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Purpose In Life – Mad Libs Edition

Time and time again I’ve shared how important it is to self-reflect and take time for introspection.  Taking my own advice, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on myself, trying to uncover understanding around my personal purpose and meaning in life.

Purpose In Life(1)

Large questions bubble to the surface when you live The Tiny Life; it’s inevitable.  Part of this journey for me is expressed in the form of posts to you all, because many of you are on a similar journey as I am.  I decided to try writing down questions that would get me thinking about these questions from a different viewpoint.

Fill out the Mad Libs and share in the comments!

  1. When its my last day on earth, I’ll look back and be thankful that I did ______.
  2. The biggest source of stress in my life is _____.
  3. When it comes to things I have to do, I hate doing ____, _______, and ______.
  4. I can’t stop smiling when I do ______.
  5. Before I die I want to _______.
  6. When I do _____ I look up from doing it and realize hours have past.
  7. I feel powerful when I _______
  8. If I could put one message on a billboard in Times Square it would be ____.
  9. Your 10 year old self be most disappointed to learn that you were doing ______.
  10. Success means ______ to me.

Your Turn!

  • Share your answers in the comments!
  • What question would you add?

Three Reasons You Won’t Be Happy In A Tiny House

When people dream about living in a tiny house, they idealize the life a fair bit.  It’s something we all do, heck, I even do it even today.  There are of course many reasons tiny houses aren’t the best, but I thought I’d share some thoughts on things that leave people unhappy in a tiny house so you can avoid them.

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You started with the design, not with the function

There is a adage: form follows function.  Many people fall in love with a specific house or set of plans, then try to make it work for them; this is backwards.  The most successful houses start with what a person needs, then a design is spawn from that list of needs and functions.  You need to play anthropologist, taking an objective eye when you look at your life and what your house needs to support.

You didn’t take the time to get in your own head

I see this all the time, people move into a tiny house very quickly without going through the deep self reflection and understanding required to make it work.  The biggest thing that will make you settle into your tiny house for the long term isn’t the design, the size, the amenities, it’s your coming to terms with what makes you happy, with a departure from gratuitous consumption, and a break from status symbols.

It’s easy to say you don’t buy a lot of stuff or that you don’t need things; it’s an entirely different thing to be deprogrammed of consumer culture and when someone shuns you in a social situation that you can be okay with the fact your house isn’t large or that you only a few things.

You think its about the house

Time and time again I say this, living in a tiny house and The Tiny Life has nothing to do with the house, it is a lifestyle that you adopt that will change your life.  While tiny houses have a great aesthetic, they are appealing and cozy, when someone successfully lives in a tiny house long term it is not because of these facts.

A tiny houser is committed to making a change in their life to a magnitude that most people are willing to.  If you live the tiny life, you could live in any size house because it’s not about the house, it’s the commitment to your priorities and to doing what needs to be done to live your best life.

Your Turn!

  • What things are you thinking about when it comes to making the leap?
  • What are you worried about moving to such a small space?

 

Five Easy Minimalist Habits That Will Make Your Life Better

There are many things in this world that are competing for our attention.  We are bombarded with ads, over extended in our work duties, and have too much going on in our lives.  So today I thought I’d share 5 simple habits or tricks that can make life much better.

five easy hacks to a minamalist life

Turn Off Notifications On Your Phone

This was a big one for me.  Every time I looked at my phone there were little red badges all over the screen saying “look at me! You have things left undone!” It wasn’t healthy and when I considered it, it was actually getting me closer to my goals in life.  I’ve come to realize that email is a convenient way to organize other people’s priorities, not your own.  Every phone is different, but you can switch them off; then I began telling my friends, if you need to get in touch right away, call me.  My phone should work for me in the way I want it to, not to better server others.

Don’t check email or socials before bed or first thing in the morning

This was a tough one for me.  For my job, I have to monitor over 15 social media channels and it’s daunting.  Worse, spammers are always posting on my sites and pages because of the reach I’ve built, so it’s a constant war.  I have been tempted to remove my phone from the bedroom all together.

Cancel one thing on your calendar this week and do nothing!

We always overbook, we are always over stressed, and there will never be enough time in the day.  Look through your calendar and choose one thing and cancel it.  Take that time to just chill out, read a book, go get a coffee, or go for a walk.

If you see something you want in the store, wait.

If you’re going through a store and see something that interests you, instead of buying it right then, wait until you’re in that store next time.  More often than not I find that next time I see it in the store my desire for it will have disappeared or I will have forgotten about it all together.  If it’s really important to you or you truly do love it, what is the likelihood of you forgetting it?

Flip your hangers

Go into your closet and hang your hangers all in one direction, preferably in the direction that is most awkward to unhook.  Once you do that, you’ll be able to tell what things you actually wear and what you don’t.  Go through a summer, winter and fall, then look what you haven’t touched in a year; those items will be a prime candidate for you donating them.

Your Turn!

  • What has been your easy habits that help you live a simpler life?

Determining The Needs Of Your Space

Understanding what you do in your home and work is an important step to designing any space for the perfect place for you.  The greatest thing about living The Tiny Life is that you get to design your space and your life from the ground up.  Today we’re going to focus on our physical space, what do we need in a built environment that sets the stage for our best life.

