Inspiration #7

Sopot, Poland // own photo

 

A handful of inspirational articles:

  • Can moving house change your life? Apparently, it can. In her blog post, Michele Connolly writes about how her life transformed with the decision of selling her apartment. She discovered the joy of living with less and realised that she should live more in the present moment.
  • A while ago, I read Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. While I liked some of the tips, I found her advice to have a ‘joyful’ relationship with every item you own a bit comical. However, if you haven’t read the book but would like to know what the buzz is about, read the summary here: ‘8 Decluttering Lessons Learned from the Marie Kondo book’.

Do not forget to check my previous posts with inspiration:

 

What inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

What makes a minimalist? Can I call myself a minimalist?

Gloomy Copenhagen // own photo

 

Can I call myself a minimalist?

If you came into my house today, probably you wouldn’t say that a minimalist lived there. You would most likely need to have another glance at my place. You would need to go through my drawers and bookshelves. Perhaps you would need to check my computer files and my cabinets. Then you would realise that I do have a minimalistic approach.

Yes, I call myself a minimalist but it doesn’t mean that I live in a cave unsurrounded by objects. To me, being a minimalist is about having the ability to filter through things and ideas in order to identify those most important. It is about finding out what is most essential. It is about reducing the number of distractions to make space for what is most meaningful. It is about making the right choices. It is about staying focused on what really matters and getting rid of the rest, be it ideas, people, everyday items etc.

My minimalism is a journey. Most often I succeed but I also fail. It is an ongoing process of self-improvement through which I am still learning to make a better use of things. I don’t want to be defined by the things I own, yet, on the other hand, what I own is an expression of myself.

The biggest learning so far has been realising that I can live without; without so many books, without a lot of kitchenware, or without boxes filled with keepsakes. But I have also learned that I like to collect certain items, i.e. I have quite a number of shoes because I simply love footwear and fashion.

My successes as a minimalist

Never quite a collector, I anyway managed to assemble a considerable amount of objects. One of my accomplishments is getting rid of a lot of them, including books, CD’s, DVD’s. At the same time I realised that I do not need to store any of such because of the advances of technology. This decision has made me reduce the number of books I buy today in print as I have moved towards e-books.

My other success is that I decluttered my closet. I got rid of everything I did not like or used any longer. Now I only own clothes I really like which makes my life much easier and more pleasurable. I simply don’t need to make difficult clothing choices every morning;  I can take the first thing from the closet and I am sure I will feel good wearing it.

The minimalistic approach I adopted made me also rethink my career path. Having reflected upon what I truly enjoy doing and what I am good at, I made some decisions regarding the future of my professional life. I considered a variety of options, carefully sieved them through and made up my mind. As a result, I set up a few goals, signed up for courses, and worked with determination towards achieving my aims. Making this decision and staying focused has paid back.

My failures as a minimalist

As you might have read in one of my earlier posts (‘Why I already failed at keeping my New Year’s resolutions’), I cannot make myself not to buy anything for a set period of time. And this wasn’t the first time I did such an experiment. On the other hand, I am a fairly reasonable consumer and most of my purchases are well-thought through, even if they seem spontaneous. I don’t know, but maybe a shopping fast just isn’t for me?

And I still struggle with the number of objects we have in the house. Even though I did some major decluttering, it still feels that we own too much of everything. It might be because once you start the process of cleaning out your space, you cannot stop. Once you realise that you can be without things, you see how many more you could get rid of. Anyway, it is still a struggle and I sometimes feel I might never be completely satisfied. I am afraid that the number of items I have will always exceed the number of items I need and use.

 

What are your successes as a minimalist? What are your challenges? Please share in the comments.

 

Inspiration #6

inspiration
Göteborg // own photo

 

A handful of inspirational articles:

  • Do you want to be more successful? Start working on you credibility using these five steps. Credibility can only be earned. The more credible and trustworthy you are, the more chances to be successful you have. To me, it is about wanting to become an expert and always willing to learn more.
  • If my previous post inspired you to start writing, here is some advice on how to write every day. My two favourite tips are: start small, i.e. assign 5 or 10 minutes for your first writing sessions, and embrace imperfection. You need to start somewhere!

Do not forget to check my previous posts with inspiration:

 

What inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

Time management and the importance of prioritising

time
Sunset // own photo

 

My friends ask me sometimes how I manage my time and am able to do everything I do. This question puzzles me because I don’t think I do anything exceptional.

Yes, I do consider myself organised. I work four days a week, I take care of our child, and I take care of the house. Nothing unusual, right? On top of this, I try to establish myself as a coach. This means that I run this blog and am currently working on improving my website. I constantly want to learn new things that can help me with my career; I took three courses in the past 1.5 years and now am looking for a course in writing. To me, what I do isn’t anything unusual. I believe that a lot of us could make similar lists, couldn’t we?

