Minimalist in DC

The Quest for Less "Stuff" & More Time

Tag: Minimalism (page 2 of 4)

How Minimalism Ruined Shopping for Clothes

MinimalismLast weekend, for the first time since I started my minimalism project in the fall, I realized that I had a legitimate reason to go shopping for clothes. After months of de-owning the items I don’t wear, like, or fit into and with the weather heating up, I was left with less than a week’s worth of short-sleeved shirts I could wear to work. I also had about $36 left on a Loft gift card that my brother-in-law had given me over a year ago. So, with a real need and some money, I gave myself a license to go shopping.

I went to the new Springfield Town Center mall to see what I could find. At several stores, I tried on shirt after shirt, a couple of capris and a couple of sweaters and I found nothing! Why is this so hard?

I’ll tell you! I have a new voice inside of my head that asks me really annoying questions:

  1. Does this look amazing on me? Do you absolutely love it? This gets rid of most items I tried on.
  2. Is this something you really need? Is this what you came here to buy? This got rid of more items.
  3. Is this significantly different from everything else that you have so as to justify buying it (when you could just wear what you have)?
  4. How often can you really wear this? How long will it last? If it’s something that I could wear every week or layer in every season and it’s good quality, it’s probably a good purchase.

That’s how minimalism ruined shopping for clothes and that is how I walked out of the mall on Saturday with just two items: a blue, plain tank top (which is great for wearing or layering) and a black cardigan to replace one of the most versatile and often-used shirts in my closet (the old one was missing several buttons and fraying along the sleeve edges).

I honestly wonder if I need to find a new set of stores. Most women’s fashion comes with an expiration date and to help you buy more clothing, stores make everything really thin and cheaply.

Any suggestions? Where do you shop for your clothes?

Transforming Furniture

What do people do when they want to live in a small space, but don’t have the ability or time to build their own multi-use furniture? They buy it! I have always been fascinated by tiny tables that expand to seat 8 and beds that turn into couches and bookshelves. Years ago when one of us was sick, Nathan and I invented the idea for a king-sized bed that would split and rotate to become a bunk bed. That way we could still share a bed most of the time, but could switch to bunk beds so we wouldn’t have the sick person breathing on us all night. Think about how great that would be for a guest room where you might have to accommodate adults or kids?

Well, my dreams have come true (sort of)! I recently discovered a company called Resource Furniture that has some really interesting designs in which ordinary furniture is transformed into something completely different. It’s very creative and fascinating to look through their site. Here are just a couple of interesting and useful items.

Desk or Table for Ten?

The goliath table goes from being a small display table to a full-size table capable of seating ten (there are leaves you have to store).

White-and-Tan Goliath

Photo Credit: resource furniture.com

Sofabed

We all know how utilitarian murphy beds are, but this brings new meaning to the term “sofa bed”.

Swing

Photo Credit: resource furniture.com

Swing

Photo Credit: resourcefurniture.com

Bedtime

Or for your kids, what a clever way to both save space and hide toys when it’s bedtime!

hiding twin bed

Photo Credit: resourcefurniture.com

hiding bed

Photo Credit: resourcefurniture.com

Seating for Five

Or what about this little ottoman? What a great way to expand for party seating.

Cubista-Ottoman

Photo Credit: resourcefurniture.com

Cubista-Ottoman-Stools

Photo Credit: resourcefurniture.com

Unfortunately, the prices are pretty steep. Everything is made to order and the goliath table will run you between $3500-$5000. I suspect, however, that more and more furniture will be made this way in the future. This completely changes how I’ll think about my next furniture purchase!

Has anyone found other companies that make transforming furniture?  Comment and share below!

Three Good Minimalist TED Talks

“There are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” – Nigel Marsh

Are you ready to be inspired? Have you fallen off the de-owning wagon and want to get back on? Here are a couple good, minimalist TED Talks that will inspire you to get going.

Graham Hill: Less Stuff, More Happiness

Graham Hill of lifeedited.com gives us the essential pitch for minimalism with some cool ideas for editing your life.

Nigel Marsh: How to Make Work-Life Balance Work

Nigel’s very funny take on a simple way to change your life balance by changing how you spend some of your time.

Grant Blakeman: Minimalism – For a More Full Life

A very quick, rapid-fire reminder to curate our life and create more negative space.

Want more? Check out frugaling.org for more talks.

Decluttering: Guidelines for Round Two

Sheep at Mount Vernon

Sheep at George Washington’s Home: Mount Vernon

Though we’ve made tremendous progress over the last four months, we definitely haven’t reduced our possessions down to the essentials. We haven’t even reduced them down to the things we actually like, let alone need. I was naïve to think the full de-owning process could take place all at once. Not only do I have so much more to get rid of, I want to keep going. We have momentum now! Here are some guidelines I’m adopting to help me shed as much as possible in my next round of decluttering.

Decluttering: Guidelines for Round Two

  1. One: Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist discusses the power of owning just one. Any duplicate items have got to go.
  2. One Year: If I haven’t used it in over a year, it’s going in a box with a date and I’m taping it closed. If I don’t use it in the next year, I’ll donate the box without looking inside.
  3. Joy: Does this item “spark joy”? Japanese decluttering sensation, Marie Kondo, uses this question when decluttering for herself and her clients. If I really don’t like something, I’ll get rid of it. If I need it, I’ll replace it with an item I love instead.
  4. Family: I don’t have any quotas or rules for the things my children and husband own. I just want to get them excited about de-owning so that they’ll start to do it on their own. If I can get them to sit down with me a few times and happily de-own, I’ll be happy too.

Have Fewer Meetings: Block Your Calendar (Quick Tip)

fewer meetingsSo much of minimalism is about choosing exactly where you want to spend your limited resources – including time. For most of us, we’d rather spend our time in fewer meetings. Even great meetings, if scheduled at the wrong times can render your day entirely useless. It takes the average person 25 minutes to get back into flow, our most productive state, after switching context, which means that if we have meetings every other hour, we’re basically spending our entire day jumping from one thing to the next without completing productive work.

There’s a simple fix that helps you regain productive work time: plan ahead and schedule it.

Look a couple months out on your calendar where it isn’t as packed and pick two solid hours of every day. Schedule a meeting with yourself, then defend that chunk of time with your life. Proactively move meetings out of that space. Proactively decline meetings that overlap your block. Explain to those that matter what you’re doing and if they don’t respect that time, show them you’re serious by not showing up.

In using this technique, I and others have discovered a few key things:

  1. If our time is blocked and we’ve explained why, most people will respect the block or come talk to us before scheduling a meeting. This allows us to work together on a solution and usually gets us a preview of the agenda. Suddenly, we’re meeting insiders.
  2. We’re better able to say no or delegate. Since we’ll open a dialogue with the meeting scheduler, we can find out ahead of time if we belong in the meeting. We start to attend fewer meetings.
  3. We’re far more productive. I like to block two hours in the morning when I have the most energy. Getting my most important task done right away gives me momentum for the rest of the day!
  4. People think twice before inviting you to useless meetings. You have to be OK with being the only one not there, but you’ll more than make up for the lack of facetime with your newfound productivity. Plus, since you’re already interested in minimalism, you’re probably not the type to blindly follow the crowd anyway.

One more thing, and this is key, you must guard this time jealously. If you start making exceptions, the whole system will spiral out of control and you’ll be back to where you started.

Be strong, schedule the time, and reap the rewards of fewer meetings and more productivity!

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