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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting things done

I get the impression that some people in my life do not understand my current obsession with decluttering. The reason is best summed up by David Allen in his Getting Things Done Live Audio Seminar:

What is stuff? Stuff is anything that has landed in your world, psychologically or physically, that doesn't belong where it is, they way it is, for all eternity, but you haven't decided what to do with it yet.

Stuff yells at you "do something with me". You can't stand that yelling so you dumb it down and numb it out.  But you can't selectively dumb down and numb out. You also shut down the channels to enthusisam and inspiration in your life.  If you have numbed out all those things yelling at you because you have allowed them to come into your life, I guarantee you, once you retrieve that energy, it will blow you away.

I love this because it explains why I can be shut down by a messy kitchen.  I'm not sure why, but I was labouring under the belief that I should clean the kitchen first thing every morning.  This morning I got up and it was particularly bad.  I found myself watching TV to the point that I thought "why am I watching TV? I don't usually just sit and watch TV during the day".

I realised it was because I just couldn't face the kitchen.  So I wrote down on a piece of paper that I would work on the kitchen at 4:30pm - like an appointment. I then was able to spend three hours solidly working on other things I needed and preferred to get done.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Things Take Time

One of the things that decluttering makes you realise, is how much time you spend on things. Time that you would prefer to be spending on something else. 

This was particularly highlighted for me when I decided to tackle a pile of magazines that I pulled out of my coffee table. I have long had an addiction to magazines.  This is inspite of the fact that I am well aware that they promise so much and deliver so little. Well, actually, I used to read Smash Hits as a teenager and loved it.  In my 20's I moved onto The Face and loved it too. (Wikipedia tells me that these magazines were both created by the same person.)  These magazines were relevant to me at the time and let me know about the music and fashion that could actually become a part of my life, that is, I liked them and could afford them. For some reason, now magazines are full of $2,000 handbags and $500 t-shirts, all of which look like crap; who buys these things?

But I digress - back to the pile of magazines.  My intial strategy for dealing with it was just to flick through them  (about 20) and see if there were any pictures suitable for my vision board.  I thought that they were all magazines that I had read and decided to keep (new rule - never keep a magazine unless you own a library), but a number of them I had only half read.  So of course, that meant I had to read all the unfinished magazines as well as look for pictures before I threw them away. 

I started reading a copy of Vanity Fare, but after a time period that seem FOREVER, I had only read a couple of articles and there were lots left.  It was then I realised that I have no interest in learning about some rich woman who can no longer afford the upkeep on her mansion in the Hamptons, nor do I care about some Wall Street bloke who has become the go-to guy for the USA government since the global financial crisis because he doesn't work for any of the banks, etc.  So I tossed it.

I then picked up a copy of Shop Till You Drop.  I bought the first issue of this magazine and found a great pair of shoes in it, which I bought and to this day they remain my favourites.  As a result, I keep coming back to this magazine to hopefully have similar experiences but every time I am disappointed.  This magazine has become one of the worse offenders for advertising luxury brands (seriously, who spends $5,000 on one outfit?) and its full of demands - buy these jeans! read this website! decorate your home all in white!  If one of your friends spoke to you like this you would tell them to piss off, yet so many woman's magazines are the same.

In the end, I invoked the economics rule of sunk costs.  A sunk cost is a cost paid in the past that you cannot recover.  The idea is, that you should not think about sunk costs but only the benefit you can derive in future. This is at odds with how people actually behave. People buy things and then try to get their money's worth. So the more you pay for something, the longer you hold onto it and use it, trying to justify the cost. For example, you don't throw away magazines you haven't read.

The more you think about this however, you realise this traditional approach only makes sense if you don't place any value on your time. If you look at things from the sunk cost perspective, you say - I bought these magazines over a year ago, I'm never going to get the money back that I paid for them,  reading them is going to take up time that I could better spend on other things, hence I have got all the value out of them I am going to get and so should throw them away.  So I did, and it felt great.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Well and truly in the thick of it

Now I have everything off the floor (more or less), the plan is to move the four bookcases out into the living area and set up the cot in the left corner of the room as seen in (or rather, cut off of) this photo below. The black plastic that you can see behind the red ladder is covering the dismantled cot.

I was also rather pleased to realise the other day that I have the whole of the top of the wardrobe cleared out and have started putting the things to go into it in 30 litre boxes with lables. They are a good size but not too large and heavy, so you can pull them out without having to be an olympic weight lifter. I was thinking, that the right side of the wardrobe is also finished, but then I realised that the red ladder in the photo above is supposed to be going in there so I will need to do a bit more rejigging.

Today, being a Saturday, I had planned to get stuck into things.  Unfortunately, I got the results of a blood test yesterday, which showed that my thyroid gland is overactive.  In the past, it has been just slightly out of whack, but now its gone the full monty. My doctor has told me to do nothing for a week to try to calm it down (and she means nothing, to the point where she has given me a certificate so my husband can have a week off work to look after me and our baby). I hope it works because pretty much the only cure if it doesn't get better is to cut out the nodules causing the problems and then take tablets for the rest of my life.  

I really don't want to be on medication for the rest of my life, so I have spent much of the day in bed and the rest on the couch. Yesterday, I was thinking that an overactive thyroid is not so bad - I have almost got down to a weight I am happy with, I can eat as much as I want and I never get cold anymore.  However, doing nothing all day has made me realise I really don't feel well.  I have the jitters like I have drunk 10 cups of expresso, but I'm still tired and wish I could just fall asleep. 

The decluttering continues, however, with my wonderful husband in the process of moving the two bookcases into the dining area and setting up the cot.