Just before sitting down to write these words, I finished reading a book and handed it off to my mother-in-law. So tonight’s the perfect time to talk about how books come into our lives and stay there.
I reclaimed my nightstand this weekend. I had two goals for doing it: bust clutter and continue getting my electronics under control. Paradoxically, it took more electronics to do this.
Greetings from Michigan, where we’re cozily spending this holiday night in a stranger’s driveway (with permission of course.)
Owning fewer things makes me feel more free inside. I get joy from carting useless or underused stuff out of my house to the local Goodwill donation center. Having clean sight lines in the home is a pleasure, and I can see and better appreciate the things I choose to keep when there are fewer of them.
So, today’s lifestyle tip is really a work in progress: if you don’t need it, get rid of it.
No doubt about it: technology is a boon for leaving a lighter footprint and spending less time and energy on the administrivia of life. You can carry your entire book collection in the palm of your hand, or visit your credit card provider’s website from any device anywhere in the world instead of stuffing a file cabinet with paper statements.
But as I discussed in last week’s post about email, the online world can also function like a closet. You can stuff things in there with no rhyme or reason, making the entire endeavor useless and frustrating until you hide it behind a door (or an off switch). It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve developed a stable of digital tricks that help keep me productive and organized, and help keep my family charging forward through life. None of them costs any money, by the way.
Lindy and I have been working our way through Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We’re not nearly to the point of saying everything we own sparks joy, and I don’t know if our socks are feeling their life force because of the way they’re folded and stored. But I’ve written much and plan to write plenty more in this space about minimalism: not owning more than you need, enjoying what you have and focusing on what’s most important in life.
As an early pioneer of online technologies, I realized pretty quickly that digital clutter is a pervasive threat to a minimalist lifestyle. It’s just like stuffing everything behind a closet door: you can’t always see it, but it’s still there.
Here’s the first thing I do to keep my online life tidy: Inbox Zero.
Image by Allie_Caulfield from Germany – 2010-10-30 Geeste, Moormuseum 032, CC BY 2.0.
On the subway yesterday, on the way into the office, I stole an appreciative look down at my constant traveling companion in my lap. It’s true: when I’m on the go, my gear bag is with me more often than my dog, my wife or my daughter. It comes along to work and on nearly every trip.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Yesterday evening, I ran out and got XY some Chinese takeout for dinner before the babysitter came over. Why? Because we couldn’t get into the kitchen to feed the kid. We’ve been having the kitchen floor re-tiled, which is a three-day job. The last-minute scramble, minus the tiles, probably sounds familiar to a lot of working parents. But it’s a very unusual thing for us, by design.
Avoiding situations like last-minute takeout food, with its high cost, extra packaging and often dubious nutritional value, is exactly why we make a meal plan every week.
Good morning from blustery Kearney, Neb., where I’m sitting inside a toasty RV and waiting for my two passengers to come back from the showers. Never having spent any time at RV parks before this trip, I guess I didn’t give a second thought to what it would take to set one up. As you can see from the picture, it’s just a series of concrete slabs with electrical, water and sewer hookups. Add a building with some shower and laundry facilities, put in a wi-fi router, and drop the whole thing down within a mile of a major interstate. That’s all.