Wednesday, February 25, 2015

minimalist office

last year, the company i work for adopted an open and shared space environment.  around jaunary of 2014, i moved from a private office to an open cubicle-type shared office space.  this meant that i no longer had my own desk.  rather, i would simply choose from a bank of desks, which desk i would work at for the day.

i remember last year, when i was packing up my office, that i had a few boxes of 'stuff.'  this stuff included books, notebooks, memorabilia, pictures, files, pens, pencils, cup-holders, my stash of tea and drink mixes and other stuff.  i decided, with the move to the open shared office space, that i would go paperless and have little to zero things.

i have largely achieved this goal.  whereas i used to have lots of notepads and notebooks, now all my notes are captured using microsoft one-note.  the only times i have needed to print or use paper in the last year was for business-required purposes.  but if the purpose was my own, i found a way to use/store it electronically.

all my other stuff, i ditched or gave away.

today, i moved office locations again.  i cleaned out my personal locker and all of my stuff fit in one small bag.  mostly the stuff i had were drink mixes, a mug and some books from a training class i had taken recently.  in a matter of 3 minutes, i was packed and gone from my old office.

my new office is much like my old office, only now i have an assigned seat again.  all i have at my new desk now is my mug and phone charger, along with my laptop and docking station, which were provided by my company.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

clutter at critical mass

in the past two weeks, i came across two memorable articles.  both articles point to the fact that society's clutter has reached a point where more and more people are either taking up minimalism to re-gain their lives, or they are making a living off those people who are trying to implement minimalism.

if you go back 100 years, people possessed things for either utility's sake or for status' sake.  the great depression created economic scarcity.  people who lived through the great depression ended up hoarding or at least developed the sense to hold on to things for a long time.  as technology progressed, the old went out and the new came in.  families handed down electronics and furniture; children felt compelled to hold onto possessions their parents or grandparents gave them.  as more time passed, our possessions began to bury us; in some cases literally.

and now in 2015, we find ourselves in a post-scarcity economy, where having little to no possessions is now a symbol of status.  as this nytimes opinion states, "in some well-off circles, people boast about how little they own" and more of the "richest americans [are] increasingly consum[ing] expensive experiences - like a trip to bhutan - rather than material goods."

in 2015, we are also seeing how people can become professional dumpster divers.  big box retailer stores are so well off, that returned items can be easily discarded in dumpsters.  savvy people who are quick on the draw can retrieve these items before the dump truck arrives, repair or simply resell the items on an alternative market.  this wired article, towards the end of the column, estimates a professional dumpster diver could make $600,000 a year!  this is a rather extraordinary way to make money off people (businesses) shedding excess.  the more common approach to make money off minimalism is to garner a following, write a book and then sell it.

any search on the internet or twitter or amazon will return results of people who are either writing about this movement or people who are willing to sell their consulting expertise on how to de-clutter and minimize their life.

in summary, i find the whole of it quite interesting.

image source: instagram emma.putnam_

Friday, February 13, 2015

direct orders

i really enjoy scott adams' blog posts.

today, he wrote a really interesting post on self-control, entitled "can you make yourself less lazy?"

the crux of his argument goes:

"How does one break the laziness stalemate? My method involves imagining the executive control part of my mind giving direct orders to my arms and legs. I literally watch my arm rise on command of my executive control. I know from experience that once my body is moving I will feel less lazy, so all I need to do is stand up. Curiosity is a powerful motivator, and my executive control wonders whether I can command my arm to move while I feel so lazy. So I give my arm a direct command and watch what happens. It moves! And that’s usually enough to transfer control of my actions back to the rational part of my brain, at least temporarily."

it's worth a shot to see if this helps in developing good habits and breaking bad ones.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 minute GID

you can break rooms and big areas of your home into little chunks; then deal with the chunks and liberally throw away.

for example, our dog's cage has been sitting in this spot, unused for at least six months.  since then, it has become an informal table whereupon bottles, boxes and bags have settled.  next to the cage is a fan that was displaced from another part of our home.  i found that i began to use it last summer, but during the winter months, it too has been unused.  then you have the tote-box, some gatorade bottles and a few shirts i've been meaning to donate.

today, i just decided to GET IT DONE.

the dog cage, while not used often, does get used a few times a year.  i put it in storage.

the tote box, along with a few other tote boxes that were in the same room, are actively being used.  i put them in a proper area too.

the bottles were stowed in the pantry (don't know how they ended up in this room).

the fan was moved to another wall.

the clothes were put into the "to donate" bag.

while not much was tossed out in this area, other areas of our home that are chunk-able, will have a lot to be discarded.

