Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Yearly archive for 2017

Minimalism And Single Tasking: Why It’s Important and How to Start

One of the most common questions I get in job interviews is that one about multitasking. In our productivity-driven society, multitasking is king. After some research, I’ve found that multitasking is actually one of the worst ways to be productive. Minimalism helped me learn about single tasking – and why it’s important to adopt a more single-task outlook.

Minimalism and Single Minded Focus

Single Tasking is More Efficient

The human brain can only focus on one task at a time. Your focus is kind of like a pie chart – you can focus on one major thing at a time, and the rest of that chart is filled with automatic activities like walking or chewing gum. When you multitask, you are actually never fully getting in the zone of the project you are working on.

Multitasking is actually just continually switching between projects. When you are constantly switching gears, you are actually wasting time and energy on the transition between these projects. By working on one thing at a time (and in batches, like paying all of your bills at once), you’ll actually be more productive and efficient.

Single Tasking Creates Less Mistakes

When you focus on one task at a time, you’re less likely to make mistakes. Focusing on one task at a time, which is the brain’s preferred method, you will be less distracted and therefore less likely to make mistakes.

By constantly switching between tasks, you can create up to 40% loss in productivity. When I learned this, I was immediately drawn to single tasking. Now, I work much more intentionally. Not only am I happier this way, I’m more productive and I’m getting my work done so much faster.

Minimalism and Single Tasking

Single Tasking Is Less Stressful

When I’m focusing on multiple projects at once, I tend to get a bit stressed and I notice my heart rate start to pick up. Turns out I’m not alone, as it’s been shown that multitasking can cause an increase in heart rate and stress.

Switching between many projects at once can cause me to feel overwhelmed and unequipped. When I started single tasking, I was able to tackle more work in a shorter period of time. This helped decrease the amount of time I spend working (as a digital nomad, I make an income per project, not per hour), which gave me more time to do things I like to do – hiking, photography, and spending time with loved ones.

Adopting single tasking into my life helped so much. I’ve been more productive, happier, and had more free time than ever after adopting single tasking into my life. Single tasking is just one of the many ways that minimalism has improved my life.

Your Turn!

  • Has minimalism drawn you to a more single minded focus?
  • How many tabs do you have open on your browser right now?

When to spend: Quality versus cheap clothing

A key tenant of spending wisely is to know value. A $1 item that will last a month is less valuable than a $5 item that will last a year. Smart shoppers know that spending more and buying better quality is often a better deal than the cheapest item on the shelf.

But unless you’re very, very wealthy, you simply cannot afford to buy the absolute best of everything. Being frugal where you can and investing in things that will last you a long time and save you money, time, or your health in the long run is the wisest way to spend, but it can be hard to tell when you should invest and when you should cheap out.

Here’s my personal guide to wardrobe-related saving and spending, assembled after wasting a lot of money in the wrong places.

Save on Glasses

There are online glasses retailers where you can buy glasses for $10-$20. These are the same quality as brick and mortar optical stores’ wares but cost a tenth of the price. At this point, paying $100-$300 for prescription glasses or sunglasses is just nuts.

There is also no need to buy name brand glasses. No one will be able to read the tiny brand name or tell if your glasses cost $5 or $500.

Also, in recent years, the online try-on functions at these sites have become very advanced and there are tons of reviews of individual websites online that will help guide you to the cheapest, best specs.

Spend on work clothing

As someone who works in a professional office environment, I long ago learned to spend a little more per item in stores that sold higher quality items versus buying a large wardrobe of “throwaway” pieces that will only be able to be worn a few times before looking tattered.

Despite the single-digit price tag, stores like Forever21 and Zara are not your friends.

To keep costs down overall, I recommend a capsule-style wardrobe filled with better quality clothing that will look good, feel good and last, saving you money in the long run.

My best trick for high-quality on a small budget is to shop exclusively on sale and clearance during clear-out times for stores like black Friday and at the end of Summer. When shopping online, search for and stack coupons on top of sale events and watch for hidden shipping costs when calculating your total price.

Save on workout wear

Undershirts, layering shirts, workout clothing and other items that will get sweaty, nasty or not be seen can be bought more inexpensively because the aren’t going to last you as long. While office clothing might be able to be worn for years, workout clothing is often only good for a season. Consider cost per use in this matter and save your money.

Spend on footwear

Life is just too short to walk around with your feet hurting.

Shoes are pretty much the only category I’ll favor proven brands over generics. Some people have no problem wearing cheap shoes, but for mine I need arch support, padding, leather that will mold to my feet, get more comfortable with each wear and stand up to the elements. Too long did I limp around, blistered, in cheap, flimsy Payless flats as a young reporter only to have them fall apart every few months.

Now I buy quality shoes and only have a handful of pairs.

