The ticking of time- Watches; To wear or not to wear?

Having started a new job recently, the subject of wearing a watch has come up for me again. Most people wear a watch, so what is there to discuss about? Strap it on and know what the time is. What’s the issue?

Time is one of the things that most of us would give our right leg for more of. Research discussed in the article below  talks about how happiness is a result of the choices people make.

https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/if-money-doesn%E2%80%99t-make-you-happy-consider-time

The answer to being happy ends in the simple suggestion: spend your time wisely. Saving time is something I actively try to manage in my minimalist lifestyle and often lost the battle with, so it’s something I’m really aware of.

If you Google how to save time you bring up 1,460,000,000 results . Time saving is big business…in fact time saving is probably an enemy of minimalism as we as consumers buy more and more time saving gadgets and apps to save us more time.  Ironically we work harder and longer than ever to pay for these time saving devices.

So back to the watch. I don’t wear one. The reason I don’t wear one is because I think watching time tick away is a bit depressing. It’s like having a counter on your death date ticking backwards. Watching an hour count down that you’re never going to get back doesn’t seem a very productive use of life to me. I also don’t want to rush from one appointment to the next, keeping an eye on the clock rather than being fully present in what I am doing, something I struggle with anyway.

In my new job, we have meetings, Lots of them. So I’ve had to consider the subject of wearing a watch again. Watches have so much symbolism in materialism; the Rolex that signifies wealth and success, the Fitbit which highlights your aim at a healthy lifestyle, the Apple watch with it’s Apple Pay technology for the cutting edge technologists.

apple-watch-round-concept

No longer just a measure of time, and how to know what time of day it is, they’re also a way of us showing the world what we’re about if we don’t want to splash labels all over our clothes. I don’t want to have that ability. I’d rather you’d get to know me through other aspects of my self.

So how I do get round this? Do I succumb to watch wearing for work purposes? Well that involves purchasing something I  don’t want. The absolute opposite of minimalism. So you can see the dilemma I’m in. Hopefully! So after a week of umming and aahing I have come to a conclusion. Space out meetings where possible to avoid needing to check the time, and use the clock on my computer, and my work phone as needed. Phew…purchase avoided. I can let the hours tick down on their own without my witnessing them and worrying I need to find more.

The #minimalistliving September Challenge Update

It’s been two weeks now of my September Challenge*; finding 11 hours a week of time to do more meaningful activity i.e. not just sitting on the internet or my phone, or watching repeats or someone’s lives being rehashed for the TV. This was to make  up for the fact I was going to be going from working 26 hours to a week to 37 hours a week.

So how have I got on so far? I am halfway through my month’s challenge. I have to confess I haven’t managed 11 hours a week, which I suppose was quite a big challenge in the first place, working on finding a way of recouping over 2 hours a day.

However I am pleased with what I have achieved and have found that I am making time for quality experiences that I wouldn’t have had before in my old job. I spent a lot of time driving, and so would be exhausted after work, and catching up on life at weekends.

So what have I found the time to do?

Well I now walk to work, and in the morning I spend that 20 minutes walking to work, walking mindfully. If you have no idea what this means check this out here; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/20/meditation-in-action-walking-meditation_n_3279958.html

In effect, for me it’s about taking notice of my surroundings, clearing my mind of all the virtual ‘stuff’ that collects in it’s corners and observing the world around me. It’s great for feeling ready and prepared to face the world ahead, as well as being really good for anxiety and depression, and calming stress. I will talk more about mindfulness in a later blog as it’s something I practice, and it’s a great partner for minimalist living. Total Time recouped = 1 hour 40 minutes each week

I have made time for lunch outside in the last couple of weeks which is something I have not had time to do for ages. In my first week I sat on a bench, facing the River Ouse, spending time communing with York’s very special geese (who apparently like banana!), the weather has been great for sitting outside, and I just spent time listening to the sounds of the city, and eating a very lovely packed lunch prepared for me by my very kind wife.  Time recouped = 1 hour 40 minutes each week

