Light a candle – my tidying festival has begun

On Monday my appointment for the morning had to reschedule, so I found myself with an unexpected chunk of time without something specific planned.

I have been putting off the task of tidying my office/spare room, mostly because dislike tasks like this. But also because it seems so tedious and annoying. But lately I have been suffering from a lack of ability to find things quickly that I need. So I know I was overdue for another “KonMari” festival.

Marie Kondo describes in her book “the life changing magic of tidying up” how the act of tidying must first begun with thorough discarding, all at once. She approaches the act of tidying as a special event that can take up 3-6 months depending on how much stuff we have and need to discard. I believe it.

About a year and a half ago in the Spring, I really worked at this, clearing out my entire closet and working my way through most of my wardrobe. It felt great, and I got rid of so many things I never wore, or seldom wore. Her criteria for keeping things: if it sparks joy, keep it. If not, discard it. 

Clothes on floor

I began in the “correct” order as she describes, and put all of my shirts and blouses on the floor of the room. Clearly she does not have cats at home… that has a hazard for certain types of clothing when you do not want cat fur on everything. But I am including a picture so you can get an idea of how bad it was to start.

A lot of things had to go, but I only started with the “tops” category today, and I am planning to work through her list all week, spending at least 2 hours a day tidying. Today I spent about 4 hours, but I must say once I made all of those choices and then put things away, I was feeling really exhausted.

So many decisions! Oy!

Candles

You minimalists have the right idea! More stuff equals more stress. By having less stuff, and minimizing my decision fatigue, and lessen the time I spend looking for stuff I cannot find. I hope this helps to optimize my focus at home, something we “work at home” folks truly need.

But I like the idea of approaching this project as a one-time special event, and treating it with the sacred process that it is. I decided to light some candles when I started to make it more of a ceremony. It definitely helped. Let’s see if I can sustain the mood and keep this going tomorrow. Wish me luck!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Saturday share on pause – debating the crazies

Hello Readers,

This week’s Saturday share is on hold because I feel there’s bit an excess of “input” in my channels lately so I found myself with a bit of decision fatigue this morning about who to promote.

Also, I engaged in a very unproductive and annoying debate online with someone who was trying to argue that women all have rape fantasies and that every woman who drinks at a party is asking to be raped.

Ugh.

I know that was a bad idea. Every part of me said not to dignify his idiocy with a response. And yet. The human inclination to engage in debate? Well, apparently I don’t have very good inhibitory systems for keeping me from this type of thing.

Maybe it’s time for a little break from the interwebs. Far too much reading of articles on misogyny, power and privilege. It makes me tired sometimes.

By resting and reflecting, I preserve the energy and stamina to stand up and fight when necessary. And when to step away when fighting just fuels the crazies.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

head smack kitten.JPG
This kitten doing a head smack was too cute not to post: photo credit.

Decision fatigue

This entry will pick up on a theme I covered in a recent post about “driven to distraction” which got an unusually high number of views and likes, so I suspect there are many out there who can relate. These themes are related and intertwine because we live in a world that is ever more connected, and our expectations have gone up in terms of having access to what we want, instantly and without delay.

I am in the market for a new laptop, and I find myself with an abundance of options. This may seem like a really good thing. But I find the process of choosing to be rather paralyzing. I have always loved my Macs and was leaning toward the MacBook Air with its 13 inch screen and less than 3 pound weight. Then I realized there are many options for several hundreds of dollars less, some that can do even more things! The Lenovo Flex 5 is what I am leaning toward today, given an employee discount I can get from work, and the fact that has 2-in-1 capabilities to act as a tablet as well. My iPad died a few years ago, and while I liked the convenience and compact design, I prefer a real keyboard when I am doing a lot of writing.

I told my husband that I am NOT the kind of person who want to do days of research on this process. I just want to have a machine that is adequate for my needs, compact and light for travel, durable because I am rough on my technology, and not too expensive. It comes down to the fact that I am willing to settle for a “good enough” option rather than researching every possible choice. In fact, constraining down to 2 brands is my way of taking away at least SOME decision fatigue, but the options within those brands are so numerous as well. I guess this reflects the economic principle of “satisficing” versus maximizing, a concept I learned about a few years ago from an book written by Barry Schwartz, a professor from Swarthmore College where I am an alumna.

