Cleaning out your Inner Junk Drawer

We are all familiar with the physical clutter that seems to grow before our eyes, but how tuned in are you to your mental clutter? You know, that chatter that goes on in your head, the things you believe to be true about yourself and others, the unique lens through which we see and experience the world?

Yep, that stuff matters.

You may not be consciously aware of how your beliefs shape your worldview. Our automatic responses are so ingrained they happen before we realize we have a choice – a choice to feel how we feel about something. Think for a minute about a person or situation in your life that recently upset you.

What if instead of building your case for being hurt and angry, you try this instead:

Release judgment: So many times judgment and automatic responses jump in to respond or defend our position and we react to what we believe happened: our interpretation of the facts.

Try this: Look at the facts. Stop short of assigning meaning to what happened. How does it change if you take a more neutral view?

Invite a different perspective: Have you ever been describing a stressful situation to a trusted friend who replies, “I don’t see if that way at all”?

How do you respond? Shut her down, tell her “thanks but no thanks” or do you try to see things differently?

Sometimes just a small shift in perspective can open up new possibilities while holding on tightly to our perspective can breakdown relationships and potential for growth.

Stop “shoulding” yourself: “Should” can be a motivator but more often seems to indicate there is a standard which is not being met. When coupled with “I”, we create resentment toward ourselves. What are the things you tell yourself you “should” do and how does that set you up for falling short? “I’m so bad, I should have exercised today but went out to lunch instead.” You feel guilty about how you chose to spend your day rather than enjoying it.  

Bottom Line: Clean out that junk! Be aware of your automatic responses and ask yourself: Is there a different way to look at this?

Thoughts are not facts.

Want to learn more? Lorree is hosting a workshop on Nov. 10, 9-11:30am at her Cotswold office. The workshop is designed for busy women needing a time out before the holidays. We will sort through your mental junk drawer, throw out old ways of thinking and bring peace and purpose to your life. Please RSVP to reserve your spot: lorree@envisionengageembrace.com. Cost is $15 per person.

Lorree Riley is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Envision Creative Counseling, PLLC. Working with emerging adults and those experiencing difficult life transitions, Lorree blends talk therapy and creative art therapy to facilitate insight, learning and growth.

www.EnvisionEngageEmbrace.com

https://www.facebook.com/Envision-Creative-Counseling

 


Simplicity Interviews Former Simplicity Organizer and Author, Robin McCoy

How did you decide to become a professional organizer with Simplicity Organizers?

I’ve always been organized.  Bed made, notebook in order, permission slip signed… so helping others get organized seemed a natural extension.  A propensity for organization is something inborn- like eye or hair color.  But unlike physical characteristics which are fixed, we can get better at keeping our ducks in a row.  And I wanted to help others get better.  Changing homes can change lives.

Tell us a bit about how your experience as a professional organizer with Simplicity prompted you to write down Robin’s Rules of Order – Principles and practices for your best nest.

Working for Simplicity was a fantastic opportunity to hone my organizing skills.  It also gave me a great platform for teaching clients some of the tricks that work for me.  I decided that Rules was a better name than tricks.  Ironically, Rules liberate.  They give you guardrails for keeping your material world under control.  And once you know some Rules, on occasion, you can break them!

Who would you recommend hiring a professional organizer to?

A professional organizer can help in myriad circumstances.  A move, especially to smaller quarters is an obvious time.  A blended family (how many toasters or tvs do you really need) might benefit from professional help.  And for those who are staying put but are ready to clear out the clutter of things they no longer (or worse- never) used or loved, Simplicity can keep the project on time and on track.

How are your Rules and Simplicity Organizers connected?

Robin’s Rules and Simplicity Organizers are connected at the hip.  Rules provide the “why” and Simplicity provides the “how”. When you first consider why you have come to have so many things you do not use or love, it makes it much easier to deal with how to get them under control. The boxes, bins, trash bags and labeler are tools to employ after you’ve gotten a grip on the psychological and emotional components of stuff. Why before how for the best results!

My relationship with Simplicity is warm and collaborative.  They have been unfailingly supportive of my new venture and I am certain of the transformation Simplicity provides- changing homes and changing lives.  

You seem to practice what you preach so naturally. Has it always been easy to do?

