Adjusting Your Simplicity

Life is a series of adjustments. There are seasons and stages of life that require us to adjust what we’re doing and what we’re thinking and what we’re feeling. It’s part of life.

Photo by: a4gpa
Photo by: a4gpa

Over two weeks ago I made the adjustment of divorcing my iPhone. It’s been an adjustment that’s required some significant getting used to. I’ve had to use Google Maps on the computer or actually read a hard copy map again. I’ve had to wait a whole 12 hours before logging on and checking my email. I’ve had to stop pulling my phone out of my pocket and checking it to make sure I haven’t missed anything. I’ve had to actually engage in proper conversation with people! I’ve learnt a lot.

This isn’t the only significant change I’ve had to make in recent months though. Over three months ago The Wife and I had the privilege of welcoming a baby girl into our family. Talk about adjustment.

As we’ve entered parenthood we’ve had to learn what’s important to us and what’s not. We’ve had to make adjustments to our wants and needs in order to care for this little one. For the last 3-4 months she’s become the most important person in our life. She’s become our world.

In one respect life has become much simpler. The fact that we now concentrate on developing and caring for this little child is an exercise in simplicity. It’s all about her. Life revolves around her – that’s pretty simple.

On the other hand life becomes more complicated. There are now greater responsibilities upon me and a whole new world of learning for all of us. Questions about when I will exercise, see mates, and be able to do things around the house become more complicated depending on what this little one is doing.

In this respect I need to adjust and ask myself what simplicity now means. There are times and seasons where we need to make adjustments. How this effects our pursuit of simplicity or liveable minimalism is something that we need to think about or adjust.

What are the adjustments you’ve made to accommodate a simpler lifestyle among busy or changing circumstances?

That’s Not The Reaction I Expected!

Have you ever been in a situation where you said something, saw something, or did something and the reaction you received wasn’t what you expected? I’m sure its happened to the best of us, particularly when driving. 😉

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Photo by: Strong Church

The other week I divorced my iPhone. It was a decision that had been building for a while and took a couple of months to action. Change can take a while to action, particularly when it’s something as big as divorcing the iPhone.

It’s now been a couple of weeks since this smartphone divorce has taken place and boy has it got some unexpected reactions. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been telling people about this change. Sometimes it’s simply come about because people have seen the little Nokia 110 that I’ve begun carrying around. Other times I’ve used it to spark an interesting conversation and see how people react.

The reactions that I’ve received from everybody I’ve talked to has been surprising. It’s been surprising because everyone’s been overwhelming positive. In fact, I can’t remember a negative reaction. The response to the change I’ve made in divorcing my iPhone is usually, “That’s awesome, I should think about doing something like that.”

It seems to me, from the antidotal evidence that I’ve received in conversation and via comments on this blog, is that everyone recognises their smartphones are causing problems. There is either an over reliance or addiction to these devices which don’t make for healthy people or healthy relationships.

This wasn’t really the reaction I was expecting.

I was expecting that more people would laugh at what I’d undertaken, or joke about how I’ll only last a few days, or perhaps even convince me turn back to the iPhone. Instead, everyone’s loved the move and can completely understand why I’m doing this. It’s not because I can’t cope with the iPhone. I coped with it for 4 years. It’s more to do with making a positive lifestyle change that enables me to be more productive and engaged with my friends and family.

When people understand the motivations behind this change it’s no wonder I’m getting positive reactions to this move.

This thought leads me to ask, what reaction do you have to people giving up things you value or do?

What I’ve Learnt After 10 Days of iDivorce

Ten days ago I divorced my iPhone.

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Photo by: Nessie

This decision wasn’t taken lightly and took about a month or two to finally take action. There’s a sense of apprehension when thinking about giving up something that has a big influence on your life. Yes, it’s true, the iPhone has had a big influence on me, I’m sure it has on you too.

But now, I’m a week without. I’m a week without the silky glass screen, the simple design, the apps that’ve kept me organised, distracted, and allow me to know where I am.

This past week has made me realise a number of things.

First, I’ve learnt that I don’t actually need my iPhone as much as I thought I did.

I’ve been surprised how easy its been to give up my iPhone. I think everyone could do it. I thought I’d need it a lot more, or I would really need it for multiple tasks each day, as it turns out I don’t. Sometimes it’s just the thought of missing something that stops us from making progress or change. This was certainly the case for me, perhaps its the case for you too?

