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6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

Every few months, it seems like I read another story about someone who has sold or donated nearly everything they own, reducing their total number of personal possessions to under 100 items.

There are lots of reasons for a person to want to do this. Maybe you’re moving across the country (or to a different country), and you need to pack light. Perhaps you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint. Maybe you just watched a marathon of “Hoarders” and you’re feeling like it’s time to clean house.

Whatever your motive, if you want to try living with 100 items or less, you’ll need to start thinking about what items you can’t live without. Here are some tips for picking what to keep, and what to get rid of.

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1. Inventory Everything

You can’t decide what to cut until you have a list of all of your possessions. This could take some time, and the amount of time it takes to catalogue your material goods might prove once and for all that you have way too much stuff.

Once you know what you have, categorize it. You can do this by room (bedroom, kitchen, etc), by frequency of use (seasonal items, everyday items, etc.), or by purpose (work-related items, entertainment, etc).

2. Only Keep Multipurpose Items

Don’t keep anything that doesn’t serve multiple purposes in your home. If it only does one thing (I’m looking at you, garlic press), ditch it to make room for something with more than one use.

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A couch that converts into a bed is perfect for visiting guests. A coffee table can also serve as a desk or dining surface in a pinch.

3. Don’t Be Too Spartan

100-Item minimalism isn’t about denying yourself pleasure, it’s about finding pleasure in simplicity. So you should end up with items that make you happy and make your life easier.

For example, say you are a heavy tea drinker. If you took my advice above, you probably ditched your tea kettle, since you could use a pot or a microwave to heat water. But if good tea is important to you, then you should keep your favorite tea kettle, even if it’s a single-purpose item. Scaling back doesn’t mean denying yourself life’s little pleasures. There’s a difference between minimalism and frugality. Make sure you know which is which.

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4. Obey the 12-month Rule

Ditch everything you haven’t used in the last 12 months. Skinny jeans, Christmas decorations, old wrapping paper, the fondue pot, that old sewing machine you think you can fix “when you have the time”. It you haven’t touched something in a year, chances are you aren’t going to need it any time in the next 12 months, either.

5. Re-purge

3 months after you donated or sold your “12-month” possessions, re-examine all your remaining possessions, and try and get rid of things that you don’t use at least once a month (or once a week if you are really trying to clean house).

Don’t be afraid of ditching something you might need in the future. Chances are, you have a kindly neighbor who can lend you a springform cake pan for the one weekend a year you actually bake. If you’re really on the fence about a number of things, consider putting some items in storage, and revisit the issue of keeping them in another couple of months.

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6. Take Care of Business

If you work out of a home office, you might think that there are certain items that you can’t live without– a printer, a fax machine, a desk. And you’d be wrong.

Obviously, your needs will vary depending on what line of work you are in. But services like EchoSign make printing out contracts a thing of the past, you can send faxes for free online from sites like FaxZero, and you might find you’d rather use a laptop with a cooling lap desk than sit at a “real” desk all day.

According to Everett Bogue, author of Minimalist Business, “Most of the objects we assume are necessary to run a business aren’t needed anymore. I don’t own a desk, I don’t use paper, I don’t have business cards, I don’t rent an office….The benefit of choosing to live with less is that my business operating costs drop to nearly zero….When your overhead is nearly zero, you can start turning a profit immediately.”

The Bottom Line

Embarking on a quest to live with 100 items or less is a major decision, and sorting through all your possessions could take you months. But, if you have the patience and the will, you might find that living the ultra-minimalist lifestyle affords you the kind of physical and mental “breathing room” you could have never achieved otherwise.

Featured photo credit: Stock Snap via stocksnap.io

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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