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Simple Life Together

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Education
Society & Culture
Self-Improvement
Relationships
Leisure
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Leading a Simple Life in the Modern World

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Leading a Simple Life in the Modern World

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Miss you guys!!!

By IsaD2019 - Aug 01 2019
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So glad for these updates!!!! ❤️

Where are you guys?!

By McCueSharon - Aug 19 2016
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Oh, I love this show. Did you move? Thank you!

iTunes Ratings

193 Ratings
Average Ratings
178
9
2
3
1

Miss you guys!!!

By IsaD2019 - Aug 01 2019
Read more
So glad for these updates!!!! ❤️

Where are you guys?!

By McCueSharon - Aug 19 2016
Read more
Oh, I love this show. Did you move? Thank you!

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Simple Life Together

Updated 4 days ago

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Leading a Simple Life in the Modern World

SLT074: 3 Simple Living Habits You Can Use Right Now

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When it comes to simple living, we can all use a few more tips to help us along. We’re going to share 3 more simple living habits you can start using right now for a better today and tomorrow.

One of our most popular shows was Episode 55, 7 Habits for Highly Effective Simplicity. We passed along what we feel are the top 7 habits you can develop to bring some serious simplicity into your life. That show was shared thousands of times…over 2300 times on our Pinterest page alone! Well, today we’re going to share 3 more. So let’s jump right in!  Read More…

Note: Get a copy of Supermom vs Super Mom for yourself or gift it to a Mom who needs a little “less” in her life. It’s less than $5 and will save you countless hours and effort!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  3 Simple Living Habits You Can Use Right Now

Habit 1: When searching for a solution, start with yourself first. Chances are, just like Dorothy with the ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz, you had the power all along.

Tap into resources you already have. Shop in your own closet, pantry, etc…

When you work to solve your own problems, you are exercising your innovation muscles!

Too often we ask someone else for an answer. At least Google it before you ask.

By looking outside yourself, automatically you established a need…a need that didn’t exist. That makes you a consumer instead of a producer and plays right into the hands of the marketing messages we’re subjected to 3-5000 times a day.

Habit 2: Often, establishing a simplicity habit involves establishing a framework that helps you deal with things in a predictable manner. Try experimenting with different frameworks to see what works for you! Here are 3 we use:

The W-I-N Framework: One I’ve been using more and more lately is the WIN framework. WIN stands for “What’s Important Now” and Vanessa first heard about it in Greg McKeown’s excellent book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

The Eisenhauer Matrix Framework: You’ve probably seen this one before, but just imagine a simple foursquare matrix. The vertical axis plots importance and the horizontal axis plots urgency. So if you picture the four squares, the top/left square is Box 1, Urgent & Important box. The top right is Box 2, Less Urgent & Important. Box 3 on the bottom/left is Less Important & Urgent. And finally, Box 4, Less Important & Less urgent, is on the bottom/right. The folks over at Eisenhauer.me did a great little video:

Isn’t that the truth! “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

The S.I.M.P.L.E. Method of Organizing Framework: Another framework is Vanessa’s S.I.M.P.L.E. Method© of organizing which she breaks down in great detail in her book Super Mom vs Supermom: Simplicity Tips for Busy Moms Here’s an outline:

Strategize:
• What are your needs?
• How do you want your space to look, feel, and function like?

Identify:
• What’s working?
• What’s not working?
• What are your limitations of the space?
• Draw or take pictures of the space.
• Take measurements.

Make Piles:
• Clear your space one area at a time.
• Work from left to right and top to bottom.
• Sort into general categories…like with like.
• Don’t edit yet! Make the piles first to see what and how much you have.

Pare Down and Edit:
• After you make piles then tackle one pile at a time…one item at a time.
• Decide: Do I USE it? Do I LOVE it? Do I NEED it?
• If yes…KEEP it!
• If no…LET it GO!
• When you’re done editing, remove unwanted and unneeded items immediately!

Let’s Organize:
• Assign zones.
• Keep like items with like items.
• Put it where you use it.
• Put frequently used items within arms reach.
• Make sure things are easy to get to…think accessibility; open bins, simple systems, etc.
• Don’t compromise safety for organization.
• Use containers and containers within containers.
• Label, label, label!

Evaluate and Maintain:
• Establish routines.
• Develop habits.
• Set reminders.
• Don’t forget the One-In, One-Out rule.
• Repeat the  S-I-M-P-L-E Method as a means to maintain your system or to update your systems when your needs change.

You can find the whole SIMPLE process in Vanessa’s book on Amazon. Seriously, it’s less than a decent cup of coffee and you should treat yourself.

Habit 3: Lead Others To Simple Living By Leading Yourself:  The number 1 question or pain point we get from people is “How do I get (someone they care about) to embrace simplicity? They’re into simplicity and someone close to them isn’t. It may be a spouse, a parent, your kids, a friend…whoever.  Well, the real bottom line is this: you just need to lead by example. Sure, you can establish some controls with kids, but for the most part just setting the example will go a long way to influence others to adopt positive change.

Wrap Up:

So there you have it! Three more simple living habits you can use to make your life a little easier. As we enter the Holiday season of 2014 we’re faced with lots of simplicity challenges. Be good to yourself in all the right ways. That includes forgiveness if you get off path a bit.

And the new year brings lots of opportunities for new beginnings, too. If you need some extra motivation, scroll through the older episodes of the back catalog and re-listen to some of those shows.

You can find links to all our shows on one page by going to SimpleLifeTogether.com/showlist. But here are 5 that can really help you jumpstart your New Year: Episodes 51, 52, 55, 63, and 65.

Question:

So, what new simplicity habits are you willing to try? Are you ready to start tapping into your own innovation and resources? Which of the 3 frameworks we shared might work for you? And finally, what area of your life can you start simplifying that sets the example for others? We’d love to know and I’m sure others would too! Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Announcements:

Project 333

Why not start out the new year with a challenge? If you have questions or just want to learn more about Project 333 or Courtney Carver’s Dress With Less microcourse. You can learn more about that at SimpleLifeTogether.com/dress.

Edit & Forget It Challenge

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Dec 08 2014

31mins

Play

SLT 003: Why We Can’t Let Go of Our Clutter, Backing Up Your Digital Information, and A Little About Dropbox

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Why We Can’t Let Go of Our Clutter, Backing Up Your Digital Information, & A Little About Dropbox

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show! Thank you!

In Episode 3 we discuss reasons why some people can’t seem to let go of clutter and some tips that may help you decide what to keep and what to let go.  We also talk about some lessons learned from a catastrophic hard drive crash which sparked the “Your Backup Strategy’ strategy segment, and we wanted to sing a few praises for Dropbox. Dropbox is one way to save documents to the cloud and sync them across all your devices simply.

Main Topics:  

Vanessa’s Topic: Why We Can’t Let Go of Our Clutter

  • We feel the need for abundance. We are a consumer-driven society and conditioned to think more is better…it’s all about quantity over quality.
  • We’ve lived a life “without” and find security with having more. Living through the Depression, growing up in a modest or poor  household, or surviving a rough financial patch can play a huge role in why folk don’t ever want to “live without” again.
  • Forget Justin Bieber…we’re more influenced by Justin Case.  You know, “I might need this someday…just in case.” Some folks want to be ultra-prepared for any scenario. It’s ok to be prepared, but try to be realistic…especially if all that stuff is getting in the way.
  • We feel a sense of obligation. Many feel a sense of obligation to keep every gift. It’s ok to hold on to things but you do have the ability to say no.
  • We fear losing the memory if we get rid of something. Many of us have had wonderful and meaningful experiences throughout our lifetime but we fear that if we get rid of a gift, we’ll forget that person, experience or important time in our life.
  • We want to pay tribute to our past experiences.  Like from our childhood, past careers or travels.  It’s easy to go overboard on collections but try to be mindful of collecting too much.
  • We’ve spent too much money and feel like it’s a waste if we give it away. Let’s face it. We’ve all probably spend a good fortune on things that we never used or never really liked. Boy does that sting! Chalk it up as a lesson learn, be more frugal and research before purchasing another product and find comfort in donating your goods to folks who are less fortunate.
  • We’re holding on to the past. We tend to keep things that remind us of times when we were happy, the most confident, or the most successful.
  • And sometimes we hold on for a deeper reason...like allowing our things to define our self-worth…or define our happiness.  Many folks believe that shopping and having more makes them happier but often times it’s just a temporary fix to “fill the void” of something else that’s missing in their lives.

 Simple Steps to Help You Let Go:

  •  Start with the space that’s causing you the most grief or anxiety. This could be the home office, the kitchen, the laundry room, the bedroom etc.
  • Then start small. Pick a small area to work on like a drawer, a shelf, a cabinet, one spot on the kitchen counter, one filing drawer.  You wouldn’t eat an elephant in one sitting right?  You’d take small bites and eat a little at a time.  (Not sure I like that analogy…the thought of eating an elephant is stomach wrenching but you get the point right!)
  • Then ask yourself these questions when deciding what to keep or not to keep:
    • Do I love it?
    • Do I need it?
    • Do I use it?
    • When was the last time I used it?
    • When do I plan on using it?
    • Can I borrow it?
    • Can I rent it?
    • What’s the worst that will happen if I got rid of it?
  • If you answered “yes” to the first three questions then you should probably keep the item. If you answered “no” then considered letting it go.  If you’re still struggling then ask the other questions and you’ll more than likely find your answer.

Dan’s Topic:  Backing Up Your Digital Information and an Intro to Dropbox

Backing Up Your Digital Information: 

  • As anyone who has experienced an unrecoverable hard drive crash knows, your first thoughts are “oh my gosh…what files did I just lose forever?”
  • The reason I lost some files is boils down to one thing…I failed to make the process simple.

Negative Lessons Learned

  • I took too long to make my decision on which backup system to use for my huge video files
    • Foolish rookie decision making mistake.
    • George S. Patton: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” (when it’s too late)

Positive Lessons Learned:

  •  My routine of using Dropbox (and Google Drive) for all my important work docs proved a complete success.
  • While all docs, pics, vids, etc, that were hosted in my iMac are gone, every single one I had on the Cloud (whether Dropbox or Drive) are intact and those workflows are seamless.
  • I use Dropbox and Drive as much for convenience as I do as a part of my backup plan. I love to have my docs accessible wherever I am and it’s so convenient to be able to share docs with clients.
  • By having everything in Dropbox intact reinforces a solid backup strategy: again, ensure you have your info backed up to an external drive, and be sure you also have an off site/cloud storage backup, as well.
  • Ensure you test your strategy from time to time.

 Your big takeaways!

  • Follow the 3 S’s…Make your backup Simple, Seamless and Solid.  
    • Simple…so you don’t have to think about it, it just happens in the background. If you do have to think about it, set reminders in your calendar. If you use Google calendars, send text message reminders to yourself.
    • Seamless…if you have regular backups to an external drive, make sure that drive is also backed up off site.  Initial backup to the Cloud can take up to a couple weeks, depending on your connection speed and how much data you have, of course.
    • Solid…evaluate that your system works. Try to download files from your backup system and see if there are bottlenecks or barriers to your system. How easy would it be to do a complete system restore if you lost your hard drive?
      • As I reevaluated my backup strategy, I added immediate (and blazing fast Thunderbolt external backup) that can handle my huge video files, followed by nightly off site backup with DollyDrive.
      • As I mentioned in Episode 002, I chose Dolly Drive because they’re Mac specific and I really couldn’t find any complaints about them anywhere!
      • I can’t endorse DollyDrive yet because I just started using it, but I’ll be sure to give updates.
    • Make sure your backup plan is simple but complete…
      • On site backup to an external drive
      • Cloud backup off site.

A Little Bit About Dropbox

  • Dropbox is probably not your total backup solution. Use Dropbox to supplement a good backup plan by storing docs there.
  • You can earn up to 18 Gb of additional storage through referrals, too.
  • They have paid plans if you use LOTS of storage space (that’s what we use)

How It Works:

  • What dropbox does is simply add another folder on your computer that acts as a virtual drive.
  • You can load Dropbox on your PC, Mac, smartphones, tablets, etc, and have everything synchronized on every device.
    • If you change or edit a document in Dropbox while working on your laptop, it will automatically update everywhere else.
    • Even if you’re on someone else’s device, you can log in to your Dropbox account on the web and access your information there.
  • You can even share documents or folders with others so they can have access, too.  And it’s all done seamlessly…on the Cloud.
  • You can use it for photos and videos, too.
While Dropbox isn’t our backup plan, it supplements our plan since I host most of my everyday documents on it, making them always available on every device and always synced.

The “Thing” Segment:

Vanessa: ANALYSIS PARALYSIS: Too many choices can be overwhelming and frustrating…life is much easier and simpler when choices are few.  This strategy works great with kids too!

Dan:  EVERNOTE!  We both use and LOVE Evernote!  It is what they say, an external brain.  If you’re into David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, or any other productivity system for that matter, then you know how every system touts “ubiquitous capture,” aka “getting everything out of your head or your environment and getting it recorded somewhere (notebook, 3″ x 5” cards…or Evernote). We plan on doing a future podcast(s) dedicated to how we use Evernote, but in the meantime, check out Evernote.com and see if it might just rock your world like it has ours.