Second, I’ve learnt that I’m much more productive.

One of the perceived benefits of the iPhone is its productivity. This hasn’t been true for me. The last 10 days has been one of the more productive 10 days of the year. It’s enabled me to have more focused time on the projects and tasks that I’ve got on my plate. It’s also allowed me to do things like read, or engage in a TV documentary, or even talk with people I haven’t seen in a while.

Third, I’ve learnt that people know they’re addicted to their phones.

Everyone I’ve spoken to about this change has been highly positive of the move. People that I’m in contact with realise that their phones are distracting them and causing them more harm than good. I’ve been quite surprised at the reaction of people and its been a great encouragement to keep going.

Fourth, I’ve learnt that organisational systems need to work for you.

I’m always interested in the latest thinking about organisational habits. Over the past 5 years this has surrounded the use of technology and how it can help me get things done. However, over the past 10 days I’ve found that the old phone and diary actually work better for me than the constant nagging of the phone and all its apps. The system that helps me get things done needs to work for me and the iPhone may actually be something that doesn’t.

Fifth, I’ve learnt that I wasted hours with my iPhone.

The amount of times I looked at my phone each day must’ve been phenomenal. The time I don’t spend playing around on my mobile device now has allowed me more hours to connect with my wife, get some sleep, and play around with my daughter. I think this has helped life and a sense of greater happiness with it.

These are 5 quick thoughts on what I’ve learnt over the last 10 days. There would be another 5 if I thought harder. But what about you? What have you gained from giving up your mobile device? 

Two Articles About the iDisconnect

Just over a week ago I divorced my iPhone. You can read about it here.

This evening I’ve come across a couple of articles highly relevant to my aims of disconnecting and simplifying life.

The first is from the Harvard Business Review blog. It highlights the benefit of disconnecting for an extended period of time and what might be worth taking its place.

The second is from 99U and is more concerned about social media addiction. If we’re honest with ourselves most of us are probably social media addicts and so it might be time to reassess the purpose for which we friend, share, tweet, follow and pin.

Again, like last week, I’m reminded of the question, “What am I really connected to anyway?”

iDivorce

Five days ago I divorced my iPhone.

Photo: Sean Dreilinger
By: Sean Dreilinger

Last week I walked into my local electronics store and bought myself this little beauty. A Nokia 110. I bought a micro-sim adapter and then took my micro-sim out of my iPhone 4S and swapped it over.

For the last five days I’ve been living with a phone that can’t do much except call and text. It can’t check where I am. It can’t login to Facebook. It can’t allow me to tweet. It can’t take good photos. It can’t sync my contacts with the cloud. It can’t do much at all.

Over the past month or so I’ve been realising how truly addicted to the iPhone I am. It’s just a beautiful device that I end up spending hours each day looking over, searching for nothing meaningful, checking for the latest updates, and trying to look important in doing so. It’s not because I need to do these things, it’s just because I want to use my phone.

I’ve been an iPhone user for the past 4 years. It’s radically changed how I operate and allowed me to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. For example, when travelling overseas I’ve been able to take photos, check where I am, send email and be on Skype all from the one portable device. That wouldn’t have happened 5 years ago.

But I’ve realised that there’s more to life than my phone. There are people in my life that need me, that should have my time and time is a valuable thing. Therefore, some of the goals I’m seeking to achieve in this iDivorce are:

  • Spend more engaged time with family and people
  • Be more productive and use my time more wisely
  • Not be so reliant on a device
  • Able to be less conscious on the device I have and be ok when it drops out of my hand
  • Distance and separate my working life with my social life as well as my online and non-online life
  • Break the iPhone addiction

These are the things I want to achieve over the course of the next month, possibly even longer. The iPhone has been the first thing I look at each morning and the last thing I look at each night. What a sad place that is when I’ve got a beautiful wife lying right next to me. For that alone it’s time to initiate an iDivorce.

How about you? Is it time you began a separation with your smartphone?

Liveable Minimalism

There is minimalism and then there is minimalism.

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On the continuum of all things minimalism I will openly admit that I’m not the “I only have 12 possessions and can fit them all in a small backpack as I travel the world” type of minimalist. My attitude toward minimalism is all about attitude. The aim of my liveable minimalism is to have an attitude that seeks to live without any extra stuff, stuff I don’t need, or stuff that I’m done with in order to live a life worth living.

