All posts tagged declutter

Let’s Clean This Mess Up.

What you can learn from a minimalist lifestyle even if you’re nowhere close to adopting it.

By Brad Beckstrom

Minimalism is hard. After five years of working on it, I’m not even close to my original goal of a vastly simpler lifestyle. I’ve worked on applying minimalist ideas in everything I do. I’ve slowly realized that for me there is not some ultimate minimalist goal or destination. The reason is that there’s always stuff coming into our lives. And it’s not just our stuff, it’s our family stuff, our work stuff, stuff related to our home, our hobbies, our kids. The average American home has 300,000 things in it.  So, I guess my family’s making progress — we’ve gotten rid of about 50,000 of these things over the past five years.

I think part of the reason adopting a minimalist outlook is hard is that many of us have lived our lives doing the opposite. It’s only much later, after decades of accumulating stuff, that we realize it’s all really just weighing us down. Given this, it’s going to take some time to unravel all that.

One of the interesting things I’ve found is that you can apply minimalism to a lot more than just cleaning out closets and garages. Over these past five years I’ve developed everything from minimalist investing strategies, work habits, and exercise routines.

As I’ve been working to apply minimalist principles, I look around and notice people adding more more more. Like spending 30 minutes driving to and from a CrossFit Gym to spend hard-earned dollars on increasingly complex workout routines. Constantly bringing complexity into life with high-tech toys often built into expensive new vehicles and smart appliances. Using social media, news apps, and productivity apps to create more and more urgent notifications. Complex volatile investment schemes involving everything from crypto currency to weed stocks. Utilizing multiple tools and technologies that were designed to lighten the load, but instead end up adding hours to the average workday.

Let’s simplify this stuff.

I don’t think anyone will ever look at me and my home or family and say “Oh, that guy is a minimalist”. For me it’s not about that, it’s about applying minimalist principles to one part of your life at a time and making small improvements. So, in the spirit of minimalism, if we could apply just one idea across everything we do it would make a big difference. Here’s one idea I use: Read more…

Lessons Learned after 30 days playing The Minimalist Game

By Brad Beckstrom

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My wife Kelly and I just wrapped up our 30th day of the Minimalist Game. The Minimalist game basically requires that you get rid of one thing on the first day of the month. On the second day, two things, three items on the third and so on.  If you have two people playing the game, by the end of it you will of given away 992 things. We called it a 30 day giving challenge as we were trying to focus on giving away items that could be used again like toys, clothing, electronics, kitchen stuff, and dreaded decorations category.

We also thought it would be fun to document the challenge, so I set up a table next to the moving boxes we were filling up and photographed each item before it was either given away, recycled, or trashed. I thought it would be cool to have a record of all the stuff we got rid of. It’s almost like some sort of sociological study of all the junk people keep in drawers. I liked how some of the photos came out, but it got a little trickier as more and more items were given away on day 25, 26, 27 etc.

Photos were also helpful for some of the sentimental items we were both holding onto.  When I was much younger, my grandmother bought me a beautiful toy car in Dublin. I was excited and surprised. When she gave it to me, she said” this is something to remember me by when I’m gone” so I had hung onto it for over 40 years. The problem is when we store stuff away in a box we just forget about it and it’s not doing anyone any good. The trick is separating the memory, which I definitely want to keep, from the physical item, the toy. By photographing it and writing about it, I’ve remembered her. It was time to send this toy on its way so some collector or child can enjoy it.

A few other things we learned:

Read more…

Living behind the cutting-edge.

WearehappyinProp

By Brad Beckstrom

There were 38 different types of cables and chargers in the box. Some of them were probably over 20 years old. Things like monster cables for stereo equipment, firewires from old hard drives, various USB cables and splitters, ethernet cables and about 10 different AC adapters from games, various peripherals, and crap from former cable providers. For the last several years, I’ve been at war with stuff, investing some time to simplify my life. I’ve recently kicked this into high gear. Kelly and I are playing the minimalist game. We will be giving away nearly 1000 things this month alone. I’m constantly amazed at how much crap a family of four can accumulate over the years. Sadly, some of that stuff ends up in a landfill, benefiting no one.

I’ll avoid these mistakes again. The best way to do this is by not replacing the things that we get rid of. I’ll take a hard look at cheap products that are built to be discounted then discarded. I’ll skip the next upgrade cycle on my mobile phone and my computer.

Why can’t more things work like our blender or the microwave? We’ve had both since 1996. Over the years we’ve been tempted to replace them with newer versions but we stuck with them, even repairing the blender once. It’s funny, we probably use these two appliances more than any of the things that have become obsolete. So, my theory now is, if it’s not being used regularly we can probably get rid of it and not replace it.

First world problems Read more…

Living Lean, a 30 Day Giving Challenge.

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By Brad Beckstrom

Many of us forget how much stuff we have lying around, countless drawers, boxes and storage bins, full of unused things. Three years ago I declared war on stuff.  I pictured myself and my family living a simpler, leaner lifestyle.  We’ve been at it ever since, filling up a large box of stuff nearly every month, then like clockwork scheduling a pick-up with Purple Heart.  I keep one large box in the basement and another upstairs so there is never an excuse not to give something away.  You might be thinking, a large box every month for three years, he must’ve been some sort of hoarder.  Sadly no, most people who know me would tell you I’m organized. I guess I’d become pretty good at organizing all the stuff that a family of four accumulates living in the same house for 18 years. I was spending time researching, buying, organizing, cleaning, repairing, storing, and disposing of stuff. It was straight up batshit crazy.

Enter The Minimalists

We’ve made progress controlling our spending on stuff, but sometimes I feel like we’re running in place. Stuff in, Stuff out. This spring it’s time to jump start this process. To do this, I went back to the source, the Minimalists. I met Joshua and Ryan 3 years ago in Fargo, ND. They gave an inspired talk about Minimalism that’s now become a movement and a movie coming out this spring. The most popular essay on their blog is the 30 Day Minimalism Game.

Here’s how it works. Read more…

How to separate wants from needs.

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Putting your wants on a wait list so you can end up with something much better. Time.

By Brad Beckstrom

Have you ever purchased something then regretted it later? I think we all have at some point. I look at all the stuff I’ve been getting rid of over the last few years and there’s some regret there. The regret may be less about what I spent on an item and more about the fact that I purchased something and didn’t use it much. Maybe there is some regret over the time I spent researching, purchasing, storing, and now getting rid of the stuff I didn’t use. Regret that the time involved in all that could’ve been spent much better elsewhere.  If you have a family, you can often multiply this frustration times each family member. You could be spending time having fun together, versus managing stuff in closets, plastic storage bins, basements, and garages.

The Wait List

So, if you want to avoid wasting this time in the future, maybe there’s a new way to go about this.  This stuff problem, this impulse purchase problem. Have you ever walked into a restaurant and been told there’s over an hour wait.  Many of us, instead, use that time to find somewhere else to eat and we often stumble upon something better. That wait list made us think about how we wanted to spend the next hour.

I hear about kids getting wait listed for universities. The university is saying we’re interested in you, but not as much as we’re interested in some of these folks we’ve extended offers to. Those are the people we really want. If those don’t work out, we will get back to you. You’ve been wait listed.

While working, if there’s a lot on your plate, you keep a few to do lists going, prioritize some things each morning and let the less important items fall to the bottom, often fall off the list completely. Read more…

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