December 28, 2008

When Spring Comes 3 Months Early

The weather today is a perfect example of why it doesn’t always make sense to plan ahead. The temperature is already (before 9 a.m.) higher than the high temperature that was forecast a day in advance, and if the sun comes out, we could have May-like weather and a record high temperature. It’s not the weather anyone could have planned on, but here it is, and it’s a great day to do something outside, or get an early start on spring cleaning.

December 21, 2008

No Snow Days

When I say, “There are no rainy days anymore,” I mean it doesn’t make sense to set aside tasks to do on days when you aren’t so busy. The things that interrupt our schedules are not frequent enough or disruptive enough to throw us off. That means, if you know you can’t do something today, it’s safe to assume you won’t be able to do it tomorrow either.

December 06, 2008

E-Mail Bankruptcy and an Attitude of Boldness

Do a blog search for bankruptcy, and most of the stories you will find will have to do with e-mail bankruptcy. This colorful term doesn’t mean what it meant just three years ago. Then, it would probably refer to abandoning an e-mail account because you were receiving too many irrelevant e-mail messages. Now it refers to erasing your e-mail inbox because you have more legitimate e-mail messages that you can realistically read.

November 27, 2008

Material Abundance and Feeling Abundant

The Thanksgiving holiday is a good excuse to reflect on the material abundance of our time. The ordinary person in 2008 has five times the material possessions of 50 years ago, and orders of magnitude more than the kings and queens of five centuries ago.

The relative material success of our time comes as a surprise to many people just because they don’t feel so prosperous. In strictly material terms, though, we are astonishingly prosperous compared to any other period in history.

October 08, 2008

The Costs of a Messy Desk

How clean your desk at work is is mainly a matter of style — but not entirely. Writing this morning in Fortune, Mina Kimes describes the “clean desk policy” at Audi, which parallels that of dozens of other corporate workplaces. The reason for a clean desk? “We want to create a sophisticated atmosphere,” says executive vice president Johan de Nysschen. “It’s conducive towards organization.” But appearing competent and sophisticated is not the only argument in favor of a relatively organized office desk.

October 02, 2008

How Much Clothing Does It Take?

Some people know they have too much clothing. Others are not sure. But the amount of clothing a person needs is far less than most people imagine.

The confusion about clothing comes from the huge improvement in the durability of textiles that happened a generation ago. Clothing made since 1990 is about five times as durable as clothing made before 1970, and we have not yet fully adjusted to this.

September 14, 2008

What Are You Setting Yourself Up For?

My friend Rhoda had told everyone about the health benefits of ginger, so it wasn’t too surprising when she came back from a weekend goal-setting workshop and said she had a plan to start selling ginger to the world. She even showed me the plan, 15 pages of circles, lines, and small handwritten notes. By Friday, though, she wasn’t so sure.

September 08, 2008

Pretend You’re Moving

In Fear of Nothing, I mention moving as one of the events that can change your perspective on your possessions. Moving is so expensive, in such an obvious way, that you know you cannot move everything. You have to let go of some of the less important items. But you don’t have to wait till you move to get the benefit of this change in perspective. You can start preparing for your next move, even if you have only a vague idea of when it might be. Or you can pretend you’re moving.

September 03, 2008

Space Journaling

Sandy Grason writes regularly on the use of journaling for personal transformation. I came across an article of hers that addresses the basic problem of clutter in the way that I advocate in Fear of Nothing, by focusing on the quality of space, but with a flair I couldn’t pretend to imitate. Sandy graciously offered to let me repeat her article here.

August 06, 2008

Book Cover Revealed

book cover

Readers have been asking for months what the Fear of Nothing book cover will look like. Finally, here it is.

July 30, 2008

How I Went From Writing About Computer Programming to Writing About Life

There is good news on the book Fear of Nothing. A week ago I got the 7th draft back from the editors, who say it’s now final. I am now getting the book ready to go to press, and to record as an audio book. It’s my goal to get the book in your hands in time for your new year’s resolutions — which I hope will include tearing up your to-do list (more on that as the new year gets closer).

June 26, 2008

You Have to Balance Before You Can Juggle

“Please don’t talk to us about living in balance. No one does. Even space shuttles veer off course during the trip, and they have computers to guide them. Just teach us how to be better jugglers.”

That was the desperate plea of a woman who had organized an event at which Joan Borysenko was about to speak. Did Joan fall for this line of reasoning? Not really, even though she today wrote a blog entry supposedly “busting the balance myth.” I don’t know if she really meant that or it was just an attention-getting headline, but after four paragraphs, Joan comes around to admitting that balance is not a myth, but a reality. If we fall over, our productivity suffers. “When I’m in balance,” she writes, “the unbalanced hodgepodge of things on the to-do list are accomplished more effectively.”

May 26, 2008

Traveling Light

You take for granted that you can check at least one bag when you fly on an airplane, but that is about to change, starting with American Airlines. They’ll be charging a $15 baggage fee for most passengers who travel with baggage. And that’s the fee for the first bag. As of two months ago, a second bag will set you back $25 on any major airline.

May 19, 2008

Stuff: A More Complete Picture

The key word in Fear of Nothing is stuff. If you’re drowning in stuff, or just slowed down by having stuff in the way, Fear of Nothing is designed to help you reach a more productive understanding of stuff so that you can keep the stuff that helps you and get rid of the stuff that’s in your way. But Fear of Nothing focuses on just one little corner of the world of stuff. Annie Leonard has created a 21-minute movie that shows a more complete picture of stuff — where it comes from, where it goes, and why we all seem to have so much of it. It’s based on the high-school economics model of production and consumption, but fills in the more unsavory details of the process.

April 05, 2008

Who’s Afraid of Nothing?

Fear of nothing provides the title for my new book, so what is it about? Who’s afraid of nothing?

Actually, everyone is. Fear of nothing is part of the human condition. It is the kind of thing philosophers like to consider, because it can’t be adequately understood without a lot of deep thought. And yet, as hard as it is to explain, it is easy to see that something is up.

March 15, 2008

Moments of Power

I woke up this morning thinking, “I don’t know what I’m going to do today.” It can be a distressing feeling, not knowing what you should be doing. When you say, “I don’t know what to do,” the feeling that goes with that expression can contain an air of helplessness or defeat.

But then I remembered — the moments when you don’t know what to do are the moments when you are the most powerful. In these moments, you are not just reacting to what’s going on around you, or rushing to keep up with the world. These are the moments when you can choose what to do. You can do whatever is most important to you. You can choose the direction for your life.