In The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Schwartz explains how too much of a good thing has proved detrimental to our psychological and social well-being. People who feel they must maximize and make the “best” choice, and who do exhaustive research before making a decision sometimes feel analysis paralysis when it comes to making a decision. For sure, as a “questioner” I can relate. Maximizers tend to have greater regret when it comes to past decisions, and they can ruminate on whether a better choice could have been made. In general, I am a satisficer because I like to limit the decision fatigue of not making a choice and spinning in analysis paralysis.

Brooke Castillo speaks about constraint as a way of giving us better focus and better results. She has a great podcast episode about how constraint helps us to reduce “overwhelm” in our lives and lets us be more productive. We eliminate decision fatigue when we do not allow ourselves every possible choice. This is why the minimalist lifestyle appeals so much to me, as a person who suffers from the distraction that comes from too many things to which my brain wants to attend.

Most people know about President Obama’s deliberate constraint to wear only blue or gray suits. He has enough really important decisions to make every day that having to choose clothing should not tax his mental energy, of which we all have a limited amount each day. It is one reason why it may be easier to make difficult decisions in the morning, when our brain energy is fresh and has not been depleted. I know one reason I like to work from home is that I have fewer agonies over having to pick out “grown up” clothes to wear to the office.

I recently discovered a blog I like called A Small Wardrobe and she has some great insight on this minimalist approach. The Functioning Minimalist podcast (and website) is another source of insight on this principle. Notice though! I just gave you two more choices to make if you want to explore this principle… Ha! You thought I was going to simplify your life in this post. Gotcha! 🙂

In all seriousness though, the principle here is that we all have so many choices. And yet, we must find ways in which to constrain those choices to live a happier, less burdened life. I have learned to be more satisfied by choices I have made in the past by telling myself that nothing can be re-done now. Those choices were the perfect ones for me, in the moment, and with the knowledge I had at the time. So what if I use that for this decision I am making now? I will give myself a certain amount time to make the decision, and then will move forward, knowing that this choice is a lot less momentous than, say, picking my next career move… (you know that will be a future post, right?).

For now, let me leave you with an image I made with pastels some time back, a representation of what my brain feels like sometimes when there is a lot of “static” of indecision. Happy Friday! May you, my dear readers, free yourselves from too many decisions, and enjoy to the fullest all of the ones you make.

Decision fatigue
This is how my brain feels when I am trying to make too many decisions.

 

 

 

Minimalism

I have a growing in interest in the minimalism movement, which probably began when I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  In that spirit, I will try to make this a minimalist post. Though I suppose if it were haiku, it would be even more artfully minimalist (a goal for a future post).

Empty closet

Brooke Castillo has had a good amount to say about minimalism as well, and her podcast episode on minimalism is one I have enjoyed multiple times because it appeals to me on so many levels. Full disclosure: if you visit me my home, you will see that minimalism is an aspiration but not yet a lifestyle for me. I include my empty closet and my “outside the closet” photos in full disclosure here. Brooke describes a year-long trip that she took with her family in which they sold everything they owned, except what would fit into a foot locker and what they could take in their van. “Excess stuff weighs us down and causes us to have to make too many decisions.” (summarized) I really identify with this, as I think unnecessary clutter creates distractions that make us feel more busy than we actually are. In losing ~16 pounds this past year, I feel that process required me to de-clutter some of the old ideas in my mind.

I spent a lot of time this Spring and Summer going through the initial stages of the KonMari method, primarily working on the clothing portion of that de-cluttering process. I did not follow her exact process but instead started by taking everything out of my closet on April 9th and only putting back what sparks joy. I still have much to do in order to make progress toward this goal. One thing that I noticed was that I suffered much less decision fatigue while trying to get dressed in the morning. Last year I spent time trying to upgrade my wardrobe because I wanted to dress for the “next level” in my corporate job, and I had a lot of presentations to give, so I wanted to look sharp. This year, I find that I am donating many items, because I realize certain items I acquired do not fit my true style or my personality.

Outside the closet.jpg

KonMari describes our need to hang onto things as arising from an attachment to the past or a fear of the future. Amen, sister. I hope to return to this down-sizing and de-cluttering of so many things I no longer need, and are in fact weighing me down in indecision. I live an abundant life and do not need to keep things that no longer serve me. By letting go of my past and realizing I have limited control over my future, I have experienced so much more freedom to live a good life. It is a process, but one that is worth pursuing. I will return to this process again now that the weather is getting brisk again and I am less tempted by the outdoors to neglect the inner spaces.

May you, my faithful reader, minimize what does not work in your life, so you have abundant space for what brings you joy.