Digitizing my life

I’ve been working on decluttering for some time now. It’s amazing how much you can accumulate in a short amount of time.

One way I’m doing that is scanning documents that I don’t physical copies of anymore. It’s a challenge, as I have boxes full of files that, for some reason, I’ve carried around rather than getting rid of.

Another tool is photographing something that I want to remember, but don’t really have a use for. Even actual photographs themselves, as addressed in this post from Courtney Carver.

Usefulness of lists

I go back and forth on lists. As, really, I do with most things. I’ll find lists useful… until I don’t. Right now, with the chores piled up from being gone for three months, I’m operating on list mode.

Recommendations for how to use lists include:

The purpose of listing to-do items is to get it off your mind. According to David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, “…if it’s on your mind, your mind isn’t clear. Anything you consider unfinished in any way must be captured in a trusted system outside your mind, or what I call a collection bucket, that you know you’ll come back to regularly and sort through.”

While I generally find some way to revel in my procrastinations, my to-do list this time around has been getting checkmarks in the completed column. Here’s to keeping it up.

Searching…

I worked with a guy who would delte every text message on his phone that didn’t come from his wife. It was an elegant system, in that once the loop was closed, he no longer needed the text message. So het got rid of it.

On the other end of the spectrum, someone like Stephen Wolfram apparently saved basically every scrap of paper he’s ever received, and uses digital backups of all his informational correspondence and projects. It’s databased, and he can basically find just about anything he’s ever worked on, in some form or another.

While I’m at neither extreme, I am defintely closer to Wolfram in the hoarding bits of paper and computer files. I’m nowhere near as technological as he is, but last year I did start scanning documents that I had collected over the years.

This comes up because (while in seclusion), I’ve been cleaning up my computer files some. This time has given me some insight into how I systemize my computer, and my life. Needless to say, it’s been a little messy of late.

But that’s okay! It’s fun to be messy sometimes… as long as you can find what you need.

 

Building routines in solitude

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

The past five weeks or so have been hectic, to say the least. Routines are either strengthened in such circumstances or fall apart.

Personally, I’m only now coming into a routine I’m getting happy with. And mostly I’m stealing it from other suggestions, or I choose to fall back on old habits.

Every morning I write my morning pages (MP), a la Julie Cameron. I’ve been doing this on and off since Nov. 2015, and this year I’ve been fairly dedicated to it. In quarantine, it’s been no problem.

The challenge I’ve had is actually waking up and doing the pages first thing. I’ve unconsciously built up a routine of checking my phone first thing in the morning. Well, that had to stop.

In Dalio’s Principles, he says it takes about eighteen months to change a habit. I’d always heard it was twenty-eight days, before reading Dalio. While a little research may enlighten my understanding, I’m going to wait a bit before running down that rabbit hole.

Following my MP, I do a morning meditation. I either use my Insight Timer app, or I’ll use one of the guided meditations I have from the CDM Spiritual Center.

Then I sit down to write. That pretty much makes up my morning, other than coffee and something to eat for breakfast. Coffee actually comes first once I shamble out of bed. The food comes in at about 11 am.

I’ve actually set this out on the calendar app, and try to follow it as closely as I can. The afternoon routine will come in a later post. I’m still tweaking that one.

Revisitations

There’s a collection of things that I intended to return to at some point. An inbox with flagged messages dating back to 2013. Folders with articles and scraps of papers and clippings from newspapers and magazines. All of it held my interest long enough for me to say, “I’ll return to this.” And yet, the stream keeps coming and revisiting any of it seems, at best, questionable.

And yet, there’s the possibility that something in there will spur something here. So I hold onto it.

Some book I read suggested that you should keep a tickler file, containing those things of interest to you that you may want to return to someday – given you have the time. Just make sure you make the time.

Defend your schedule

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.”

— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

We all have a list of things that we want to accomplish. And probably a bigger list of things that require our attention. And, if we’re honest, an even longer list of items that others need from us.

When we make time, we take time from other items that could be consuming our attention. The economic principle of opportunity costs. What we are giving up.

Remember: The most successful people are generally those who eliminate the unnecessary from their lives.

Mise-en-place

Another in a series of thoughts on decluttering and belongings, the French culinary specialists have given the world mise-en-place, or everything in its place. And the principle extends beyond the kitchen. When I lived in my small home, I tried to adhere to this principle to maintain my sanity (with mixed results).

How far you take it is up to you. Maybe the bookshelves keep a clean and orderly appearance.

559404-istock-512966920_0

Or you meticulously organize your pantry.

0841b355db23d1b5d4e2362cf6cf1775.jpg

On the other hand, maybe you’re lucky if everything fits on a shelf. 11844881464_95278ba223_b

Whichever side you currently find yourself on, remember that it can be better. Find a home for everything – one that looks pleasing to your eye. Then, make sure every item returns to its home after use.

If you don’t have room for everything, then that’s a discussion for a later time.

Simplicity

When working towards simplifying life, it’s easy to forget to take care of certain things. Relationships, for one. And the quality of your relationships directly affects your well-being.

Remember to be honest with those closest to you, and honest with yourself. What are you trying to achieve? And why? Knowing your reasoning, and being able to communicate it, will go a long way towards easing your transition into a scaled-down lifestyle.

More

It seems that we’re constantly in search for more. More money, more time, more freedom, more happiness.

I’m actually looking for my space on my computer, prompting this post.

And I started thinking about all that I already have. And it’s a lot. I think we accumulate a lot of stuff. Would I like more time? Sure, but I could be using the time I have a little better.

More money. Absolutely! But I don’t need to be spending the money I do have on things that aren’t enriching my life.

We often focus so much on the more, we neglect the why. And if you’re not appreciating what you currently have, then do you really need more of it?

Kondo

In my realm of time-suckery, I’ve been decluttering a house ala Kondo. It’s exhausting. When I’m not working, I’m decluttering. There’s quite literally stuff piled on every possible service in this house, because I’m emptying boxes, cabinets, drawers, and doors that had been closed off for years. Jimmy Hoffa may still be in one. I haven’t checked them all.

While doing the task, I’ve noticed I’ve had little energy for reading or writing. My mental capacities have been used up in decision making – Does this item bring me joy?

If the answer is no, it’s gone. But then it gets separated into donate, sell, or trash/recycle/shred. It seems as though I’ve spent 16 hours a day on this project, though I know that’s not possible. Not because I’m sleeping 8 hours a night, but because I know I can’t concentrate on any one thing for that long. And I’m tempted to just leave everything outside and let Dorian take it when it comes by.

However, the light is starting to appear at the end of the tunnel, and it is a joy-filled light free of unnecessary things.