October 30, 2018

After It’s Over: Seven Tips for Navigating the Cascade of Emptiness

It is something that is most likely to happen right after something big has ended. Maybe you have lost a job, broken up with a romantic partner, or finished and delivered a big project. Maybe two or three things like this happened almost at the same time. The abrupt change has an obvious effect on your schedule. One day you were rushing to keep up and meet obligations and deadlines; the next, you had the unmistakable feeling of time on your hands.

And it does not stop there. With more time at your disposal, you catch up on other tasks that had been lagging or neglected in recent weeks or months. If you continue to work diligently, those too are soon finished, delivered, struck off your list. After a relatively short period of this, life can start to feel positively empty. It only seems emptier day by day as your backlog or to-do list gets shorter and shorter. This is an effect I have come to refer to as the cascade of emptiness.

Though it is likely to feel like a problem, this dynamic is actually one of the great moments of opportunity.

October 05, 2018

Running Shoes, New in Box

I found a pair of running shoes I didn’t know I had. These were new shoes, still in their box. The box had fallen behind the furniture and been lost for three years.

Those who have been following the story will immediately understand my dismay.

August 22, 2018

Minimalism vs. Online Shopping

While my own experiment with minimalism in shopping continues, the affluent side of America is experimenting with a different approach to minimizing shopping.

June 26, 2018

Three Months of Minimal Shopping

I have now been through almost three months of minimal shopping, and it is only now that the refrigerator is starting to look empty. It seems a good moment to summarize where I have been so far.

May 27, 2018

The Bacon Project

I had five pounds of bacon in the freezer, a gift from a friend of a friend who had moved to another state. Normally, I would never eat bacon. Besides the well-known health risks, bacon tastes like a burned-out building. I wonder sometimes why it even exists. But, hey, free food tastes better, right?

May 05, 2018

Shopping and Procrastination

“You already have everything you need,” is a statement I have heard so often it has become a cliché. What it really means, I’ve decided, is, “Go ahead. Do something. Try something. Don’t be afraid to get started. Take action. Use what you have. Use what you know. You can make it happen.”

Looking at it this way, this idea can seem to be the opposite of procrastination. You don’t need to wait for something more to show up. The best thing you can do is to take action now.

Hear the same words in a slightly more literal sense, though, and you could just as easily take them as the opposite of shopping. Shopping, after all, is premised on the idea, “There is something more you need.” When you can’t find a reason to go shopping, that implies that you already have everything you need. When you decide you need something more, that is when you go shopping.

So maybe, in a funny way, shopping is the equivalent of procrastination.

April 30, 2018

A Month Without Shopping

I have reached the end of my month without shopping. It did not go exactly the way I planned, but that was the point — to find out what would happen.

April 25, 2018

The New Shoes

When I took on the challenge of going for a month without shopping, I felt sure that something would break during the month and I would have to buy a replacement. I did not know what that might be, but I was certainly not thinking of running shoes.

April 24, 2018

The Year of Less

The idea of going without shopping or spending for a month came to me in March after reading a book by a blogger who took on a more limited shopping moratorium that lasted for a year. It is only right that I should tell you about the book.

April 10, 2018

Minimalism on YouTube

There is a great deal we can all learn from minimalism, most of all from the people who have gone to the trouble of creating a minimalist lifestyle for themselves. They have done the study and research to discover how one thing can take the place of two and how a smaller effort can take the place of a larger effort.

April 09, 2018

The No-Shopping Month Exceptions

I am writing this post in the laundromat, which tells you already that I have found an exception to my month-long no-shopping, no-spending policy.

April 01, 2018

A Clutter-Busting March and a No-Shopping April

One hidden purpose of March of Trash and its clutter-busting challenge is to get you to change your shopping habits. It is easy to see that in the long run, shopping has to change before you can live a clutter-free life. It does little good to take away clutter if you then replace it with more of the same. If the goal of clutter-busting is to keep only what you will use and benefit from having, the goal of shopping must be to add only what you will use and benefit from having. If clutter habits resist change, though, the same is true of shopping habits.

March 29, 2018

Case Study: The Old Sofa

Yesterday it was time to get rid of the old sofa. It gave me a chance to use several clutter disposal channels — three of the 15 Ways to Leave Your Clutter and three more.

March 17, 2018

Household Hazardous Waste

15 Ways to Leave Your Clutter #12: Household Hazardous Waste

St. Patrick’s Day Decluttering

St. Patrick is reputed to have driven the snakes out of Ireland. If you want to observe St. Patrick’s Day today while also clutter-busting, all you need to do is pretend that St. Patrick drove the clutter out of Ireland. Then you can follow his example in your own home as a way of observing his holiday.

March 05, 2018

Power Failures and Freezers

Electricity has been out here since a storm on Friday, and the outage is expected to last at least one more day. The loss of power delays the launch of the channel cards for this year’s March of Trash, but it gives me a chance to focus on freezers. In an extended power outage, almost everyone can expect a problem in the freezer.

March 03, 2018

Choosing Channels for the March of Trash Scorecard

The 2018 March of Trash challenge scorecard invites you to get rid of 28 items during the month of March, with the items grouped into seven channels, or ways of getting rid of things. The challenge is to get rid of seven items one way, which you designate as channel 1, six items in a different way, channel 2, and so on. There are extra lines in a lighter shade of gray for those inevitable moments when you go over in one of the channels.

March 01, 2018

15 Ways to Leave Your Clutter

Your main task in clutter-busting is deciding what to let go of, but it makes it easier to know that getting rid of something does not automatically mean throwing it away. When you see something that makes you say, “How could I possibly throw that away?” it helps to remember that you have options. There are multiple ways to throw things away, give them away, or sell them.

This month I will be describing these different approaches as channels. I’ll be featuring 15 channels for the extra stuff that’s lying around your place. With apologies to songwriter Paul Simon, think of them as “15 ways to leave your clutter.” To simplify things, I’ll be presenting each channel right here in the form of a virtual card, about one per day for the first half of March.

15 Ways to Lose Your Clutter:
  1. Municipal Refuse
  2. Municipal Recycling
  3. Swap
  4. Auction House
  5. Tag Sale
  6. Book Drive
  7. Sell Online
  8. Thrift Shop
  9. Compost
  10. Give
  11. Fire
  12. Household Hazardous Waste
  13. Specialty
  14. Scan and Recycle
  15. Delete

February 28, 2018

March of Trash 2018

March is here and it is time to take out the trash, get rid of the junk, get things moving again. It is time for the March of Trash challenge. The purpose of this once-a-year exercise is to remind all of us that clutter is not an unavoidable fact of life but is something that bends to our individual will.

If you visit the March of Trash challenge page you will see a new challenge scorecard for 2018. This time around, the scorecard is based on channels — different ways of getting rid of things. What are these channels? I’ll explain starting on March 1.