There have been times in my life where I tended more toward excess than I do now. But never would you find my living space a mess.  My childhood bedroom, my school desk or book bag, my college dorm, rented apartments, hotel rooms, houses… I am uncomfortable if my space isn’t in order.  And I’ve found it easier to keep that order if I don’t have too much stuff. But I am not a minimalist.  I’m an “enoughist”.  That’s my word for the place where things are balanced between too little and too much.  My grandmother used to tell me, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”  I love that mantra.  It is particularly satisfying when you are following it, not out of desperation or sheer necessity, but out of sheer desire to live more simply and thoughtfully.

We LOVE Robin’s Rules of Order. Tell us more about your latest book, Writings on Robin’s Rules – For your Nest, Refreshed.

I love that you love my books.  Writings on Robin’s Rules grew from a few random essays into a full fledged book.  Some early readers of Robin’s Rules of Order said their only complaint was that it was too short.  So I kept writing, under the guise of a blog. But those who know me know that a book suits me better than a blog and thus, the second book. It expands on the principles, philosophies and practices that were introduced in the first book.  In some essays the Rule is explicitly identified and sometimes more obliquely. But the Rules are the foundation for it all. And don’t be put off by the term essay. They are really just short, hopefully thought-provoking musings.

What one principle best defines and links Robin’s Rules and Simplicity?

Antoine de St. Exupéry’s belief:  “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing more to take away.” For both the why and the how of dealing with our things, it is the reductive process, not an additive one that makes things work.  When we identify the things we neither use nor love, and let them go, what’s left is perfection. And like beauty, perfection is in the eye of the beholder.  It’s your decision and your delight!


More can be More

Maybe not what you’d expect coming from professional organizers who preach the gospel of less.  But sometimes, more is exactly right.  Like this adorable gingerbread house decorated by a little friend of Simplicity.  Colorful, plentiful and slightly askew adornments are what make this house perfect.

So what’s the lesson?  On occasion, more works, but usually, less is more.  And always, enough is enough.

As the holidays bear down, lighten up.  Embrace the stirring creatures, even the mouse!

Happy Holidays from Simplicity!


Mindfulness: A State of Inner Simplicity

By Amanda Zaidman of Constructive Parenting

As humans we evolved in a time of scarcity. For most of human history there was never enough to eat, never the promise of a roof over our heads, never the assurance of safety and stability. Fortunately, many of us no longer live with scarcity but the pendulum has swung the way. Now it is almost too easy to get food, clothes and other goods affordably. In fact, it is so easy that many of us have found ourselves surrounded by too much. Our brains haven’t caught on to the fact that resources are no longer scarce and we continue to crave more, more, more.

This plays out in many different ways. We can’t eat just one chip. We start to feel down and we rely on retail therapy for a pick-me-up. We hear about the latest gadget, and instantly thoughts of owning it consume us. We hear about our neighbor’s child playing soccer or competing in gymnastics and we get a pang of guilt that we haven’t signed our child up for that sport yet. The result is regret about expanding waist lines, homes filled with too many things, and a schedule that is so full that we don’t have time to just be together as a family.

I am not preaching from a soapbox. I live with a constant desire to have more, do more, and be more too. But feeling guilty about this desire is not productive. The goal is to acknowledge that this need for more exists so that we can gain the freedom to make different choices. Because what we know about the brain is that when it is constantly overwhelmed by “too much” (food, stuff, activities, choices) we become stressed and the result is that we end up walking around with a very short fuse.

Think about it. When was the last time you lost your temper or completely over reacted, and you surfaced from your anger only to wonder “whoa, what just happened? That’s not me. That’s not who I want to be?” Maybe you cursed at a driver who cut you off as you were hurrying to an appointment in your car. Maybe you completely lost your temper with your spouse or your kids. If you are tired of feeling stressed out as the result of our “too much” life styles it may be time to simplify.

