Posts Tagged Minimalist

Clutter And Stress: Your Clutter is Stressing You Out

Whenever I’m in a room full of clutter, I start to feel my anxiety rise. Clutter has been tightly correlated to stress, and your clutter may be stressing you out even more than you think. This is five ways that clutter stresses you out.

Clutter and Stress

1. Clutter is Distracting

No wonder I can never get work done with a cluttered desk or office – when you can constantly see other things (aka clutter) that needs to get put away, faxed off, filed, etc, it’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand. Most people take breaks from staring at the computer, and if those breaks are filled with looking around at the clutter in your office, it could be greatly distracting you from what you’re meant to be doing.

2. Clutter Inhibits Creativity and Productivity

Being constantly surrounded by clutter can stop your creativity (& productivity) in it’s tracks. Personally, I feel super inspired and creative when I’m in a clean and tidy environment, and I have never been able to feel productive when I’m in a messy, cluttered room or space. I’ve always been one of those people that clean their room before doing any work.

3. Clutter Creates Feelings of Guilt

When you’re surrounded by clutter, it’s easy to think of what you should have done with it by now. It should have been donated, it should have been thrown away, it should be organized.

I experienced this firsthand when I went to visit my parents recently, and in my old room was clutter that I’d totally forgot about. It was just a few old clothes, a Vitamix, and some shoes, but I made sure that I got rid of it before I left. Arriving there and seeing the clutter made me feel so guilty, but getting rid of it made me feel so much better.

4. Clutter Makes Us Anxious

Imagine that you are standing in a field on a sunny day. The grass is cut short and you can’t see anything for miles. How relaxing is that?!

Now imagine you’re in a room, surrounded by stuff. The bookshelves are full, there are boxes on the floor, even the table and chairs are piled high with stuff. Did that feeling of being relaxed go away?

Clutter can unconsciously cause massive amounts of stress.

Clutter and Stress

5. Clutter Makes it Difficult To Relax, Physically and Mentally

I love having time to myself, to read, relax, light a candle, whatever. But it’s super difficult to relax when I’m surrounded by clutter. In fact, sometimes it feels downright impossible. Clutter inhibits our ability to relax because it’s hard to see all of the stuff that needs to get done and ignore it.

Clutter can have a huge impact on stress levels, consciously or unconsciously. The good news is that decluttering can lead you to a more stress free, creative, and productive life.

Your Turn!

  • How has clutter affected your stress levels?

Organizing Versus Decluttering

There seems to be a constant debate on organizing versus decluttering. Which one is more important? Should I organize, declutter, or both? This is my experience with organizing and decluttering.

I used to spend hours every week watching organizing videos. I would be amazed and so satisfied watching people organize the contents of their closet or storage cabinets into neat, clear plastic tubs, complete with lids and cute labels. Watching these videos would make me so motivated to go get my own organizing tubs and move all of my belongings into clearly labeled containers, where everything has it’s place.

Organized Versus Decluttered

The idea of organizing all of my stuff seemed like so much fun, and I started to use my coupons (I was also into couponing) to buy organizing bins and drawer sets for my cabinets. I organized all of my bulk toothpaste, extra deodorants, and even put all of the clothes I hardly wear in a cute box to put up in the attic. I organized a box of scarves, a box of spare shoes, and I even organized all of my books from college into a box with a label to put in the garage.

I soon realized the problem with my organizing spree. I was simply organizing all of the stuff I wasn’t using. I didn’t need fifty tubs of toothpaste or thirty Bath and Body Works shower gels. I didn’t need that box of clothes that I never wore, or my books from college.

Soon after my organizing spree, I found minimalism. At this point, I turned my focus from organizing to decluttering. I stopped with the couponing madness, and I stopped buying more stuff. I started working my way through the stuff that I had, and gave some of it away. Eventually, the storage and organizing containers became useless. I didn’t have stuff to fill them anymore, so they got donated along with a lot of the stuff in them.

This experience taught me that decluttering should always come before organizing. For the majority of my organizing phase, organizing was just tidying up the stuff I wasn’t using or didn’t need to begin with. Though organizing can feel productive and look pretty, now I much prefer the minimalist look of clean, clear homes with only the essentials and nothing more.

Organized Versus Decluttered

Living this way has opened my mind and schedule, so that I have the time to be doing things that really light me up and make me feel alive. I have time for all of my many hobbies and goals. And I can tell you, organizing isn’t one of those hobbies anymore.

Your Turn!

  • Do you prefer organizing or decluttering?

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?

 

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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