Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
My wife is The Simplified Life Coach.
Her practice is built upon the words of Henry David Thoreau.
This is from the Art of Manliness Blog:
Simplify, simplify.” -Henry David Thoreau
The simple life is a manly life. Some of history’s manliest men lived lives of true simplicity, free from unneeded clutter. The Spartans basically had one piece of clothing they wore all year, a spear, a shield, and some farm tools. Because of their simple lifestyle, they were able to focus on learning how to be fighting machines.
Despite being relatively wealthy, Ben Franklin lived a pretty simple life. Consequently, he was able to spend his time inventing stoves, creating public libraries, discovering electricity, and founding a country.
Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson were evangelists of simplicity. When Thoreau went to Walden Pond he brought with him just a few things. Because he didn’t have crap distracting him, he was able to focus his energies into writing some awesomely deep thoughts.
The simple life is a manly life because a man defines himself not by his possessions but by his character, virtues, relationships, and experiences. These are the things that he invests his time, energy, and emotions in, because these are the things that no natural disaster, no bomb, no prison can ever take away from him. The less stuff we accumulate, the less energy we have to devote to the maintenance of it, and the more energy we can put into becoming better men.
It reduces stress. I definitely think there’s something to the idea that clutter can block the flow of good karma and energy in your life. Whenever I’m in a room filled with crap, I get tense and feel like I’m being buried in stuff. When I clear things out, I feel like a load has been taken off me physically and mentally. I think clearer, I’m more productive, and I have a bit more pep in my step.
It gives you a fresh start. If you feel as though you’ve been stuck in a rut lately or if you’ve gone through a tough break-up or recently been laid off, decluttering your space may be just the thing to kick start your life and move it out of neutral. You can get rid of stuff that reminds you of a part of your life you want to move on from. Holding onto stuff you associate with bad memories and feelings keeps the bad energy in your home. After you clear out your crap, you’ll have a clean canvas on which to create a new life.
It saves you time. I don’t know how many hours I’ve wasted in my life looking for something in the boxes and drawers of junk I’ve accumulated. When you have a house free of clutter, you can spend less time looking for stuff and more time focusing on more important things like making your bucket list or reconnecting with nature.
It can save (and make) you some money. When you have a disorganized mess, important things like bills can get lost in the mix. When that happens, you run the risk of forgetting to pay a bill and being slapped with an overdue fee. You also forget what you have and don’t have, and thus end up buying duplicates of things already in your possession. Save yourself money by keeping your place clutter free.
Also, through the process of decluttering, you may run across a few things that you can sell on eBay or Amazon and thus make some cash in the process.
How to Declutter
Set aside a big chunk of time. How much time you allocate for decluttering will depend on how much crap you’ve accumulated over the years. Usually when I declutter the house, it takes about four hours of focused work. It may take you longer or shorter. But I would give yourself at least 2 hours this weekend to get started on it.
Get some garbage bags. You’ll either be tossing stuff out, donating it to Goodwill, or selling it on eBay or in a tag sale. Have one trash bag for each one of these purposes.
Tackle the task one room at a time. One thing I’ve noticed when I’ve done some heavy duty decluttering is that I’ll begin in one room, but somehow end up in another. This just makes my job harder because I have to keep track of what’s going on in both rooms, and I’ve made a mess in two rooms instead of one. It’s better when I just focus on one room or closet at a time and focus completely on clearing it out until I’m satisfied with the job I’ve done. So fight the temptation to have several irons in the fire while decluttering. Pick a room in your house and work on it until you’re done.
After you’ve selected a room, work on it section by section. For example, start with your dresser or desk and go through it drawer by drawer. Or start with your closet and look at what’s on each hanger. Don’t move on to another section until the one you started on is done.
Finally, leave no stone unturned. Go through your underwear drawer and throw out those socks without matches or those boxers with gaping holes in them. Clean out your medicine cabinet and throw away anything that has expired. Go through your desk drawers and chuck your pens that have run out of ink. Get every last piece of unusable clutter out of your life.
Sort Through Your Stuff
As you work through each section, take everything item by item and decide whether you’re going to keep it or which bag it goes into: trash, sell, or donate. Here’s some advice on how to make that decision:
Go book by book and ask yourself if you’re ever going to read it or read it again. Be honest here. Don’t keep a book because it makes you feel smart while deep down you know there’s no way you’re going to read it. Books aren’t accessories or decorative pieces. Also, keep in mind that if you get rid of a book and then regret it, you can always check it out from the library or buy it used for $2 on Amazon or at a used book store. This is not a life or death decision, so err on the side of uncluttering.
Take the books you don’t want and put them for sale on sites like Amazon or half.com. Or take them to you local used bookstore. If you can’t sell them, donate them to the library.
Clothes and Miscellaneous Items
Go through your clothes and other stuff piece by piece. Ask yourself this question as you hold each item, “Is this something I have used/worn in the past year?”
If you haven’t, then get rid of it. We often hold onto stuff because we think we’re going to need it “someday.” But if you haven’t used something in a year, you’re probably never going to use it, and it will just end up taking up space in your house. Even if you would end up using it 10 years from now, the cost/benefit analysis of lugging that thing around for the next decade just doesn’t make sense.
When you make this decision, be quick. Don’t mull over it too much. The more you mull, the more likely you’ll hold onto it. Remember, if you hesitate at all, you probably don’t need it. You have to learn to detach feelings and emotions from stuff. Stuff is just stuff, a bunch of atoms and molecules. Unless something is truly irreplaceable, then it’s okay to throw it away and keep the memories in your mind and heart.
Put your old clothes, with the exception of your underwear, in the donate bag. As you put stuff in the bag, make a note of what the item is on a piece of paper and give it an approximate value. You can use this to get a receipt from Goodwill and write off the amount you donated on your income taxes.
