Thursday, January 1, 2015

Looking Ahead

Happy New Year! 

I can't believe it's 2015! When I was a child, I remember thinking the year 2000 was soooo far in the future that either I'd be dead or very old. Haha! I would have never imagined ringing in 2015.  

I'm still working on specific goals for the year and for the first quarter. However, I know they will include the perennial New Year's resolution twins:  simplification and decluttering. These are a few of the ways I can improve in those areas.


Menu planning. This past year I've found myself scrambling every day to come up with some type of homemade dinner, preferably with all the ingredients coming from our farm. This has put a great deal of stress on me and, with some inspiration from the basic meal plan in Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home, I've categorized my recipes, assigned a day of the week for each of these categories, chosen a few standards that have worked for us and that I can rotate to give us enough variety, and even built in days for leftovers and trying new dishes. I've planned the types of meals to work around my delivery schedule and the farmers' market when it's open, as those are the days when I feel the biggest time crunch.

Wardrobe. Although I'm not a shopper, I do need new clothes occasionally. The problem is I tend to buy what I feel is the best of whatever happens to be available at the time I need something. Often, I make a purchase and realize either it's not really *me* or it can't be worn with other items I already own. Enter the idea of the capsule wardrobe. (If you're not familiar with the term, do an internet search on it.) There are a large number of versions of it but the premise is to have a few articles of main clothing that 1) fit well; 2) feel good; and 3) work with everything else. With this system, you can make a plan, slowly acquire the basics, and eliminate the clothes that are worn out, no longer fit, or don't go with anything else. The Pareto principle (or the 80/20 rule) extends to your clothes - you tend to wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time. So if you set aside a few items of clothing for special occasions (weddings, funerals, other important events), you can essentially eliminate 80 percent of the clothing you own and not miss it. Even though I don't really own a lot of clothing (compared to the average American woman), I do find I have more than I need and the clothes I do wear are buried among those that I don't. I'm going to be working on that over the next few months.

Time. I'm trying to reclaim my time. While I have a good handle on my time, especially when it comes to organizing my errands, I still have a few more areas I can work on. Except for using social media for our business needs, I've pretty much opted out of it because it's a huge time vampire with it's endless stream of announcements to read, articles to click on, and memes to chuckle over, with very little benefit. In fact, it often brings out the worst in people, with ugly posts or rants that end up spoiling my day or changing my view of some people in my life. I recently read this article which has helped me put my time in perspective. Among other things, I'm trying to streamline my shopping even more (mainly food and household products), so I can buy in bulk and spend even less time in stores.

Bullet journaling. I've already blogged about my change to the bullet journal. I've used this system for about a month and it's a keeper. I'm a paper kind of person - I love to make lists - and bullet journaling helps me keep it all in one place.


Material possessions. Now is a good time to get rid of what I don't need or want, or to simplify an area where clutter has caused me frustration. I've been reflecting on this past year, trying to remember when or if I've even used certain items or if they just get in my way. I've already cleaned out some drawers and cabinets in my kitchen, eliminating some things altogether, while storing some seldom used items in upper cabinet space.

Computer files and phone apps. I've extended decluttering to my digital possessions and have spent a good amount of time cleaning up documents and folders on my computer and apps on my smart phone. I need to work on my photos, deleting duplicates, out of focus photos, and those that have no meaning to me.

Unsubscribing to email newsletters. This is a major part of digital decluttering. As much as I intend to read some of them - and they're all good and/or for good causes - I find that I save newsletters for a later that never comes, clog up my inbox to the point that I sometimes miss important emails, and make me feel guilty. As I've received newsletters over the past few weeks, I've thought about whether or not I actually read them and/or act on the content on a regular basis. I've unsubscribed to most. (And year end is a good time to unsubscribe because that's when you get the most newsletters, mainly asking for donations to close out the year.)

BlogsI've been cleaning up my blog subscriptions on The Old Reader. I had subscribed to so many that they overwhelmed me, especially during busy times on the farm, and I didn't read the ones that I really wanted to read.  As my tastes and interests evolve, I've found that some blogs no longer resonate and crowd out the ones that do. I'll also be more selective with future subscriptions. Should I decide to give someone's blog another look, I can always add a new subscription. 