By not travelling in the week, it’s also meaning I can start looking at activities in the week to do again. I got to go to my Mindfulness group where we meditate, and catch up on our mindfulness practice. I have had to miss some of these when travelling. It’s great to feel I can just leave work and head off to do something before going home.  Time recouped = 60 mins

By also getting into a routine and getting up and home at the same time I am feeling more motivated. So I’ve been starting to find and cook up my 10 recipes for my minimalist cooking approach. I’m posting my recipes as I find them here too… Time recouped = about 1 hour and a half per week

I am also finding little slots of time here and there; a coffee sipped on the city walls, an hours book reading before the alarm goes off, a meal after work with my wife overlooking the river and a stroll home…which we probably would have put off if we had had to go home first and then go out again.

So although I haven’t reached the goal I had intended for this part of the challenge, I’ve adapted to my new hours, and found that actually for me, slotting in an hour here and there is more productive than having a whole day off.  I am feeling motivated, having more quality experiences (which is part of my overall goal and motivation for living a minimalist life), and getting more mindful.

*Have been recording all my spending which I think will be interesting to analyse at the end of my month, ahead of my October shopping month ban…

The #minimalistliving September Challenge Update

It’s been two weeks now of my September Challenge*; finding 11 hours a week of time to do more meaningful activity i.e. not just sitting on the internet or my phone, or watching repeats or someone’s lives being rehashed for the TV. This was to make  up for the fact I was going to be going from working 26 hours to a week to 37 hours a week.

So how have I got on so far? I am halfway through my month’s challenge. I have to confess I haven’t managed 11 hours a week, which I suppose was quite a big challenge in the first place, working on finding a way of recouping over 2 hours a day.

However I am pleased with what I have achieved and have found that I am making time for quality experiences that I wouldn’t have had before in my old job. I spent a lot of time driving, and so would be exhausted after work, and catching up on life at weekends.

So what have I found the time to do?

Well I now walk to work, and in the morning I spend that 20 minutes walking to work, walking mindfully. If you have no idea what this means check this out here; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/20/meditation-in-action-walking-meditation_n_3279958.html

In effect, for me it’s about taking notice of my surroundings, clearing my mind of all the virtual ‘stuff’ that collects in it’s corners and observing the world around me. It’s great for feeling ready and prepared to face the world ahead, as well as being really good for anxiety and depression, and calming stress. I will talk more about mindfulness in a later blog as it’s something I practice, and it’s a great partner for minimalist living. Total Time recouped = 1 hour 40 minutes each week

I have made time for lunch outside in the last couple of weeks which is something I have not had time to do for ages. In my first week I sat on a bench, facing the River Ouse, spending time communing with York’s very special geese (who apparently like banana!), the weather has been great for sitting outside, and I just spent time listening to the sounds of the city, and eating a very lovely packed lunch prepared for me by my very kind wife.  Time recouped = 1 hour 40 minutes each week

By not travelling in the week, it’s also meaning I can start looking at activities in the week to do again. I got to go to my Mindfulness group where we meditate, and catch up on our mindfulness practice. I have had to miss some of these when travelling. It’s great to feel I can just leave work and head off to do something before going home.  Time recouped = 60 mins

By also getting into a routine and getting up and home at the same time I am feeling more motivated. So I’ve been starting to find and cook up my 10 recipes for my minimalist cooking approach. I’m posting my recipes as I find them here too… Time recouped = about 1 hour and a half per week

I am also finding little slots of time here and there; a coffee sipped on the city walls, an hours book reading before the alarm goes off, a meal after work with my wife overlooking the river and a stroll home…which we probably would have put off if we had had to go home first and then go out again.

So although I haven’t reached the goal I had intended for this part of the challenge, I’ve adapted to my new hours, and found that actually for me, slotting in an hour here and there is more productive than having a whole day off.  I am feeling motivated, having more quality experiences (which is part of my overall goal and motivation for living a minimalist life), and getting more mindful.

