Last weekend, we did some long-awaited work in the living room. Here's the way it was before:It's hard to see,...read more →
Well here we are at the end of the 30-Day Minimalism Challenge. I have mixed feelings as this wraps up, but more on that later. First, here are the last week’s challenges (plus the last day):
Day Twenty-Four: Focus On Yourself. While you’re making your way through your journey, don’t forget to take some time to work on yourself. Get out and exercise, eat a healthy meal, and don’t forget to smile! This is a complete transformation – home, body, mind, and soul.
This has been much needed. This challenge, along with a self-imposed increased blog post publishing schedule, freelance work, my regular job, and some additional life challenges have left me a bit tapped out. I’ve been trying to scale back the truly optional things; more on that later.
Day Twenty-Five: Declutter the unusual spots. Today we’re going to tackle the “unusual” places where junk accumulates. This includes under your sink, and even behind the couch.
The usual spots for us are the second bedroom (the bed briefly went under again while attempting to get through some of the other challenges done), our coffee table in the living room, and our dining room table.
I went through the second bedroom and boxes up the various things still lying around – stuff for a homeless shelter, stuff to be filed, and a few truly sentimental items that need to be properly stored for posterity. I cleared off the coffee table and dining room table, finding a place for everything (see Day Twenty-Seven). We need to be in the habit of closing up the collapsable dining room table when we’re not using it – that’s why we wanted a collapsible table in the first place after all! I’ll be making an effort to do that going forward.
Day Twenty-Six: Tackle your electronics. We’re decluttering not only the physical items (DVD players, CD players… Walkmans too), we’re also going to declutter the items we store on our electronics. Remove songs, pictures, videos, etc. from your hard drives that you are no longer using.
Walkmans, seriously? Are those around?! Haha. So we kind of tackled this recently because we renovated our den, and made half of it into a gaming room. We went through our consoles and games, got rid of ones we no longer want, and organized and stored those we’ll be keeping. As part of tackling the second bedroom, we got a handle on our DVDs and CDs.
To keep things moving and replace this activity, I’ve been taking one piece of trash out of the car every time I leave… or one thing that belongs elsewhere, and putting it in its place.
Day Twenty-Seven: Every item has its place. Every item needs a “place” in your home. When not in use, return the item to its place. Organizing your remaining items is a great way to create a system, while keeping the items off your floor.
This is advice that Adam has been repeatedly giving me for years (he can be very wise, my husband).
I’ve been trying to go this to some extent throughout the entire process, but have been kicking it into high gear lately. I am pretty distractable, though, and that’s why most things wind up out of place. Not sure how much a 30-day challenge can impact a lifestyle, or the way one’s brain is wired, but I will keep trying.
Day Twenty-Eight: Don’t beat yourself up. We are our own worst critic. Today, try tackling something you’ve been putting off or avoiding. If you find yourself reaching a challenge or having difficulty with a certain task, step away for a minute. When you feel prepared to tackle the task again, dive in.
I weeded the asparagus bed! I had been putting this off ever since the bed got away from me, in early summer. Glad to finally have it done, and to take are of the surrounding areas that had also been overrun.
Day Twenty-Nine: Try something new. You’ve almost completed a 30 Day Challenge on Simplifying and Minimizing! Have you completed one before? If you’ve answered “No” then you’ve already tried something new! Today, try something else.
So the scheduling didn’t work out for this to be done in time for this post, but I have committed to going to meditation with my friend Richard. He is a Buddhist and a goes to meditate with this group on Sundays. He is such a nice guy that I know my usual anxieties about doing it properly, or not asking dumb questions will not be an issue.
I look forward to giving it a try; I have a very noisy, busy mind and I have long suspected that learning how to meditate could be very beneficial for me (and those who have to deal with me). I’ll let you know how it goes in a follow-up post.
Day Thirty: Wrap-Up. We’ve hit the end of our challenge. On Day One we asked you to place one item a day into a Donate Box. Today, donate the box. If you’re hesitant to donate the box, you can instead place it in a closet or spare space temporarily. Take items from the box only if you need them, but replace any item taken with a new item to be donated. After a month, items still in the box should be donated.