This is where mindfulness comes in. We have all heard this trendy word but what does it really mean and how can it help? Mindfulness is simplifying where we place our attention so that instead of always being distracted by a worry about the future or a concern about the past we make an intention to bring our focus back to the present moment. We are so used to multitasking and we are so addicted to distractions that it is actually really hard to focus on what is going on right here and right now. But when you make the choice to slow down (to literally pause), your brain gets the message that things are safe and the stressful feelings dissolve. The result is that you gain the ability to choose how you want to respond to a situation rather than always having to look back after the fact wondering why you reacted the way you did. There is a famous Viktor Frankl Quote that captures this best, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

The following are tips for how mindfulness can help you simplify so you can get back to your best self.

Start with your values

What are the things that are most important to you and your family? Come up with a list of five values or positive traits and write them down. These are the qualities that you want your children to possesses as they become adults. These values can become the backbone for your choice to live mindfully. Believe me, making change is hard and when you feel the pull to give in or give up having a little backbone to lean on is super handy.

Mindful choices in daily life.

Once you have identified your values think about how you can start simplifying your daily life. If gratitude is important to you and you have noticed that lately your children seem entitled, maybe it is time to pare down the number of toys they have. Parents find that when kids are less overwhelmed with so many choices, favorite toys are rediscovered, creativity increases, and play becomes more peaceful between siblings. If the playroom isn’t the only room that has become chaotic with “too much” stuff, consider hiring an organization company to help you create a space that better reflects your values.

Next take a look at your schedule. If every minute of every day is filled with organized activities, it may be time to simplify here as well. As parents we feel pressure to give our children as many opportunities as possible and this may mean lots and lots of lessons. Piano, Spanish, tennis, golf, baseball, gymnastics– you get the point. After a long day in school children need down time for their brains to decompress from the stress of being “on” all day. They need time to play outside, time to build forts in their rooms and time for boredom. Yes, boredom. This gives them the opportunity to be their most creative selves.

If your family is still too busy with activities after school to relax together, why not make family dinners together a priority? This is a mindful choice that we can make as parents that allows us to create meaningful bonds with our children. While you are together you can spend time mindfully eating (pausing to consider where your food came from, how it got to your table, what flavors make up the meal). You can practice mindful listening as each person shares about their day, what they are grateful for, and what they learned from the mistakes they made (mindful listening means giving your full attention to the other person rather than thinking about what clever thing you will say next). When you are done you can mindfully clean up together.

Start a formal mindfulness practice.

If your goal is to truly simplify where you focus your attention so that you can live more fully in the moment, the best way to do this is to start a formal mindfulness practice. If the thought of sitting for 30 minutes in silence seems like it could never work for you, remember to try to set yourself up for success by starting with small manageable steps. Try downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace and learn to pause and ground yourself by focusing on your breathing. Do three-minute guided meditations for a few days in a row. If you miss a day don’t beat yourself up, just start again.   If you want to take it a step further take an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in your community or online. Remember, the goal of mindfulness meditation is not to sit with an empty mind. Rather it is to notice when you get distracted and gently bring your attention back to the present. Likewise, the goal of living mindfully is not to be a perfect. It is to notice when you are making a choice that is not aligned with your values, to learn from that mistake and then to start again with intention.

For other helpful parenting tips check out Constructive Parenting

 


PROJECT 333

By Simplicity’s Lorin Hamilton

So I was sifting through Netflix looking for something to watch other than Friends or Gilmore Girls, you need a break every now and then, when I came across this documentary on minimalism. I thought the summary looked interesting and decided to give it a try. Among other thought provoking ideas, there was one that stood out in my mind the most. What if I worried less because I have less?

I have always been told it is better to have more because more gives you protection. More gives you more joy. More gives you more financial freedom. More just gives you more everything. But what if having more gives you more worry, gives you more greed, gives you more jealousy or gives you more self-doubt. Is the ability to have more truly better than allowing yourself to have less?

I have been struggling lately with the idea that my life did not turn out exactly how I thought it would, which is an age-old cliché, I know. I guess I thought I would be happier. Or just comfortable with everything I have accomplished up until now. But so far, I feel overwhelmed with this need for having more, which is uncomfortable. I am just living day to day for the hope of getting to that “place” one day. How depressing is that?!

So, what if instead of constantly thinking of what I need to do to get more, I learned to live with less? Would that make me happier? Would that make me appreciate what I have and where I am at this point in life? Would I worry less about money? Would I just worry less in general? Now there’s a thought!

