We just had a new video go live over at our Youtube channel, check out this tour of the Indigo Tiny House!
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.
It doesn’t really matter what it is, just choose one thing and cancel it. What do you do with that time? Nothing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week we talk about modifying the interior dimensions in a tiny house, everything you’d wan to know about dimensions. We talk about how to customize interior measurements to your own size, while still staying safe and comfortable. Amy offers an unconventional ladder safety trick and Ryan considers the merits of back flipping out of a loft (or not).
You can listen in by clicking here
What is most important in life? What is the path to happiness? When you live The Tiny Life, these are very important questions to answer because you are removing the excess to the bare essentials. For me this really comes down to makes me happy and doing more of it, plus figuring out what I don’t like doing and doing less of that. Happiness is something you work towards, it’s an active process. The hardest part for me and many is figuring out what really makes you happy.
To understand what it will take to thrive, to be truly happy and find direction in your own life, you need to examine your current life to find out what things really turn us on. We need to identify the things that bring joy to our lives.
Using the worksheet above, print it out and take it with you during a normal day of life. Every 30 minutes or so think about what you’re doing, think about everything you’ve done, every little thing. Reflect on what you’ve done and mark down if you enjoyed it or not.
If you’re at work, don’t just think about whether you like your job or not, but think about every little task; you may not love your job, but you may like talking with clients, building the perfect spreadsheet, or working with others to find a solution. Conversely, you may hate filling out reports, providing customer support, or stocking shelves.
In your personal life think about the things that make you feel energized or fall flat for you. Do you love spending time with you friends or family at the park, cooking a nice meal, or reading a good book? Do you hate running errands, cleaning the house, or having a weekly dinner with that gossipy friend from long ago?
In each of these good and bad things, don’t just write down the good and the bad, but think about WHY they fall into the category. Think critically about if it’s the actual activity or a factor around it that’s coloring the emotion. In some cases it’s the situation or conditions that make something less or more pleasant. It is in that why that we will find common threads which lead us to happiness.
A perfect example is I’ve had crappy jobs that were fun because I had awesome coworkers; I’ve also had great jobs that were terrible because the people I worked with. Now our natural instinct would be to say one job was great, the other was terrible, but really after some reflection we can determine that what really makes us happy is having great coworkers. We could take that even further to say, we thrive off of having positive people around us in all aspects of life.
Go through a few days, just jotting down your likes and dislikes, keeping notes and taking time to reflect on each of the things your write down. Once you’ve done that, look for those common threads, look for trends, look for deeper truths.
In the next step don’t let yourself consider your answers, just put your pen to the paper and write, do a rapid stream of consciousness. If you consider the answers, you might edit your true feelings. Answer these questions truthfully on your printed worksheet:
With these written down, think about what they mean to you. Think about why they made their way on to the paper. It can be a good time to just sit back and consider them. Think about ways you can do more of what makes you happy and what ways can you minimize what makes you unhappy.
To continue with the job example I realized one day that if I could find a job with people I like working with and a position that was constantly presenting challenges that require creative solutions, I was very happy. Conversely I found if I didn’t connect well with my coworkers and my position was very repetitive, I couldn’t stand it.
That was when I started developing questions to ask in an interview to help me determine if that job met those two criteria. If they did, I’d continue interviewing, if they didn’t, I’d politely bow out.
In the end the most happy people will have most accurately identified what is most true for themselves and acted upon it. It’s not that we will ever be able to eliminate all things that we don’t like doing, but that our lives are so rich with what we love, that those unpleasant task are just a small part of what is a great life.
If you’ve been a follower of the tiny house movement for the past few years, chances are you’ve seen this video tour of Felice Cohen’s 90-square-foot micro apartment in Manhattan:
Felice was kind enough to send us a copy of the book, which I devoured (figuratively). The book is part organization manual and part lifestyle guide. She draws from her experience as a professional organizer to dish her tips for organizing any size space. Felice bookends these lessons with a memoir of her journey to tiny living, as well as the aftermath of YouTube fame and settling into a positively palatial 490-square-foot pad.
90 Lessons is a nice quick read, but packed with immediately actionable tips to improve your space and your life. The core of the book mirrors the ethos of the tiny house movement itself – that lessening your attachment to objects and keeping them in order frees up our most precious resource – time. Felice is also a fantastic storyteller, and it was great to learn the story behind the person in the YouTube video.
Think of this book as a more approachable version of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” The central message is similar – downsize first, then organize – but this book is better for beginner downsizers just getting their toes wet. And because Felice successfully lived the tiny life abiding by these lessons, you know they’ll work for you in your tiny house!
Felice and her apartment were a big inspiration to me as I was just discovering small house living. No matter your lifestyle, her book will be a valuable addition to your bookshelf.