Becoming Minimalist: Can It Be Done in a Fast Paced World?

Becoming Minimalist: Can It Be Done in a Fast Paced World?


By Vanessa Salas of Shed, Mom

As the resident self-professed minimalist around these parts, my answer is an unequivocal YES!

We don’t need to eschew all of our worldly possessions or trim them down to 100 objects or less to be minimalists. We don’t have to hie off to the mountains and live off the land and never eat another bag of Cheetos, ever. There’s no need to leave everything behind and fly off to Bali to “find yourself” under the tutelage of Ketut Liyer.

When we have kids, a mortgage, and a job that pays the bills, all that sounds impractical, unrealistic and frankly, more like an excuse to escape responsibility. For a type A workaholic who thrives on deadlines and the “highs” of a productive work week, going minimalist might sound plodding, dull, a waste of time.

But anyone can benefit from a bit of minimalism in their lives, right here, right now. I dare say the busier we are, the more we need to incorporate it into the daily grind.

I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” Mahatma Gandhi

Consider these simple suggestions:

1. Mono task. Productivity junkies pride themselves on their ability to do multiple things at once. I agree that the “killing two birds” bit does work for mundane tasks or chores: folding the laundry while catching up on the latest soaps, dancing while mopping the floor, or listening to your favorite podcast while ironing clothes.

But for others, multi-tasking can backfire. We end up being less efficient or productive. Putting all of our energy in one activity allows us to focus, achieve clarity, accomplish our work faster, and eliminate mistakes. There’s less chance of having to make a “do-over” because we were single minded in our purpose.

2. De-clutter. Devoting just a few minutes to clearing unneeded things in our surroundings will make us feel motivated and – wait for it bottom-line business people – productive! Another bonus I found from frequent decluttering is that having fewer stuff necessitates less need to organize. That means less boxes, files, folders, or containers to put more (needless) stuff in.

3. Consume less. And I mean not just things like clothes and gadgets, but “distractions” that constantly bombard our aural and visual senses on a daily basis. In our hyper connected, instant gratification world, let’s take some time to second guess our purchases and think about the cost of convenience. We might find that we already have everything we need, and that everything else is really just extra stuff.

4. Spend time in nature. And when you do, let your five senses go on hyperdrive and take everything in: feel how the breeze touches the beads of perspiration forming on your arms, the sound of birds chirping over your head, the intricate colors of the gumamela plant you usually ignore on your neighbor’s backyard, the powdery soft sand tickling your toes at the beach. I find this to be a wonderful way to unplug and reconnect with the ebb and flow of life, sans gadgets.

How do you incorporate a bit of minimalism into your busy lives?

Tackle it Tuesday: Dining Table Desk Purge

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
It’s my first time to post on “Tackle it Tuesday,” thanks to the Ultimate Blog Party 2011! I just think it’s an awesome idea, especially since we can learn so much from fellow moms about how to manage our homes better.
What did I tackle today? My work space! You see, I don’t have my own desk. The dining room table doubles as my desk, being that I only really use my laptop to do everything. When I began working from  home as I writer, it was just my laptop that occupied the table. But throughout the months, magazines, reference books, clear folders, organizers, blog giveaways and random boxes and paper bags of stuff began to colonize my once pristine dining table.
In short, we were losing a dining table and gaining a hodgepodge office desk of sorts.
The task really was simple:
  1. Make the dining table just that exclusively;
  2. Defer the items to another part of the house where I could easily access them.
Photo credit:
Here’s what I did to make it happen:
1. Purge. I am sort of a compulsive “pile-er” (i.e. I pile stuff up, whatever it is). So there was a stack of parenting and lifestyle magazines here, a pile of concertina files and pocket folders there, another pile of boxes which held stationery), and a pile of papers I use as reference for work. I had like four mini towers of stuff, which short of made the dining table look like a diaorama. So I went through the stuff and threw away things that had passed their time (flyers, brochures, old mailers, etc).
2. Transplant. After purging my supply of outdated stuff, I took each pile to their new home: A storage space in my husband’s office. (It’s too small for the both of us, his office, which is why the dining room is my spot!) Since my things were already in organized piles, I simply had to transplant the piles into the shelf space that my husband cleared out for me to use.
3. Redefine. Well, after all this, I could see my dining table again, just as it should be: A six-seated instead of a two-seater table! Yes, I’m still working on it at this very moment, but everything is serene, spartan and sensibly Zen. There’s nothing here but my laptop, my day planner and a cup of tea (which will later be replaced by some strong coffee as I work into the night.
Now for the hard part: Keeping my dining table clear of indiscriminate “stuff” from this point on! The long term solution is to get a desk for myself but, well, I’m still saving up for the desk I really want. Until then, I’m making do with this little situation.