The other day I found myself thinking about my journey in minimalism and simplicity. Like most people I often focus way too much on what I have left to do, and not too much on what I have already accomplished. With that in mind I thought it might be fun to look back on some of the changes I have made over the years.
- I have sold, donated or recycled endless bags of shoes, clothes, accessories, old gadgets, kitchen utensils, movies, books, paper and hobby supplies.
- I have stopped caring about decorating and knicknacks. We have furniture and useful things, and besides those we own a few paintings and plants. No thingamabobs or whatsits or decorative doodads anywhere.
- I do quick sweeps of the apartment regularly. Has anything snuck in that we don’t need? Is there something we no longer use? Out it goes.
- I only keep documents that I know I will need in the future. I used to keep way too many documents for way too long.
- I only purchase food that I actually plan to eat in the near future. No “just in case” stuff.
- I hate kitchen gadgets. I detest them. I like the rice cooker, the kettle, and the microwave. Anything else is excessive (to me).
- I haven’t kept any old school assignments, text books or papers, and I haven’t missed any of them for a second.
- I switched to reading books on a Kindle, and I only buy paper books if there’s no Kindle edition.
- I try to limit the time I spend on social media. This one is not so easy, but I’m improving steadily.
- I have set up TweetDelete to automatically delete any tweet older than a month, and I recently deleted 1500 images from Instagram. Why should there be a complete public archive of everything I have ever tweeted and photographed? Nothing has to stay online forever. If there was a similar tool for Facebook I would use it in a heartbeat.
- I only keep apps on my phone that I actually use. Apps that I rarely use but still need are hidden in folders, and only the essentials are kept on the main home screen.
- I try to keep a simple and clean folder system on my Mac, and keep most things synced to Dropbox. I also use Dropbox to back up the photos on my phone.
- I write and keep all my documents in Google Drive. No more worrying about losing files.
- We haven’t had linear TV in over 6 years. Haven’t missed it for a second.
- I delete all unimportant e-mails right away and I don’t subscribe to newsletters.
- I keep all my photographs on Flickr, and am in the process of scanning all my old paper photos. I’m not going to throw away the originals, but at least this way it won’t be a disaster if they get destroyed.
- I have deleted most social media accounts that aren’t in weekly use.
- I use StayFocusd for Chrome to limit the time I spend on my favorite time-wasting websites.
- I have worked very hard on changing my shopping habits. I try to figure out whether the thing I want to buy is an actual need or just a want, and I also try to reflect on why I want it. Here’s an old post on how I shop for clothes, and it is still relevant for me today.
- I don’t buy replacements for things unless they are broken or painfully outdated. For instance, my DSLR camera is 8 years old now but it works perfectly and takes beautiful photos. On the other hand I recently bought a new iMac because my old Mac was too slow for design work and photo editing.
- I have found a skin care routine that works and have stuck to it. Why fix what isn’t broken, right? I haven’t changed a single thing since I wrote that blog post 2 years ago.
- I try to buy things that are made to last, and do maintenance on them when needed.
- I have cut down on time-sinks like YouTube, gaming etc. I used to play so much World of Warcraft back in the day, you have no idea. For about 5 years all I did was eat, sleep, study, play World of Warcraft and occasionally go to the gym.
- I stopped reading blogs except a select few. I have no idea what people write about these days, and I certainly don’t know what’s on the cutting edge of the blogosphere anymore. I’m okay with that.
- I made a list (yes, an actual list) of what’s important to me, and gradually peeled away the things that didn’t make the cut. Then I spent more time on the things that were actually on that list instead.
This doesn’t mean I’m perfect by any means. I still buy way too much makeup, I have an obsession with stationery, I’m own an excessive amount of oversized wool sweaters and I sometimes spend way too much time on Instagram. The point is that I try, and this list is what I have accomplished over several years of doing just that: trying.