*Have been recording all my spending which I think will be interesting to analyse at the end of my month, ahead of my October shopping month ban…

Changing Sides – Moving from part time to full time work

Two weeks today I will undertake what feels like a very big change for me. I will be moving from working part time to going back to full time work. There’s lots of reasons I have to make this shift. The main one being that my current job is a national role with lots of travel and I need and want to be home more for my family.

I have had 18 months of being able to work part time, and I’m well aware this is a distant fantasy or luxury for many, but i have been able to do it through cutting down my lifestyle and living costs, and because I moved in with my wife so my costs were less. I also had a wage which gave me that luxury. But times are changing. I have made the decision that being at home, walking to work and not being away overnight  every week are more important. That sounds like I’m choosing work/life balance right? However I am going to be working 11 more hours a week which feels limiting. I also feel like the goal I wanted to achieve by the time I was 40, of working part time, has been given to me and then snatched away again, which makes me feel a bit of a failure.

So how am I going to turn this into a positive? And how can I keep or even increase work/life balance and look at someday returning to working part time?

At these points I always turn to those who have done it before me; Blonde on a Budget, Zen Habits, and other great bloggers who can advise from experience, both painful and joyful.

So from Blonde on a Budget- if I can get my debts and my outgoings down and increase my income I am going to be on the right route. Plus I could do a year long shopping ban which is going to really help me with that. I’ll be honest, the thought of a year long shopping ban really scares me. Truly. Does it scare you? The thought of being hampered by spending, although so freeing makes me break out in a cold sweat. So of course I need to try this out. Push myself. So from September 1st I am going to try a month long shopping ban. I will blog on September 1st about how I am going to go about it, how I am feeling and what exceptions there will be if any, and then throughout the month on how I am doing, and how it’s going and I promise to be brutally honest! Any money I would have spent will go towards paying off my fairly big credit card bill.

From Zen Habits – cutting out the unnecessary gives me the time I lose in my 11 hours to truly have work life balance. Cut back on the hours I spend on social media and limit myself to a period of time, unnecessary surfing, procrastination, bad habits such as sitting and watching TV I don’t even like. So I am going to see if in September I can also give myself 11 hours a week of meaningful stuff; whether that’s my writing, walking, a coffee and a day dream or some other such lovely thing. I think that’s going to be quite hard, but if I can do it, suddenly working full time won’t seem as hard.

The bonus of working full time is I’m really feeling excited about the challenges of my new role, I get to walk to work every day which will give me some great meaningful time if I can make it work for me, and I won’t be travelling. So when I finish work, I finish work.

Please follow my blog, and you can find out how I get on with these two tasks in September!

And out it goes…

So as you know part of my minimalist living journey is about living with less ‘stuff’. I’ve been really inspired by a blog by fellow Yorkie Catherine, who’s blog Mindful Minimalism talks about reducing her belongings quite radically. I think it was her who inspired me to get serious about decluttering.

I have tried different methods. One of the first was getting rid of one thing a day for 90 days. However this really didn’t work for me. Once I got stuck in I wanted to get rid of lots, and then if i was busy I didn’t do any for days.

Now I tend to hit one drawer, cupboard or corner at a time and try and be ruthless. The two questions I ask are ‘Do I love it? Do I need it?’ and if not it goes. This is the second lot of car boot sale stuff we’ve had this summer. I start a box and just put things in I think we won’t need (and if the wife agrees, otherwise I might find myself in the doghouse!), and then if we do it comes out again. I have to say it mostly stays in the box! I can’t believe how much clutter I keep, or have kept through the years. I think some of it is impulse, and some of it is just a case of if there’s a drawer it can go in I can think about it later.

There’s something really satisfying about removing all these things from our home, and really weird how we don’t miss any of it. Now I have hit the hard stuff though; things I keep for sentimental reasons, gifts and things that aren’t old, broken or unused? So where do I go from here? One of my main reasons for decluttering is so we can live simply, with better energy, more light, more space and so we don’t have to buy more storage, and a bigger house to put it all in. I need to find a way to work out how to move on. I want to only have objects in my life that mean something. That I love, or that I use all the time. Anything else  can go in those car boot sale boxes.