This has been a very interesting challenge. I thought I did a lot of the things on the list already, but accomplishing everything was definitely still work – at a time in my life where everything is work! The donation boxes are gone to Goodwill, as I mentioned last week. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what simplicity and minimalism mean to me, what parts of my life I want to apply them to (most of them, really), and what I have learned.
As a result, I have come up with a few stretch goals and a few resolutions and a few stretch goals to accomplish before Mary and I meet to do a final wrap-up (our schedules haven’t been playing well together).
Ease off the gas on spatialdrift. I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to make this website bigger and better than I really have time for while working a full-time job and living a balanced and happy life. I think there will be natural times of increased and decreased productivity on the blog, and that by letting go of events and things I am too busy to write up, I should feel a lot less stress.
Stop looking at the spatialdrift’s ranking on Urbanspoon so often. I’ll make the top 30 blogs in Atlanta or I won’t. This blog will turn into something truly special (popular and profitable) or it won’t. None of that is actually important at all. What’s important is keeping it what it is intended to be – a fun practice of photographing, thinking, and writing things that matter to me, and that I want to try.
Ease off the gas on freelance work. I started back in the freelancing biz after a lengthy retirement because I had something to prove. I think it’s been proven, and my lesson learned. I need to wrap up the one project I am involved in and extricate myself from one I’ve been flirting with. Should I take on any more projects in the future, I need to be far more strict about what types of projects I take on.
Take an art class. My job takes and takes from the well of creativity but doesn’t do much to fill it back up. The well is feeling a bit dry and I need to connect with some artists and be involved in some creative pursuits.
Get a bike. Ride the bike. I’ve been wanting one forever, especially because of fine folks like Mr. Money Mustache explaining how they are cheaper and good for you to boot, and Mark Sisson explaining how we all get to get out in nature more (walking or running is best, but I think a bike is fine too), and my awesome neighbor Zoe being a huge advocate of the biking life. I’m terrified of it, but I know I want to do it and I need to make it happen!
Keep up the momentum of the 30-Day Challenge. Keep an eye on reducing the physical clutter in the house. Work the concept of continuous optimization. Like eating healthy is a lifestyle – and if you think of a push for the better as being “on a diet,” you’re setting yourself up for failure – so is keeping life simple in our complicated and consumerism-oriented western lifestyle. Practicing some level of minimalism needs to be a series of small decisions made nearly constantly, based on a changed mindset.
Clean out my car and have it detailed. I’ve not had my car detailed since I bought it yearly three years ago, and our most recent roadtrip finally tipped the cleanliness of the inside from passable to somewhat nasty. Additionally, I’ve been carrying around some emotional and physical baggage in the trunk, and that simply needs to go. I miss getting decent MPG. Over the next two or three weeks, I’d like to rectify this.
Organize the linen closet. This was initially going to be one of my replacement goals for the three-day virtual disconnect, but it became clear that our deep shelves were always going to allow for clutter without smaller containers to organize out things in. Having just reorganized the pantry, it seemed obvious that using the empty air between the door and the shelves with the back-of-the-door shelf was the way to go. It just arrived in the mail and it’s time to get crackin’!
Finish Day Twenty-Nine. I am committed to making the time to go meditate with Richard. I will make it happen, hopefully before the next stretch goal rolls around…
Follow-up post. I want to meet with Mary to discuss our learnings and wrap this project up. I have some before shots of my house and I need to get some afters going and really think objectively about how this had impacted my physical clutter and if I can do a better job of things.
As I said, this has been a very interesting challenge. It’s also been a hectic and stressful time in my life. As a result, I can’t say that doing the Minimalism Challenge to simplify my life during these time wasn’t a bit ironic. What with having to keep up with, photograph, and write about everything, it created a lot of artificial work and unnecessary stress. It also kept me honest, though. If I had been doing this on my own I probably would have tabled it for a less hectic time in the future. When that happens, the chances of going back to an abandoned project and completing it successfully are slim.
Probably due to my stress at this moment, I don’t feel like the 30-Day Minimalism Challenge was overwhelmingly a success. I still see problem areas in my house, and wonder if I’ll have enough momentum to keep going. That’s part of the reasoning behind the stretch goals, and following up with Mary in a couple of weeks, to let the dust settle (proverbially and literally, haha).