Closing Thoughts:

If you like the show, please subscribe and consider giving us a good review in iTunes

If you know someone else who might enjoy the journey too, send them a link to SimpleLifeTogether.com

There are links to our Twitter and Google Plus profiles and other contact info on the left side of the website. We’d love to hear from you !

Be sure to leave comments below, send us a voicemail from the little microphone icon on the right side of the page, or you can go “old school” and email us!  Comments, questions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions…they’re all welcome and we’d love to hear from you!

Links We Mentioned in the Show:

Get Simplifized.com: Vanessa’s article on Letting Go of Your Clutter

Dropbox: You can learn more and download Dropbox at SimpleLifeTogether.com/Dropbox

Evernote: Your “external brain”

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show! Thank you!

Nov 21 2012

43mins

Play

SLT040: How To Organize Your Photos

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Be honest. If you’re like us you probably have thousands of photos, digital or print photos that are totally disorganized! You have the best intentions, but you probably have no idea how to organize your photos. Welcome to our world!

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Cathi Nelson, Founder and President of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) to help answer one of the most asked questions here on Simple Life Together: “How do I organize my photos?”

The interview was fantastic! Cathi offered up a wealth of information on how to organize your photos, both your physical and digital photos. We highly, highly recommend listening to the interview!  Before you do, here is little more information about Cathi and some of the questions we asked her on the show: Continue reading…

How To Organize Your Photos: An Interview With Cathi Nelson:

About Cathi Nelson:

Cathi Nelson is the founder and president of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers™ (APPO), and her own photo organizing business, Photo Simplified. Cathi Nelson has been helping people organize their photos for over 17 years. Through Appo, Cathi is now teaching others to do the same. Appo provides support and education for entrepreneurs looking to build a photo organizing business, and educates the public on the need for photo organizing services. Cathi is also member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).  She was a speaker at the 2011 NAPO annual conference and the Independent Photo Imagers Annual Conference, and frequently speaks on photo organizing at libraries, continuing adult education classes, and photo organizing retreats. If you want to know how to organize your photos, you won’t find better answers than from Cathi Nelson!

Interview Questions:

1. Tell us a little more about who you are and how you make people’s lives simpler.

2. What is the biggest challenge you see with folks and organizing their photos? (Lack of routines…taking too many pictures…not letting go or deleting bad ones…unclear idea of how you want to store and enjoy them?)

3. Organizing hard copy photos can be a daunting task.  For those with hundreds or even thousands of physical/hard copy photos, do you have a recommended process of how they can organize them?

4. How do you recommend people categorize their photos?  Chronologically or by person, place, event?

5. What are some ways and products people can use to store their printed photos and negatives? Any special considerations for storing old, fragile, sentimental, or historical photos?

6. With mobile devices, it’s so easy to take hundreds and even thousands of photos before we even think to download them. Do you have any recommended strategies for managing our mobile device photos?

7. I heard you say on one of your tutorials: “Don’t let your kids grow up to be JPEGS.” Can you explain what you meant when you said this?

8. Do you have any preferred software to organize digital photos? What about creating photo books?

9. How can one alleviate their fears of losing hard copy or digital photos?

10. What types of habits or routines can people adopt to manage and keep their photos organized and prevent it from becoming a big task in the future?

11. For the do-it-yourselfers or those looking for help, what are some online resources to help people learn about organizing their photos?

Additional Photo Organizing Resources and Information:

Other popular services:

There is a great comparison of these services on CNET

Main things to consider:

  • Pricing
  • Storage capacity
  • File types
  • File size
  • Bandwidth limits
  • Resolution of pictures

Announcements:

Michael Hyatts’ Platform Conference 3 – 5 November 2013, in Dallas TX at the Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West:

  • We’re both attending this top-notch conference to help you build your online presence/platform.
  • Michael and his team have given us a discount code just for Simple Life Together listeners that you can even use on top of the special Early Bird Pricing.
  • To register for the event or to just learn more, go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/Platform, use Coupon Code SIMPLE to save $100 off your registration!

Starting your own podcast:

  • If you’re interested in starting your own podcast, you can get started the same way Dan did.
  • Go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/Cliff and watch the video at the top of the page to find out what the course is all about.
  • If you’re interested, Cliff has given us a discount code for $500 off of the course for Simple Life Together listeners.
  • Use the discount code SIMPLE in the shopping cart, pocket your $500, and get signed up for the world of podcasting.

The Google Drive/Google Docs tutorial is now FREE!

  • Why?  We just want to put out good content that’s helpful.
  • You can get the tutorial by clicking the Tutorials tab above.
  • If you feel compelled to contribute there’s a “Buy Us a Coffee” button when you click on the link!
  • Thanks and we hope it helps.

And the Side Gig Website Guide is now open without passwords, sign-ups or anything!

THING Segment:

Dan’s Thing: An article by Ally Vesterfelt on her blog at allisonvesterfelt.com called Is There Room for Sentimental Attachment In Packing Light?

Vanessa’s Thing: Simple fun on the Slip’n Slide! Sometimes just being “present” with your kids is all you need!

Resources and Links:

Picture Keeper Photo Backup

APPO video: explains what personal photo organizers can do…or how to become one!

APPO website

Photo Simplified: Cathi Nelson

Cathi on LinkedIn

Cathi on Twitter

Reach Cathi by phone: (United States) 1-860-904-5365

Photo Keeper: simple and small photo backup device

NY Times Article with Cathi

Linea App:  photo sharing program that syncs across your devices: iPad, iPhone, or desktop

Archival Methods storage and presentation products

CNET comparison of online photo services

Map iPhoto Library to External Drive

Charity:  SLT donated $50 to Women to Women International on behalf of Cathi Nelson for spending  time with us on our show and sharing her expertise

Ally Vesterfelt’s post Is There Room for Sentimental Attachment In Packing Light?

Ally Vesterfelt’s book Packing Light and her accompanying blog for the book at PackingLightBook.com/blog.

Platform Conference: Coupon Code for $100 Off: SIMPLE

The Book: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

Podcasting A to Z course Discount Code : SIMPLE for $500 off!

If you haven’t already, please be sure to go to iTunes to subscribe to the show. Don’t forget to leave us a rating & review! Thanks!

Photo Credit: ohsohappytogether

Sep 05 2013

44mins

Play

SLT055: 7 Habits for Highly Effective Simplicity

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If you’ve ever ready Steve Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (one of our all time favorite books), then you know that by doing just seven things, you can be well on your way to becoming more effective at what you do. Now, if you’re ready to simplify your life a bit and really need a jumpstart, there are 7 habits you can develop to bring some serious simplicity into your life.

Now, there are tons of things you can do to simplify, but we wanted to hit what we think are the top 7 things that have worked for us, and we want share them with you! So let’s get started! Read more…

Topic: 7 Habits You Can Develop to Simplify Your Life

We want you to be able to take just these 7 habits…seven things you can start doing today, to have a better tomorrow, a better year, and a much better chance of achieving the lifestyle that you want for yourself and your family.

So here goes…

Habit 1: Begin with the End in Mind

  • This one comes straight from our military planning background and also Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • We call it “Desired End State” which we developed through our Life Plan process
  • Establish Priorities…we call them our Pillars (F⁵)
  • Once we have Priorities, we can begin working toward our goals
  • Vanessa really hit on working toward your goals pretty hard back in the “Tips for Successful Resolutions” in Episode 008
  • Keep you actions aligned with your goals and priorities to stay on target: 
    • The target is your desired endstate, or the end in mind
      • My rear sight is my priority or my pillar
      • But the front sight is what I need to have in focus.
    • When you fire a weapon, you have to keep four fundamentals in mind: sight picture(SP), sight alignment(SA), breath control and trigger squeeze.
    • Let’s focus on just SA and SP
      • Sight Alignment is Front & Rear Sights
        • Rear sight = Priority
        • Front Sight = Goal
      • Sight picture is Front/Rear Sights and Target
        • Target = End State
        • Front & Rear sights aligned with each other
        • Front & Rear sights aligned with your target
    • For instance, we may have an end state in mind, and we may have a priority, but if the actions we take aren’t aligned as we pursue our goals, we’ll never hit the target. It’s the same thing I talked before about back in Episode 32…it’s All About the Choices We Make

Habit 2: Strive to Simplify versus Organize.

  • Our take is: Clutter is the disease, organizing steps are the cure, but simplicity is prevention!
  • Yeah, organizing is…well…kind of reactive.
  • We saw this when we gave our presentation at Organize and Energize a little over a week ago…and how different our message was from the different organizers who presented.
  • Much of the talk was about how to “maximize your space” to fit more in your cabinets and closets…which is all great stuff, too…but focused more about “editing your space” to give yourself some room and margin.
  • Now, Vanessa will be the first to tell you that organizing is still very near and dear to her heart, and is a wonderful tool to help maintain simplicity in your life.But, it’s very eye-opening when you clarify the difference between the two.
  • Vanessa advocates decluttering and simplifying your life first then organizing what’s left. And, she’s starting to think of herself more and more as a “Simplifier” than a “professional organizer”….hmmmm.

Habit 3: Embrace the idea of “less is more.”

  • Sounds so cliche, but the more you simplify, the more this is reinforced.
  • One of our earliest episodes….Episode 004 titled “Benefits of Organizing and Having Less” addressed this very idea. It addresses the some of the benefits of having less.
  • Hundreds of people have (and still are) experiencing this very concept with our Edit and Forget It Challenge.
  • Opt for “reductivity” over productivity. Get rid of tasks instead of juggling them!
  • What it all boils down to, is that by embracing the idea that less truly is more, you will in turn become more mindful of the what you allow into your life. It will allow you to be more content and grateful for what your have and learn to appreciate living in the moment.

Habit 4: Learn to Value Margin in Your Life

  • We define “margin” as uncommitted Time and Space.
  • For this habit, we’re going to focus on the “Time” aspect of margin.
  • We talked about limits in last week’s show, Episode 54. In that we mentioned that boundaries allow you to respect your time and for others to respect your time too.
  • Learn to say NO (Episode 009 The Power of Saying No). “No” allows you to have margin to breathe, relax, contemplate or be spontaneous.
  • It also allows helps you to say “no” to unproductive and unmeaningful obligations…and “yes” to valuable and more meaningful experiences?

Habit 5: Value Experiences over Things

  • With most of our treasured “things”, their value is in the experience they provide, not the item itself. Examples for us include our teardrop camper, our bikes, etc. Alone they aren’t so meaningful…but when used in line with our life goals and priorities (like our love of the outdoors and being with family) then they can help create those experiences.
  • Advertisers sell “experiences” in commercials and ads and not “things”. They know you want happiness. Experiences bring that, not stuff.
  • Take advertisements with a grain of salt. Remember,  you MUST be absolutely sure you are intentional about your purchase (and will use it), and not just getting sucked into another “gateway gadget” like Dan talked about back in Episode 14.
  • Try to live in the moment with your experiences, and value them.

Habit 6: Establish Habits, Routines and Rituals

  • We’ve talked about this many times and at length in Episode 30 “Buying Time” (which focused on habits routines and rituals) as well as Episodes 02 and 15: “How Routines Can Simplify Your Life” and “Creating Your Morning Routine”
  • So…we won’t foot stomp that so hard here. Just know that if you take a hard look at the things that DO work for you in life right now, then it’s probably because it’s a habit, a routine, or it’s become a ritual. Just model that behavior.

Finally, Habit 7 is Understand that You are Different and that’s OK.

  • In Episode 13 we talked about the Crabs in a Bucket story and Frogs in pot of Boiling Water adage… you may want to go back and listen to those.
  • Just know, that there are lots of forces in your life that will try to keep you from changing…to keep things the way they are.
  • It’s going to take some effort to fight that gravity. And that gravity may be in the form of family or friends.

So there you go…7 habits you can start developing today, to help you have a better tomorrow, a better year, and a much better chance of achieving the lifestyle that you want for yourself and your family. A life more…simple!

Question:

So, we know these aren’t the only  7 habits you can use…so tell us what we missed! What are some habits you’ve developed or are working on to simplify your life? Let us know! Be sure to leave a comment and share at SimpleLifeTogether.com/055.

THING Segment:

Dan: Choosing Tenkara, a more minimalist/simplicity-style traditional Japanese fly fishing, over western style fly fishing. Dan’s goals are to avoid a “gateway gadget” situation and concentrate more on the experience of fishing…not the gear. Dan says, “The more you know, the less you need.” 

Vanessa:  Andy Stanley’s podcast is called Your Move.  Now, it is a faith based podcast but it’s NOT heavy on the spiritual content.  It’s much, much more!  Vanessa finds it more of a motivational, thought-provoking, leadership-driven, and inspirational podcast. And it’s funny!  Now…specifically, he has a series called Recovery Road that is directly line with everything that we talk about here on Simple Life Together.

 Announcements:

  • Special thanks to all of you who’ve left reviews for us on iTunes. It really does help people find the show.

So here’s a shout out to Nicki425…thanks so much for your review of the show!

