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Get STUFF Out of Your House

Get STUFF Out of Your House

Not unlike my earlier post, “Editing Your Life,” I’m still obsessing over the ideas of cutting to make space for things that matter. Let’s talk about that in your house. I’ll admit that there’s a recurring theme to this post: DONATE THINGS. THROW THINGS OUT. If you’re the ultimate pack rat, skip this post.

  • Old clothes– You’re saving clothes that fit five years ago for when you drop that elusive twenty pounds. Chuck it. Donate it to one of the many needy causes out there. Drop it in a church bin. Whatever. Make it leave. It doesn’t matter that it was once expensive. If it’s not useful to you, how much is it worth? And shoes? Really. Look at all your shoes and tell me you’re really using all of them. Keep your Top 5 pair.
  • Books– I just heard you gasp. Yes, you bibliophiles. There are books on your shelf — I know this as well as I know my name — that you will never refer to again, and that aren’t especially valuable. Donate them to the library. Get your kids to sell them on Amazon.com or eBay for summer money. Whatever. But really take a look at your shelf and ask yourself just which books you really use for reference, or keep because you know you’ll reread the story again, and then determine which you’re keeping “just in case someone wants to borrow them.” Chuck the latter. Everyone has access to books. If you feel really bad, ship the books to a developing nation program (Anyone here have good links to such?)
  • Electronics– Do you have a seven year old camcorder that you used a lot when you first got it, but haven’t even charged the battery in well over a year? Give that to a school. Let kids use it for producing movies. It’s out of date. It’s not useful any more. Cheaper, smaller, better, faster ones exist. Feeling like you’re throwing away money? Try selling it on eBay and see what it’s worth.
  • Dishes, Pots, Pans– Some folks keep things around “just in case” they need it. Consider how much stuff is in your home and really give that another look. Do you think you’ll be deep frying dough again any time soon? Do you need twenty glasses in case you have a party like the one you had four years ago? Donate this. Plenty of people can make use of it.
  • Old computers– You want to do something great for your community? Take all your old, functioning computers, throw Ubuntu linux on them, and give them away to various community services. Give the working peripherals away, too. You’ve got your system. What are you really going to do with those other clunkers?
  • Furniture– Some folks keep furniture around for “just in case” as well. I think this all stems back to a time when things weren’t so readily avaialble, but ask yourself: when was the last time you needed an emergency dresser or extra kitchen chair? The world economy is built for such emergencies these days. You need something quick and cheap? Go to WalMart or IKEA or your local craftsperson of note. Donate the old stuff in your house to people starting out families or who’ve survived a fire, or who otherwise need the stuff.

It’s not what these things cost you when you bought them that determines their value. But if you start looking around your home (or your business for that matter), you’ll find that there are things that linger in your home that cost you something else: ease of use of your home, extra expense (for instance, if you have to rent a storage space because your house is so cluttered), upkeep time when doing housework. There are costs related to those things sitting in your house for free, and I argue that more often than not, they outweigh the benefit of having such things around “in case you need them.”

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Finally, try this as a method for determining what should go: pretend your house has suffered a terrible fire or flood. What would you wish above all else survived the experience? Everything on your list that didn’t qualify for that question? Chuck it.

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–Chris Brogan tries hard to simplify through reduction and editing, including cutting back on superfluous words on his posts at [chrisbrogan.com].

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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