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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 February 18, 2019

    How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

    How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

    These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

    58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

    Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

    “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

    Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

    1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

    The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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    Encourage Your Employees

    When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

    Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

    Offer Rewards

    Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

    The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

    Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

    Give Autonomy

    Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

    Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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    Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

    2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

    I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

    Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

    For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

    We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

    Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

    A To Do Scheduling System

    Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

    The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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    I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

    With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

    Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

    3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

    The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

    “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

    An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

    What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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    Ask If They like What They’re Doing

    If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

    There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

    The Bottom Line

    Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

    Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

    For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

    Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

    More Resources About Team Management

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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