Partially as an experiment and partially because they were expensive, I wore one pair of brown Clarks boots 5-6 days a week for 8 months straight.

Not only did no one in my office notice that I only wore one pair of shoes, when I told them, they were impressed that they lasted that long.

The boots originally cost around $130 on the Clarks website, but the ones I bought were the previous season’s design (the current season’s design was the same shoe with a couple buckles.) To save money, I scoured Ebay for boots from previous years (I swear I don’t miss the buckles), and ended up getting a brand new pair for $70.

It was a lot to spend on one pair of shoes for me, but I’ve now had them for 2+ years, I still wear them several times a week and they look nearly new.

Quality shoes will last a long time. My cost-per-use for these boots is less than pennies per wear at this point. Invest in your feet.

For sneakers, I search Amazon for my preferred brand and size, and grab shoes in unpopular colors for a fraction of the price of the same shoes with different hues.

Save on costume jewelry and seasonal accessories

If you’re a jewelry minimalist and only wear a single necklace and/or earrings everyday, absolutely invest a little in good, long lasting metals and stones.

BUT, if you like to accessorize different outfits with colorful costume jewelry and scarves, absolutely don’t spend your whole paycheck on those items.

Baubles like these can so often be picked up at garage sales in nearly new condition or on highly discounted clearance as the seasons change at department and regular stores.

Statement jewelry goes in and out of fashion quickly and is more easily tired of than its simple, minimal counterpart.

It’s cost-per-wear will also be higher as that type of jewelry won’t be able to be worn with as much of your wardrobe.

Your Turn!

  • What do you spend more money on in your wardrobe and what do you save on?
  • What other subjects would you like us to do a “When to Spend” article on?

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Why Minimalism Isn’t About Stuff

I became a minimalist because the idea of having a clean and clear home and mind was appealing to me. Once I got past the decluttering stage, I was able to see that getting rid of stuff was the easy part. When you have a clean and clear house, that is when the real magic starts to happen.

Why Minimalism Isn't About Stuff

Gaining Clarity

The first major change I noticed when adopting a minimalist lifestyle was the amount of mental clarity I gained. I didn’t have to think so much about what I wanted to wear in the morning, I didn’t have to keep a running to do list in my head anymore – because my life had become simpler. I had a streamlined schedule.

After the mental clarity came, I started to realize that while I was working full time and living a minimalist lifestyle (aka I had quit my nasty weekly shopping trips), I was able to save a LOT of money every month. I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck anymore. Before changing my lifestyle, I had become stagnant in my life. I had a good job, I was able to afford my rent, and I did pretty much whatever I wanted. Enter financial freedom.

Living in Alignment With Values

When I realized that I was accidentally saving a ton of money, my dreams of buying a brand new Audi went out the window, and in came bigger dreams. I wanted to travel the world and I wanted to write. I knew I didn’t want to stay in my windowless office, creating Excel spreadsheets that I wasn’t sure anyone even looked at.

why minimalism isnt about stuffFollowing the minimalist movement, I realized that I had a lot more choices in my life than I ever thought possible. Being financially free gave me the opportunity to follow whatever dream I could dream up. I had time to figure out what I wanted in my life, how I wanted to live, and how to spend the resources that I had – and I became much more intentional with those resources.

I started spending my time and money in ways that aligned with my values. I strengthened my pact to live my life creating minimal damage to the environment. I learned more about living a sustainable life, I saved up $12k so that I could travel for a year, and I learned about working visas so that I could continue traveling after my savings ran out. I learned about long term plans to create my own business online and spent more time working on learning about photography, which was an undeveloped passion before minimalism.

Unexpected Benefits

When I turned to minimalism, it was largely due to not wanting to spend my weekends knee-deep in laundry. What I got from minimalism was so much more than doing my two loads of laundry per week now – I’ve been traveling for two years, I’ve visited 25 countries, I’ve worked abroad, I’ve met people who’ve changed my life, and I’ve changed myself.

I’ve done something that made me feel better than any change in diet could, something better than simply getting out of debt or decluttering my house. I’ve become intentional about how I spend my resources that I get in this short life. I’ve chosen exactly how I want to spend my time and money, and following through with that has given me the chance to follow my dreams and live more than I could have ever imagined.

Your Turn!

  • How has minimalism affected your life?
  • What benefits have you noticed from adopting a minimalist lifestyle?

5 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays

Christmas is just weeks away, but if you’re unprepared, there are still ways to save money this holiday season. It just take a little planning, honestly and self control Here are five ways to cut costs last minute.

1: Make a Budget

Whether you have $100 or $1,000 to spend on the holidays, you need to make a plan on how to spend it. If you don’t, you’ll inevitably overspend in one area or have unplanned expenses pop up and bust your budget. Learn how to set a budget here.

