less, but better

I’m already not one that’s prone to clutter, but with a large household consisting of my wife, 6 kids, an English Mastiff, a cat and me… things build up.

I decided that in addition to my Year Without challenge, I’d use the month of January to also do a declutter challenge. I’m using the method detailed by The Minimalists that can be summarized as succinctly as you eliminate the number of things that matches the numerical day of the month, for an entire month. While gamification is great, I didn’t want to set things aside to sandbag, so if I have more things to get rid of than the day of the month, so be it. Below is a log of the first 15 days:

  • January 1 – I cleaned out an entire sock drawer in our master closet dresser. Also go rid of Christmas pajamas that we used for our yearly family photo, but that didn’t fit great after a wash and we knew they wouldn’t get added into normal rotation. Total haul was two 8 gallon trash bags of unneeded stuff.
  • January 2 – I’m a firm believer that digital clutter shares much of the same anxiety inducing qualities of physical clutter, albeit not the same trappings of a home overflowing with “stuff”. Today I went through the App Library on my iPhone and deleted 11 apps that I either no longer used, no longer needed, had never used or simply didn’t want to have such frictionless access to via the computer that’s always with me.
  • January 3 – Today was my first day back to work after the holidays. Due to a fractured ankle back at the beginning of October, most of my work from my home office had been from my knockoff Eames lounger so that I could keep my foot elevated. Since I’m back to being able to stand for longer periods, I spent portions of today gutting the closet in the office and discarded two trash bags worth of things I no longer need. A few items got listed on Mercari to sell off vs. donate or discard.
  • January 4 – Discarded more items from the home office (another small trash bag full). Also cleared out my entire newsletter queue in Mailbrew. Feels light and great to have both physical and digital clutter removed. First day back at the standing desk is tomorrow!
  • January 5 – By some purest measurement, I failed the declutter challenge yesterday because I didn’t rid myself of 5 physical nor digital objects that I can remember. I’m okay with that, because what I did rid myself of was the crushing mental weight of not having my home working environment the way I find most productive. Working at the standing desk yesterday was so freeing after the last 3 months of ankle issues. Yesterday was also an amazing evening with my lovely older daughters and wife seeing Hamilton for the first time as a live show. What an amazing day all around.
  • January 6 – Another day of failed declutter challenge, but not feeling bad about it. Between work in the morning and a trip to celebrate a family birthday out of town, our day was pretty packed. I did manage to clear the anxiety of having not sent any newsletter update in some time. Yesterday was just a heads up on the platform change, but next week the letters start flying again and I’m super excited about all the changes in my process.
  • January 7 – Went through my coffee kitchen cabinet and rid myself of tools, mugs and other related goods I no longer need or use. Removed well over seven items. Also deleted over 600 pics from my Apple Photo Library that were one-time use images or screenshots that served no purpose and were just backed up for no reason other than they existed.
  • January 8 – While I discarded a few items (a Corkcicle tumbler, a book, etc.) I don’t know if I hit 8 things or not. I’m okay with it since I know progress is progress.
  • January 9 – I discarded 10 edible items which I decided I couldn’t in good conscience consume the entire container. Sometimes we check a box, but 9 or more things is 9 or more things.
  • January 10 – Donated a couple of ankle injury items (scooter/leg crutch) to a contact. Listing a laptop for sale that’s no longer used. While it isn’t ridding ourselves of items, all the indoor Christmas decorations were put away today, which as the space feeling fresh. Also cleared a ton of articles out of my read-later app that are either no longer relevant to me or were read and never archived.
  • January 11 – Discarded the original set of key caps from my Keychron K6. So however many keys that is, it’s more than 11.
  • January 12 – I uninstalled a ton of apps on my iPad today. Also did another pass at mechanical keyboard key caps and discarded ones that are part of my current set, but that don’t fit my keyboard layout.
  • January 13 – Busy day, don’t believe any items of relevance were discarded.
  • January 14 – spent some time deleting a ton of bookmarks that were things I no longer needed in Raindrop. The count was over 100.
  • January 15 – I cleared out more read-later app articles and deleted old notes from the Apple Notes app I no longer needed. There's so much digital cruft that gets left behind simply because it doesn't occupy more than hard drive or cloud storage “space”.