  • James Kinson from the Cash Car Convert podcast had us on his show this week and it was a pleasure to talk with him. For many of us, our car is our biggest ticket item next to our home, and James is a thought leader who advocates buying your cars without buying into debt. Check out James’s show and listen in as he interviews us at cashcarconvert.com/008

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Jan 27 2014

26mins

Play

SLT 004: Benefits of Organizing & Having Less, and Some Weird Sounding Simplicity Tools That Might Just Help You Out

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Benefits of Organizing & Having Less, and Some Weird Sounding Simplicity Tools That Might Just Help You Out

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show! Thank you!

In Episode 4, we discuss Benefits of Organizing & Having Less, and Some Weird Sounding Simplicity Tools That Might Just Help You Out.

Main Topics:  

Vanessa’s Topic: Benefits to Organizing and Having Less

You’ll save money, have less debt and be better able to handle tough financial times.

  • It’s pretty simple: less stuff  =  less money you’ll have to spend…especially on off-site storage rentals!
  • You’ll cut down on buying duplicates when you’re organized and know what you have.
  • You’ll save on late fees and interest rates if you have a good system of tracking and managing your bills.

You’ll have more usable space.

  • You’ll be able to properly utilize desktops, countertops and your dinner table. And maybe your garage too!
  • Less stuff means you can use the spaces in your homes for their intended purposes and not just for storage.

You’ll help avoid “analysis paralysis.”

  • We talked about this in Episode 3. When you have too much stuff it’s difficult to make decisions.
  • With less choices, there’s less time wasted.

There’s less to clean and maintain!

  • Average home 3 bedroom home has over 350,ooo items in it!
  • Knick knacks and all those other things require lots of dusting, laundering, storage, cleaning and maintenance…and lots of money!

You can invite guests over without hesitation.

  • Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have them over without feeling embarrassed or in a rush to clean it up?
  • Having simple routines and “a place for everything and everything in its place” makes for easy clean up.

You’ll be more productive.

  • Start getting organized by having scheduled routines(mentioned in Episode 2): laundry, housecleaning, meal planning, etc.
  • Helps ensure the “must-dos” get done…plus allows more  time to focus on other priorities or those…“want-to-dos.”

You’ll  have better concentration.

  • Piles of papers, heaps of laundry and sinks full of dishes are haunting reminders of stuff you still have to do.
  • It’s hard to concentrate when your home and office are a mess.

You’ll save time.

  • The average person wastes about 55 minutes per day searching for things…keys, files, tools, clothes, etc. That’s a lot of time over the course of a year!
  • Again, having “a place for everything and everything in its place” helps speed up the time it takes to clean up or find things.

You’ll have a sense of control.  Control = Confidence = Nicer You!

  • Knowing where things are and when important tasks will get done creates confidence.
  • Most folks are ashamed of their clutter and therefore ashamed of themselves.

You’ll have less guilt

  • Don’t you feel guilty when you buy something when you know you really didn’t need it.
  • It’s way more empowering when you can say “no” to those buying impulses and not bring in more stuff.

You’ll have more Joy and be more content.

  • Striving for more and waiting for the day that you’ll strike it rich will deplete the joy you could be experiencing every day.
  • You’ll never be content if you’re always comparing, striving for more stuff, collecting, etc.

You’ll have more time and better relationships.

You’ll have a feeling of calm and peace of mind.

Dan’s Topic: Backing Up Your Digital Information: Some Weird Sounding Simplicity Tools That Might Just Help You Out

Occam’s Razor: “Of two equivalent theories or explanations, all other things being equal, the simpler one is to be preferred.”

  • Benedictine monk…William lived in Ockham, England from 1285-1349. William wasn’t the person who came up with the idea behind the razor, but he was widely known for professing it’s benefits, so it soon came to be known for him. The first time the term Occam’s razor was used, was in 1852, over 500 years after Occam’s death.
  • Occam’s Razor Take Away: Try to develop the simplest solutions to problems and challenges. Much like the KISS method, keeping processes, workflows, recipes, you name it, simple, helps you to be able to replicate successes.

Next up is Parkinson’s Law which states: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

  • C. Northcote Parkinson (30 July 1909 – 9 March 1993)
  • Storage requirements will increase to meet storage capacity
  • Data expands to fill the space available for storage.
  • Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
  • Expenditures rise to meet income
  • The amount of time which one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task.
  • The Stock-Sanford Corollary to Parkinson’s Law reads, “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.” I call that the “Homework Corollary.”
  • Parkinson’s Law Take Away: Realize that the “status quo” can quickly turn into the status “whoa!”  What that big house because you enjoy the extra space? It’ll fill up. 

Pareto Principle: Often called the 80/20 Rule. 80% of the results likely comes from 20% of the effort.

  • Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population
    • Developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. This same 80/20 split kept revealing itself.
    • Led ol’ Villy to determine that, generally, 80% of effects likely come from the 20% of causes.
  • Another way to think about isOrganization: Do you keep the 20% of the things you use almost every day in logical places to maximize your efficiency?
    • Are the other 80% of your belongings getting in the way when you don’t need them? Maybe it’s time to look at how much stuff you really need, identify your vital 20% and pare the other 80% down a bit?
  • Productivity: When it comes to productivity you need to think “systems.”
    • Look at the vital few tasks you do that have the biggest impact.
    • Do you have a system in place for your “to do” list, paying bills, buying groceries, filing important documents, home and vehicle maintenance, etc.
  • More about Pareto’s 80/20 Rule at SimpleLifeTogether.com/Pareto
  • Take Aways from Pareto: Use Pareto’s Principle to determine key actions that have the most results in your life, your most important 20% of effort, habits, possessions, etc, to learn where you can pare down what you do, have and use.

Use these tools individually and together to your advantage to simplify your life.

The “Thing” Segment:

Vanessa: Michael Hyatt Blog Post:  The Gift of Today-Lessons from a Monk.  This post featured a beautiful video that Michael Hyatt forwarded and wrote about .  It’s an absolutely beautiful video that’s narrated by a monk where he encourages us to be grateful.  Here’s one of his excerpts:

“You think this is just another day in your life.  It’s not just another day  It’s the one day that is given to you today…It’s the only gift that you have right now.  And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”

Dan: The Decline of Fascination and the Rise in Ennui (on-wee). A blog post by Seth Godin…a fellow Buffalonian and some consider him a modern day philosopher.  Here’s a quick excerpt from his post:

The real opportunity, I think, is in trying to build longer arcs. Now that the cycle of new is eating itself in a race to ever-faster, there’s a bigger chance to make long term change by consistently focusing on what works (and what’s important), not what’s new and merely shiny. What’s important, what’s always important, is useful change.”

Closing Thoughts:

If you like the show, please subscribe and consider giving us a good review in iTunes

If you know someone else who might enjoy the journey too, send them a link to SimpleLifeTogether.com

There are links to our Twitter and Google Plus profiles and other contact info on the left side of the website. We’d love to hear from you !

Be sure to leave comments below, send us a voicemail from the little microphone icon on the right side of the page, or you can go “old school” and email us!  Comments, questions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions…they’re all welcome and we’d love to hear from you!

Links we mentioned in the show:

Get Simplifized.com: Vanessa’s article on Benefits to Organizing and Having Less.

Very good article on Occam’s Razor over at You’re Making Me

More about Pareto’s 80/20 Rule at SimpleLifeTogether.com/Pareto

Michael Hyatt Blog Post:  The Gift of Today-Lessons from a Monk.You can find more of Seth Godin’s work at http://sethgodin.typepad.com

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show! Thank you!

Nov 29 2012

46mins

Play

SLT 028: The Cost of Clutter & Managing Passwords with 1Password

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The Cost of Clutter and Managing Your Passwords with 1Password

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show!  Thanks!

Google Drive Tutorial

Yay!  The Google Drive Tutorial is now available for purchase! This tutorial is just over an hour long and focuses on all the fundamentals of how to use Google Drive for creating, sharing, and storing  documents using Google’s free, full-fledged office suite. This tutorial will be available at the discounted price of just $7.99 until 30 June 2013, when it will increase to $9.99. Either way, it’s a bargain! In this introduction, you’ll learn how to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and even forms and surveys! So, don’t wait to pay full price! You can have immediate access to Dan’s 1 hour+  windshield tour of Google Drive right now! Simply click here or go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/GoogleDrive. Plus, if you’re not completely satisfied I’ll give you your money back. So, no clutter and no risk…simple!

Vanessa’s Topic: The Cost of Clutter

In preparation for my Certification at the end of June, I’ve been doing a little bit of reading, studying and freshening up on my professional organizing skills.

Well, during my studying I came across some articles and books that talked about the cost of clutter. I’ve talked quite a bit about clutter in previous episodes and I’ve mentioned here and there some of the costs of clutter, but I thought I’d bring all those thoughts and some additional ideas about the cost of clutter together in one discussion.

Now, as a reminder let me define what clutter is:  Clutter is anything we don’t need, want or use that takes our time, energy or space and destroys our serentity (Clutter’s Anonymous definition).

With that definition and with the various things I’ve read, I think there are 4 Main Areas Where Clutter Costs us:

  • It can cost us in regards to Money
  • It can cost us Time
  • It can cost us our Health
  • And it can cost us our Sanity

Let me explain a little more…

In regards to Money:

  • 10% of American households rent storage units which can cost between $600-1000/year.
  • 23% of Americans are late paying their bills because they lose the statements or just plain forget to pay their bills altogether. And of course, late payments result in late fees. Even worse, repetitive late payments can even cost you your credit score! (Which by the way can cost you time as it may now take longer for you to pay off your debts)….oooh…clutter can be a vicious cycle!

Let’s talk about food:

  • You know what happens to us when we don’t have a plan for our weekly dinners? We end up going out to eat right?! Which cost 2-3 times more than if we ate at home!
  • Food can also cost you at the grocery store when you don’t know what you have at home because your pantry is a mess and you end up buying duplicate food items or throwing things away because they’re expired! That’s one of my peeves at home….I do not like to waste food!

Ok…so this also happens with other things in the home like office supplies, cleaning supplies, toiletries, light bulbs, batteries etc.

  • When your home is cluttered and you don’t have homes for these things, it often results in them being misplaced….and increases chance of duplicates being purchased….because you can’t find them!
  • At work, clutter has the potential of costing you a promotion because clutter can result in disorganization, missed documents, missed deadlines, and so on.

Now, let’s not forget about digital clutter:

  • Having to buy more memory for your computers, or more storage space on the cloud…or what about apps that you purchased and never use?
  • All that digital clutter can cost you money!

And of course, another way clutter can cost you in regards to money, is having to pay an organizer to help you get organized! Although I’d like to think of a professional organizer as more of an investment…I know at least for me…I’m usually transferring mad organizing skills to my clients!

Ok…so let’s talk about how clutter costs you Time:

  • According to NAPO, the average American spends 1 year of their life searching for lost documents or misplaced items. Yikes!
  • Too much clutter means more time you have to spend cleaning or managing your things.
    • For example, a lot of my clients have a lot of properties and vehicles….which is totally cool.
    • Even though most of them pay someone else to trim the trees, clean the house, take care of the lawn and service their vehicles….they’re still responsible for their stuff and still have to manage all of those accounts…or pay someone else to.
  • Clutter also costs you time when you have to constantly go to the store because you can’t find what you’re looking for!
  • And it can also rob you of time you’d rather spend with your family or friends…or just relaxing.

Now let’s talk about how Clutter can cost you in regards to your Health:

  • Too much clutter can result in dusty, dirty and moldy environments.
    • There have been a few occasions where my eyes and sinuses came under attack by all the dust and allergens that were kicked up when I was organizing at a clients house.
    • There was even a time where I visited someone for a needs assessment and after only being in the home for an hour, my nose burned and I coughed for about 4 hours after the appointment.
    • That was only an hour…can you imagine how the health of the children were effected by living there day in and day out? That gives you something to think about.
  • Another thing is that critters like clutter. And when critters get in the house…they like to leave little gifts like…their poop, pee, fur and germs….which of course aren’t necessarily good for your health.
    • Folks lemme tell ya…being an organizer is not all Martha Stewart and making pretty labels on jars in the kitchen.
    • Most of the time I’m playing kick the dust ball, running from live dusts balls (aka…rats) or dancing to La Cucaracha…not the song…the actual critters! Yes…I actually had a Texas sized cockroach jump on me while working in a closet!
  • And a final thought in regards to your health…is the cost of medications to treat your health due to your clutter and that you’ll have to spend time going to the doctor and pharmacy as well as pay money for seeing the doctor and getting your meds. You see that? There’s that vicious cycle of clutter again. We’re talking about health but it can affect your time and money!

Moving on to the last area, let’s talk about how clutter can cost your in regards to your Sanity:

  • Clutter can be overwhelming. For many folks clutter makes them anxious and they have a difficult time concentrating.
  • Clutter can be very stressful. Imagine how frustrating it is when you can’t find something? And the stress it puts you under because now you’re running late for work.
    • Stress can lead to serious health problems like anxiety, depression, ulcers, headaches, and high blood pressure to name a few.
    • Did you catch that? Again, it’s a vicious cycle.
  • Clutter can affect your relationships and cause unwanted emotional turmoil….making you feel like a bad spouse…a bad parent…a bad friend…or a bad co-worker. Which can then lead to low self-esteem….which isn’t a place I wish anyone to be.

Bottom line, everything has a cost…especially clutter.

  • Not only does it rob you of your money, time, health and sanity…it robs you of your life and your dreams.

