*8Things: to Minimize

8things from Magpie Girl

When I got sick with debilitating chronic pain, everything had to change. My once busy calendar had to be cleared. The defacto commune had to move out of my house. I had to Do Less. A lot less.

Thankfully, due in no small part to the book The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential by Zen Habitswriter Leo Babatua, I learned that doing less made me more powerful. The once spread-thin me became a master of what I call “concentrated living” where doing less, means accomplishing more.

In the middle of learning this Do Less lifestyle, I moved out of a 6 bedroom house and into a 3 bedroom apartment. This meant drastically scaling back everything we owned. Two years later I’m happy to announce that I love my modernist apartment and my scaled-back stuff. So much so that I’ve already begun worrying about how we will be tempted to spill back into all 6 rooms (plus basement storage!) in our old house once we return to the States.

In an effort to study-up, glean ideas, and set some intentions for the move home, I recently read Everett Bogue’s new ebook The Art of Being Minimalist.  I’m not an affiliate for this book, because I’m not sure there’s enough “meat” in it for me to recommend the purchase. Plus, I have a hard time taking minimalist living advice from someone who is under 30 with no kids. But the book is beautifully laid out and can be read in about 90 minutes, which I like. Check it out and if you think it suites you, give it ago. After all, $9.95 is not a huge price and maybe it will inspire you to a whole new way of living.

In the Art of Being Minimalist Bogue points out that he only owns 100 things. If he doesn’t use something in 1 month, he gets rid of it. It made me think about all the things I haven’t used in a month’s time, or even in 6 months time. And it inspired me to clear out some of those things.

So, for today’s *8Things, I suggest we make a list of stuff of which we could have less. Here is my list of *8Things to Minimize. (Thanks Everett. That was totally worth $9.95.)

1. Books: We regularly give away books, but our shelves are still over full to over flowing. The fact is, there are few of these we will ever re-read. If I can strong-arm my husband into it, I’m going to try to get us down to one shelf of books. (We have bookshelf in every room. Even the kitchen.) We live 6 blocks from the library. We’ll be fine.

2. DVDs:When we moved to Denmark we loaded up on DVDs. I have to stay, in these long dark Winters they have been a lifesaver. But when we are back in the land of Hulu and Netflix, we won’t need them. I’m hoping to leave most of them behind.

3. Dishes: I’m kind of torn on this one. On the one hand, we like to entertain. It’s a huge part of our ethos. On the other hand, how many teacups does one really need when one is no longer hosting a group of 12-20 for dinner every week, or living with extra adults? And do I really need an additional plastic set for outdoor eating now that the children are older? Methinks not.

4. Twitter Follows:Immediately after reading “Minimalist” I cut my list down to 249. (From 1,300) Everyone has to be on a sub-list (personal, artists, or coaches.) Much more manageable, and hopefully more productive work-wise.

5. Songs:I love Zune because you can download all the music you want for about $15 a month. But do I really need the definitive collection of every musician I like? I’m thinning this out on the weekend.

6. Cookbooks. I have this neat organization system for my recipes and I really only use this, my GF baking cookbook, and online resources. As long as I leave Paul his Joy of Cooking, I can get rid of the rest.

7. RSS Feeds: Also right after reading the book I narrowed my list down to 7 feeds — just the people I want to read but can never find easily on Google. I used to worry all the time that I was “behind” on reading my feeds. Not any more.

8. Cleaning Products: I mean seriously, we all know I rarely clean. Why do I have stuff under every sink plus a bucketful of potions in the hall closet? As soon as I can figure out how to dispose of these “greenly” in CPH, they are out of here!

8things from Magpie Girl What is your list of *8Things to Minimize? Share in the comments below grab a button and play along. If you post on your list on your blog, please give us the permalink in the Mr. Linky below so we can come say hi!  Maybe you will inspire someone to live with less stress and more space today. Thanks for being here.

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Melissa February 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Wow, way to go. I have lived a fairly nomadic life so I try hard to keep physical clutter to a minimum. Books are off limits though! I have been meaning to thin my blog following list but I am scared to miss that-one-awesome-can-do-in-minutes project you know?

p.s. The safest way to dispose of household cleaning products is to just use them. Just don’t replace them when you run out. Vinegar dish soap and baking soda are your best friend for greener cleaning.

rowena February 11, 2010 at 6:55 pm

That’s really interesting. I’ve given up many of those things already. I’m stubbornly holding on to what I have left.
Oh except for rss feeds. I subscribe to more every day. Sooner or later I’ll have to thin it out, but I’m in a discovery phase right now, so…

Jessica February 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I have also recently been doing some thinning out, thanks in part to a move (and the end of a relationship) it always feels like the perfect time to purge! I was also surprise at how things like RSS feeds can become such a stressor! Thanks for your list … I actually feel my list would be identical except for Twitter and Cleaning Products! Perhaps instead I could say Craft Supplies and Shoes … LOL :) :) Keep up the great writing!!

Becky February 12, 2010 at 6:06 am

I need to get rid of RSS feeds and Twitter follows. Even though it’s just digital noise, it makes me feel claustrophobic at times. Like some kind of invisible wall of information is closing in on me. It think it’s better to focus in on the people that educate and inspire me. The rest will have to go.

Susan February 12, 2010 at 7:00 am

can I nominate possessions that belong to others in my household or is that uncool? I would first nominate about 70% of the lego sets under Alberto’s bed. Then I might take a gander at the 3000+ books in the living room. After that, I might start looking at my stuff. Just venting a little.

Rachelle February 12, 2010 at 8:10 am

Susan,

You live in a match box with a husband who’s book colleciton borders on clinical obsession! I think you get to vent! :-)

Love you,

R

Tabitha the KnittingJourneyman February 12, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Wow–I love and ADMIRE your list…so very very much.

lol

and this timely post was right up my alley as well….
oh I must get busy on my own House, literal and figurative….Today!

Thank you for the little nudge in the right direction…

robyn February 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm

just finished reading that e-book myself, and had many of the same thougths you did. currently paring down:

** knitting patterns. do I really need two huge stacks of magazines plus two binders full of patterns PLUS a nine-page queue on Ravelry? i think not.

** RSS feeds. culling it down to those who share full feeds, who i would be sad if i didn’t read, and who move me regularly. the rest are gone.

robyn February 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm

just finished reading that e-book myself, and had many of the same thougths you did. currently paring down:

** knitting patterns. do I really need two huge stacks of magazines plus two binders full of patterns PLUS a nine-page queue on Ravelry? i think not.

** RSS feeds. culling it down to those who share full feeds, who i would be sad if i didn’t read, and who move me regularly. the rest are gone.

michelle*b April 20, 2010 at 3:10 am

i was just talking about unloading a row of books from my bookshelf/ the just-in-case books that i have never read but keep just-in-case. no more, there will never be a case for reading them. let someone else try.
i’m clearing a shelf this week.

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