After reading Manu's great post about his newest year without experiment and the original inspiration from Leo Babuta, I'm ready to embark on my own.

I'll take the month-at-a-time approach and am only thinking through what the first 6 months of 2023 will attempt. As I get closer to the mid-point of the year, I'll evaluate what I should eliminate for the last half. I'm planning to write about each month as it concludes with a short retrospective on how it felt and if I succeeded.

Here's my list for January – June:

  • January – Phone in grayscale mode only.
  • February – No sweets.
  • March – Only water or coffee to drink; coffee must be black, no dairy, no sweeteners.
  • April – No Apple Watch. No devices in bathroom.
  • May – No podcasts or audiobooks.
  • June – No email newsletters.

Should be interesting! Email me if you have questions or want to discuss.

Another year of living without

Manu with another perfectly-timed post for the way I’m thinking of late…

This resonates:

And what is causing all these problems is the internet. Now, I don't plan to go a year without internet since that's impossible considering the work I do but I do plan to go a year without consuming internet related entertainment. So no mindless browsing out of boredom, no YouTube videos, no random scrolling on Reddit.

I’ve been creating some systems to deal with this, but Manu’s approach is more simple and therefore likely better.

I’m using the awesome Mailbrew to create digests of internet content I still want to consume that get delivered as “brews” or newsletters on a weekly or monthly basis. I’ve uninstalled the Youtube app from my phone and am using an app called one sec to put a barrier between apps/websites and my compulsion to view/open them.

I’ll write up a full post on my tactics and plans for 2023, but intentionality in what I consume, lessening that consumption and repurposing that time for better things is the central theme.

twin journey

Twins are partners in a forever journey.

What concerns me is not the way things are, but the way people think things are.

Better Connections

Great post from Carl Barenbrug that hits very close to my overall feelings on the topic of connectedness (or lack thereof).

We struggle to find worthwhile connections and conversations with those we can learn from and engage meaningfully with. It’s difficult to know why exactly. There’s probably many reasons—work, personal commitments, not knowing where to find them, or too afraid to even seek them out.

I’d make an argument that most of the reasons stem from an oversupply issue. The oversupply of “connection opportunities” has completely eroded the ability to spark, fertilize, incubate and hatch what is a strong connection. Social media, endless scroll and the collective “phone screen as life’s viewfinder” are all to blame.

I’m leaning into older and slower methods. Regular, scheduled and valued phone calls. Long-form letters in the modern convenience of emails. Investing in another human is something that should bring mutual value and growth for both parties.

Twitter/Instagram/etc will make you feel like you can reap dividends by investing time in tiny bits that are equivalent to mere pennies. I’ve come to the conclusion those methods are nothing more than wishing wells.

Casa Mami

What a beautiful and peaceful place to contemplate life.

Casa Mami

#architecture #destinations

Eastern vs Western Views of Happiness

Excellent article sans attribution over at The School of Life

Some of the reason why this continues to feel unreal is that we simply can’t imagine that success, great wealth and a palace wouldn’t in the end do the trick. And that in turn is because too few people who have been blessed with such accoutrements have ever given us an honest account of what it felt like to have them.

Minimalist tendencies lean into eastern sensibilities.

I begin to speak only when I'm certain what I'll say isn't better left unsaid.

5 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Leo Babauta always has gems to share, but the following really resonated with me:

This is the benefit of living a simple life, this slowness and spaciousness, but it can also be a path to the simple life. Slow down to simplify.

One of my 2022 themes is moving to more “slow apps” that don’t have the goal of engagement or stealing focus. I think I will stretch until I can fit “slow life” into the theme.

#simplify #slowness

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