Car Boot stuff

So onto a new box…

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

Last season I decided to embrace the concept of a capsule wardrobe, and brave the serious reduction of clothes in my wardrobe which always seem to be packed, full of stuff I didn’t want to wear, and a source of frustration.

A quick flick on Pinterest (my favourite inspiration for minimalism, capsule wardrobes and simple living) and I found a load of people who were living the capsule lifestyle. Most of them are in America, and often that means capsules need amending, particularly with our beautiful British weather. However one blog stood head and shoulders among the rest, and has pretty much revolutionlised my life. Unfancy. A pretty cool, laid back wardrobe of a home working freelancer who blogs all her outfits to show you how it can be done and provides a fabulous ‘How-to’ guide to building a capsule. Check it out at www.un-fancy.com

THe Capsule Wardrobe

So I decided to have a go with a summer wardrobe. First of all I brought out all of my clothes on the bed – almost burying Sophie the pomchi in the process. There was a lot…I also decided to dispense with plastic hangers and invest in wooden ones. Somehow that seemed like a way of feeling  my £20 quid dress was a bit more luxury.

Using Caroline from Unfancy’s guidelines I built my wardrobe into 37 pieces; 9 pairs of shoes, 2 coats, 15 tops, 6 bottoms, and 5 dresses. Accessories are unlimited, a bit like a Premier Inn Breakfast, all you can wear but don’t pile on too much.

Her idea of the rule of 3 is great. Have one statement piece, one plain neutral and one in between. In my summer capsule I followed the 37 pieces to the letter, and found that pretty much it does work for me. However as I have a more corporate job I have created a mini work capsule. I work from home about 50% of the time, so this is only a small proportion of my clothing. However moving jobs in September means I am going to have to rethink the autumn version.

Having a capsule wardrobe means I haven’t bought clothes in the 3 months since I set up my summer capsule. I ignore the emails that spill into my inbox offering me the latest style, 20% off and a guaranteed fun summer and know that come September I can rejig, buy a few new things, rest my summer stuff, and feel like I have a whole load of new outfits. The downside to my capsule is as a plus size woman I can’t seem to find good quality basics. Caroline from Unfancy’s blog follows the rule of investing in key basics that are good quality and last and last. Unfortunately the fast fashion on the plus size world doesn’t offer me that as yet. A gap in the market?

So I will share with you my autumn capsule which is coming up soon. Have you tried a capsule with success? Or found it’s just not for you? If it’s something you hanker after go and download the Unfancy guide and have a go. I feel like I really know my style now after using her guides. I like strong colours, even strong neutrals, print, texture and denim. Using my new found knowledge I  can test this against everything I buy and wear. And the result? A minimalist wardrobe. Result

Until next time

Jo

xx

Clearing the Clutter

When I started thinking about living a minimalist or a more simple lifestyle, one thing I knew was I wanted to live in a simpler physical environment.

Clutter surrounds us all. We often don’t notice it, but it creeps into our psyche, making us feel itchy, anxious, a bit ‘to-do’. In fact studies tell us that it’s harder to sleep in a cluttered bedroom, and much less productivity happens in a cluttered office.

I have found it difficult to be surrounded by clutter for a while now. I didn’t realise at first what it was. However I started to get anxious if there were lots of things lying around, clothes piled up, draws stuffed with things I don’t use, even hidden in cupboards started to make me feel uncomfortable. However to get rid of it felt really hard.

Everywhere we go we’re encouraged to acquire ‘stuff’, new clothes, changing your home decor every season, that gadget you can’t live without, the storage boxes to put all the ‘stuff’ in , and then ultimately you’re sold the bigger house with more storage to accumulate all your ‘stuff’; a consumerism wet dream. In fact storage warehouse companies are growing at a mammoth rate as people acquire more and more things and have to store their old ones in these giant metal storage boxes.