Social media. As I pointed out earlier, I've dramatically reduced my social media participation, although I haven't stopped altogether. To make it a better experience when I do participate, I'm going to eliminate *friends* to whom I have no connection, hiding those with whom I have connections but have radically different points of view that I find offensive or whose posts tend to spoil my day. I'll be *un-liking* pages that I'm not interested in and that clutter my feed, burying things I really care about. Social medial also gives an unrealistic version of others' lives. This blogger writes about the *comparison trap* that social media creates. If we let it, social media can either feed or destroy our ego - and neither is good. Our self-esteem shouldn't depend on how others are or are not living.

How are you planning to make 2015 your best year?


Dani said...

Oh, I certainly feel your pain regarding meals - in ny younger days I loved spending hours creating the food we ate and would vary it as much as possible. These days I just don't have the time and my head is empty of suggestions. So that side of ny life is certainly simplified...

Making our daily lives more meaningful is my goal for 2015 - less of the insigificant and more of the genuine. Life is too short to regret not "doing" instead of just being.

Happy 2015 to you and Bill.

David said...

Cherie, I too struggle with the same issues as you. Time is such a precious commodity that should be guarded but most fritter it away with media tear jerking stories or cutesy jokes. Being retired does help with more time but even then it can be slurped up in the muck of media. I have set time limits on my media which end at about 8:30am. During the day, projects inside or outside take up most of my time. Real social time with face to face lunches or activities are another thing that I think is productive time usage.

Decluttering is a major issue with me. Living in one place for 30 years this May accumulates a lot of stuff. When my wife died 13 years ago I just stuffed every thing that I didn't want to deal with in the basement. Last year I started sorting through the vast waste land of memories and have finally reached a point to where I want the basement area back. It's still tough to get rid of many things but I figure after 13 years and mostly being forgotten in the basement the need for all that stuff is not there any more. You mentioned clothes. I have a huge stack of very worn out Jeans that I've kept for what ever reason. Why? I always thought they could be used for something but not a single one has been used in 13 years. I think it's time for them to go. Women are not the only ones that keep clothes that are too small in hopes that they will soon come back to a smaller size. A good portion of my closet is filled with such clothes and even if I did get back to that size, I probably wouldn't want to wear those nearly worn out clothes again.

Have a great resolution keeping 2015 day.

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

I am setting a new challenge for myself this year- no clothes buying. One year challenge. The one exception is if all my clothes are stolen from my drying line in my back yard, but I don't foresee that happening. I am by no means a clothes whore and I pretty much adhere to the one in- one out method, but when one in-one out started becoming rapid. The big thing I did was I deleted my Pinterest account. Beautiful, beautiful things, but in the end- I noticed that it provoked a lot of "want". I repeatedly kept looking at the same items only to stop myself when I realized I pretty much already owned something similar.

Loved reading your list.
Happy New Year my friend.

p.s. noticed you have Jim Pym's book "Listening to the Light" on your bookshelf- This is the book that actually got me to go to a Quaker Meeting.

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

Did I really just type "clothes whore?" That is not a phrase that is in my normal verbal lexicon.

Cherie said...

Dani - wishing you much success in your goals for 2015! :)

Cherie said...

David, it is hard to resist saving worn clothes for messy projects. Years ago I read something to the effect that you only need one set of clothes for those types of projects and to just discard the rest or turn them into rags. Speaking of which, I spent a good part of a day last week cutting old sheets into rags.

Cherie said...

Shona, good luck with the challenge! I'd join you except for the fact that most of my sweaters are so stretched out they must be replaced. I use my Pinterest and Amazon wish list to "park" things I want. Somehow that satisfies me and then I forget about them. FYI, you gave me the Pym book a while back - I'm just finally getting around to it. :)

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

I just finished "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. I still enjoy reading books like this even though I'm very much there. Part-way through I was thinking this was the same-old same-old and then something hit and I actually was able to go through some stuff that I had been putting off- those really hard to sort through personal items that you just stick in a box (in my case, an old suitcase) and tuck away on the top shelf of your closet. I got the book from the library, it was a quick read and I do recommend it for your editing/ decluttering plan.

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