs, DVDs and electronic/music things.  That is the next area for us.

As for cleaning, I love "Speed Cleaning" and I had a special apron made for this purpose.  It is a system for professional cleaners and works... if you follow it :)

Finally, I have found that living near shops, work and schools so we can walk everywhere or ride bikes has simplified life.  I also love my fridge calendar - I put the school year on it in advance, appointments, garbage days, and any important dates - I use the Mom's brand calendar.

Jamesqf

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2012, 01:01:18 PM »
Well, I have a lot of trouble getting rid of things: Stamp collection (from childhood... maybe my kids will like it?)...

Maybe it's an appreciating collectable asset?  There was a story a while back about a guy who found his uncle's childhood comic book collection in the attic, and sold it for $3.5 million: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57383051/childhood-comic-book-collection-sells-for-$3.5m/

Personally, I disagree with the extreme declutterers.  Of course there are reasonable limits, but I find that having a bunch of "junk" around provides material for interesting projects.  For instance, I'm currently building a solar fruit dryer out of a couple of old windows, wood from a deck my neighbors removed, and the insulation blanket from my old water heater.  Only new stuff in it will be the glue and some staples.

PaulM12345

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2012, 01:32:59 PM »
James - no I won't get rid of the stamp collection until I find out that it's not worth anything (actually, it's worth a lot in actual postage, since I collected a lot of unused stamps back in the day). I'm not actually that extreme - for instance, I have an exception for books: I've decided that I like having books around (although I'm using the library a lot more, so I don't buy them nearly as much), and too often I've gotten rid of books I wish I'd kept. So I'm not totally against keeping the stamp collection, or the silver, or whatever, if it means something to me... it's the accumulated quantity that is the problem.

Totoro, good point about the dishes, but in terms of my own mental space, having the dishes pile up in the sink is bothersome to me, and the added steps of rinsing, putting in the machine, and putting away is a drag. I want a zen approach to dishes, like a zen monk with one bowl that gets worn and polished with decades of use... :)

dandelion

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2012, 03:08:34 PM »
I understand what it's like to be overwhelmed with stuff/chores/commitments.
Totoro, good point about the dishes, but in terms of my own mental space, having the dishes pile up in the sink is bothersome to me, and the added steps of rinsing, putting in the machine, and putting away is a drag. I want a zen approach to dishes, like a zen monk with one bowl that gets worn and polished with decades of use... :)
I can also remember a time when I left the dishes in the sink so long we got maggots living in them.  This happened more than once.  It gets so depressing when you think of all that's not done that you put things off even longer. 

The 15 minute rule has saved me many times.  Set a timer.  Work on [dishes, decluttering, whatever] for 15 minutes.  Then stop.  You may finish your task in 15 minutes or you may not.  But at least it's 15 minutes more "done" than it was before.  The next day, do the same thing.  15 min a day.  (You can also keep going past 15 minutes if you feel like it, but you don't have to.)  The important thing is to start.

Bakari

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #17 on: October 10, 2012, 04:48:40 PM »
As far as time stress, we did an exercise in a college prep class once that stuck with me ever since.

I wrote a version of it a few years ago, lets see if I can find it...

happy

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2012, 06:42:48 PM »
I

For me, linen organization is an issue.  In our new house each bed will have a change of linen in the closet.  That is it.  Each kid gets two colour coded towels.  That is it. 



I still have more than this but I'm improving :). One thing that helped was the pillowcase method.  Get a matching set of sheets and the matching pillowcase (s). Fold and store the sheets and anything else in the "set", in the pillow case.  It saves a heap of time..usually you are washing the whole set in one go, so it stays together anyway and its easy to just grab and go when you want to remake a bed.

It also made it very clear to me how many odd bits of linen I had, which needed to be repurposed or culled.

Bakari

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2012, 06:45:46 PM »
Ok, I found it.

It is longer than I remembered, so rather than post it all here, I made it it's own post:

www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/an-exercise-to-'create'-more-hours-in-your-day/

igthebold

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2012, 09:07:54 AM »
As for cleaning, I love "Speed Cleaning" and I had a special apron made for this purpose.  It is a system for professional cleaners and works... if you follow it :)

I know this is thread drift, but I'm curious: can you post a photo of your apron up close so I can copy it? :) We're trying to build our Speed Cleaning toolset without expending gobs of money.

PJ

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2012, 10:17:01 AM »

As for cleaning, I love "Speed Cleaning" and I had a special apron made for this purpose.  It is a system for professional cleaners and works... if you follow it :)

 
 
What is this "Speed Cleaning" system of which you speak??? 
 
I was sent running to do research and found several websites that refer to it, all touting their own books or mini-courses that you have to sign up for.  Then (the mustachian way) I checked our local library holdings and found two books (links below) - is this what I would want to read?  Are there other resources you could point me toward?  I am very intrigued - have been decluttering for a while and thought it was my clutter that was holding me back from establishing good household routines, but they are not naturally emerging now that the clutter is largely gone.  If there's a good (fast!) system out there, I want to know about it! 
 
http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM231638&R=231638
http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM2740631&R=2740631

totoro

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #22 on: October 11, 2012, 10:59:45 AM »
Neither of those books.  It is the Jeff Campbell/Clean Team ("Speed Cleaning") book which I got from the library: http://www.amazon.com/Speed-Cleaning-Jeff-Campbell/dp/1594862745

I don't buy any of the products except I own the sh-mop and washable covers - which I love.  I have an apron with window cleaner and general cleaner, a duster, cloths, toothbrush, scouring pad, and exacto knife.  I had a friend make mine but it looks like this: http://www.thecleanteam.com/Original-Style-Cleaning-Apron-_p_66.html

I have to admit I did order the DVD.... and made the whole family watch it.  It was REALLY boring and I still get teased about it by the kids - but the system does work.

PJ

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2012, 12:14:27 PM »
Neither of those books.  It is the Jeff Campbell/Clean Team ("Speed Cleaning") book which I got from the library: http://www.amazon.com/Speed-Cleaning-Jeff-Campbell/dp/1594862745
 

Thanks totoro - I think that name came up when I did my google search, but my library didn't have that book.  Think I'll try to check out the other ones and see if what it's all about. 
 
Not sure about the DVD though ... ;-)

totoro

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2012, 12:33:45 PM »
igthebold - will post an actual picture of our apron when i find my camera cord ;) looks like the speed clean one but it is beige and no logo - medium weight cloth - just like this and I used these directions:

http://organizedhome.com/clean-house/how-to-sew-cleaning-apron

igthebold

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Re: Simple Living Tips
« Reply #25 on: October 11, 2012, 02:09:27 PM »
igthebold - will post an actual picture of our apron when i find my camera cord ;) looks like the speed clean one but it is beige and no logo - medium weight cloth - just like this and I used these directions:

http://organizedhome.com/clean-house/how-to-sew-cleaning-apron

Thanks. Don't worry about the photo if it's inconvenient. These instructions should do me just fine. :)