Project 333 is a movement or lifestyle mentioned in the documentary. It is the practice of only wearing 33 items within 3 months, hence 333. So you only have a total of 33 items including shirts, pants, shoes, outwear, and accessories. Underwear, workout clothes and pajamas don’t count toward the 33 item total. Can you imagine having a 11 foot by 11 foot walk-in closet with only 33 things in there?! I mean give me a break. There is no way a woman who works could have enough outfits to wear to work and for casual outings on the weekends to stay within the 33 item rule. However, I am painfully wrong. Tons of women are doing it and are making it work. Many, many Pinterest posts of the 333 capsule wardrobes are there to prove me wrong.

Being inspired by all of these women and the hype, I wanted to see if it would work. I wanted to see if living with less would give me more comfort with the “place” of life I am in. So the following Saturday, I forged my way into Project 333.

At the end of the day, I didn’t quite get to the 33 item total, but I did put more than half of the clothes in my closet in boxes. I also turned my hangers backward, so I would know at the end of 3 months if I really had worn all the items I had left in there.

I feel great! Like a big weight has been lifted. I walk into my closet and it is clean! I have always struggled with keeping my closet tidy, but now it is tidy all the time because hardly anything is in there. I love being able to quickly pick something out to wear in the mornings.
And the strange thing is, I don’t feel the need to get more stuff. I have everything that I could possibly need. Now instead of going shopping, I can go out and have more experiences other than the inside of the mall. The possibilities are endless. And that brings me happiness!

  

By having less, I can finally discover the feeling of being comfortable in the moment and not have those constant thoughts of needing more.

Watch out garage, you’re next!


The Why and How of Order

Clutter comes in many forms- none pretty. We have cluttered homes, calendars, schedules and minds. How to deal with all the clutter and chaos is where many people start. If you’re a shopper, buying matching containers and bins to hold all your things sounds like fun. Hiring a professional organizer seems like the perfect solution for taming too much stuff. With the right supplies and the right talent, the clutter problem will be solved!

Hold on a minute. Buying more things to solve the problem of too many things is an inauspicious start.

A more reasoned starting point is why. Why do I have so much stuff? Am I a recreational shopper? Am I a doormat for family “heirlooms”? Am I keeping up with the Joneses? Am I buying ‘just in case’? There are plenty of whys. And the answers may vary, but one thing is certain. If you don’t explore why, the how will suffer.

At the Cornwell Center’s Learning Connection, Robin’s Rules and Simplicity Organizers connect and you will learn why and how to make 2017 your best and simplest year ever.

The Why and How of Order

Wednesday, Feb. 15
10:30am-12:00pm
The Cornwell Center
FREE- no registration required

Robin’s Rules of Order will help you with why. The principles and practices explained in the book will guide your thinking. Thinking that should precede any doing. The Rules pave the way for Simplicity Organizers to do what they do spectacularly well. The how. These professionals specialize in clearing out the unnecessary to focus on what matters most-creating space, balance and harmony in homes and lives. Simplicity does much more than just purging and organizing stuff. They’re really your partner in ‘life simplified’. You’ve answered the why by considering Robin’s Rules.

The next step is for Simplicity to show you how. That inauspicious start can be the perfect ending!

Why? Robin’s Rules of Order

How? Simplicity Organizers  

 

 


What Type Are You?

The idea of personality type has always been intriguing to me. Over the years, I’ve taken several personality tests – Myers-Brigg, Enneagram, Love Languages, etc.  With each test, you can learn a bit more about yourself. Are you a judger? Agreeable? Introverted? Extroverted? Do you like to receive gifts or spend quality time?  The list goes on and on.

carson tate working simply

Recently, I had the opportunity to take a different type of personality test. I was able to learn my “Productivity Style”.  For two days (approximately 20 hours), I attended a two-day implementation boot camp called “Working Simply: Work Smarter, Not Harder”.

Led by expert and author, Carson Tate, the purpose was twofold – to learn more about my own style and how to increase my personal productivity, but also to learn how to detect and identify other people’s styles so that I can help clients not only in their homes but also their lives.