So getting organized and ditching the clutter can help you not just with saving you time, money and stress…but it can help give you space to breathe…to think…relax….and build your confidence and your self-esteem. It’s not about being perfect…far from it. It’s about controlling your space, your time, your health…your life.

A Few Random Things

  • A real paperless success story! Check out our friend and SLT listener Chris Jeub’s post on ChrisJeub.com titled My Paperless Plan
  • Thanks for all the notes of concern from the last show where I spoke about my Mom passing away. You guys truly are amazingly supportive. Again…sorry I kind of left you hanging there for a couple weeks, but it sure is nice to be missed!
  • We changed a category in the iTunes listing and it sure would help if you took 2 minutes and give us a rating and review in iTunes. The more positive ratings we get the more likely people are to find the show because iTunes promotes shows based on your ratings and downloads, so it really helps more than you can imagine. Just go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/iTunes, from there click “view in iTunes”, then click Ratings and Reviews” and you’ll be able to click the stars to rate and leave us a comment to review. Thanks for doing that for us…it means a lot.
  • We also wanted to say thanks for all the comments recently. We’ve been getting some great suggestions for future shows about topics such as photo organizing, more recommendations for apps that help simplify life a bit like HomeZada and others, and a topic that always comes up…what if you’re into simplifying and your significant other isn’t. Hmmm, lots of stuff to look into. So we’ll be exploring those topics and lots more in the episodes to come!
  • Finally, for those who took the time to reply to the survey about the Simple Life Together Community… you rock! We have learned so much about what you want in the show and more. If you haven’t had a chance to take the survey, please go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/survey, take one minute and let us know your thoughts on whether you’d like to see an SLT community, more tutorials and products, or take part in an SLT Mastermind Group. We don’t want to go in a direction that you don’t want or need, so we’re counting on your feedback.

Dan’s Topic: Managing Your Passwords with 1Password

If you recall back in the day, you probably had to remember two passwords. Actually, they weren’t even passwords, they were combinations. One for your school locker and one for your gym or PE locker. If you were lucky, you probably had a lock for your bike, too.  That’s it…you were probably maxed out on your own personal RAM at that point. Fast Forward to today…EVERYTHING has a password, a PIN, security questions…yada, yada, yada. So how do most people handle it all. Typically, people use simple passwords such as names, dates, some type of easy to remember (and unfortunately, easy to hack) combination of the two. Or, they use the same password for everything!

Well, today I’m going to talk about what we use to manage our passwords and yet still have rock solid security for our vital digital information. Yes there are other password managers out there, but this is what we use…so let’s get started.

So what is 1Paswword?

  • 1Password is a full-featured password and identity manager.
  • 1Password has powerful desktop client programs for Mac OS X and Windows, as well as mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, 1Password gives you a more secure and convenient online experience, no matter where you are.
  • For brevity’s sake I’ll just be covering 1Password for Mac and Windows. We’ll leave the mobile app for another time. But trust me, once you start using 1Password for your desktop or laptop, you’re going to want it for your mobile devices, too!

So the vast majority of the info I’m going to cover today come almost word-for-word from the Introduction pages for 1Password. So, what I don’t cover here, you can find on the 1Password website.

Let’s Start with Features:

Here are some of the features that make 1Password an indispensable tool for managing all your passwords, online IDs, and personal information and for streamlining many aspects of computer use:

  • Automatically Save and Fill Web Site Logins

  • True Integration With Web Browsers

  • Support for Popular Web Browsers

  • Super Strong Password Generator

  • Advanced Security

  • Securely Organize Your Digital Life With Wallet Items

  • Secure Notes

  • Stay Organized

  • Get Access to Your Data Anywhere

  • Automatically Keep Your Data in Sync on PCs, Macs, and iOS devices

Automatically Save and Fill Web Site Logins

  • 1Password allows you to quickly save new Logins from within supported browsers.

  • It detects when you are logging into a web site, and if it notices a password you have not yet saved, 1Password prompts you to save the new Login in your secure, encrypted data file, for later use.

  • When it comes time to log into a site, 1Password makes it easy with your choice of browser buttons and keyboard shortcuts.

  • You can also use their innovative Go & Fill feature, which in one fell swoop opens your default browser at a site’s login page and enters your saved login credentials, optionally submitting the filled login form.

True Integration With Web Browsers

Many applications provide safe storage areas for your private web information, but you often need to add your data by hand, then manually copy it back out when the time calls.

  • 1Password is designed to work directly with your browsers.

  • When you need to log into a site, create a new account, or generate a strong new password, the capability is just a click or two away, and your information is always stored in an encrypted data file.

  • It’s a great combination of security and convenience.

Support for Popular Web Browsers

  • The password, identity, and personal information tools that come pre-bundled with web browsers are specific to those browsers.

  • Such as on a Mac using Safari, you have what’s called a keychain.

  • Well, your data is locked up in each browser, forcing you to find a way to migrate your passwords—if that’s even possible—every time you switch browsers.

  • With 1Password, your information travels with you.

  • 1Password lets you truly integrate with your browsers through browser extensions.

  • As we mentioned on earlier shows, browser extensions give your browser increased functionality.

  • We’ll get into that added functionality in a minute, but know that these extensions give you instant access to your passwords and personal information that you have loaded in 1Password.

  • Supported Browsers for Windows version:  32-bit Internet Explorer, 32-bit Firefox, Chrome, Safari

  • Supported Browsers for Windows version: Safari, Firefox, and Chrome

Strong Password Generator

  • As the Agile Bits website says, “Let’s face it: the days of using your pet’s name or your anniversary as a password are long gone.”

  • While 1Password remembers all your passwords so you don’t have to, it also has a great tool called the Strong Password Generator for creating really strong, unguessable passwords to keep you safe online.

  • What I like is that you can choose whether the password includes numbers or symbols, whether it’s pronounceable or not.

  • Even the number of characters it uses.  Really, lots of flexibility here.

  • 1Password’s Strong Password Generator creates unguessable passwords for you.

  • With the Strong Password Generator you can quickly create complex passwords on the fly, save them to your encrypted 1Password data file, and automatically fill them in on website login forms.

  • This protects your accounts from prying eyes, and also gives you protection from keyloggers, as 1Password never types your password and does not rely on the Clipboard.

  • And all you need to remember when it comes to unlocking your data file and using your information is—you guessed it—your one password, known only to you.

Real, No Kidding Security

  • I want to preface this with this…in my opinion NO system is foolproof and I wouldn’t trust anyone or any company that says their system is.

  • But with 1Password, all of your confidential information is encrypted using the Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES.

  • This is the same state-of-the-art encryption algorithm used as the national standard in the United States.

  • 1Password uses 128-bit keys for encryption, which, according to 1Password’s developers, Agile Bits, claims would take millions of years for a criminal to decrypt your data using a “brute force” attack.

  • So, I did a little checking and found out that according to ScienceDaily.com, the effort to recover an AES encrypted key is huge: the number of steps to find the key for AES-128 is an 8 followed by 37 zeroes.

  • To put this into perspective: on a trillion machines, that each could test a billion keys per second, it would take more than two billion years to recover an AES-128 key. Source: ScienceDaily.com

  • The folks at Agile Bits go on to say that of equal importance is where 1Password stores your data: neither an Internet connection nor an online storage is required.

  • All your data is stored locally, on your computer.

  • Even if you choose to sync your 1Password data with other devices using an online service like Dropbox, though, your master password keeps you in complete control of your data.

OK, Dan…I Get It, But I’m Still Worried About Security

  • So here’s the bottom line and what I’d ask you to consider when thinking about security.

  • What system are you using now?

  • Are you writing down all your passwords in a book? How secure is that?

  • Are you writing them on sticky notes and leaving the on your computer?

  • Do you have a spreadsheet that has them all listed?

  • Worse yet, are you using the same password for EVERYTHING?

  • If so, let’s face it, your data is more susceptible to loss or misuse now than it likely would ever be using a product like 1Password.

Securely Organize Your Life With Wallet Items

  • The Wallet vault provides a secure place to store sensitive information like credit cards, bank accounts, memberships, and reward programs.

  • You can use 1Password’s powerful encryption technology to safely save all this information and find it when you need it.

Secure Notes

  • For any information that doesn’t fit nicely into a Login or Wallet item, 1Password allows for Secure Notes.

  • Secure Notes provide some of the text-entry freedom of your favorite plain-text editor with the added benefit of strong encryption—so, like everything else in your 1Password data, they’re safe and private.

Stay Organized

  • 1Password items like Logins, Secure Notes, Identities, and Software Licenses are easy to find in their own “vaults” in the upper left quadrant of the 1Password window.

  • If you want a little more order to your digital life, you can create folders and drag and drop one or more 1Password items into them.

  • Create one folder for work-related Logins, Identities, and Wallet items, and another with Secure Notes and Logins for other areas of your life.

  • A third “banking” folder could hold all your credit card and bank Logins, along with your social security Wallet item.

  • We have separate identities set for our business IDs and entities and our personal profiles.

Get Access to Your Data Anywhere

  • 1Password has many solutions available that allow you to access your data anywhere you need it.

  • With 1Password’s apps for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices, you can securely take all of your information with you.

  • With a tool called 1PasswordAnywhere, you can view the contents of your Agile Keychain from almost any computer if you store it on a syncing service like Dropbox or place a copy on a USB flash drive. This one is new to me and I haven’t used it yet, but I’m going to look into it more.

  • You can also export your saved Logins as an unencrypted delimited-text file that you can carry with you on a USB stick or store in your safe deposit box as a “last line of defense” in case of drive failure.

Automatically Keep Your Data in Sync on PCs, Macs, and iOS devices

  • With 1Password, leaving home won’t leave you dead in the water…at least not in terms of password and identity management.

  • In addition to providing access to your logins, credit cards, and personal information across browsers on your PC, your 1Password data file can be shared among multiple PCs and Macs with a file-based sync solution like Dropbox.

So Let’s Wrap This Up…

  • So, if you’re in the market for a password management system, my pick is 1Password.

  • In the few years of using it, it hasn’t let me down.

  • Better yet, it makes managing the myriad passwords we inevitably have these days so much easier and so much more secure.

  • It’s not a free program…matter of fact it can be a little pricey at $49.99 for a single user license and $69.99 for a family license. But to us it’s well worth the cost.

So, if you’re interested in 1Password, just go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/password for a direct link, or if you’re a Mac user you can go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/macpassword for a direct affiliate link to the Mac App Store.

 Thing Segment

Vanessa’s Thing: I Love “Found Time”

  • Last week a client rescheduled her appointment with me and I was so thrilled because I really needed a break!
  • So Dan and I decided to hang out and spend the day together.  We decided to go get some breakfast and then go for a quick ride to a small town or something.
  • After breakfast, I suggested we swing by our bank to set up our daughter’s college fund before we headed out on our drive.  I figured we spend 30 minutes max in the bank and then we’d be on our way right?!  NOPE!  30 minutes turned into 2 hours but you know what?
  • It was totally worth it because we ended up taking care of some things that we’ve been meaning to do but just hadn’t gotten around to.
  • We were able relook, refocus, and reallocate resources in our investments, retirements, savings, insurance and college funds.
  • I was on cloud 9 because these things were on my Master To Do List…and we finally got them taken care of!
  • Not to mention these things focused and helped fortify 3 of our 5 pillars/priorities in life…FAMILY, FINANCES, AND FUTURE!  So that is my thing!

Dan’s Thing: Reminders in Evernote!

  • Finally! Evernote’s latest release includes a reminders function. This has been their most asked for improvement and now it’s here!
  • Currently, Evernote Reminders is available on the Mac, iOS and Web versions of Evernote
  • I’ll be doing a more in-depth review of this new function within Evernote and cover it in a later show
  • For now, know that reminders are incredibly easy to use.
    • You can add a Reminder to a note by simply tapping on the alarm clock icon located at the top of the note on Mac and Web, and at the bottom of the note on iPhone and iPad.
    • If you like, set a date and time for when this note must be completed.
    • You’ll get an in-app alarm and, optionally, an email the day that a Reminder is due.
    • Once set, you’ll see the note title appear in the new Reminder section at the top of the note list.
    • You can change the order of Reminders simply by dragging them around. When you complete your task, tap on the check or, on iOS, swipe to remove the Reminder from the list.
    • Like most things in Evernote, Reminders sync across all versions of the app that support the new feature, which again are Mac, iOS and Web versions of Evernote.
  • Evernote promises that they have big plans to expand the functionality, and to bring it to more platforms in the very (very) near future. So, check it out and let me know what you think.

Links:

Support Charity Water Through Your Amazon.com Purchases

1Password for Mac

1Password for Windows

Chris Jeub’s post “My Paperless Plan”

Google Drive Tutorial

Simple Life Together Community Survey

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show!  Thanks!

May 30 2013

53mins

Play

SLT 026: Spring Cleaning Your Home, Life & Tech

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Spring Cleaning Your Home, Life & Tech

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show!  Thanks!

Vanessa Topic: Spring Cleaning Your Home and Life

Spring cleaning is all about de-cluttering, deep cleaning, and prepping for the summer!

