Friday, March 14, 2014

Nice and Easy Does It Every Time

"When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.
~  Isak Dinesen

After two and a half months of letting go of cosmetics, dishes, books, knickknacks, purses,etc.,etc, I'm finally seeing empty drawers, space on the shelves and in the closets. t feels sooooooo good!  

And though I am still not committed to becoming a minimalist in the true sense of the word, I can understand why many people have. The sense of freedom and accomplishment is very satisfying.  And I feel so mature!  So responsible!

In the process, these are three of the most important things I've learned: 
  • Anyone can eat an elephant, a bite at a time.  I know many of the experts recommend a sweeping purge. However, I think the overwhelm of that option may be why  many people who know they should downsize and declutter, yet keep putting it off.  
  • Less choice makes decision-making easier, much easier.  Duh!!
  • Shutting out the siren call of the marketers - whether on TV, in the print media, or on technological gadgets - significantly reduces the temptation to fill the empty spaces again.  It's also eye-opening to get in touch with how strong and pervasive the buy, buy, buy message is.
Three strategies that have proven particularly effective:
  • Having a box accessible for depositing items for donation - it keeps the commitment visible. 
  • Setting a daily goal of 3 items to donate; 3 to toss and 3 to either store or use in a new way....and striving to do so early in the day. After 10 weeks, I'm down to 1,1, and 1!!!  After 10 weeks, it's now a habit. (And I don't form habits easily.)
  • Staying focused, one task at a time - a shelf, a drawer, one box - no multi-tasking for me.  
Three resources that I have found most useful:
  • Organizing for the Creative Person, by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter,           the book that offers an abundance of ideas for a non-linear individual like me!  (or you?) The book that asserted I could become organized and it could even be fun.  If you have tried the more typical suggestions to become organized yet haven't been able to sustain the results, this may be the first book to consult.  
  • Secrets of Simplicity, by Mary Carlomagno, the book that inspired me to think SIMPLE, not merely organized. I particularly like the questions she poses to help her readers "learn to live better with less."  Plus, it's an attractive book that is simply organized and easy to access and use.
  • The Not So Big Life, by Sarah Susanka, a thoughtful blend of exercises and inspiring stories that deliver a philosophical basis for simplifying and practical activities to support doing so.
For those of you who prefer your Kindle or Nook, there's a plethora of short and sweet e-books dealing with organization, decluttering, simplification and minimalism.  Among the most helpful that I have found is....
  • the work of Meg Wolfe, who goes by the tagline The Minimalist Woman, and is the author of an e-book by the same title and an engaging blog,  
Information's clearly not the issue.  As with dieting, there's plenty of information out there. It's not so much about finding the right program, as much as finding the right motivation and the strength of commitment.  For me, the motivation to simplify my environment grew out of my wish to age artfully.  Might take me another 10 weeks to complete this job, but I
see the forest for the trees!