Items that are interesting and usable can be sold on eBay or in a tag sale.
Paper and Mail
If you don’t have one now, go out and buy a file box. And then make folders labeled as “Bills,” “Instruction Manuals,” “Letters,” “Receipts,” and so on. Then go through your mail and paper piles piece by piece, throwing away what you don’t need and filing what you do need.
Chuck It or Donate It
When you’re done decluttering, take the bags designated for trash to the curb. Drop off the donate bags to Goodwill and make sure to get a receipt from them for your income tax deduction.
Preventing Clutter from Re-entering Your Life
Once you have successfully decluttered your home, you’ll be amazed at how satisfying and amazing it feels. The hard part is holding on to that feeling and not letting everything get cluttered up again. So here are a few steps to take to prevent clutter from creeping back into your life:
- Every time you bring home something new, get rid of something. This keeps the balance of clutter in check.
- Every time you go to bed, spend 5 minutes moving from room to room and throwing away junk that’s been lying around.
- Each time you get the mail, open it immediately, throwing away what you don’t need and filing what you do.
Today’s task is to declutter your place. It’s Friday, so most of us have plenty of time to take on this project this weekend. Maybe you have so much crap that you can only get one room done all day. So be it. Just get started.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009
One of the secrets to this life on earth is to understand that you matter.
Seth Godin wrote this on his blog recently:
When you love the work you do and the people you do it with, you matter.
When you are so gracious and generous and aware that you think of other people before yourself, you matter.
When you leave the world a better place than you found it, you matter.
When you continue to raise the bar on what you do and how you do it, you matter.
When you teach and forgive and teach more before you rush to judge and demean, you matter.
When you touch the people in your life through your actions (and your words), you matter.
When kids grow up wanting to be you, you matter.
When you see the world as it is, but insist on making it more like it could be, you matter.
When you inspire a Nobel prize winner or a slum dweller, you matter.
When the room brightens when you walk in, you matter.
And when the legacy you leave behind lasts for hours, days or a lifetime, you matter.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Posted: 07 Jun 2009 07:56 AM PDTA few of the original readers of DLM may remember my article about quitting smoking. Well, after hearing that my father-in-law gave up coffee and caffeine 8 months ago and how it's impacted him, I decided to do the same.
Exactly 60 days ago I began the quest and for the last 30 days I have been caffeine-free. To put this into context a little, you should know that I drank at least a full pot (12 cups) of coffee per day. I never drank soda; for me it was coffee and I have been slurping it down for over 15 years. Oh yeah, the bean hooked me...bad.
Many may think that this addiction was a side effect from my abnormal but productive sleep schedule. I thought the same, however I was proven wrong. If anything, I am WAY more productive without the highs and lows that caffeine brings.
So here is how I did it, step-by-step.
HOW TO QUIT CAFFEINE
Before you really make the choice to quit an addiction, you must first understand the reasoning. If you are simply doing it because DLM said it works, you are going to fail.
In humans, caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, having the effect of temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks enjoy great popularity; caffeine is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive substance, but unlike most other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all jurisdictions. In North America, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily. - Wikipedia
So we already get a glimpse into the fact that caffeine messes with you. Are there any naysayers? My personal choice to quit was because I hated the constant need for a pick-me-up. I wasn't twitching each time I passed a Starbucks or anything crazy like that, however, I honestly felt a major energy drain as the hours passed by each day. Grabbing some coffee was always the quick fix. In my opinion, any time you need to consume something as a quick fix, you have a problem.
So, let's wean ourselves off. These steps will get you off coffee, Mountain Dew, or any caffeine-laden drink that you are hooked on.
- Reasons: What are the reasons? I explained mine but really what are the reasons you want to quit? Are your teeth brown as bark, do you have coffee breath? Your reasons are personal so don't rely on me to tell you what to do and why.
- The count: As a baseline, you have to identify how much caffeine you are drinking today. Is it 9 Mountain Dews, a pot of coffee, or 16 Cokes? This baseline count will be your indicator of improvement.
- The Wean: If you are drinking 5 cups of coffee per day, start by replacing 1 cup with a caffeinated tea. Yes, you read that right. I am all for slow transitions and the taste alone is enough of a change in the beginning. I did this for 3 days and then each day after, I replaced another cup of coffee for a cup of caffeinated tea. It took a while, but soon I was drinking all tea.
There are 90 different teas on the market so experiment a little and find something you really like. The key is to find a brand or flavor that comes in decaffeinated and caffeinated varieties. This process will be SO much easier if you actually like the taste of the replacement. You should also be aware of the varying health benefits of tea as you choose a replacement beverage.
- The De-Caffeinization: Yes, I made up that word but this is where we really start making some chemical changes. Using the process I mentioned above, start replacing the caffeinated tea with decaf tea. This is why I told you to pick a brand with both varieties. The taste will remain the same, but the caffeine is obviously going to decrease.
- DON'T Change your sleep: During this entire process, it is critical that you don't make changes to your sleep schedule. If you currently take power naps at 1:00, keep doing it. You don't want to replace caffeine with sleep, you want to get rid of the need for a supplement altogether.
So that is how I did it. Now I will mention the effects:
- I am never groggy. I have the same energy at 1:00PM as I do at 6AM or 4PM. This is THE largest benefit by far.
- I don't have coffee breath and I can actually still taste my toothpaste at 11AM when I brushed at 6.
- Stress and anxiety have plummeted although I took on more assignments at work. I am simply not as edgy.
- I am asleep within 5 minutes each night
- My blood pressure is perfect now. It had previously been a little high.
- I don't seem to get as many headaches. In the past, I would get 2-3 headaches per week and take some Advil. Now, it's down to 2 times per month.