Sunday, February 28, 2021

Books on Minimalism & Mindfulness: Part 1

I try to revisit a couple of books on minimalism every year. Rereading a book or two, or all of them, in this category will generally help me renew my purpose. I haven't reviewed a book since grad school, which I left in 2016 to advance my career in IT. Having had this blog for over a year now (despite not posting for a while after changing jobs) I feel it's time to finally actually review some of the books that helped me become the minimalist I am today.

Review 1: New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living
ISBN: 978-1-63217-132-0
Authors: Cary Telander Fortin & Kyle Louise Quilici

I'll be honest and say I don't remember when I bought this book, only that I bought it with the intention of using it to help me design my house around minimalist tendencies. Rereading it this year, it felt more suited to those new to minimalism. It's absolutely great for helping you find a jumping-off point from which you can dive into minimalism. It breaks folx down into four personality types that have their own unique hangups when it comes to decluttering and discarding items. The authors cover common points of failure at the start of minimalist journeys--from discarding too little with the "one in, one out" method, to being too reluctant to part with items when moving in with a partner and being left with too many of each item. They also hit on something I think is especially important: letting each room serve a single purpose. Of course, that's not always possible in small apartments, tiny houses, or family homes, but it's important all the same to let rooms like the kitchen be just a kitchen and the bedroom be just a bedroom. There are also tips on design and decoration for a house that can be magazine-worthy but still feel 100% like home. A minimalist's home still needs personality, and this book can help beginner- and intermediate-level minimalists figure out how to achieve a comfy and clutter-free space.

I didn't get as much out of this book on a reread as I did the first time I read it, but all the same I would highly recommend it to anyone just getting started with minimalism.

Review 2: The Year of Less: How I stopped shopping, gave away my belongings, and discovered life is worth more than anything you can buy in a store
ISBN: 978-1-4019-5351-5
Author: Cait Flanders

It's hard to pass up a book with an actual timeline of how and when habits changed. While the author's goal was not to become a minimalist, but to spend less/save more money, it's still a good read for any minimalist. Rampant consumerism is confronted on a very personal, intimate level. Cait is open and candid about where she came from, how she started, and at which points she experienced failure in following her own plan to live better. While few of the chapters cover decluttering efforts, as a reader I find it helpful to hear about a real person's experience--not just a social-media-worthy, curated snapshot of life. Addiction and breaking bad habits are central focus points for the book, which might especially help budding minimalists understand how they can sever ties with habits that are very non-minimalist. The book follows Cait as she claims her life and her time for herself, instead of living for the material things and materialistic people around her. We all have things we want to change about ourselves, and this inspiring book may well be life-changing for the right reader.

I'm glad I reread this book, as it opened my eyes again to just how many things I still have (including bad habits) even after years of minimalist practice. I recommend it to any minimalist, especially those with bad habits they know they need to break.

I'll have more book reviews coming up as I take time to re-read those still in my little library at home. If you're interested in buying one of the books I review, please consider supporting the author directly where possible, or supporting a smaller bookstore. Happy reading!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Declutter, Donate, Sell: What's Your Time Worth?

Sometimes it can be hard to determine whether an item should be kept, donated, or sold. During your decluttering efforts, you might form a "Maybe" pile of items you think you might want to keep, but would donate or sell if they don't fit you (like clothes) or don't fit your space (like furniture). Donating items takes little time--simply box or bag up items and drop them off at a donation center. Selling items to recupe some money, however, can take valuable time and effort best spent on something more important.

I want to keep this post short, sweet, and to the point for those who try to sell items after decluttering. Ask yourself: What is your time worth?

It might help to reframe the attempted sale of items in terms of how much your time is worth, whether to yourself or your employer. Then weigh the cost in time of selling those items against how much you can get back for them. This is a very cold and transactional view of items, but that's kind of the point. You don't want it, after all, so how much is it really worth? How much is your free time worth? For me, it has taken on average 4-5 days to sell an item on an online marketplace to recupe, say, $100 from an item that cost $300 new. So it took a workweek of my time waiting to "make" $100. For a 40-hour week in the US, that's a bad deal. However, it takes me a grand total of 10 minutes for a round trip to and from a donation center drop-off point. Sure I recupe nothing monetarily unless I wait for a receipt for a tax deduction, but I save days or perhaps weeks worth of free time by choosing to donate items instead of sell them.

Consider also, unselfishly, the value an item might have to someone in need who doesn't have the monetary resources that you do. If the path of opening up more free time comes in the form of donating an item to a secondhand store or charity organization, consider the improvement of someone else's life in terms of your time vs. its meaning and value to someone else. It might take minimal time (and therefore, minimal money) to immeasurably improve another person's life.

The TL;DR of this short post is: LET THAT SHIT GO. Respect the value of your own time, and do what you can to help others with your discarded items. Recuping monetary cost isn't always worth the time and effort. Recupe the cost by paying it forward with a good deed, and donate the items you no longer need. Go forth, and be good!