Minimalism, the year in review
Well, I started 2017 with an aggressive goal: get rid of 2017 items in one year. Was I nuts? Did I fail? Was I a success?
I will have to say the results were mixed. I managed to get rid of 1017 of the 2017 item target, so by the numbers, I failed. However, I learned a lot and that cannot always be quantified by a single score.
In case you were wondering, here were the rules I set for myself at the beginning of last year.
What didn’t work
Well, to start with, 365 days to get rid of 2017 items is 5.526 items per day. No holidays or weekends. At the start of the year, I had a fair amount of low hanging fruit to purge and so I made some good progress, even getting ahead of schedule for quite some time. However, as the easy items disappeared, I had to spend more and more time going through things to evaluate them. Which meant that the early days of removing 30 items in 20 minutes turned into spending 30 minutes to get rid of 1 item. (Based on my rules, a folder with 150 sheets of paper to scan was 1 item.)
A few updates
The month of November was busy for me. My wife and I took a 10-day cruise in the Caribbean. We stopped at Aruba, Bonaire, Granada, Martinique, St. Thomas, and Princess Cays.
In Martinique, we stopped at a French bookstore and then after wandering around for a while, stopped at an old library with a lot of old books. (Yup, even on a Caribbean vacation, I will end up where they keep all the books.)
We had a lot of fun, and what’s more, when we booked the cruise, we bought soda packages (basically all the soda we can drink). Of course, I had bought those prior to giving up soda. So the big question is: did I drink the soda or stick to my plan of giving up the soda? The answer is, I am now more than 195 days since I have had a soda.
Earlier this year I came up with a brilliant idea: get rid of 2017 items in 2017 as part of a minimalism challenge. The idea’s purpose simply to purge items in my life that were just taking up space and not providing real meaning. Take the proverbial ball of twine that our lives become and try to unwind the noise and get back to the core.
So, where am I? Did I say the idea was brilliant or completely crazy?
The short answer is that I am behind. I had a strong start early on, but over the last couple of months, I had become rather busy with other activities and stopped actively going through my possessions to see what I can live without. I have resumed the effort in the last couple of days, but I went from needing to get rid of just over five items per day to just under 8. The old adage of why do today what you can put off until tomorrow … wait, I think the one I wanted was, make hay when the sun is shining. Continue reading
Also known as F*** It, Retire Early
Something 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.
It 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
So, 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.
I 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.
For 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.