Monday, February 9, 2015

scheduling habits

Alarm Clock Extreme
a few years ago, when i was really determined to consistently get up early in the morning, i downloaded an alarm clock that had a really neat feature.  to dismiss the alarm, i had to correctly answer a given number of math problems.  i set the math difficulty to 'hardest' so that i had to actually get out of bed, retrieve my phone from across the room, go to my computer and start the calculator and solve the six difficult math problems.  by the time i solved all six, i was awake and ready to go.

this month, i'm working on a few habits; and for every single one, i've put it on my calendar and set an alarm for it.

my first alarm goes off at 4:40am.  after solving six hard math problems, i weigh myself, get my jogging clothes and shoes on, and i'm out the door by 4:50am.

my second alarm goes off at 4:15pm; to remind me to ingest coconut oil while plugging my nose (confused?  see details about the shangri-la diet).  after wards, i will exercise (4 mile walk, basketball, etc).

my last alarm is at 9:30pm; to remind me to ingest a spoonful of honey, update my records and then go to bed.

i feel confident these habits will form and the alarm clock with the math-dismiss, will give me pause to think about what it is i'm trying to achieve, instead of mindlessly swiping away the reminder and procrastinating self-improvement.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

opinion: overboard on minimalism

the recent headlines this week featured the debate about whether parents should vaccinate their kids or not.

in a recent perusal of reddit, i came across a youtube video of that national geographic series called "live free or die."

while these ideas were swirling around in my head, i came to a couple of conclusions.

first, both movements (people who choose to not vaccinate their children, and people who choose to live off the land) seem to be a rebuttal of post-modern day society being overly consuming.  and these movements are an attempt to push back against consumerism and extravagant living.  the minimalism movement agrees, by and large, with the rebuttal, but maybe not so much the conclusions.

second, the conclusions of the anti-vaccination and live-off-the-land movements are not progressive.  in fact, they are very regressive and adherents to both movements have a high percentage chance of dying too early.

in my opinion, the middle-ground rebuttal to over-consumerism and extravagant living is the right way to go.  we can minimize a lot of distractions and possessions in our life.  but there is no need to go overboard and essentially quit civilization.  both over-reactions are dangerous and anti-social.

if everyone chose not to vaccinate, the impacts on society would be horrendous; setting civilization back few hundred years.

inexperienced people who decide to live off the land, put themselves at risk.  in one example of the live free or die episode, i watched in bewilderment as a man found a pack rat, killed it with a rock in a sling-shot and then when the dead rat was stuck in an upper limb of a tree, he climbed the tree and knocked the rat out.  this must have taken a few hours to kill, retrieve, skin and cook this 'snack', all while putting his life at risk.  i just shook my head in disbelief.

i'll stick to the principals of minimalism; focusing on what matters most. but i won't surrender the decades and centuries of experience our ancestors sacrificed so that we can live in a world that is free of problems that killed so many people in the past.

comic source:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

the messages from the super bowl ads

the 49th super bowl was a fantastic game with an unforgettable ending.  besides the big game, the viewing of the super bowl ads and subsequent discussion of them is almost as entertaining.

i didn't get to watch every super bowl ad, but for those that i was able to catch, i tweeted, what to me, was the general message of the ad.

- drink soda; world peaces ensues
- buy deodorant and become a real, caring dad
- buy insurance and no accidents will happen to you
- eat fast food and your love for others will grow
- buy a car and become really wise and live a long time
- drink beer and your life will become a party
- you should do anything for a bag of chips

all the messages, to some degree or another, attempt to get each of us to be reactionary.  each ad subtly says, "do this, and life will be perfect"  each message attempts to sell something which cannot be sold.  each ad attempts to relate two totally unrelated ideas.

i thought i'd attempt to set the record straight for each of the ads i saw.

- if you want world peace, be peaceful and have charity
- spend quality time with your kids, listen to them, love them; if you want to be a real, caring dad
- slow down, be safe and thoughtful
- love others and your love will grow
- wisdom comes with experience
- spend time with those you love
- after you eat that bag of chips, you might regret it

we all need to seek real contentment.

i'm pretty sure you won't find much contentment in junk food, new cars, insurance or soap.

image source: businesscomputingworld