Archive for the Minimalism Category

Mistakes I Made While Decluttering

A few years ago, I went on a massive decluttering spree. I had decided to become a minimalist, so naturally, the first step was decluttering my one bedroom apartment. Though I eventually got it right, I made my fair share of mistakes along the way. These are three mistakes I made while decluttering.

Overthinking The Process

Decluttering can be overwhelming at first. Looking at the piles of stuff forced into my closet, my overflowing drawers, and the insane amount of excess I had, it was hard to imagine having a decluttered and clean home. I was hesitant to start decluttering because it just seemed like so much work. I stayed stuck in this state of analysis paralysis for a good amount of time before I finally made a plan and took some action.

Mistakes I Made While Decluttering

Trying To Do It All At Once

When I finally made the decision to just go for it, I made a plan, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work. But I soon realized that even after getting rid of half my shoes or my over filled dresser, I still had more shoes and clothes that I could get rid of. After the initial decluttering, I knew that one round wasn’t enough. I ended up doing a total of three waves of decluttering, getting rid of more things each time.

Organizing the Clutter

After a couple of waves of decluttering, I decided that what I really needed was an organizational system. I picked up some boxes from work and organized a lot of my belongings into different boxes, and then moved them into my garage. I had boxes for college books (in case I wanted to read them again, even though I hadn’t touched them in over 5 years), excess dishes, extra blankets, and off season clothes. I even had a box of snow clothing – I hadn’t gone snowboarding in over four years, and I lived in California. I was proud to have all of these things organized.

Six months later, it came time to move out. When I went in to my garage, I wondered why the heck I kept all of this stuff. I took all of it to Goodwill, and haven’t needed any of it since.

Mistakes I Made While Decluttering

These are just three of the many mistakes I made while decluttering. Sign up to get the Decluttering Checklist so you don’t make the same mistakes I made. Getting rid of excess can be a long journey, but the end result can be life changing.

Your Turn!

  • What mistakes did you make while decluttering?

 

Why you Should Hold an Annual Money Summit

A goal without a plan is just a wish. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Every year I spend about 30 minutes to a few hours to do something that I consider integral to my financial well-being. I call it an annual budget/ money summit and the new year is the perfect time to do one because starting a new year is like a clean slate.

This is better than New Year’s resolutions. Those can be done or not, but you will absolutely spend money this year. And you can spend it well or badly. You can change your money habits. You can set goals and achieve them. It all starts with a plan.

The difference between a money summit and a budget is that you aren’t just planning for a month, you’re planning your whole year. Things that may seem low-cost on a monthly basis, may shock you when you see how much you’re spending on them yearly.

Step 1: Evaluate your budgets/ spending

It takes more than just adjusting your last monthly budget to make a new money plan. If you’re already a budgeter, pull your budgets from the past year and look through each line for the past year.

Look at your regular line items for each month one by one. Did you overspend? Under-spend? By how much? Was it only around holidays? Or during the summer?

Say your grocery budget was $300 every month this year, but you spent closer to $350 every single month. It might be time to adjust your budget so you can spend that $350 guilt free and not worry about where to “steal” that overage from elsewhere in your budget.

In your new proposed budget, really consider each line item and expense. Look back onto costly mistakes or events that happened in the past year and think about how you could pay for those that may happen again. Look forward and incorporate planning for known future expenses (birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries) and try to anticipate any budget busters that may come along.

Looking forward may involve setting up some sinking funds to save up for those expenses.

If you aren’t already a budgeter, start with our How to make a budget guide here to learn how to set up your first budget. You can and should still have a money summit, but you may have to evaluate your spending by looking back into your bank account statements to see where you’ve been spending and how much.

I recommend taking about 3-4 months worth of expenses (spread out through the year, so January, May, September and December of this year) and calculating how much you spent on average in the categories you’ll be making in your budget. This should give you some realistic guidelines for starting out.

Step 2: Dream some dreams

Now is also the time to decide what money goals you would like to meet this year.

Do you want to get out of debt? Pay down credit cards? Save for a vacation or a new car? Maybe you want to buy a new couch.

All these things are very do-able, especially when you break it down month by month.

Now is the time to figure out when you want to take that vacation or buy that couch and then do the math to see how much you need to save to make it happen. If you can get that number to work in your budget, you’ll get to do the thing you want. Easy peasy.

The same goes with debt. If you have debt and want to eliminate all or some of it this year, calculate how much you can allocate out of your budget to do it and set goals to get it done. Make sure to reward yourself as you’re sacrificing and paying off debt by marking milestones – like for every $5,000 you pay off, decide to treat yourself to something small ($20-$100) to keep you on track and motivated to keep paying off debt.

Step 3: Balance it out

You’ve probably done a lot of money shuffling and the budget may not total up anymore. If you’ve increased several categories and your income isn’t increasing, you’ll also need to shuffle expenses from somewhere else to get back to a zero-based budget.

It’s okay to change your mind and really think on what is worth your money… especially when you are looking at how much said item will cost over the next year.

My BEST advise for a money summit is to have no “sacred cows.” Every expense, membership and want is up for debate. If you’re not sure on something, consider cutting an expense for 2, 4 or 6 months, with that cost going toward one of your goals instead, and seeing if you really miss it. Seeing yourself get closer to your money goals may be more fulfilling than the original thing that money was going to.

Step 4: Sit on it

Save and close your budget and sit on it for about a week so you can go back in with fresh eyes and make sure all your bases are covered.

You may remember an event or future expense that you can’t overlook and will have to change your budget to account for. If you are married, make sure your partner makes a pass or two and approves it in its entirety. If you’re single, consider having a trusted friend take a peek to offer advise on if you’re being realistic or not.

Remember that this budget will be the basis for your entire year. You can certainly change it if needed, but it’s doubtful that as the year picks up, you’ll have time to make large changes.

This budget can be your playbook to massive financial success if you’re willing to give it the consideration and attention it deserves. Just imagine the financial situation you could be in next year at this time if you can meet all the money goals you’ve set.

Good luck and happy budgeting!

Your Turn!

  • What is your number one money goal for 2018?
  • What is one money mistake you made this year?

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?

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?

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?