The way you make one for the holidays is exactly like you would for the month. Simply make lines for each person and planned expenses like food, travel, décor and events. Don’t forget stocking stuffers (like I did one year!) Allocate how much you want to spend in each category and shuffle until your budget is spent. If this is your first year making a holiday budget, make sure to have a miscellaneous category for things you might not think of.

Remember to reconcile your budget by either using cash envelopes for each area or tracking your spending in your phone or spreadsheet. A budget doesn’t work unless you follow it.

2: Cull your gift list

At this point, you may realize that you have too many people to gift for and not enough cash. It might be time to decide that you don’t have to spent $5-10 on every neighbor, teacher, coworker and friend.

Remember that gifts aren’t the only way to make someone feel appreciated. For years now, I’ve only gifted to an “elite” list of my family and friends who are closest to me. Everyone else gets handwritten cards, hugs and bags of homemade cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels and other yummy treats. Consumables are always appreciated, especially when made with love.

Don’t give into the temptation to buy cheap or gag gifts. Every woman has enough cheap perfumed lotion sets and probably shoves them into a closet or drawer as she buys herself the lotion she prefers. If you wouldn’t enjoy the item yourself, don’t give it to someone else.

3: Potluck it up

Christmas is about spending time with loved ones, not putting on the perfect Martha Stewart event single handedl, so if you’re feeding more than one person this holiday season, request help with meals. Too often we stress out about making our homes, food and décor perfect (guilty) and it ends up at least partially ruining how much we are able to enjoy the moment.

Tell people what to bring and if someone volunteers to help in the kitchen, hand them a whisk. Enjoy the time cooking with them and reject the stress that comes with trying to do it all yourself.

4: Tone down décor

It can be so tempting to decorate every nook and cranny of your home for the holidays and even easier to spend hundreds of dollars doing it.

Christmas décor is incredibly overpriced and the companies who produce it play completely into it, jacking up prices because they know you’ll be distracted by all the glitter and holiday cheer. It may not feel like it, but adding a few things for you or your home to your cart definitely adds up money-wise.

There are also fairly simple do-it-yourself décor options like holiday pillow covers, ornaments, wreaths and more that can be frugal alternatives to store-bought goods, just be mindful of material costs. Stores that sell trees often give away cutting

s that can be made into garlands, wreaths, tablescapes and more while also making your home smell incredibly Christmas-y.

5: Know when to stop spending

Once you start shopping, it’s hard to stop. We get a natural high when buying and the holidays are the perfect excuse to shop since we are obligated to purchase gifts for other people. Remember what is really valuable about the holiday and stop yourself. Once you’ve hit your budget, it shouldn’t matter if you find the holy grail of presents, you need to stop (or return the other stuff). Holidays are about family and love, not finding the ultimate gift or spending more than another person.

Whatever you do, don’t go into debt for the holidays- you don’t want to start 2018 paying off 2017. It’s okay to have a smaller Christmas you can afford.

 

Your Turn!

  • What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
  • What’s your favorite holiday memory?

Five Tips for A Mindful Home

Living a nomadic lifestyle means that I live in a lot of different homes. My home can change weekly – which has given me the opportunity to figure out exactly what works (and what doesn’t) in making a mindful and simple home just that, a “home.” These are five tips for a mindful and simple home.Tips for a Mindful Home

Keep Only What Adds Value

By surrounding yourself with things that add value to your life – in terms of usefulness or beauty, you are creating a more mindful home. When the clutter is cleared away, your home will become fresh, clear and a place of serenity and happiness. I like to keep my surroundings ultra minimal, and make sure everything that I keep has a purpose, and that I use it often.

Be Picky

I am pretty picky about the clothes I wear and the people I hang out with, so why wouldn’t I be picky with the stuff I surround myself with? I chose to keep my belongings in tip-top shape, and purchase high quality electronics and equipment that I’ll use daily.

Make Your Bed

Minimalists aren’t always clean. But making sure that your bed is easy to make ensures that you’ll actually do it. I like to minimize my blankets and throw pillows on my bed, so that I just have to pull up a duvet cover and viola – the bed is made. Making your bed is step one in being productive for the day.

Tips for a Mindful Home

Pay Attention To Noises

I have always been super sensitive to noise. The sound of a television in the next room drives me absolutely up the wall. I much prefer sounds of classical music or even silence. I have noticed that I am much more productive, happy, and positive when I’m surrounded by uplifting sounds or silence.

Clean Up

A clean home equals a clear mind, right? I notice a huge difference in my mental clarity when my home and area is clean and tidy. Minimalism makes my life so much easier in terms of cleaning. I hardly ever have to dedicate more than 20 or 30 mins of time to cleaning – and when I do dedicate time to cleaning, it is always only to deep clean.

These are five simple tips that have helped me enjoy my living space a bit more, even if that space does change regularly.

Your Turn!

  • Which tip would make the biggest impact for you?
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