Downsize This: Offline is the New Luxury (Notes about a Simple Life)

Dear reader,

can you imagine life without your cell phone? Do you wish your day had at least 30 hours so you could manage your TO-DO lists? Are you craving for more and have many future plans of what needs to happen before you can finally be free/happy/fulfilled? Are you feeling guilty because you don’t visit fitness too often or because you don’t always eat like you are supposed to? Is your closet full of clothes yet you’ve got nothing to wear?

You are not alone in this. Most of us are facing these challenges. Especially the younger generation is overwhelmed with plans, speed and cravings. Thought you might like to join my little experiment, if you’ve reached the point where you want to make some change. During the next couple of months there will be a series of blogs titled

Downsize this: … … (Notes about a Simple Life)

You will be invited to go on a journey of downsizing and eliminating things and habits that make our lives complicated. In each blog I’ll share with you a story on a certain topic and you are welcome to add your own stories to it. Life doesn’t have to be hard, that’s the lesson I’ve already learned. But in practice, as said 3516865161 times already, there’s a huge difference between simple and easy. Downsizing and simplifying is far from easy. And yet I believe it can be done.

Throughout the following months I’ll share with you some ideas about what I might do to make my life simpler, what the effects were after trying it out and whether it has been worth it. Today I’ll start with eliminating online presence.

Internet is a great tool. So is a computer and a smart phone. About half of my clients have found me over internet and I work with people from many different continents. My online presence is therefore crucial. Further, internet enables me to be in contacts with my distant friends. That’s a great thing and I appreciate having this option. However I noticed I spend way too much time online, sometimes just clicking between Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Gmail, Outlook, Instagram, Ebay, Guardian, Academia, and many time consuming popular science articles I don’t even remember the title the next second closing the tab. I’m even beginning to notice that my attention can’t stick to more than two paragraphs. I’m not even sure I can manage to read a paper book for more than 20 minutes and not get distracted, especially when I hear a notification on my phone. Sometimes the first thing I do in the morning is checking my phone and the last thing before I go to bed. I have 5 mail accounts, two websites, two Skype accounts, a Whatsapp, Snapchat, Messenger, iMessage GTalk and even Doximity though I never use it. Not to mention that I would probably feel more naked if I left my phone at home than to forget to put my shoes on.

So I have to admit that it’s not me anymore who is in control and uses technology as a tool, but it’s become vice versa. And I don’t like it, so something has to change. It’s clutter and it’s consuming too much of my time and energy. Can somebody who works online manage to stay offline? I believe it is possible, but I’m not sure I can do it. But I’ll try.

Downsize this to:

  • two email accounts: one business and one private. Shut down gmail and other accounts and activate forward options
  • checking emails when I want to, not when they want to be read (resisting the urge, I’ll turn off the push option on my phone, but do that gradually)
  • using common software to share updates from one spot to all the social media
  • taking time for Facebook once a day and this will NOT be while I’m having a snack or a cup of tea. Turn off Facebook notifications on my phone and post updates only to Ribalon Facebook page, meaning slowly reducing the amount of info I put on my personal profile. Only accept friend request from people I call friends in real life
  • eliminating all the apps and accounts I’m not using weekly
  • working online on Skype days fully, but other days stay mostly offline. Working means working, not browsing.

Downsizing will be replaced by:

  • reading books and printed articles (or maybe on iPad if printing means waste of forrests – but iPad has to be without wifi)
  • fostering personal contacts (calling or meeting people or schedule a Skype)
  • handwriting innovative ideas, project outlines, passing thoughts that might need further investigation. I should buy a special book for this very purpose
  • learning a new language
  • playing piano more often
  • spending more time outside (even without phone)

This might sound unrealistic, however fortune favours the bold, doesn’t it?

So let’s see what I’m already doing that makes me confident I can do more?

  • I already don’t watch any TV
  • I’m using newsfeed eradicator on Facebook on my working computer, so I don’t see any newsfeeds (recommend it!)
  • I don’t pick up the phone calls if I’m in the middle of work
  • I try not to do other things while on computer, like eating or listening to radio.

I read somewhere that offline is the new luxury. Let’s see whether that’s true.

Are you on board with me? Thanks in advance for your thoughts 🙂

Biba

fc0dea494d93b8449d8467676f7e94c2.jpg

Found this photo on the internet. Can’t even remember where. This definitely calls for a change (sorry I don’t know the source!)