  • ceiling and floor vents
  • ceiling fans and baseboards
  • gutters
  • washing the windows and window sills
  • clearing out and wiping down the inside of drawers
  • de-funkifying the inside of your oven and degreasing the stove vents
  • sweeping and moping under appliances, couches, beds, etc.
  • decalcifying your water fixtures

Spring cleaning can also include other things like:

I also like to include a little  planning and prepping for summer and fall:

Sounds like a lot of stuff right? Your Spring Cleaning List is manageable if you keep these things in mind:

  • You don’t have to do it all at once! You can do a little bit at a time everyday

  • First: Identifying ALL TASKS you need or would like to do in priority order

  • Second: Assign a reasonable amount of time to complete each task

  • And finally….make a date and don’t break it!!!  That means schedule it on your calendar.   Remember…A TO DO item is actionless unless you attach a date to it!

  • Book your priority tasks first.  Save big tasks for days that you have more time to dedicate to them.  Smaller/easier tasks can be listed on a daily basis.

  • Now, if your list is still looking too long then consider spreading your tasks out throughout the year instead of just at springtime!

  • And don’t forget about delegating tasks to family or other members of the household…

  • Or even hire someone else to do it for you!   Sometimes it’s worth outsourcing help!!!!

I mentioned getting others involved…but what if others in the family aren’t “into it”? Well, here are some tips to help get Spring Cleaning “buy in” from others:

  • Communication is key. Explain why certain tasks are important to get done and that you really need their help.

  • Start with a small task.  Then move to a team oriented task.  Keep it fair too…everyone should be involved not just the oldest child.

  • Give them ample notice of a cleaning project…don’t just drop it on them at the last minute!

  • When all else fails bribe them or threaten them!  That’s what I do!  Just kidding. 

Let’s talk about some popular spring cleaning projects around the home (Note: I’m just going to mention the more unique tasks)

  • Kitchen: clean out ovens and vent hoods; edit and organize your pantry tossing all expired items; clean out the inside or your fridge as well as sweep and mop under it; may need to defrost your freezer and wine fridge too; and decalcify your coffee maker

  • Living Rooms: clean sofas and chairs; wipe down remotes; edit and organize media like DVDs, CDs and video games; edit magazines and newspaper collections

  • Bathrooms: wash shower curtains and shower mats; dust vents; throw away old and expired jams n jellies and medications; srub away lime deposits on your water fixtures.

  • Kid’s rooms: clear out old toys, clothes and even papers. Be ruthless!  Switch out seasonal clothes and bedding.

  • Home Office and Papers: great time to edit papers, especially after Tax Season Simplify Your Taxes. Clean out old files and spruce up current ones with nice file folders and labels.  Consider using an action file to keep up with daily influx of mail and papers. Maybe even think about going paperless like we’ve talked about numerous times here on the show (Episode 06).

  • Outdoors: windows, gutters, power wash siding and sidewalks/driveway, check faucets and hoses, mulch, weed and fertilize. How to prep lawn equipment for Spring. Clean your BBQ grill.

Dan’s Topic: Spring Cleaning Your Tech

Take a few moments to go through your RSS reader and pare down some of those feeds you’re no longer interested in or add some that you’ve been meaning to

  • When it comes to feeds, digital simplicity is about having the RIGHT feeds, not just FEWER feeds.

The same thing goes for your podcast subscriptions

  • Look through the podcasts you subscribe to and consider which ones you really listen to.

  • With nearly 50% of podcast listeners listening on smartphones, keeping your subscription list well pruned is more important than ever.

  • Even if you’re streaming versus downloading, stick to your favorites and check out the others on an individual basis

Speaking of podcasts, here’s something I did just yesterday:

  • I realized that some of my workflows hadn’t kept up with technology.

  • Specifically, my old workflow for listening to podcasts was like this: subscribe in iTunes, download episodes to my laptop, sync my iPod to my laptop, and once or twice a year I’d go through the shows in my iTunes and delete old episodes.

  • Well I realized that workflow was outdated because I no longer use my iPod, I listen to 90% of podcasts on my phone, and about 5% each on my iPad and Apple TV.

  • With streaming, there is no need to download them.

  • I was taking up tons of unnecessary space because I never adapted my workflow to my habits or technology changes.

The same goes for my music in iTunes

  • It was taking up huge amounts of disc space yet…

  • I  paid for iTunes Match, so my music was in the Cloud and ready to stream or download any time.

  • Knowing I have my music library safely backed up on an external drive, I deleted all my music in iTunes that was already matched in iTunes Match.

  • I did have about 300 songs or sound files that weren’t available in iTunes match that I kept in iTunes on my laptop, but that’s a lot better than many thousands of files!

Inbox cleaning: Back in Episode 12 of the show, we did an episode on The Art of Inbox Warfare to help you battle your email Inbox

  • I covered lots of tips there but one thing I’ll mention is making good use of your “unsubscribe” button for mailing lists you’re no longer interested in, and maxing out the use of filters if you’re a Gmail user.

  • A little time spent “spring cleaning” your Inbox can help you throughout the year!

Take some time to go through your Evernote Notebooks and Tags

  • In tags view, see if you have duplicates that you can delete or combine with other tags.

  • Often you’ll have singulars and plurals of the same Tags. Pare those down.

  • Same goes for Notebooks. If you can combine notes into one Notebook from similar Notebooks, give that a shot.

  • If you haven’t tried Stacked Notebooks, that, too, can help you organize your Evernote database visually.

  • If you’re new to Evernote and need some help getting started, go back and check out Evernote Simplified Part 1 in Episode 17 and Evernote Simplified Part 2 in Episode 18.

If you spend a lot of time on the computer, it’s just as important to have a clear digital space as it is to have an organized and clean home.

  • Edit your desktop, apps, and menu bar items down to those you use the most.

  • If others that you don’t use tend to get in the way, they’re probably not helping your productivity much.

  • I covered the ones I use most (and why) back in Episode 21.

  • You might recall that two menu bar apps I use quite heavily are PopClip and ScreenFloat.

  • Since then, Vanessa finally tried both of those (PopClip and Screenfloat) and has now become quite addicted.

Take some time to go through your Contacts list.

  • First, do you have a system for updating them?
  • Are the ones you have current?

  • How about those old numbers and addresses…is it time to edit those?

  • Personally, I use Contacts in Gmail and love it. Your mileage may vary.

  • Remember “back in the day” when you got a new phone and had to re-enter all your Contacts? If that’s still you, maybe it’s time you hopped on the technology bandwagon.

And Spring Cleaning time might be the perfect time to review your digital backup plan, too. Way back in Episode 3 I talked about backing up your digital information

  • Follow the 3 S’s…Make your backup Simple, Seamless and Solid.  
  • Simple…so you don’t have to think about it, it just happens in the background. If you do have to think about it, set reminders in your calendar. Remember, it needs to be simple but complete…
  • On site backup to an external drive.

  • Cloud backup off site.

  • Seamless…if you have regular backups to an external drive, make sure that drive is also backed up off site.  Initial backup to the Cloud can take up to a couple weeks, depending on your connection speed and how much data you have, of course.

  • Solid…evaluate that your system works. Try to download files from your backup system and see if there are bottlenecks or barriers to your system. How easy would it be to do a complete system restore if you lost your hard drive?

Thing Segment

  • Dan’s Thing: Asana, a task management tool
  • Vanessa’s Thing: Prepping for her Certified Professional Organizer Board and Decision Making with a little help from Parkinson’s Law

Links

Real Simple Spring Cleaning Shortcuts

How to Clean Floors Walls Mrs. Meyers Clean Day

Green Cleaning Supplies by Green Cleaning/Goodhousekeeping

How to Store Seasonal Clothing

How To Organize Your Pantry

Organizing your Home Office

17 Secrets to Organizing Your Garage

7 Steps to Organize Your Garage

Like With Like

Closet TuneUp

How to Edit Your Clothes Quick Tip

Travel Checklists

Fire alarms

Back to School Tips

Summer Fun Activities for the Kiddos

Vacation Travel Preparation

Simplify Your Taxes

How to prep lawn equipment for Spring

Asana Project Management

Would you like to help us help Charity Water? If you make purchases on Amazon.com through this link it will be applied to  Vanessa’s Charity Water Campaign

Give directly to Charity Water Through Vanessa’s Campaign

To Create An Action File Quick Tip

Paper Piles, Paper Piles…Here’s An Easy Way To Control The Clutter

Working with Hanging Files and File Folders

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show!  Thanks!

May 02 2013

51mins

Play

SLT061: Simple Living With Kids

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The number one question we are asked, is about simple living with kids: “Is it possible to simplify your life with kids?” Of course it is! Now we know not everyone has kids, but even if you don’t you probably have nephews or nieces, or friends with kids. So, the good news is that even if you don’t have kids yourself, you’ll probably be able to apply a lot of this to other relationships in your life.

Well first off, simple living with kids doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. Like simplifying the rest of your life, simple living with kids will take some planning, work, and positive change, but it will be well worth it. Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom will be free on Amazon all day Friday, 21 March 2014 from midnight PST to midnight PST.

Topic: Simple Living With Kids

Well worth it, yes…but notice I didn’t say “well worth it in the end.” That’s because there really isn’t an end when it comes to simplicity…that’s why we call it a journey.

The “Stuff” Cycle:

Before we get into the different stages of our kids’ lives and how that effects simplicity, there’s something that needs to be addressed first. I call it the “Stuff Cycle”…for lack of a better term. If you don’t realize you operate in a stuff cycle before you have kids, you will as soon as you’re expecting. Here’s how it goes:

Perceived Need Phase:

      • All the things advertisements tell you you need
      • All the things you ‘think’ you need
      • All the things everyone else ‘thinks’ you need and don’t hesitate to tell you

Acquire Phase:

      • Purchase, gift, rent or borrow

Utilization Phase:

      • You figure out what you really need and use

Replacement Phase

      • You fill those needs with things that actually work

Edit Phase:

      • You take action to get the things you don’t need, don’t use, and don’t work out of your life

Refine Phase:

      • Continuously evaluate, acquire, replace or upgrade as necessary, edit as required.

Simplicity Issues at Different Stages of Our Kids’ Lives

Babies:

    • Just making sure they are cared for requires so much (or we think it does)
    • Amount of stuff required at home…but babies grow up so fast that it’s impossible to use every toy or clothing item 
    • Amount of stuff required on the road
    • Time and attention required

Toddlers:

    • First steps of independence
    • Just trying to stay ahead or just keep up parents feel they need to buy every learning gadget or tool so they are ahead when they start kindergarten

Kids:

    • Starting to understand commercials and get a taste for consumerism and wanting more
      • Brand name toys
      • Brand name clothes
      • Even exposure to peer pressure

Teens:

    • Consumerism: clothing, gadgets, food
    • More time commitments with extracurricular activity, work, etc.
    • As parents now it’s crunch time to teach them the life skills to be successful adults.

Adults:

    • Are you responsible or do you hang on to your grown kids’ “stuff” as they start their adult life?
    • Do they feel “entitled” to things beyond their income?
    • What’s your comfort level or threshold for monetary support?

Ways to Keep Simple Living With Kids, Simple!

    • Toys and Gifts
      • Family members go overboard (time for a talk)
      • Birthday parties (manage expectations)
      • Holidays (manage expectations)
    • Boundaries
      • Not every room is the play room (CELF study, Episode 14)
      • Don’t buy more storage for more toys…edit the old to make room for the new…create a boundaries or limit of how many toys your kids can have
      • Limit screen time
      • Personal chores (clean up after self)
      • Family chores (team building, contributing)
    • Routines and Rituals are key to simple living with kids
      • They make kids comfortable and let them know what’s expected of them
      • We’re creatures of habit…good or bad
      • Morning
      • After school routines
        • Snack
        • Homework
        • Dinner clean up and declutter
      • Holidays
        • Again, managing expectations of your kids and relatives
        • Edit before big gift-giving events
    • Having constant communication with your kids
      • Reinforcing ideas
        • Talk about your values regularly
        • Try to instill valuing experiences over things
      • Set the example:
        • Pick up after yourself
        • Limit your own TV and Internet exposure
        • Play with your kids
        • Read to them
        • Give away and donate things (bring your kids along)
      • Stick to your guns on your rules, boundaries and routines. You’ve got to use them and hold everyone including yourself accountable

Major Takeaway

Yes, kids provide their own unique spin on simplicity, but just like us it has a lot to do with how you establish norms in your home, how you manage expectations, the example you set, the boundaries you establish, and how effective you are at using the Laws of Learning (Vanessa covered the laws in Episode 13 in the segment called First Steps on the Road to Simplicity). Just like simplifying the rest of your life, simple living with kids will take lots of planning, work, and positive change. But it will be well worth it for you and serve them well in their life too.

Question:

So, how do you simplify life with your kids? What tips or techniques do you use that could help the rest of us? We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment

Vanessa: Attending the Minimalists meetup, and seeing our friend,  SLT listener and Edit & Forget It member Robin. My main takeaway from Ryan and Joshua was that minimalism looks different for all of us. I also like their take on what they allow or edit in their lives; basically they don’t keep anything that doesn’t add value to their lives (kind of like our “use it, need it, love it” questions we ask when deciding what to edit from our lives).

