Minimalism — 2017 Challenge Update

Minimalism 2017 Challenge

Earlier this year, I set a minimalism challenge for myself, get rid of 2017 items in the year 2017. There are a number of rules I set for myself. So far, I am just a little behind my target (36 items as of Sunday). I have managed to get rid of 356 items ranging from CDs, to decorative items, to school notes, to DVDs.

At first, I found it exciting, the challenge was new and thrilling. I managed to get rid of quite a few items in those first few days. Then as I started working through a backlog of stuff, it became a little daunting to process folders with hundreds of pages of notes (and only count the whole folder as a single item). However, I am now into something of a groove and I have been able to generally keep steady progress each week, moving through parts of the house and collections of belongings.

Have I found it hard to get rid of things?

To be honest, not really. I have never been overly connected to physical things. But, even still, I did amass a fair amount of stuff over the years (just not an overwhelming amount). For the most part, I am really just cleaning and organizing with the question my wife keeps asking: Do I want to pay someone to move that? The answer for the most part tends to be no.

The real benefit has been that I have found a number of items I forgot I even had. Add in the fact that I have cleared space on shelves, and now I can even display those things.

In Progress map of CothelThis week left me a little behind for a couple of reasons. First, I spend some time mudding a ceiling in the bathroom (we are removing the popcorn and making the ceilings flat). Second, I worked on a map. Here is a bit of a preview. I have more mountains to add in, a lot more cities to draw, not to mention forests, marshes, and other details. I had a few redo’s when I first started working on this project. However, as with the getting rid of things, I think I am now finding my groove. When the map is done, it will be 16″x20″ and if all goes well, I hope to have prints available at Planet Comicon.

FIRE – Financially Independent, Retired Early

Also known as F*** It, Retire Early

Financially Independent MoneySomething that often goes along with Minimalism is FIRE (Financially Independent, Retired Early). They don’t have to go hand in hand, but from what I have seen, many FIRE people tend to divest themselves of unnecessary and less important things (a.k.a. they are minimalists). They tend to purge the expensive items that bring less value (or even negative value) from their lives.

There are extremes in everything. For instance, some people will take the aim of financial independence and turn it into a competition to see just how little they can spend each year.  Others take a more measured approach, but they still divest many of the trappings of modern life.

For those that are successful, they manage to cut their ties to day jobs and live off saving, residual income, or small odd jobs that help them get by when they need a little more spending money. With their modest lifestyles, they are often achieving a goal of not having to worry about grinding away their lives for someone else.

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Minimalism 2017 Update – Am I still sane?

Frozen woodsIt is has been a couple of weeks since I decided to start my minimalism 2017 challenge. So where am I at in the purge? Have I managed to leave myself with a desolate office? Have I emptied everything from my desk?

The short answer is no. To stay on track to eliminate 2017 items from my life in one year, I need to get rid of a little more than 5.5 items per day.  That was no small task. However, I am roughly on track. As of 16 Jan 2017, I had gotten rid of 89 items. Those items include some old computer parts, quite a few art supplies that I did not expect to use in the next five years, a number of old DVDs I won’t likely watch again, a handful of nick-nacks, a large stack of business cards scanned into the computer, a bunch of old school notes (I didn’t remember taking sociology), and a few miscellaneous items.

The big question is: how do I feel about getting rid of those things? Continue reading

Minimalism 2017 Challenge

Minimalism 2017

Bare wallsSo, in my FB and Twitter post a couple of days ago, I mentioned #minimalism and a challenge that came to me: Can I get rid of 2017 items that I have been holding onto in the year 2017?

Last year I did purge a number of items, but not as many as I thought I would. So, I really wanted to set an aggressive goal for 2017.

What is Minimalism?

Is minimalism like the post picture, bare walls down to studs with a few scraps of life floating around? I will not call myself an expert on Minimalism, but what I have learned is it is different things to different people. It might be living out of a suitcase with less than 60 items, or it may be just reducing the noise in your life to leave only what is important.

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Paperless: Minimalism

Scan Snap ix500I think it was more than twenty years ago that the idea of going paperless first surfaced in my head.  The thought that we could get everything scanned into the computer and that I could get rid of the stacks of receipts (saved just in case we ever needed to service something) or bills (so we could prove how long we lived somewhere) or school notes (because … well I must be a hoarder).

The concept was great, but in practice, getting out the scanner, placing a page down, letting the scanner slowly run back and forth, materialize the image, and then to save it (or add it to a multi-page document) took a very long time.  I could spend a few hours and only knock the dust off the stack of things to scan.  I was never going to succeed.

Last Wednesday that all changed.  My new ScanSnap IX500 arrived.  The scanner is a beast.  It scans both sides of the page in a single pass, kicks out 25 pages a minute, and dumps the output into PDFs for JPGs with ease.  We’ve ripped through what would have been several months worth of work using the old flatbed scanner in only a few hours.

I compared reviews with some other ones and based on the comments, I decided to go with this scanner.  The software is not perfect, especially with regard to picking filenames and the scanner is not cheap, but damn, it is worth every penny and I can live with the minor issues.

Time for it to all go – Minimalism

Empty BasketFor a little while now, I have been thinking about becoming minimalists—not the super extreme reduce life down to 100 things minimalism—but the reduce things down to just what I am truly attached to kind of minimalism.

I’ve never been overly sentimental when it comes to material items. Sure, I have a handful of things I would not really want to get rid of: some of the art I created; my collection of books; the art I’ve bought and hung on the wall; my long bow, daggers, and swords, … but aside from the books, the number of items I really want is rather small (and a fair bit smaller than what is actually floating around the house).

I think I have a pretty good shot at getting rid of a lot those items I don’t need. When Sherri asks me what I want for my birthday or anniversary, I normally don’t have an answer. Partially, that is because if I really wanted or needed something, I would already have bought it. However, it is also because I really don’t have all that much that I want to acquire. What I would prefer to do is travel and explore.

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