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How to Be a Part-Time Minimalist

Living in New York (or any big city) forces a person to be minimalistic when it comes to their stuff. There’s barely enough space for the things I need, let alone the things I don’t need! It’s why I’m such a huge fan of Marie Kondo, she helps you to hold on to the things that spark the most joy,  and get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t.

However, it was only when my appendix burst that I began to adopt minimalism as more of a way of life, as opposed to just a way to deal with clutter.

But what does that actually mean?

Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of everything you own or leaving everyone you know to travel around the world. It’s more about getting back to basics, relying less on material needs or obsessing over the desire to have it all. Read more

Marie Kondo Sparks Joy in Person

Paula with Marie

Paula with Marie

Who knew watching someone fold clothes could be so mesmerizing?  

I sat with a packed audience at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on a Friday night as Marie Kondo folded oddly-shaped clothing carefully and slowly.  

She’s the author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Her newest book and the reason for this gathering is called, “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.”

Watching her fold never got old.  (I didn’t mean to rhyme there but I was just feeling that sentence and it’s true.) The whole room was in a collective trance — Marie had our full attention.

She folded up one side of a shirt and then the other and created a small origami-esque package again and again.

Everyone was fixated on the tiny woman, who was wearing a white top and skirt with black tights, work her magic.  

It was like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling.  

A real craftsman at work.   Read more

I’ve Never Had So Much Fun Cleaning Out My Closet

before

My closet before!

I truly believe I’ve found my spirit animal — it’s Marie Kondo.

I’ve written before about her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. But this week I finally got around to listening to the entire audiobook and I have to admit I’m a convert (mostly.)

Now I understand why she’s such a rockstar in Japan and why there is a waiting list to work with her!

In her book, Marie explains that she started “tidying” when she was 5 years old. Like a classic middle child she did it to get attention and praise from her parents. Since then, for Marie, tidying has become a celebration. She even dresses up for the event.

Marie says everything you own wants to be of use to you. Isn’t that such a nice way of thinking about it? That was a huge mindset switch for me. Read more

Checklist to Spring Clean Your Desktop

messyIt may seem simple but clearing clutter will do a world of difference for your stress levels.  In fact – there was a UCLA study that found whenever a woman is around clutter, her stress hormones skyrocket.  We don’t want that!   So let’s start small — like by decluttering your desktop.

I can’t believe how long I let my desktop stay littered with photos, documents and even shortcuts that I never used.  I would navigate around all the clutter and it would slow me down.  Don’t forget — every second counts!  So just having to clear away unnecessary photos and folders or wasting time looking for something you “know is here somewhere,” takes up your precious time.  Well let’s take it back!

Here’s how:

1. Create categorized folders like ‘photos’ and ‘documents’.

2. Move all the picture files into the photos folder, etc.

3. Look at the remaining files, think – do I really need this? If you haven’t looked at it in over a year the answer is probably no.

4. If you still have files left over put them in an ‘Odds and Ends’ folder.

5. Revisit this practice every so often.  I’d say every 3 or 4 months.  Because even though now you have folders and order — sometimes it’s tough to keep to using them.

Once you get in the groove of clearing digital clutter — you can attack your Facebook page, Twitter feed and even your apps.

What are some other ways to clean out your digital life?

Five Ways to Simplify Your Life in Five Minutes

Alarm Clock Redux

Alarm Clock Redux (Photo credit: Gnu2000)

We’ve all heard it before, “I’ll be there in five minutes.” or “just give me five more minutes.” Everyone always throws around five minutes even if it’s going to take them 10 or 15 minutes. Throwing five minutes around annoys me. Maybe it’s the producer in me because I’m used to being very precise with time. I’ve been known to have meetings at odd times like 4:37 or 12:23 because I know exactly how long it will take me to get somewhere and every minute counts.

But if you’re smart enough, you can spend those “five minutes” actually doing something really productive. Five minutes is a very valuable chunk of time — if you know how to use it correctly. Here’s a list of things you should use those extra five minutes doing:

1. Prioritize and prepare: Before you go to bed each night, take five minutes to jot down the most important activities that you need to get done tomorrow. This will help you schedule your time appropriately and be productive from the start of your day. Once you have created your list, look through it and identify any ways you can make each task a little easier. If you’re planning on going for a run in the morning, lay out your workout clothes the night before to save you time when you wake up. Not only will this be time efficient, but this will also encourage you to follow through with your workout plans!

2. Refine your list: It’s easy to get caught up in miscellaneous tasks throughout the course of the day. If you find yourself straying from your ‘to-do list’, take five minutes to rework your list. Keep it as simple as possible—if you take on a new task; replace it with a different task on your list. This way, you won’t be taking on more than you can handle. And don’t be afraid to say no when necessary!

3. Limit your media consumption: From cell phones, to social media, to e-mail, it’s easy to get distracted. In order to ensure that you do not stray from your priorities, take five minutes to download apps, such as “AwayFind”, which will send an auto-reply text message stating that you are currently busy. It will also provide emergency contact information just incase. This eliminates the social distractions in your life and allows you to focus on what’s important so you can check another thing off your ‘to-do list’.

4. Clean out your closet: If your clothes drawers are so stuffed that you can’t close them, take a five minutes to give one drawer a once over. Pull everything out, set a timer and get rid of any items you do not use.

5. Eliminate any junk mail: If your email inbox is overflowing with messages, it becomes difficult to find that important email from a few days or weeks ago. Take five minutes to clear out any unneeded messages or spam from your inbox in order to make your account easier to manage. Next time you go to look for an old e-mail, it will be much quicker to find.

Hopefully, the five minutes you took to read these steps will buy you five extra minutes in the future!