Dan: The new Add-Ons function in Google Docs. Provides additional functionality right inside Google Documents and Spreadsheets. In your Drive menu bar you’ll notice a new menu option title Add-ons. Click Get Add-ons and explore…you can do mail merge, Avery labels, bibliographies, etc…FREE. For more on Google Docs, check out out our tutorial.

Qs and Comments

Kerry emailed us his story…

Dan and Vanessa,

I couldn’t decide whether to write and tell you how much I appreciate your podcast or to share a little bit of my cluttered story… so I will do both.

I am an Air Force officer, having served for 13 years so far. While I haven’t moved around as much as you did in your careers, moving forced me to take stock of what I owned and what owned me. I grew up with a lot. My dad was a successful doctor and business owner. When I say we had a lot, that might be understating. Christmas morning was like walking into a Toys R Us. While I certainly appreciated the fact that I was lucky, I never took it for granted and shared a lot with my big family that didn’t have as much.

It wasn’t until I joined the Air Force and got married that I began to considered how “stuff” made me feel. I realized that I had hoarding tendencies (from my mother) and a desire to simplify (probably from my dad). From the perspective of having moved away, I realized that my Mom was a hoarder with means. That is, she could afford to keep everything. We had multiple vacation homes and each one had a basement or attic packed full. In addition, she had three 20×40′ storage units, all neatly organized but full! My parents divorced around the time I finished college and joined the AF and my mom continued to spend, collect and store. As a few examples, we had every Dept 56 Christmas Village, Halloween Village, Snow Baby, etc ever made. She also framed EVERYTHING! And you don’t throw away framed things so she now has, in storage, somewhere between 500 and 1000 framed prints.

The longer I was away from home, the more uncomfortable I was going home. While everything in my mother’s home is nice and clean, it’s everywhere. I realized she had a problem when I went home for my sister’s funeral and actually couldn’t set a drink down because every horizontal surface is covered. In the past few years, she has spent and collected herself into near bankruptcy and I still can’t get through to her. But… I started my own journey of self-reflection and consideration. I began to realize that it felt good to divest myself of clutter. I am no where near where I hope to end up, but my awareness of “stuff” has been amazing. I was always a person who collected “just because”. I had 39 bottles of Marylin Merlot wines because people kept buying them and I didn’t know what to do with them. I had every knick knack from childhood stuffed into boxes all over. Most of this stuff (and lots more) is gone. But what I really wanted to do is share with others is that the family aspect can be really hard. My mom and lots of other family members attach so much meaning to stuff that it comes between relationships often. When she visits me and my family, she will load my kids up with toys from the Goodwill. I have asked her not to do this and specifically told her that it makes me stressed and unhappy. But the message isn’t received. When she finds out that I get rid of a lot of the things she buys she is upset. In my mind that means stuff is affecting our relationship.

As for my life, I am inspired by what you guys do and say. I connected with Dan’s story for a few reasons. I am very techie and a mac guy to boot. I am also into home improvement and woodworking. While you guys have your teardrop, I grew up flying hot air balloons (fourth generation pilot). So I own a balloon and that certainly comes with a lot of stuff. But I do my best to keep things simple. I drive a pickup because the balloon fits in the back, but that means I don’t have to own a separate vehicle. Ballooning is my passion and I really enjoy doing it with my family. But if it ever started detracting from life, I would give it up.

So, I have a long way to go, but I am enjoying it. My wife is naturally not a clutterer, but she isn’t sold yet on my journey. I choose to share the important lessons that make my life better. Maybe they will sink in. I learned a long time ago that I can’t force her to do anything she isn’t ready for. Thanks for what you do. I believe it works.

– Kerry

 Announcements:

  • I’m working with our friend Joel Zaslofsky of Value of Simple on the SimpleRev simplicity summit.  SimpleRev will be 200+ passionate simple-living advocates. Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist will be there, too! To learn more, just go to SimpleRev.com or SimpleLifeTogether.com/rev.
    • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Date: October 3-4, 2014
    • Venue: University of St. Thomas Downtown Campus
  • Joel put together a fantastic page on SimpleRev.com where you can find all your transportation options, lodging, what to do, how to get around…everything a conference attendee would like ask about the area at SimpleRev.com/allittakes.
  • Special thanks to Chauddog, Turtletruth, and Robinvb1 for the reviews you left for us on iTunes. It really does help people find the show.
    • If you’d like to leave a review, just go here on iTunes and click “View in iTunes”, launch iTunes, and then click “Write a Review.”

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Theo B

Mar 17 2014

50mins

Play

SLT065: Strategic Simple Living

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When it comes to making long-term plans for our lives, we all go through a “dream stage”…where we just kind of day dream about what our life might be like. Seriously, we’ve all, at some point in our life, thought about what it would be like to win the lottery or be super rich…and you kind of lose yourself in the dream. While I’m sure there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s really more productive to do some systematic ideation. By dreaming systematically, you’ll likely improve your chances for success. For us, this is strategic simplicity.

By going through a process of systematic ideation, you may come up with more questions than answers initially. But in the end, you’ll probably be a lot closer to what you want and be able to formulate a real plan of action. Yes, truly strategic simple living!   Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Strategic Simple Living

Ok, so what is “systematic ideation” and how can you use it? Well, I’m sure there’s lots of different ways to systematically come up with ideas. I’m a bit of a tinkerer…kind of a MacGyver type and enjoy product design. I even recently had a company put one of my ideas into production and they’re getting ready to release it. But years ago, I read a book (I can’t for the life of me remember or find the title) that sparked my interest in systematic ideation.

But today we’re going to share one ideation tool with you that you might be able to use on your simplicity journey. We adapted this from a post we saw on Governing.com that had absolutely nothing to do with strategic simple living. Still, the tool was intriguing, so we adapted it for our use.

The 4 Direction Ideation Tool

So here you go: A good way to be more systematic about your ideation is by looking in all four “directions”. By that we mean, Outward, Inward, Backward and Forward. It’ll help if we give an example, so we’ll show you how we used this tool in our search for the “perfect” town or place for us to live. Of course, you can use it for any ideation exercise you wish!

  • So first we have Look Outward: We’re going to look at the local, regional, and national possibilities. We could even look internationally if we wanted.
  • Next we have Look Inward: What do we really want? What are our “must haves”, and what are the “deal breakers?” Vanessa will break this down a bit in a minute and share some things we consider.
  • Look Backward: Doing a candid review of what has and hasn’t worked in the past. What did we like about it, what did we dislike.
  • Finally, we have Look Forward: What do we want it to look like, feel like, be like?

Our Search for the Perfect Place to Live

Back in Episode 49, Live the Life of Your Dreams, we talked about our “Freedoms From” and our “Freedoms To.” One of those freedoms to was “Freedom To Choose Where & How We Live.” So, again, just to give you an example of using the tool on our quest for strategic simple living, let’s look at our search for the “ideal” place for us to live.

So, before we start the 4 directions, here are some qualities we know our dream location will have:

  • A quality grocery store within walking distance
  • Close to downtown shops; coffee shops, bookstores, diners, local shops, etc…oh and free wi-fi is always nice…
  • We’d like to live near water. Not ocean…preferably a creek or river…or even a lake
  • Small acreage to maintain; ¼ – 1 acre max!
  • Good schools…or good home-school co-ops if needed
  • We’d prefer an empty lot to build to our exact liking
  • No size restrictions on home…for us that means small, not big
  • No Home Owner’s Association (HOA) would be ideal
  • If HOA…hopefully open to green/sustainable building techniques or upgrades
  • Reasonable tax rates…Military retirement not taxed…state taxes
  • Local farmers markets
  • Outdoor activities easily accessible…fishing, camping, hiking, biking, etc.
  • Local attitudes and atmosphere…not too stuffy…easy going where the community cares about taking care of and maintaining a safe and healthy place to live.

So Looking Outward:

    • We’re not tied to a specific geographic location like where our families live.
    • Visiting family and friends is already a part of our plan, and one of the main reasons we want to live small is so we can travel large!
    • Although we could live internationally if we desired, at this point we are more grounded here in the US. Again, we’ll scratch our international itch through travels abroad.
    • We want 4 seasons…with relatively mild winters ;o)

Looking Inward:

    • Keeping our 5 pillars in mind (Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances, and Freedom), we want a place and lifestyle that can support all of them in fair balance. For example, we don’t want to live in a place with a high cost of living that would restrict our freedom to travel and visit/spend time with family.
    • Additional must haves…safe environment, access to the recreational activities we love, the outdoors, ability to live small, high walkability rating (walkscore.com) and 4 mild seasons. The reason these things are so important to us is because these things fulfill us.
    • Deal breakers…restricting our freedom to live in a small, environmentally conscious home….too much traffic…high taxes, intolerance, etc!
    • Bottom line, we want a place with personality!

Looking Backward:

    • We actually miss apartment-style living! No yard maintenance, small space with a home for everything, little home maintenance and access to fitness and pool facilities.
    • Yet we like having our own home and a yard to chill and play…BBQs, darts, playing catch, gardening, fires, bird-watching ;o)
    • We also like designing and creating our own unique home.
    • Don’t like cookie-cutter “suburbia” homes. Although many are incredibly beautiful and offer tons of amenities, in our experience and the suburban homes we lived in, they lacked a sense of community.

Looking Forward:

    • What will it look, feel, be like?
    • For our example of our ideal location, what does a day there look like?
    • What does a week there look like (routines, shopping, weekend, etc).
    • What do the seasons look like?
    • While these are cyclical, what does it look like in a linear sense, from now to a point in the future?

Major Takeaway

So the major takeaway here is this: By all means, DREAM. Dream Big! But when it comes to getting serious about strategic simple living, be systematic about your ideation. Look Outward, Look Inward, Look Backward, and then look Forward.

By going through this process of ideation, you may come up with more questions than answers initially. But in the end, you’ll probably be a lot closer to what you want and be able to formulate a real plan of action.

Question:

So, what is one of your long-term simplicity or other life goals where you could use this ideation process? Is it your home, your career, a business opportunity, a passion, or even a relationship? We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment

Vanessa: I just turned 40 years old and feel great!

Dan:  Recently we had to do some document faxing. We usually bug Dan’s ex and send faxes from her office, but this time I just used the HelloFax extension for the Chrome browser. HelloFax makes it easy to sign documents and send faxes online. You’ll never need to print, sign and scan documents again! You can get 50 free fax pages each month, for 6 months! If you want to check out Hello Fax just go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/hellofax.

Qs and Comments, iTunes Reviews

We just wanted to say thanks to Genevieve Parker Hill for including us in her post, 9 Websites To Help You Live Simply. She lists some fantastic simplicity blogs and we’re honored to make the cut!

And also to Sheryl and Dave Balthrop for mentioning us in their post The 7 Phases of Your Heroic Journey to Margin and Simplicity.

 Announcements:

  • SimpleRev Tickets:

    • Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleRev! Only 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Marina del Castell

May 01 2014

38mins

Play

SLT052: Make It Your Best Year Ever in 5 Simple Steps

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If you’re like most people you probably have intentions to make some serious changes and make this your best year ever, right? Well, we want to help make 2014 YOUR year to simplify! And even if you’re not listening to this at the beginning of the year, or heck, it might not even be 2014 anymore when some of you listen to this, the fundamentals are timeless and perpetual.

So, if you’ve fallen short of your goals in the past, like probably all of us have at some point, we have 5 steps to help you build a more solid plan, and hopefully set you on the road to success.

So let’s get started! Read more…

5 Simple Steps to Make It Your Best Year Ever

Step 1: Take some time to do a review of the past year.

  • Figure out what’s working for you and what’s not.
  • As you list out what’s not working, are there any “repeat offenders”? You know, things you swore you’d stop doing but somehow find yourself still doing them? Yeah? Us too! 
  • Keep track of these bad habits that keep working their way back in. You can find more about this in Episode 37.

Step 2: Make a conscious effort to prioritize, then change or eliminate THINGS that clutter your life…and establish new goals.

  • Get help if you need it! Maybe it takes an outside set of eyes or ears to help you see things better.
    • Maybe some coaching or mentoring could get you on path quicker than just doing things yourself.
  • Use S-M-A-R-T goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-focused, Time-bound). Instead of saying “This is going to be my best year ever! I’m going to be healthier this year!”, make sure you incorporate SMART goals. Here’s an examples for each part of a SMART goal:  
    • Specific =Juice daily, eat more raw foods (½ small meals are raw fruits, veggies and nuts), cut down on sugar and processed foods (keep count of number of grams/day), cut down on alcohol (only 1 glass of wine per day)
    • Measurable = If losing weight maybe a goal of losing 2 lbs/month; or for your health, maybe measure your blood levels for cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.; body fat percentage vs. weight, etc.
    • Attainable = Can you actually do this? Audacious goals are great…but they have to be realistic for you.
    • Results-focused = Lose X amount of weight, make X amount more money, save X amount of money, give away X number of items…etc. 
    • Time-bound = Daily, weekly, monthly or annual goal
  • Some positive reinforcement sure helps! Partner up with someone or make your intentions public. Sometimes an accountability buddy or expectations from someone else is just what we need to give us that added positive peer pressure to stay on target.
  • Track your progress…it really helps! For us, the Edit & Forget It Challenge is a great example. It really felt pretty amazing to see the numbers add up and watch our numbers goal get closer and closer. Even though it wasn’t truly about the numbers for us, tracking our progress gave us a quantitative gauge that we were on the right track. Plus, it was a SMART goal; it was a specific goal of editing 2013 items, it was measurable since it was a quantitative amount, attainable in that it wasn’t an unreasonable goal, results oriented in that we not only could see the results in terms of space we cleared up, but mentally we felt a weight lifted; and time-bound in that we had weekly, monthly and an overall annual goal.

