i’m digging out my desk after a busy weekend of work (40 hours just on friday-sunday). when i get rushed, papers and files just pile up on my desk until i can catch my breath and sort them out. that’s what i’m doing today.

i just cleared 2 stacks of papers from my desk and found an important note scratched on a sheet of paper. it’s a letter of sorts. it was such an important letter that i put it on my desk right in front of my computer so that i would be reminded all day long. but alas, it got pushed aside and buried under piles and piles of papers. and when it “became out of sight,” it became “out of mind” as well.

i found it this morning and was reminded of its importance, weight, and promise. oh, how i wish it had not been crowded out by the accumulation of “stuff.”

too often this metaphor defines me – not just in pieces of paper, but in life’s joy and value. this “find” has become my encouragment and challenge for the day – don’t let “stuff” push aside the important things in your life.

now that my desk has been sorted and cleared, this note and its message has again returned to prominence in my life and attitude. thank god.

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harder work than i imagined

September 14, 2008

this evening i was talking to a friend.  during the convesation, he asked how the “minimalism” was going.  i replied, “i feel bad. it’s been so hectic at work the past couple weeks, i haven’t been able to do much around the house.” 

something hit me as i finished the sentence – for the first i recognized fully that becoming minimalist is not an easy thing to do.  it is hard work!  it takes time and energy to sort possessions.  it takes effort to decide what we truly value.  it takes time to determine if an item is necessary to keep or can be removed.  it takes time to sort, sell, recycle, or discard.  it takes time to reorganize and find “homes” for every belonging. 

stuff… takes your time when you own it and takes your time when you try to get rid of it.  i think the best solution is to not buy it in the first place.  and that’s something i wish i knew 10 years ago.

visit becoming minimalist’s new site.

today…

August 27, 2008

…turn to more important matters than transporting gold to your grave.  ~Credenda~

minimalism and children

July 26, 2008

reader caron recently asked:

“how do your children feel about living the minimalist lifestyle?”

my simple answer is “very well. better than i expected. and better than their parents in many regards.”

to give you a little background, my son is 5 and my daughter is 2. my daughter has had little input in our minimalizing, but we have worked hard to include my son in the process. we feel that it is important for him to understand what is happening and feel included in the process. wefirst noticed his better-than-expected attitude when we minimalized his bedroom. he loves reading and we were dreading the process of going through his books. but we were shocked when he pulled out far more books to sell at our garage sale than we envisioned. next, he picked out more stuffed animals than we had pictured. thirdly, he cared little about his clothing and didn’t object at all to removing the things from his dresser top. after his bedroom came the big test when we moved downstairs to his toys. again, we were surprised that he had little hesitation in getting rid of many toys that he no longer uses. i even wrote about it here.

the only hiccup that we have encountered was when we removed the toys from our living room and moved them downstairs in the newly formed toy room. as a compromise, we decided to keep some of his books on a shelf in the living room and reminded him that he could still play toys in that room – he just had to return them to their new home downstairs when he is done.

the thoughtful question from caron has caused me to ask the follow-up question: “why exactly has it gone so well? why has my son adjusted so much quicker than his parents?” and i think there are a number of reasons.

  1. he didn’t pay for the things that we’re discarding.
  2. he’s still got more stuff than he could possibly use in one day.
  3. his security is not found in his possessions. his security is found in his stable family.
  4. his memories are not wrapped up in his possessions but in the people he loves.
  5. he doesn’t look for joy in his possessions. he finds it in living life to the fullest.

which makes me think that we’ve all got a lot to learn from 5 year olds.

related posts: benfit #2 – the example for your kids, operation: basement, day 1

here are 7 things that could be minimalized in your living room today:

  1. books (on the bookcase or in the magazine rack)
  2. old family photos (do you really need 2 photos of your cousin displayed?)
  3. cds/dvds (remove the ones you don’t use and put the remainders in storage out of sight)
  4. decorative items (keeping just the items that you want people to notice will help them get noticed)
  5. entertainment center (remove old components and organize cords)
  6. children’s toys (put them in storage out of sight – “everything gets a home”)
  7. furniture (remove and rearrange – you just may fall in love with the extra space)

do you have anything to add to the list?

related posts: 7 things – the kitchen, 7 things – the bathroom

we enjoy entertaining and having people over to our house. we almost always have guests in our home once per week, occasionally twice per week, and sometime three times a week. with this much company, you would think that we would do a better job of keeping our house spotlessly clean. but with two small children, it’s not that easy. and just like most families, we are tidying, dusting, and vaccuming in the hours preceding the guests’ arrival hoping that none of them arrive too early.

since intentionally becoming minimalist 45 days ago, we have noticed a significant decrease in the amount of preparation time before our guests arrive. there are less things in the house that need to be relocated. there are less things that need to be cleaned or dusted, and we have a tendency to keep our house cleaner throughout the week because the clutter is more obvious in a minimalist home.

this benefit came sharply into focus over the last two test cases. 1) my mother-in-law came to stay with us for a week to watch our kids. 2) a group of strangers came over for an evening to discuss investing in our businees. in both cases, we were ready preparing the house in record time and even had time to spare before the guests arrive.

since going minimalist, we have found it easier to entertain and more enjoyable.

related posts: benefit #4 – easier to clean, full list of benefits of minimalism

a fix of minimalism

July 18, 2008

i have been going through a bit of minimalism withdrawal lately.  over the span of 36 days, i will be in town for only seven – and those seven have been filled with visiting relatives, spending time with my kids, and meetings at work.  as a result, i have had nothing to report about my personal minimalism efforts (maybe you have noticed).  and even worse, i have been itching to get back to the job that i started 45 days ago.

luckily, this evening (friday) i was able to sneak in an hour of minimalization around the home.  i was quickly drawn to the storage room downstairs and went to work.  old toys, old knick-knacks, old books, old tools, and old boxes went flying.  4 large trash bags tied and ready for the dump later, i feel satisfied.  i have had my minimalism fix. 

i wonder what i would have said if somebody had me told when i was 21 that i would soon be spending friday nights celebrating the trash that i have collected…  oh well, maybe if somebody had told me when i was 21 to stop buying stuff, i wouldn’t be in this mess today.