The first morning began with a seemingly innocuous task – use a large blank sheet to describe your productivity in various ways.  Being the prioritizer that I am, my sheet contained bullet points, numbers, straight lines, and I finished first. Apparently, finishing first is a common trait for prioritizers. As I looked around the room waiting for others to finish, I realized immediately the purpose of the task.  With a very short and concise activity, it can become quickly obvious to detect someone’s “type.”

carson tate workshop

From prioritizers (me), to planners (my colleagues), to visualizers and arrangers, we covered the gamut.  I learned that my “prioritizing” style tends to be straightforward and fact reliant (not a big surprise).  We moved on to sequential and organized “planners” and intuitive and big picture “visualizers”. Lastly, we became acquainted with “arrangers”, those who thrive on relationships and like to focus more on people than the process.

The rest of the two day boot camp was an intense study of personal productivity. How do you manage your schedule – on paper or digitally? How do you manage your time – focused or distracted? We learned how to improve communication when considering your audience – how to determine your co-worker’s and client’s productivity style? We even spent time with a tech guru to make our inboxes work for us rather than us working for our inboxes? Do you ever feel like a slave to your inbox? I’m sure I’m not the only one.

All in all, we were able to come away with a toolbox full of ways to increase our own productivity and communication. We also walked away with many resources to help our clients in their lives; from home office organization to simply managing the endless to-do’s of daily life.

On the last day, during the last hour, each attendee was asked to “free-write” for ten minutes on a blank sheet of unlined paper.  My “visualizer” neighbor made a bullet point list…something she had never done before. My “prioritizer” bullet point list from the first day turned into a stream of consciousness memoir of the past two days.  I walked in as a “prioritizer” and walked away more in touch with my inner “visualizer,” a true measure of bootcamp success.

Carson Tate Group pic

Simplicity’s Shyla Hasner, Laurie Martin and Jenna Skaff with Carson Tate.

By Jenna Skaff


Tidying

NY Times recent article, Marie Kondo and the Ruthless War on Stuff 

STUFF

Photo illustration by Christopher Mitchell

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up; The Japanese Art of Decluttering by Marie Kondo has been a NY Times bestseller for months, sparking joy in some and outrage in others.   To say that Marie Kondo is a phenom and her KonMari method of tidying is a sensation is probably an understatement. When the NY Times and Atlantic Monthly are talking about tidying up, we all should be listening. And for that, we can thank Marie Kondo.

Get over thinking that ‘tidying’ is a quick, quaint go with a feather duster and a whiskbroom. It’s deep, transformational work. Whether you take all that Kondo suggests or just parts, it’s unlikely you’ll not glean something of value from some time with Tidying Up.

Magic

Kondo has many admirers- even some professionals. Despite the vitriol expressed by some in NAPO, Simplicity offers this contrarian view. These comments are from Anne and Betsy, two seasoned Simplicity pros.
“The NAPO women seem way too judgmental and critical. There’s room for all types of organizers is this world, maybe even the organizer who’s getting $100 an hour to organize your thoughts.” Betsy

“With all the different personalities and different brain types, we NEED a variety of approaches for our clients.  Their (the organizing pros quoted in the Times piece) attitudes were petty and were drenched with the stench of jealousy, pitiful really.  I don’t know why women are like that.” Anne

“I personally liked her book, even though parts were a bit weird. I would never talk to my belongings. But after reading it I was inspired in several areas like my clothes and books to purge some more.

Her method is extreme, but she will definitely weed out those who just want things organized. She wants to really help free people from their belongings, once and for all. Many people aren’t ready for that, but for those who are, the KonMari method may help.

She sparked joy with me” Betsy

“I do not talk to my belongings. If she wants to talk to her socks, good for her, they are her socks and she can talk to them if she wants.  Me, I’m just tossing them in my drawer or wearing them to get my work out on.” Anne

“I will say that her book has TRULY inspired people and really thrust the professional organizing industry into the limelight, and for that I am so grateful. I have had several clients who talk about how this book has seriously motivated them to take their work with Simplicity to the next level, and for that I am also grateful. I am totally on board with how her approach does truly seek to get to the heart of the matter, which is a matter of the heart.  She is working with her clients to free them from the burden of lack-luster lives packed with meaningless items they hope will give them meaning – it’s madness.” Anne

“Despite working as professional organizer for years, I still struggle with keeping my home organized, Her book gave me a new perspective in many areas and for that it made for a good read for me.” Betsy

“I like her.  I think she’d be super fun to work along side, or put in your pocket and run around with.” Anne

A few snippets from the Times article…

“NAPO women seek to make a client’s life good by organizing their stuff; Kondo, on the other hand, leads with her spiritual mission, to change their lives through magic. ”

“I think the NAPO women have Kondo wrong. She is not one of them, intent on competing for their market share. She is not part of a breed of alpha-organizer “solopreneurs” bent on dominating the world, despite her hashtag. She has more in common with her clients.”