Determining

In some cases understanding your needs will show you that all you need to do is tweak a few things in the space you’re already in.  It may be the case that more drastic changes or starting from scratch may be require.  You may also be looking towards building a new space anyway so it’s time to consider what that design will be.  It’s important to understand that to live The Tiny Life, you don’t necessarily need to live in a tiny house and what you have right now may be adapted.

room-trackingThe first step in understanding what your space needs to have in it, you need to understand how you actually use it already.  We often have ideas of what we would do if… or if only I had ____ I do more of this one thing.  It can be easy to fall into the trap of future planning so let’s focus on what you do right now.

To do this I use my Room Tracking method: to start, gather a bunch of pens and some post-it notes.    Go around to each of your rooms in your house or apartment and close every door.  Put a post-it note on the door and a pen on top of the door frame of each door.  Now when you go into a room, mark down what you are going into that room for and estimate how long it will take.  On your front door (or your main door) put a post it note on it and write things down that you leave your house to do with time estimates.  Do this for a week.

What this will do is create a comprehensive list of what you actually do in your home, not just what you think you do in your home.  You can even re-purpose this exercise for your work space.  Take all the post-it notes and combined them into a list.

I put together this free worksheet to help, click here.

Once you’ve compiled a list of what you do and how long you do it, start estimating the amount of space you’ll need to do that one thing.  You can even rank your activities by which you do the longest and ask yourself, are the things I spend the most time on the most important to me?  Just think about that.

What can you outsource?

With your list consider things that could happen outside the home.  A gym membership is one example.  Instead of having a home gym, would a gym work just as well or even better?  Or have you not stepped foot in your home gym in several months, do you even need it at all?  For me I realized while I was effective at working from home, it was lonely; I then started working at a coworking space.

What things can your cut out all together?

For me I realized that I really didn’t read a book twice, so keeping books was often a waste of space.  It was then that I replaced my bookshelf with a kindle.  I did keep about 10 books that were more reference books, but the rest went.

What things can pull double duty?

Think about things that are on your list that can happen in a single area or what things are important enough to have a dedicated space.  For me I knew I wanted a work space that was just for work, but my living room could serve as a place to read, to watch TV, to hang out with friends, and to setup a table for meals.

Whittling down the list

Consider the above questions and think critically about what you really do need.  Avoid what you “hope” to do, but focus on what you actually do.  With this you can come up with a solid list of activities that can help you design your space more effectively.

Your Turn!

  • What was your most important activity in your house?
  • What other tricks have you used to determine your true needs?

Five Ways To Slow Down

It seems like so many people today are suffering from Busy-itis:  the affliction of seeming or being way too busy.  It’s become all too common of phrase “I’m so busy.”  Recently I’ve been doing some reflecting on how my lifestyle has changed over the past few years and then comparing that to others who have said they wish they could live The Tiny Life.  So today I thought I would give some tips on how slow down, remove the busy, and bring focus to your life, tiny or not.

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1. Look at your calendar this week and choose one thing to cancel

It doesn’t really matter what it is, just choose one thing and cancel it.  What do you do with that time?  Nothing.

2. Start doubling the time you schedule for something

We often underestimate the amount of time it takes to do certain things, usually by a good bit.  This of course relies on your scheduling out your days, which is a good practice to take up if you don’t yet.  Worst case scenario you have time extra time before your next thing to just relax for a few minutes.

3. Schedule time to do nothing

If you don’t make time for it, it will not happen.  The truth is we can’t all be engaged at all times, we aren’t made to do that.  One counter intuitive lesson I’ve learned is that there are times when you can be more efficient by stepping away from for a while and coming back at it fresh.  There are a million things competing for your attention in this world, if you don’t schedule your time, it won’t happen.

4. Removing urgency

Take a moment to think about what could happen in your home life, in your work and in your social life that if you didn’t respond to right away it would be disastrous.  There are very few things, outside of someone getting hurt or dying, that require you to be 100% on it at all times.  It can be easy to fool ourselves into thinking something is urgent and important.  The more things you have on your list of truly urgent things, the less happy you will be; its a direct correlation.

Many people argue on this point, “I have things that are so important” or  “my job/boss is always last minute” or some other excuse.  We all need to pay bills and be adults, but the truth is we allow most of these things to happen to us.  Every time we have something urgent comes up and don’t later ask the question “how can we prevent this from happening in the future” we are giving that person or situation permission to do it again.

If we have a job that is always last minute, we then need to either work to change that culture or seek out a place that doesn’t have that culture.  If we have a friend that is always in some sort of drama or tragedy, that takes it’s toll and we should consider what that relationship does to us.

5. Get rid of internet, your microwave and freezer

This is a pretty extreme, I have to concede that fact.  I decided that when I moved into my tiny house I was going to not have Internet, cable TV, a freezer or a microwave.  What does this mean?  When I get home, I don’t immediately feel drawn to the internet, I settle in and take a moment to just relax.

After taking a moment to detach I will then start cooking, but because I don’t have a freezer for convenience foods and a microwave for fast cooking.  This all adds up to me needing to take time in my cooking, something that I enjoy doing.  It makes me focus on a single task, to block out the world for a while and make a good meal.  There is something about such a hands-on analog activity that provides separation from my work which is digital.

Your Turn!

  • What tips do you find helpful to slow down?
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