I seem to spend my life re-organising my ‘stuff’, finding new homes for things, shifting one draw of detritus to another. I’m fed up. I want to be a consumerism nightmare. I want to be able to have my belongings fit in four cardboard boxes. I have made a good start, but wanted to get this blog up and running to record my continued belonging purge, as well as the other areas of my life I want to ‘minimalise’.

So what is the aim of all this minimalism? Do I want to lead a smaller life? Am I hoping to live in a white box and accumulate money I don’t spend? No. I want to lead a life full of the things I love; to be able to write uninterruptedly, to spend more time with my wife, family and friends,  to give more to my animals and volunteer to look after others who don’t have homes, take long walks, eat lovely food, read, take siestas and generally live a full life of experiences rather than material goods.

I’ve got lots of ideas, but it will be good to hear from others of you on the same journey or perhaps a slightly different one. I’ve got loads of inspiration from others so far;

Below are some of my favourites

blondeonabudget.ca – I love her year long shopping ban

Mindfulminimalism.co.uk – A fellow Yorkie who is on a mission to clear her life of clutter

zenhabits – A really thought provoking blog which I often use to help my minimalist living

Everyday life on a shoestring – Great tips for living simply and being a minimalist

This week I am really proud of myself. We have a big chest of drawers which has four big drawers and two smaller ones. I have the full chest of drawers to myself, and my wife had a smaller one which was falling apart. I am very territorial over my space and always have been. However I felt it was time to really embrace what I am trying to achieve. I have got down to one drawer, and have given my wife the other four. It doesn’t seem much right? But I feel so free, like I own the possessions and they don’t own me any more.  Below is some of the stuff I am getting rid of…why did I even keep it? How many of you have stuff like this collecting dust in your homes?

I have a long long way to go. I would really like to have only a few possessions I treasure, but I also have some other goals for my #minimalistliving. I think goals are important as they give you a focus to achieve, and something to measure my achievements against.

What does #minimalistliving mean to me?

#minimalistfinance – No debts, low monthly expenditure allowing me to do the things I want

#minimalistbelongings -Owning only the things  I love and really need

#minimalisteating – Having a suite of good and healthy recipes I know off by heart so I eat healthily and well, without complication

#minimalisthome – Having a small home that meets our needs, but that doesn’t take up all our time, energy and money

#minimalistlifestyle – Only doing the things I love, rather than taking on lots of commitments, and surplus activities

#minimalistwardrobe – Following the Unfancy capsule wardrobe concept

What does #minimalistliving mean to you?

#minimalistliving is born!

So I’ve started this blog to track my journey as I move ever more into minimalist living. I wanted my own blog, both for my own personal reflection ,but also so that I can share with others how it feels to simply and minimalise every area of my life.

I’ve been fascinating with a simpler life for a couple of years now, and in the last six months I have hit upon minimalism, which I have fallen in love with.

Our world is so full of stuff; virtual, physical, emotional and spiritual and I think we can often feel  cluttered, claustrophobic and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ we collect in life. This can be anything from an overstuffed wardrobe, to an out of date newspaper pile, to tonnes of Facebook notifications, to emails blocking up the inbox on random subjects.

But where do we start? It can seem like a losing battle, and isn’t it easier just to shut the door, and forget it exists?

I find I can’t. Even with the door shut, that wardrobe full; some things I love, some I don’t wear, some that don’t fit (OK a lot that don’t fit), things that are seasonable, still gets into my head. That inbox is still full, and takes valuable space in my head.

So I decided to dedicate myself to minimalism or #minimalistliving as I call it. It encompasses every area of my life. In this blog I will talk you through how I’ve done it. How i’m doing it. The challenges I have, how I feel about it, and what I have yet to tackle.

Hope you will join me on the journey, and share your thoughts, ideas , tips and struggles so we can travel together

Jo

xx