“She leaves room for something that people don’t often give her credit for: that the KonMari method might not be your speed. “I think it’s good to have different types of organizing methods,” she continued, “because my method might not spark joy with some people, but his method might.”

Simplicity hopes you’ll read the full article (any maybe even the book) and see what comes upjoy or outrage or some of both. Don’t let the naysayers put you off “tidying” up.

By Robin Mcoy

 


Mindful Technology

Mindful Tech

“It is not what technology does to us, it is what we do to technology. Used skillfully, it can improve and enhance our lives beyond our wildest imagination. Used unskillfully, it can leave us feeling lonely, isolated, agitated and overwhelmed. Get smart with technology, choose wisely and use it in a way that benefits both you and those around you.” ~Headspace

Ever since a cell phone was first thrust upon me as a young professional in the 90’s, I’ve been somewhat vexed by technology. I resented the thought of 24 hour availability. And, as a 20 something at the time, how could I maintain my aloof nature if I could always be tracked down?

Decades later, I’m slightly less aloof but still maintain a love-hate relationship with the technology that saturates my family’s life. We own “i-everything” it seems, and are far too often in front of or behind a large or small screen. Much of my day is spent online purveying health, nutrition, eco-wellness and spiritual wisdom through our Spunky Avocado website, blog and social media. At the end of the day, everyday, I’ve been finding myself actively squelching the urge to calculate just how much of our precious time as a family had been mindlessly spent on our many devices.

I decided it was time to confront the ugly truth and take a deep, honest look. What I found was that despite all my efforts to get my family out into nature, to travel, to have great experiences and quality time together, we were way out of balance in terms of our collective technology use. It was also clear that in order to make changes to our family’s bad habits, I would first need to address my own. So in an effort to bring it all back to a place that felt balanced and productive, I put on my researcher’s cap and and dug in. Here is what I have found to be most helpful.

Technology

Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a psychologist at Stanford University, helps us identify when technology is having a negative impact and too much control over our life (click here). She suggests that any of the following indicates an unhealthy relationship with your technology:

  • Separation anxiety when you aren’t sure where your phone is.
  • Physical discomfort when you haven’t checked your device in a while.
  • Intimacy with your device. For example: Do you sleep with it? Does it call to you in the middle of the night? Do you check it as soon as you rise in the morning?

If you recognize yourself or a family member here, don’t despair. It certainly hit home with me. But, with some simple and sustained practices, you can adopt a more mindful approach to the use of your technology.

  • Start by taking a serious look at your own tech consumption habits. Pay close attention, be honest and consider these questions: Are you using it in a way that is productive? Is it moving you forward in your life? Do you find that a simple check-in on social media results in an hour of lost time? Does it ever leave you feeling anxious, unsatisfied with your life, or ruminating? Does it leave you with a smile and a feeling of connection? Are you spending money that you regret spending? Is it distracting you from your life and the people you love? Does it keep you from being physically active? Do you feel like it is time well spent?           This purposeful attention to the way your tech time makes you feel will allow you to better evaluate its impact on your life. Instead of allowing yourself to be on device autopilot, you can instead approach technology with mindful awareness.
  • Set your intention, daily, for your technology use and it can become an effective tool in your life rather than a time suck or even, an addiction.
  • Turn off notifications and alarms that aren’t absolutely essential; all those alerts keep us from being in the present moment. Set specific times where check-ins occur and hold yourself to those times. Set an alarm, if necessary.