Simple isn’t Easy – a Word About How to Reduce Your Carbon Print

Dear reader,

in Solution Focused Approach, one of the essential principles is to keep things as simple as possible and to do more with less. This may sound nice, but it’s not at all easy to do, as simple doesn’t equal easy.

As your life gets filled up with more and more complex tasks, more and more obligations and responsibility, you need to develop strategies to cut down and keep things simple, if you want to avoid chaos or a burnout. And this should reflect not only on your working desk and habits, but also in your kitchen, bathroom, closet, phone storage and especially, your mind.

I’ve always been a minimalist. Guess I learned that from my grandmother (see a blog post about her here). She taught me that I don’t buy any stuff that has a comercial during tv news and I don’t buy any stuff that comes wraped in more than two packages. Other things she taught me is that I don’t eat any food that doesn’t have an expiration date, doesn’t rotten or comes from another continent (well to be honest I struggle with this latter one sometimes!).

I strongly believe her lessons were invaluable, because they made me sensitive and sympathetic towards the nature and living beings. Another important trait of hers is, that she never kept any extra supplies, whether it be clothes, food or things (except money, she saved a lot and always gave it to us for our birthdays, though her pension was adjacent to poverty). The irony in that is, that she always has and had enough of everything.

Human greed is infinite and has to be consciously controlled. The idea of constant growth, expansion, progress, isn’t sustainable and fortunately there are more and more studies and civil movements on the rise to support this. Why not taking just as much as you need? This might however be very different to taking as much as you want … 

This post has been inspired by recent Leo Babauta’s blog about a simplicity manifesto. It made me rethink my carbon footprint and I was quite happy to commit more to my current values and to keep in line with low waste behaviour. So here are collected a few of my ideas that might be useful for you, if you consider reducing the carbon and rubish footprint you are leaving on this planet and also if you want to simplify your life. I’ve practiced them ever since (many times with failures) and they work splendidly for me when I need to remind myself that less is more:

  • I own less than 250 things (including all the socks, knickers, cups, books). If I go above that, I donate it to charity or give it away.
  • Being a woman, my beauty accessories consist of one kajal, one face cream, soap, hair brush, dental floss, brush, paste and shampoo. I make my own DIY deodorant and use oil for body and hair nourishment. I don’t use powder, mascara or any lipstick, any hair, nail or skin products. I’ve got some jewerly that are all my husband’s presents. I don’t use hairdryer or facial masks. And I’m doing fine.
  • My closet has a summer and winter edition. I hardly go above 5 items of each clothing item and certainly not above 10 (except underwear and socks of course). And I’m doing fine.

    our bathroom.jpg

    Our bathroom 🙂 simple, yet cosy

  • I don’t drink anything but water, tea, occasionally coffee and squeezed lemon. Maybe five times a year I drink alcohol (but am not a particular fan). And I’m doing fine.
  • I own 10 pairs of shoes, including flip flops and winter boots. And I’m doing fine.
  • What is a bit of a mess, is my working desk, which is full of notes, printed articles I’ve read but still think might need them sometimes in the future, half read books, endless small cartons and papers with drawings or ideas. I need to work on that one day. But not today. Anyway I never work at that desk, but sit on the floor and only have a laptop (here’s what my “office” looks like, but now with only one laptop as we’re not working on any international project currently).
  • Minimalism is useful also with several non-material matters, for example relationships. If you want to call somebody, call them. If you disagree with somebody, tell them. If somebody hurts you, talk to them or close that chapter. If you are scared what others might say, none of your business. Etc. And I’m doing fine.
  • I try to grow my own food and am very careful not to throw any food away. I don’t mind eating old bread or leftovers.
  • I don’t use chemical cleaning products. WIndows can be easily washed with newspapers and stain removed by soda. And we’re doing fine.

However there are some things that I’m not proud of and haven’t found an alternative yet:

  • I do buy the best of shoes (if that includes original uggs, then uggs it is), because I want to have good quality for my feet. But I would buy one pair and wear it dead. Not buy 5 pairs because they’re last season.
  • I need to travel a lot, meaning car fuel and airplane carbon footprints.
  • I can’t give up on fruit in winter. Even if it came from far 😦
  • Still, there are moments when I catch myself thinking too much (or ruminating), even though I know I can revert this. But I do get better and better.
  • I write too long blog posts 🙂 🙂

Happy today, dear reader. Here’s a toast to minimalism, keeping things simple, yet authentic, compassionate and sustainable! If you get inspired by this post and want to try some things out, do come back to me with your experience!

Biba