Step 3: Take control of your time. 

  • If you really want to make this your best year ever, you need to:  Define your responsibilities, joys and dreams.
  • Align your commitments with your responsibilities, joys and dreams! 
    • To the extent possible, change or eliminate commitments that don’t align with your responsibilities, joys and dreams!
  • Accept that you won’t get it all done! Remember, there are only 24 hours in the day, 168 hours in the week. Make yours count. 
    • Don’t worry, we all get sidetracked. Here’s a recent example for us:
      • What we planned to do during the month of December:
        • Focus on some writing projects
        • Working on a book, and
        • Creating all new Edit and Forget It guide for this year!
      • What we actually got done:
        • We wrote, but not nearly enough on the book
        • But we did work on our new ebook, which we don’t have our final title for but we’re working on. 
        • We also just spent some time reflecting and there will be some changes to the show that we’ll talk about later in the Thing segment.
      • In all honesty, we allowed ourselves to get distracted a bit through the holidays. So, we completely understand that post-holiday feeling of “Wow…I feel way behind, but it’s time for me to get started.” So, when times are tough don’t get too down on yourself. Remember, you need to…

Step 4: Give yourself credit for your accomplishments!

  • Too often we don’t celebrate our own accomplishments
  • We can be our own worst critic and pretty hard on ourselves.
  • You don’t have to succomb to guilty rewards or pleasures, but be sure to recognize your efforts. 

Step 5: Commit to a personal review schedule that works for you.

  • Some do a daily review, but do a 20-30 minute weekly as a minimum. Set a reminder.
  • Recording your thoughts helps track your progress. Use a journal, calendar event notes, Evernote, even a voice note if it’s easier, etc.
  • Monthly reviews set you up for your annual review.

So, there you have it! Five Simple Steps to make this YOUR best year ever! To recap, those 5 steps were:

    1. Review and reflect on the past year
    2. Prioritize and make new SMART goals
    3. Take control of your time
    4. Give credit to your accomplishments, and…
    5. Create and commit to a personal review.

Sure, you could just hop on the resolution bandwagon, make yourself some empty promises and avoid all the real effort. Or you really could take charge of your decisions, your actions, and your life. We’d be willing to bet if you really spend some time on Step 1, the other 4 steps will fall into place for you. Give it a shot. You deserve this year!

Question:

So, what are some of your goals for this year? How are you going to simplify? We’d love to know. Be sure to leave a comment and share at SimpleLifeTogether.com/052. So, are you going to get a jump on the New Year and start simplifying now?

THING Segment:

Combined: Well, our thing this week has to do with some of our reflection time. Remember, the Thing segment started out as something that happened, someone or some “thing” that made our lives a little simpler during the previous week since the last show.

Well, one thing that will make life a little simpler is this: We took about 4 hours to plan one day just before the middle of December and just spent some time reflecting and bouncing ideas off of one another. Here is some of what we talked about with regard to the show:

  • What we want our life together to look and feel like with regard to the show.
    • Candidly, we’re a year into SLT and we thought it was time to think about what’s working, what’s not working, etc. Just like a personal review.
    • We talked about:
      • The format of the show
      • Did some 80/20 analysis and came up with a page full of our “Pain Points”…things that held up production of the show, caused friction, etc.
    • So, we decided to make a few changes. Here they are:
      • Not do the Thing segment weekly, but as a target of opportunity.
      • Shorten our posts a bit but keep the full, unedited shownotes as a downloadable attachment.
      • Really work on getting better so we didn’t have to edit so much.
    • Together, these changes will help make producing the show a lot simpler for us. We’re not pros at the whole “production thing”. Putting the show out there every week still takes us up to 16 hours combined, and that just isn’t sustainable for us. So, we have to make it simpler because doing the show is important to us, and hopefully to you, too.

 Announcements:

Thanks to all of you who waited patiently throughout the month of December as we took a break. We missed you and we’re really, really excited to be back!

So as we mentioned earlier, we are working on two big writing projects. The first will be a book for Amazon that will be a guide to help people through the editing process with steps, some checklists, and more. Plus it will go right along with the Edit & Forget It Challenge. The second project is another book, as well. We’re not sure if we’ll self-publish that or seek out a traditional publisher. So, more to follow on that down the road as we make progress…

We have to say Project 333 is going great for us! We had no problems over the break and are going strong with Courtney Carver’s Dress With Less microcourse. You can learn more about that at SimpleLifeTogether.com/dress.

Finally, the Edit & Forget It Challenge is back for 2014! So if you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit Amodiovalerio Verde

Jan 02 2014

34mins

Play

SLT 012: Sun Tzu & the Art of Inbox Warfare, and How To Organize Any Space

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The Art of Inbox Warfare, and How To Organize Any Space

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show!  Thanks!

Main Topics 

Dan’s Topic: Sun Tzu & the Art of Inbox Warfare

We’ve had a few other listeners out there who have been struggling with their email inboxes lately, so I thought I’d take some time to give you some tips on how you can declare war on Inbox clutter and reclaim the calm to this part of your digital life.

The key to email management is the same as it is to physical things in your simple life: limit what you allow into your life. If your inbox is full of messages that don’t add value to your life, eliminate them now and put systems into place to eliminate them permanently.

Why do we get so much junk?
Sometimes it’s just that your email was on a subscriber list that was sold to marketers. But it’s also affected by what type of things you sign up for. So, if you really want to cut down on junk email:

  • Be a bit more careful who you give your email address to
  • Signing up for every little contest or offering that comes along is like saying, “Please spam me!”
  • Get over what’s called FOMO or the fear of missing out.
  • There’s good info and junk info…bringing more junk info into your life doesn’t make your life better or more simple. It makes it cluttered and hectic. Trust me, you’re not missing out.

So, here are some steps you can take to shape a more simple email experience:

– Unsubscribe from newsletters, feeds, updates, lists and other streams that don’t enrich your life.  If there’s no link to unsubscribe, you shouldn’t be at all uncomfortable about marking the message as spam. Gmail has a built in function that marks the message as spam and automatically attempts to unsubscribe you from the sender’s list but you can also do it yourself by clicking the  little stop sign-shaped icon with an exclamation point inside in your Inbox panel.

– Another way to deal with unwanted emails is by using filters. Most email programs allow you to set filters to weed out messages based on your inputs.  You can easily set filters in the settings area of your Gmail account, or if you have an email message open in Gmail, just click the “More” button and choose “Filter Messages Like These”.  Then just follow the prompts.

 So that covers stopping the deluge of inbound emails. What about the “Occupy Inbox” movement that’s already camped on in your email? Here’s how to handle what you have right now in 3 Steps:

1-Pick the dozen or so emails in your inbox that must be handled now to avoid an emergency, overcharges, severe embarrassment, or a close relationship and deal with them now. That alone will leave you feeling better.

2- Make the rest of the not so urgent emails (and yes, for many people that numbers in the THOUSANDS) and put them in a temporary folder or Label (Gmail). You’ll deal with them later. This does 2 things… First, it gets what appears to be a major obstacle, stumbling block, and barrier to progress out of the way. Second, it allows you to set up new habits and systems.

3- Tackle that Temporary folder or Label full of old emails. If you have so many that you can’t tackle it in one sitting, pick a time, set a timer for 15 minutes, and go to battle. Make time in your schedule for the next session, and keep at it until you’ve dealt with all of them. BUT…big but here…NOT at the cost of your inbox. You’ve got to commit to staying on top of your inbox.

So, now that you’ve kindly asked the spammy squatters to move on and you have your Inbox back...let’s move on to those habits and skills. Here are some things to master for a solid email routine:

– Don’t Over-Do the Folders or Labels:  Keep it simple by trusting the search function in your email system. So, set up a few folders (called “Labels” in Gmail) that match the major areas of your life such as work, family, home, your passions, taxes, etc…and then just use the Archive function for the rest.

– Trust the Search Function: Gmail is especially great at this.

– Delete When You’re Done: if you’ve finished reading an email and have no reason to keep it, then delete it right away.

– Limit your Access: This one takes a lot of getting used to. Especially if you have a reputation for always being available…digitally, of course. Set your own terms on checking email. Tim Ferriss recommends in his book The Four Hour Workweek, not to check your e-mail the first thing in the morning, and only check it periodically throughout the day.

– Set Expectations for those you correspond with, especially if they’re used to your instant responses. Set an auto responder that you’re only checking emails twice a day and give options for emergencies such as “If this is an emergency, please call my cell.”  No need to give out your cell number as those close to you already likely have it.

– Send fewer emails yourself and write your emails to elicit complete responses versus volleys of emails (like the effective communication mentioned in Episode 10). For instance, when setting up an appointment, instead of asking “When are you available?” State in your email, “I can meet Monday morning between 9:00 and 11:00 or Tuesday between 2:00 and 4:15.  If neither of those times work for you, please send me 3 options for Wednesday through Friday in the morning after 9:00, but before 4:15.”

– Keep your messages simple. Short sentences and 3-4 sentences at most, if possible. If this is a “just catching up” email…consider whether a phone call, Skype call, or Facetime wouldn’t be more productive.

-Your Inbox shouldn’t be your To-Do List . Process everything that comes in to your inbox with the goal of touching it once. If it’s a to do, use the Task List in Gmail along with Google Calendar, Evernote, the Reminders function on your Mac, or some other task management system.

-Avoid sending e-mails if you can. If you’re having problems with too many e-mails, why continue to add to it?  Find ways to cut down on the e-mails you send and help others avoid the clutter in their inbox, too.

Managing your inbox is a continuous battle. So, I’ll recap this in combat terms using the Principles of War compiled from the likes of Sun Tzu, Clausewitz and other smart dead guys. So, in no particular order, here we go!

  • Objective – Objective is defined as: Directing every operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective.  A simple military example is “Take that hill and hold it!”.  For your email, your objective isn’t really “Inbox Zero” as some systems claim. That’s just a likely result. Your Objective is effective communication and your Inbox is one tool for that. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a couple untouched emails in your Inbox until you’re ready to deal with them. Focus on the “effective communication” aspect.
  • Offensive – Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. “Attack!”  Just like in sports, defense is great, but you have to take action to win. Seize control of your Inbox, folders, and email system, and capitalize on your momentum to maintain the offensive.
  • Mass – In military ops, commanders strive to Mass the effects of overwhelming combat power at the decisive place and time. Commanders have many different weapons systems at their disposal. They bring air, land, and sea assets together at decisive places and times to defeat the enemy. That’s Mass. For your email system, this means “batch your tasks.” We talk about batching tasks a lot because it works. Interruptions kill momentum gained in the offensive and waste your time.
  • Economy of Force – Employ all combat power available in the most effective way possible; allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. In war, like in life, assets are finite. You can’t use all the tools in your toolkit all at once or when a lesser tool can accomplish the task. Your personal effort is your combat power when dealing with your Inbox. Maximize the use of automated systems such as the filters we talked about to minimize your personal effort, while maximizing the effectiveness of your system.
  • Maneuver – Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power. Essentially, lining up to “take the shot.” Again, filters can go a long way with maneuver, but think of your Folders or Labels in Gmail as a way to compartmentalize your info, and focus your attention where it needs to be.
  • Unity of Command – For every objective, seek unity of command and unity of effort. We’ve all been in situations where we wonder “who’s in charge here?” Who do I listen to? Unity of Command and Effort are great concepts to use when you share email for tasks or have an assistant that helps you with your emails. For instance, in a family setting, whoever does the bills should get the emails regarding the bills. In a work setting, your secretary or assistant should have clear guidelines for acting on your behalf or highlighting messages for your personal attention. The Four Hour Work Week has great examples for this.
  • Security – Never permit the enemy to acquire unexpected advantage. Of course there’s physical security, but one area that’s stressed in military circles is OPSEC or operational security. In sports, a boxer tries not to telegraph their punches, and poker players keep have a poker face to hide their intentions. At the same time, they try to read their opponents and look for their “tell”…a sign that gives away the opponent’s intentions. The enemy in our case is unnecessary information or digital clutter. Of course, be sure to apply all pertinent security methods for your email by using strong passwords, etc, but also think of this as securing your email address from those who might try to exploit it, and you, with spam, phishing attempts, and malware.
  • Simplicity – The most effective military plans are simple. The goal with this principle is to prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and concise orders to ensure thorough understanding.  There’s an adage called “Napoleon’s Corporal” that describes how Napoleon would have a corporal sit in during battle plan briefings to see if he understood the plan. If the Corporal understood, Napoleon figured, then commanders would understand. This best applies to your Folder or Labels system. Once again, if you’re using a product like Gmail, trust your email program’s search function.

and finally, we have..

  • Surprise – Strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared. OK, this one might be a bit of a stretch, but wait until you see the surprise on the asker’s face when you decline to give your email address to someone who is trying to collect it. It’s precious! If you’re uncomfortable saying NO at first, have a decoy email address you can give. Look, you’re just protecting yourself, so no harm-no foul there. But eventually, it’s best to just take a stand and say, “I don’t give that out. I’m sure you understand.”

