Simplicity Project: Week 1

This is week one of the simplicity project series. If you missed last week’s introduction to the series, you can read it here.

Real quick, below are two lists I made while thinking about areas of life I’d to expand and spend more time on, and areas I’d like to simplify.

THINGS TO EXPAND:

health & nutrition: increase hiking, cycling, weight training; train for 10k; eat mostly local and in-season foods; cook one brand-new vegan recipe per week

writing

reading

friendships: more quality time with people who make me happy, more communication, do productive activities together

personal development & education: self-sufficiency, philosophy, politics, economics/investing, career skills, piano

causes: animals, liberty

 

TOP THINGS TO SIMPLIFY:

online activity: check social media once a day; blogs, read only what is most helpful; delete all unnecessary accounts; decrease browsing/videos/music/misc/time wasters.

possessions: sell/give away most of what I own and haven’t used in the last year

purchases: buy only what is necessary or would add the most value, spend money on experiences rather than material goods

transportation: begin to phase out driving; learn more about bike care

entertainment: watch no more than one show a day (this is progress for a person who can, without batting an eye, gobble up four episodes in a row of X-Files, Big Bang Theory, New Girl, Californication, Downton AbbeyGilmore Girls, Mad About You, whatever the current mood calls for)

food: only buy fresh produce, no non-perishables for a while; make own hummus, pesto/tomato sauce, almond/peanut butter, nut milk, jam; start home canning

media: delete all unnecessary/lame media files

Next week’s post will discuss ideas, successes, and failures so far in my attempts at tackling one or more of the above items.

How are you all doing with the project so far? Have you thought about or made your lists–top things to expand or spend more time on, and top things to simplify or decrease? Have you begun yet to put some plans into action?

The Simplicity Project

Though I haven’t delved into this topic yet (been too busy snacking on dark chocolate and watching X-Files and fleeing the country), one of my M.O.s, along with nutrition, saving money, and occasionally regularly indulging in a bit of obsessive-compulsive behavior, is simplicity. I call this site “Healthy Minimalist” because, in my opinion, each of these words by itself tends to call forth quite extreme images –“healthy,” when taken to the extreme, becomes fussy, complicated, expensive; while “minimalism,” taken to its extreme, brings to mind a blank white room with a few pieces of stainless steel furniture, a lack of color, emotion, and the fun good things that make life soulful.

Therefore, I like to soften my otherwise minimalistic lifestyle around the edges by including a few “messy” elements simply because they make me warm and happy, and to simplify my attempts at healthiness with substitutions and, often, deletions when I feel it is necessary to keep sanity and $avings intact. Also, healthyminimalist.wordpress.com wasn’t taken yet and I’d already spent way too much time trying to decide on a name.

With all my simplicity-loving philosophies, I feel there are several areas in my life where I could safely chuck unnecessary items out the window and not look back. There have been moments of, gasp, frazzled rustling around when attempting to locate something lost, and my control-freak self has a difficult time with that.

Living thousands of miles away from home for the next couple of months with only a suitcase full of personal belongings, I suspect the craving for further simplicity will grow, as it has already in my last two weeks abroad. I figure it’s time to ignite a stronger flame of sorts. Plus, it’s a new year and all. These clean-out-the-closet attitudes are inevitable. The fact that I won’t be able to implement many of the simplification strategies I have in mind until my return to the States in spring will hopefully give me time to firm up the plans a bit while getting used to a more minimalist lifestyle here (In Germany, I’m staying in a small one-room apartment with a kitchenette, have no car, and am without most of the products and tools I’ve grown fond of back home–evidenced below).

P1050318

Lots of pretty plans are in the works, at least in my brain. But perhaps I’ll be able to set certain techniques into motion while still here–we shall certainly see.

So! I’d like to propose a new project for the year–the simplicity project. To cut out items, actions, habits, responsibilities, attitudes, and expenses we feel are unnecessary and that don’t add considerable value/usefulness to our lives. We couldn’t go into this project unprepared, could we? Maybe that’s just me. I told you–control freak. So here’s a rough, tentative plan, which I’m sure will be revised throughout the journey. I invite you to join me if you’re getting that clean-out-the-closet feeling, too.

1. Make a list of 5-10 items (objects, activities, people, etc.) that are most important to you and add the most value to your life.

2. Make another list of items that you know you need to downsize/give away/ignore/delete/spend less time on, and do so.*

3. Each week, find a way to downsize/delete at least one item from the extraneous list, and replace it with more of an item of real value.

4. Think twice before purchasing anything. If it’s not absolutely necessary and doesn’t add considerable value to your life, don’t buy it. If it’s not a necessity but will add considerable value to your life, try getting it for free. Only spend money as a last resort. This is my favorite, since I’m a tightwad.

*Just don’t ask me to spend less time watching X-Files or eating dark chocolate, I’m afraid it won’t do any good.

If you’d like to join in this project with me, drop me a line! You probably have ideas I’ve never even thought of, and I want them. What items add the most value to your life? What areas would you like to simplify? What strategies have worked well for you in the past? Please share.

“Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.

I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.”

-Langston Hughes