Having a goal

In my opinion, the key to time management is having a clarified goal. Knowing what you want helps you focus on the activities that will get you there. It can be one of those big life goals, like starting a family, building a house, moving to a new country or completely changing a career path. Or it can be a smaller goal; something that you want to achieve in the coming months or years. Once you realise what is really important to you, you can start planning your days by choosing the right activities and resigning from the ones that present little or no value to you.

Prioritising and planning

Do you know which of your activities are important and which aren’t? Have you ever had a proper look at your everyday routines and analysed their usefulness? Is what you doing every day bringing you closer to reaching your goals? I have, and such analysis astounded me and gave me great insights.

Let’s have a look at the four quadrants of time management. This approach to time organisation was presented by Stephen Covey in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’*. Covey recommends focusing on important things before they become urgent, and emphasises the necessity of planning. By following this advice we should be able to limit or even avoid stressful situations because we take time to predict, plan and prepare.

The four quadrants of time management:

URGENT

NOT URGENT

 IMPORTANT

I

 

II

 NOT IMPORTANT

III

 

IV

Below is the same grid completed with examples of activities:

URGENT

NOT URGENT

 IMPORTANT

I

crises

deadlines

problems

II

planning

prevention

recreation

 NOT IMPORTANT

III

interruptions

some calls

some mail

IV

trivia

time-wasters

some calls

Analysis of your time management skills

Now it is time for you to complete this chart with your everyday activities (download).

After you have completed the grid, take a while to thouroughly analyse activities in each of the quadrants. Here are some thoughts and questions to help you with the analysis:

Quadrant 1: These activities are urgent and important, and need to be dealt with immediately. They can be a result of your poor planning. What can you do to avoid ending up in situations requiring you to make important decisions under pressure?

Quadrant 2: These activities are important but do not need imediate action. The items that you listed here require time, preperation and attention. What can you do to improve your planning and to start every task having an end result in mind? What can you do to shift your daily activities to this quadrant?

Quadrant 3: Here we have activities that are urgent but unimportant. They might be a result of the lack of planning and/or motivation. What can you do to eliminate unnecessary emergencies and to minimise the number of items in this quadrant?

Quadrant 4: In this quadrant you listed unimportant and non-urgent activities. These items bring little or no value. What can you do to minimise or eliminate time-wasters?

Once you have done the analysis and sifted through your daily activities, you should be able to start planning your days and managing your time more efficiently. And remember that your goal is to stay in the second quadrant. This means that you should focus on making plans, building relationships with people, looking for new opportunities, relaxing in order to stay balanced, etc.

 

What are your reflections after doing this analysis? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

*This model is sometimes also referred to as ‘Eisenhower Box’ or ‘Eisenhower Matrix’ because it was developed by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the USA, served as a general in the United States Army, and also became NATO’s first Supreme Commander. He lived a very productive and organised life.

 

What if nothing in your life ever changes?

Tjolöholm // own photo
Tjolöholm // own photo

 

‘What if I told you 10 years from now your life would be exactly the same? Doubt you’d be happy. So, why are you afraid of change?’ – quote by Karen Salmansohn, author of ‘The Bounce Back Book’

 

Imagine your life in 10 years’ time. Where are you? Where do you live? What is your family situation like? Where do you work? How does your day look like?

I guess you are imagining some advancements and some changes for the better.

What if I told you that nothing in your life would ever change…

That you would wake up one morning in 10 years’ time only to find yourself in exactly the same situation as you are in today.

Your day looks the same. Your daily routines are the same. You wake up at the same time, you take the same bus to get to the same job. You still occupy the same desk at work, only that it has more coffee stains and more ink marks on its surface.

At lunch time, you go to the same place. Or you bring your packed lunch from home and eat in the same lunch room at work. The only difference is that there are more new faces around and most of your good colleagues are long gone.

Your job duties haven’t changed much. You hold the same position and perform a set of familiar routines. You don’t feel inspired and inspiring any more. Every time someone new starts working at your office, they raise their eye brows when they hear how long you have worked there for.

You take the same route back home as you have done for the past decade.

At home, your and your partner’s arguments take the usual, well-exercised path. You still haven’t resolved how to divide household duties and the issue of unloaded dishwasher comes back every other day. However, the unpainted walls in the kitchen don’t bother you any more. You have grown a habit of not noticing the faded shade of blue.

Your social circle haven’t changed much. You haven’t learned a new skill, discovered a new hobby or gone to a new place for holidays.

You look back and wish you have done thinks differently. If you had, you would probably be in a very different situation today.

What to do not to end up there?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to suddenly wake up in 10 year’s time only to find out that I wasted years of my life. This vision is exaggerated, but I am pretty sure that there are plenty of people who wish they made smarter choices or better-informed decisions when they still could.