Further, in an excerpt from Elizabeth Millard’s article Intentional Computing in Experience Life Magazine (click here), she suggests the following 5 techniques for upping your mindfulness game:

  • Breathe when you log on, notice if youre holding your breath. Breathing slowly and evenly releases physical tension and helps you be more restful and alert when you engage with information technology.
  • Take advantage of software that helps you avoid disruptions when you want to focus. Some applications turn off email and chat notifications or block time-wasting websites. Consider apps that can help you be more productive and creative.
  • Programs that keep you on task are great, but youll benefit most from disciplining your mind. Learning to sit and count your breath is a starting point for noticing your tendency to get distracted and for staying on track.
  • Log how much time you spend with your devices each day. If you would like to refine your usage, experiment with different choices communicating in person instead of via email or limiting social media to certain times, for example.
  • Unplugging altogether (for an evening, day, or week) lets you slow down from the fast pace that technology enables. Return from your digital sabbath rested and with a fresh perspective that supports creativity and connection.

Additionally, there are very useful apps which help keep track of how time is spent on devices as well as those that help with mindfulness in general. Headspace is my favorite but here are a few articles that will help you choose the one that is best for you: here , here,  and here.

At the end of the day, I want to know that technology has enriched my life and the life of others through me. I also want to know that I’ve been a good model of healthy tech habits to my kids. Waking up to my own less than perfect practices has been a gift.

You might also enjoy this Spunky post.

 

Sources:

https://experiencelife.com/article/intentional-computing/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-jim-taylor/technology-mindfulness_b_2526737.html

https://bewell.stanford.edu/mindful-use-of-technology

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-some-headspace/201307/the-mindful-use-technology


Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Thanks to Simplicity, the documentary, Minimalism, was recently screened in Charlotte to a full house. And a full house, or more specifically, an overly full house is exactly what the film was about.  My husband and daughter were my sidekicks for the evening-one, enthusiastic and one a bit reluctant.  But when the lights came up, we all agreed that Minimalism was thought provoking, inspiring and a bit guilt-inducing.

Minimalism

The film documents the two Minimalists’ odyssey.  From more is more, to less is more. From keeping up with the Jones, to charting one’s own path. And from piles of unused stuff, to owning just enough. Their journeys resulted in freedom- financial, emotional and physical.  And their mission now is not to climb the corporate ladder, in the right suit with the right gadgets, but to inspire others to consciously examine what they own and why they own it.  For the movie trailer click here

Less

In the spirit of Simplicity, each of us gives our single most important lesson from the film.

From the 30 year old:

Only hold on to things that bring value to your life.

There isn’t just one template for how to deal with possessions.  Each of us has our own threshold for what is enough and what brings value to our life.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A collection of snow angels might make one person grab a trash bag but for someone else, it could be a treasured and tangible connection to a loved one. And how do you measure the value of something?  Do you use it?  Do you have space for it?  Can you afford the time or money it would take to replace it if you ever decided you needed such a thing?  No matter the value in absolute monetary terms, if the object doesn’t bring value to you, let it go.  Paradoxically, your life will be enriched by having less.

From the 60 something male:

A big change is easier than small one.

As counter-intuitive as this may seem, there is neurobiology supporting it. Often the trigger or nudge is more compelling for a big change than a small one. We evolved as horders. Stockpiling worked in times of scarcity when basic needs were hard to meet but our biology betrays us now.  Biology begets “buyology.  With small changes rather than a sweeping change, there can be a feeling of continual deprivation.  It’s like the addict who needs another hit. And this need for more precludes the feeling of contentment from having the “luxury of enough”.

From the 60 something female:

You think you own your stuff but your stuff really owns you. 

We’re hardwired to feel loss more strongly than we feel gain. Letting go of things is more painful than acquiring them is pleasurable.  We’re wired for dissatisfaction.  Advertising and social media feed that dissatisfaction. Dubious claims of ‘New and Improved’ render the existing version unsatisfactory.  Keeping up with the Jones is exhausting and expensive. We live in a junk culture where ‘more is more’. The cheaper, the better is the lifeblood of mass retailing. We can turn that around when buying fewer things, but better things becomes our habit. Remember the Chinese proverb, “Buy the best and you only weep once”.

Here’s one final thought from the film. You can never get enough of what you don’t really need because what you don’t need, no matter the quantity, will never satisfy.

And lastly, a possible mantra for those on their own minimalist odyssey-

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”  Hans Hofmann, German abstract expressionist 

By Robin McCoy