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10 Things You Need To Discard To Downsize Your Life Space

10 Things You Need To Discard To Downsize Your Life Space

Two years ago, I downsized my belongings so I could move into a studio apartment from a two bedroom house. It sounds impossible, right? Especially when you consider that I’ve had most of these belongings since childhood. I’m not exactly a pack rat or a hoarder, but I couldn’t stand to get rid of things that were still useful, or had emotional meaning to me.

Once I started eliminating belongings, it was impossible to stop me! I cut my belongings down to a manageable amount—so much so that I was able to move all by myself, with just one pick-up truck. It was an incredible feeling, and I’ve been able to keep my life space clutter-free since then. I highly recommend this type of purge for everyone, whether you’re downsizing or spring cleaning. Donate these items to friends or charity—don’t throw them away!

1. Clothes you don’t wear.

Everyone has clothes they’re saving for a special occasion, or for losing ten pounds, or just in case you find the right shoes. Stop thinking like that! Most people wear the same ten to fourteen outfits over and over and over again—and that’s okay! You don’t have to wear new clothes each time someone sees you. Be honest with yourself and admit you’re never going to wear that shirt that’s a size too small, or those pants that hit above your ankle, and get them out of your closet. Once you start pulling a few items, you’ll be able to really assess what you wear and don’t wear. If you’re in doubt, try wearing these clothes! See if they’re comfortable and look good. If they do, move them to the front of your closet so they’ll stay in rotation.

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2. Books.

This one was hard for me because I’m a huge book nerd. I love owning my favorite books, and I can never resist picking up new-to-me books when I find them for a dollar or two at a used bookstore. As a result, my five bookshelves were crammed with books I’d never read. Just like with my clothes, I found myself going back to the same books when I wanted to pick something from my shelf. I made myself start reading books I’d never read, and found that, more often than not, they weren’t good enough to keep. The library received many boxes of donations from me! Now I only buy books I know I want to own. The rest I get from the library or read on a tablet.

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    3. CDs and DVDs.

    Getting rid of CDs and DVDs seems like a small step, because they don’t really take up a lot of space on their own, but when you have massive collections, they take up way too much room! I’m not a big movie person, so the only DVDs I own are a few favorite TV shows and movies. I could have still gotten rid of them, though, and watched things on Netflix, or rented from the library or Redbox.

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    As far as my CDs, I put most of them on my computer so I could listen to them on my iPod. The only CD player I have is in my car, so I don’t really have a need for physical CDs anymore—I just need the music. Again, I couldn’t get rid of my favorites, or the ones with really cool album art, but I downsized greatly in this area.

    4. Sports and musical equipment.

    I had taken three months of guitar lessons, then never picked the instrument back up again. Why did I still have a bulky acoustic guitar in my house? I just couldn’t get rid of it, because you never know—maybe I’ll get the urge to pick it back up and miraculously remember everything I learned ages ago. Um, no way. I sold the guitar and greatly preferred the cash. If I ever want to learn again, I can rent one from a music store. Same with sports equipment – rent it when you need it! Of course, if you’re on a team or play the keyboard nightly to unwind, don’t get rid of your equipment and instruments. Check and see if renting your necessary equipment is cheaper than buying it and keeping it up to date, but trust your gut about needing your own belongings.

    5. Bags and baggage.

    I love purses. I love getting a new purse and transferring all my belongings from the pockets of one to the zippered compartments of another. Then I toss the old purse in a box and keep it. Forever. Sometimes I reuse purses, but more often than not, I prefer to buy a new one. Same with backpacks and laptop bags. How many do I really need at the floor of my closet? I picked out my most used favorites and donated the others to charity.

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    6. Kitchen gadgets.

    Look around your kitchen. What gadgets do you have? A mixer, a toaster, a microwave, a popcorn maker, a coffeemaker, etc etc. I used to have all of those, too, until I lived in a place where my kitchen was the size of a walk-in closet. Then I realized that leftovers taste better warmed up on the stove than zapped in the microwave, and the broil setting on the oven toasts bread nicely. That coffeemaker is still vital, but cutting down on other appliances that just had one use opened up the counter space for my coffeemaker, as well as plenty of room for prep work when cooking.

    7. Items from the past.

    I was hanging on to a lot of keepsakes from elementary school, past trips, and long ago relationships that didn’t have any emotional significance for me anymore. If you look at something and can’t remember where you got it or why you kept it, you can probably get rid of it! And sometimes getting rid of reminders from a past relationship will make you feel lighter, even if it was just a small envelope of pictures.

    8. Decorative knick-knacks.

    You don’t need cute little porcelain figures all over your shelves! I know people have collections—I collect vintage cameras, and it seems like every guy I’ve ever known collects unopened superhero toys. You don’t have to get rid of something that has value to you, but don’t collect just to collect, and don’t decorate with clutter. Use your collections as decoration by putting them in the empty spaces of your bookshelves, or above your cabinets in that space that is never used.

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    9. Unused furniture.

    I used to have a couch, three arm chairs, a love seat, and a bench seat. I never had enough company over to use all of those seats, and I had my favorite chair and rarely tried a new location on my own. I got rid of a lot of that seating, and it made the room seem three times as large. Not to mention it’s way easier to move two armchairs than it is to haul around a couch! If your furniture is just for decoration or making a room look full, seriously consider getting rid of it and keeping only what you use.

    10. Things bought in bulk.

    When I lived in a 400 square foot apartment, I bought things as I needed them. I’ve stuck with this habit ever since. I used to buy paper towels and tissue in bulk, which meant I needed room to store what hadn’t yet been used. It is sometimes cheaper to buy in bulk, but if you buy only what you need, when you need it, then you’ll just be spending the money necessary to get what you need.

    Featured photo credit: Lara604 via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

    5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

    Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

    This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

    Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

    Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

    Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

    To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

    What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

    Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

    LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

    On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

    Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

    5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

    There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

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    With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

    Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

    Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

    1. Canvas Network

    Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

    Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

    Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

    To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

    Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

    Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

    Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

    The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

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    In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

    Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

    2. Google Classroom

    This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

    Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

    Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

    With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

    Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

    Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

    3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

    If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

    Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

    It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

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    Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

    Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

    Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

    4. Absorb

    This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

    Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

    Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

    The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

    Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

    The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

    Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

    Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

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    5. Watershed Collaborative

    Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

    Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

    While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

    If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

    Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

    Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

    Honorable Mentions

    There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

    Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

    1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
    2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
    3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
    4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
    5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

    Conclusion

    There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

    Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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