So start changing now! Don’t wait till next Monday, next month, or next year. All it takes is some reflection and then willingness to change.

 

Which aspect/aspects of your life would you like to dramatically change in the coming years?

 

The art of letting go – how to accept changes?

letting go
Smögen // own photo

 

Letting go should come naturally as is an integral part of life, isn’t it? Life goes on, we move places, people come, people go, we change jobs, we evolve. Yet, we often desperately try to hold on to the past. Somehow we find it difficult to just let go – of people we met, of objects we own, of events that already happened. Why is this? Wouldn’t it be easier to accept the fact that the past is the past and to move on? How to learn to let go? How to overcome the fear of missing someone or something you decide to leave behind? I believe that a slight shift in attitude could help with letting go and not feeling regretful.

I have met many fantastic people in my life and have experienced countless wonderful moments together with them. I have met and lost a few really close friends in the course of my life. I am not in touch with most of these people and I haven’t got the slightest idea about where they are and what they do. Do I miss them? In a way. I think about the fun times we shared and the great talks we had. Do I regret that that we lost contact? Not really. I still keep those great memories and am thankful for having met all these people. Of course, it would be interesting to meet them again at some point, but then, on the other hand, I do meet a lot of people who bring so much value into my life that I don’t really miss these connections any more. What is the key for me here is changing how I view the past: I focus on the past experiences and how they have enriched me rather than on the friendships I have lost. Learning to let go starts with accepting that changes are, indeed, an inevitable part of everyone’s life.

The other crucial factor in learning to let go is, in my opinion, patience. Changes take time and we cannot rush them through. It is a process and it takes the time it takes. I am still learning how to let go of missing my ‘old life’, that is the time before my daughter was born. Becoming a mother has been a gigantic change and I feel I was very little prepared to this. To be honest, I am still going through the process of changing how I see myself and how I view my role as a mother. Obviously, it is difficult just to shift my attitude after thirty-something years of not having to be responsible for another being. But I understand it is a process, however frustrating it might be, and it is not going to happen overnight. And yes, I do miss the independance and the spontaneity but in the monents like these I remind myself how much value my daugher has brought into my life, and if I were to choose, I would choose having her again, without a doubt. Acknowledging the change and accepting it are the first steps. Being patient with yourself and allowing yourself sufficient time to deal with the change is another one. No one says it is easy, but I am saying it is possible, just be patient.

Now think about your possessions. Do you have too many unnecessary items at your home? Too many clothes you don’t wear? More kitchen utensils that you need? Storage boxes full of books/DVD’s/childhood toys/unused Christmas decorations lying somewhere in the attic? Do you have difficulties parting with these items? Why is this? Do you keep them out of guilt, or maybe you think you might use them one day? Do you keep a lot of objects for sentimental reasons?

I don’t have any problems with letting go of physical objects and I rarely ever regret getting rid of things. I know that I can always find a replacement should there be a need (it hasn’t been the case, though). I also realise that I don’t need to be surrounded by an extensive number of items to bring back my memories. Shifting the focus have enabled me to get rid of things.

To summarise: let’s remember about the good times, let’s accept and welcome changes, let’s deal with the changes by shifting our focus, and let’s try to be more patient. I believe by following these steps we will learn to deal with letting go.

 

What can you let go as of now? Let me know in the comments.

 

Excess prevents us from living a meaningful life

Vrångö // own photo
Vrångö // own photo

 

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to wake up every morning with a sense of purpose and meaningfulness? I believe that I am not the only one who often ponders about how to live a meaningful life. And while I haven’t come up with a satisfactory answer yet, I have found out that excess prevents me from living the life I want to live.

A while ago I started to declutter my house. I have found out that there is always something to get rid of and, surprisingly, I very rarely miss the things I throw away. I feel that my space is better organised and it gives my a great pleasure to be surrounded by things that I truly like and that add value to my life.

The same goes for other aspect of life. These days I am rather picky when it comes to the books I read and the films that I watch, which might not be easy with such an overwhelming choice. But I know myself quite well and I base my choices on what I truly like, and I always consider the value a book or a film can add to my life. Obviously, I count pure pleasure as one of the top values.

My social life has changed dramatically after having a child. Not having much time to meet my friends made me think about the quality of all the relationships I have had. Nowadays I prefer to spend time with people who are very dear to me. My family is the most important to me, then come some close friends. I often say ‘no’ to social gatherings because I make a choice to be with the people who I value the most. To me, excess of people in my life would distract me from being with the ones who are the most meaningful.

I have discovered that having focus is extremely important to me as this helps me to weigh options and make better choices. I am not a hedonist; I just like to feel that I live my life intentionally. I like to have a goal, or even better multiple ones in various areas. Having goals helps me steer away from any form of clutter which allows me to accomplish my aims sooner.

 

What is your excess? What prevents you from living a more intentional and more meaningful life?