In reality, my adventures with what is known as minimalism began a number of years ago. I’ve always been the organised type, seeking to have everything in its right place whether it’s the filing cabinet or the hard drive. However, around three years ago I came across a blog post detailing the ways to get my inbox down to zero, this led to investigating productivity techniques, including GTD, and soon enough I was organising and decluttering the rooms in my house.

Lately minimalism has become more of a focus. Rather than simply organise my stuff I’m getting rid of it. I’ve realised it is the stuff that’s the main problem not poor organisation.

My attitude today can be summarised as:

Keep what I need, discard what I don’t.
Save some special things, but don’t let them bloat.
Give things away and pursue generosity.
Allow time for others and show hospitality.

In essence those four lines capture liveable minimalism. It captures my attitude and my aim through minimising mess.

What about you? Is minimalism the end in itself for you? Is it more pragmatic or is it an attitude? I’d love to know what you think and your story.

The Simplicity of a WordPress Blog

I’ve been blogging for years and I’ve decided to face the truth. All my blogs are hopeless.

Every now and then a reader, someone like your good self, would pop by. Perhaps they’d even leave a comment. But in reality the best reader of my blog was myself.

In order to simplify the blogging process I’ve decided to keep Minimal Mess as a WordPress.com blog. The Awesome Blog Police would have me arrested for this, but I think it makes sense considering the main idea of this blog. In fact, I think there are distinct advantages for having a wordpress.com blog rather than dealing with an independent site. Let me explain why.

1. It’s free.

Not many things in life are free. This blogging platform is though. If I had to buy my domain name, my hosting service, and perhaps a premium theme then this would cost me good money. Now, I don’t mind spending good money on things that I think are worth it. But when I’m just an average blogger who is writing about a topic they love and not seeking to make a profit then I don’t have to deal with all that. I can simply sign up here at WordPress and start writing. You can too.

2. I only need one username and password.

Instead of having a username and password for my domain name provider, my DNS host, and my WordPress admin I only need to remember one. That speaks of less remembering, less stress, and less worry to me. I just go to one place with one username and password and I’m done.

3. There’s no need to deal with configurations, settings, and add-ons. 

With this platform I have everything I need. Of course, I do need to do a little setup for this site. Choosing my free theme, deciding which widgets to use, working out my time and date setting etc. Not to mention installing WordPress and pointing my domain name to my host and the like. But here I don’t have to fiddle around with additional features to make the site mobile friendly, allow Disqus comment boxes, or nice looking share buttons. These things are already done and they’re good looking and functional enough as it is.

4. There’s a community feel.

Having my own site with my own domain name was good for a time. I understand the advantages of it, I’ve been there. However, with WordPress.com there is a community feel that means I can follow other people’s blogs and see their latest posts in my feed. I can comment on other blogs without the hassle of working out which username to use. I can even get promoted to a “Freshly Pressed” blog if the post is worth it, not to mention that mass of support from the WordPress team. I sense that rather than be out on my own with my own domain I have now entered the fold and a community of like minded people who simply want to write and express their ideas. Minimal Mess is my little part of that.

5. I can now focus on writing content.

Dealing with all the issues that come with having your own self-hosted site takes time away from writing content. The main aim of a blog is to produce content. Therefore, I’m eating into the time to write that content if I’m mucking around with all the other things that come with having a self-hosted site. By shutting that old site down and moving to this one I’ve just cut out a whole chunk of time for myself. This allows me to focus on the important side of blogging, content creation.

6. I’m now saving time to do other things. 

One of the main aims of living simpler is to save time. This time saved can then be put into areas in life that are more important – relationships, learning new skills, pushing projects forward, family, cooking etc. In doing the switch to this platform I’m saving time by not having to deal with the extraneous issues that come with a self-hosted blog. I get to write, publish, and then get on with other things, not being preoccupied with how my site’s going.

7. It’s just a simpler way to go.

For the six reasons above and the general vibe of WordPress.com I think it’s just simpler. There isn’t a hassle of dealing with third party add-ons, having to link up Google Analytics, spending time installing and updating the latest versions of plug-ins, nor worrying about how everything is fitting together. The blogging has now become a two to three click process.

By siding with a WordPress.com blog I’ve eliminated stress and eliminated mess. This has allowed me to feel a lot freer in writing. It’s enabled me to focus on what’s really important. And, it’s given me more time to focus on what I think is important.

What are the advantages you see in this process? How do you keep the mess of blogging to a minimum?