So that’s it. A little Inbox Boot Camp so you can liberate your email from the enemy.

Edit & Forget It Update!

The spreadsheets were sent out to everyone who signed up for the Challenge at SimpleLifeTogether.com, so if you signed up and haven’t received them, drop us an email.

We’ll be setting up a private Facebook group for those doing the Edit & Forget It Challenge. You can share your successes, struggles, post pictures, etc.

  • Only members of the group will be able to see who’s in the group and what members post.
  • I’ll send out a message to those who have signed up for the Challenge already through SimpleLifeTogether.com telling them where to go on Facebook and request to join the Group.
  • If the email you signed up for the Challenge was different from your Facebook name, I may send you a direct email confirming it’s you.
  • This Group will be for Edit & Forget It members only. People who sign up after 24 January 2013 will automatically get an invite to the private Facebook page after they sign up.
  • There’s certainly no requirement to join the Facebook group, it’s just another way to be involved in the Challenge. If Facebook isn’t your thing…no worries at all.
  • It’s not too late to join the Challenge, so if you’re ready to edit 2013 things from your life, sign up on the website. We have people signing up every day and we’d love to have you join us!

Vanessa’s Topic: How To Organize Any Space

Since I’ve already talked about How Clutter Affects Your Life (Episode 10), The Benefits of Organizing and Having Less (Episode 4) and Why We Can’t Let Go of Our Clutter (Epidsode 3), I figured it was time share with you some tips on how to organize any space!

I won’t have time to go into a lot of detail but if you want a more in-depth explanation of the process you can check out my Organize Any Space Series at SimpleLifeTogether.com/organizeanything. I have 6 posts in the series that discusses each step in the process with a finale post where I organize a kitchen using the step-by-step process on how to organize it.

I’m just going to quickly outline the process on how you can organize any space but before you start I recommend:

– Start small.  Pick a small area like a small junk drawer, nightstand, or one section of your closet.  Whatever the project…pick just a small one.

– Mark your calendar. Yes…set a date for your organizing project. You’re more likely to get it done if you set a date.

– Give yourself adequate time to organize your space.  Since I recommend starting small give yourself at least 2 – 3 hours. It may not take that long, but you’ll be surprised how long some projects take.

– Limit interruptions. Try not to answer your phone, voicemails, emails, etc.  And if you can do it while the kids are out….that would be awesome!

There are several different organizers that have their own terminology on how to organize, but the basic steps and  process are all pretty much the same.  So being the uber simple gal that I am…I just have a 4 step process: N…A…P…O (ironically it’s the same acronym as the National Association of Professional Organizers…dorky I know):

1. Determine your NEEDS

2. ASSESS your space

3. PURGE or PARE DOWN your space

4. ORGANIZE your space

STEP 1 – DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS: (Please don’t skip over this step)  

– You really need to have a clear understanding of what your needs are, otherwise your efforts will be in vain. 

– Be sure to get the family and other household members involved.   

– Envision the space.  What is your end state?  How do you want it to look?  How do you want it to function?  How do you want to feel?

STEP 2 – ASSESS YOUR SPACE: (Don’t skip this step either)

– Identify what’s working for you. 

– Identify what’s not working for you.

– You’ll also want to evaluate your habits and natural tendencies. 

– Determine what’s in the space that shouldn’t be there. 

– Determine what is essential to you. 

– Map out your space by taking measurements and identifying limitations.

– Take “before” pictures of the space.

STEP 3 – PURGE/or PARE DOWN: This is the hands on editing phase of organizing your space…the part that’s the most difficult and frustrating but if you follow these steps it’ll make it a lot easier:

– Gather your supplies (paper, post it notes, markers, trash bags, 4-8 bins  for sorting ,  a folding table to give you a flat surface to work on,  and maybe even gloves for messier work like in the garage).

– Set up your sorting bins, bags and/or piles. 

KEEP: anything you love, use and need.  (Note:  this may require several additional  piles because you’re going to break your “keep items” down into general “like” categories like: office supplies, paperwork, kitchen utensils, electronics, toys, etc. Don’t get too specific…keep the piles general for now…you can fine tune later).

TRASH: items that are broken, soiled, ripped or beyond repair (use a trash bag)

RECYCLE: self explanatory but check with your local recycling center to see what they’ll take (use trash bag)

DONATE: don’t donate anything that is in poor condition. You know, things that you wouldn’t give  to friends or family (use trash bag or box).

DON’T KNOW: stuff you’re having a hard time of letting go of or figuring out what to do with.  Don’t spend too much time on these right now…you can decide later what to do with them.

ELSEWHERE / RETURN: belong in another room, belong to someone else, or need to be returned.

– Start sorting…pull everything out of the space one item at a time and decide which bin to put it in.

– Start with flat surfaces first to free up your tables and counter space then tackle the cabinets and drawers and so on.

– Move from one side of the room to the other. You’ll have a better idea of how much you’ve gotten done as you go.

– Once you’ve finished sorting, go back to your DON’T KNOW PILE: If you don’t love it, need it or use it you can probably let it go.  But if you’re still having trouble, I recommend going to Episode 3’s shownotes for other helpful questions to guide your decision.

– Remove all your bins and bags except for your “KEEP” items from the area immediately! Don’t give yourself the opportunity to change your mind.

STEP 4 – ORGANIZE: This is where you start to put things back in the space. Here are some things to keep in mind as you organize:

Sort like items together:  Remember that KEEP Pile? You can break those general categories of things down even further. For example your kitchen pile can now be broken down into glasses, bakeware, pots and pans, utensils, dinnerware, food, bowls, etc.  You can do the same for your clothes, toys and office supplies.

Create zones in your space and place your items accordingly. For example the kitchen; you can establish a cooking zone near the stove, a baking zone near the oven, a coffee/beverage zone near the sink or fridge and a serving zone/dinnerware near the dishwasher.

In your zones, place frequently used items within arms reach.  Everyday items should be easy to grab.

Seldom used items up high, down low or in back of your frequently used items.

Think safety for yourself and the kids. Delicates, cleaning supplies, medications and heavy items should be put in areas that are safe).

– Don’t forget about vertical storage.  You can install racks on walls, behind door, or inside cabinets. You can use the side of a refrigerator or metal filing cabinet to hang magnetic jars and baskets.

– Use containers and containers within containers.  I always recommend shopping from your own home and using what you have first (you may have actually freed up some containers after you edited).  But if you want to update your space with newer, nicer, or more efficient products by all means go ahead, just make sure you measure twice…and purchase once!

– Now you should label everything you can! I highly recommend getting yourself a good label maker like the Brother P-Touch…it makes such a difference.  You can label shelves, containers, lazy susans, drawers, etc. It helps to learn where things go…and where to return them!!!!

– Maintain your space by establishing rules and routines. Refer to Episode 2.

So that’s how you organize any space: Determine your Needs, Assess your space, Purge your space and Organize it…then  Repeat because organizing is usually cyclical ;o)

The “Thing” Segment:

Vanessa: Never Too Old To Learn

My Thing this week was being inspired by my one of my clients to never stop learning. I have a 68 year old client who in the past 3-4 years has completed her Bachelors in Nursing as well has her Master’s Degree…and is now working on her PhD. Dang!  She inspired me to pursue an Interior Decorating certification as well as my certification as a Certified Professional Organizer .  Yay!

Dan:  Focusing a Little Harder on the Fitness Pillar

Well, if you listened to Episode 1 or looked around our site, you know we focus our lives on our five pillars of Faith, Family, Finances, Fitness and Future. Well, with the holidays, my Vegas trip, too much sitting at a desk, the weather and (insert incredibly lame excuse here)…I think I’ve been too lax lately and my body is sending me signals to make some changes.  So I’m going to re-focus on my fitness and health by  doing more juicing, walking and biking.  So, that’s my thing…

Feedback: We’ve been getting flooded with great feedback and here’s just a sample:

Chef Toni from DinnerMadeSimple.com. wrote:”Just what I was looking for! A little direction on how live life more simply. Love Dan and Vanessa’s take on all this. From technology to finances to organizing…they’ve got it all covered and I can’t wait for more episodes! ”

Emily from TheCrunchyCoach.com wrote: “Every once in a while, I run into a new podcast that I wish was an old one so I could keep on listening to archived episodes every day for the next couple of months. Yours is one! Hurry up and get the next one out, lol! ” Turns out Emily started the Edit and Forget It Challenge before we even started it!  She’s gotten rid of a ton of stuff!

Vanessa was listening to the Mommy’s Cocktail Hour podcast and low and behold they mentioned SimpleLifeTogether as one of their Fabulous Finds for the week! How cool! So, thanks to all the ladies over at MommysCocktailHour.com!

And Nick from SPNT.tv left a terrific comment on iTunes for us. Nick is looking to simplify his life this year, too, and started listening to us on Episode 1 and he’s on his way! Well, thanks, Nick, and we’re certainly glad to be able to help out along the way!

Closing Thoughts:

We’re blessed to be able to share some ideas and some of our experiences as we journey toward a simpler life in the modern world and we’d like to hear some of your experiences, too.

It sure would help if you you took just 2 minutes to review the show in iTunes. The more positive reviews we get, the higher the show is in the listings and that’s how people find us.

If you like the show, please subscribe and consider giving us a good review in iTunesIt takes less than 2 minutes to review the show in iTunes and that’s the best way for people to find us.

  • In iTunes just search for Simple Life Together
  • Click on the green “Simple Life Together” picture…
  • Scroll down to Customer Reviews where you’ll see “Write a Review”
  • Click on”Write a Review”
  • Write your review…
  • Click “Submit”! It’s as easy as that and it really helps to get the word out about the the show.  Thanks for doing that.  

If you know someone else who might enjoy the journey too, send them a link to SimpleLifeTogether.com

Connect with us on Twitter, Dan is @DanielHayes and Vanessa is @GetSimplifized. You can find links to our Twitter and Google Plus profiles on the left side of the home page.

Be sure to leave comments below, send us a voicemail from the little microphone icon on the right side of the page, or you can go “old school” and email us!  Comments, questions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions…they’re all welcome and we’d love to hear from you!

So, here are the links we mentioned in the show:

The 4 Hour Workweek

Brother P-Touch Label Maker

Mommy’s Cocktail Hour

SPNT.tv

DinnerMadeSimple.com

SLT Podcast Episode 1

SLT Podcast Episode 2

SLT Podcast Episode 3

 SLT Podcast Episode 4

SLT Podcast Episode 10

Jan 24 2013

1hr 3mins

Play

SLT063: Five Steps to Simple Living

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When it comes to simple living, or making any changes in life, there always seems to be plenty of experts around telling you what you should do, and how you should do it. Looking to get in shape? You can find an endless supply of “experts”…many of which will directly contradict each other…that are ready with their magic formula to help you. All you have to do is buy their equipment, take their magic pill, or follow their magic advice.

But what it all boils down to in the real world is developing a simple plan that is right for YOU, and then kicking things into gear! When it comes to simple living or simplifying certain areas of your life, there are some things that have worked for us and that you can use to start making strides in areas of your life that you want to simplify.   Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Five Steps to Simple Living

We’re just going to offer 5 ways to help you simplify your life…at your own pace.

Okay, first… Take an objective look at where you are.

Once you look at where you are now, you can figure out where you want to be and start working in that direction.

Number two…start with one area of your life.

Simple living has so many different facets. But what’s one area you want to fix? Is it your physical clutter, time commitments and obligations, finances, your professional life, personal life, health? What do you want to focus on? Pick one thing first, then edit what isn’t working and try to streamline ways to keep it simple…and keep it going. Here’s an example: a major area of frustration for me was our kitchen counter that became “The Clutter Zone”. The first thing we did was get rid of the junk, then Dan came up with the idea of making some cubbies in the columns next to where the clutter was collecting…and it worked great! That one change had such a huge impact on our physical space that it led to more and more opportunities to simplify. And that’s what we’re talking about for our third point…

Simple living will become addictive!

And once you start that one area, you’ll likely find you’re ready to expand your efforts and carry that momentum into simplifying other areas of your life. So as we just mentioned regarding those cubbies…that worked so well that the idea spread to other areas of the home to control and contain our clutter.

    • Focusing on our finances was another area that we wanted to simplify. So we focused on selling (editing) our land which set us up to tackle other financial goals we had, and buy our teardrop trailer outright.
    • Our Edit and Forget Challenge became a lifestyle and not just a one time event! The same thing can happen in other areas of your life, too, like health and fitness. Sometimes we try to do everything but quickly get burned out.
    • The best thing to do is to keep it simple and work on one thing at a time. Here’s an example: For us, the idea of doing a 60 day juice fast sounded great, but it just wasn’t realistic for us. Instead we chose to make it part of our weekly diet plan…slowly incorporating it at least 3-4 times/week. By doing that…it has become a regular part of our life…something we’ve been able to sustain for over two years. And we became addicted to how good it made us feel which led us to look into other way to improve or expand our healthy eating goals. Juicing led to eating more raw foods… and eating smaller portions…and now smoothies. Matter of fact, we’ll have Farnoosh Brock back again on the next show to talk about that! You see, when you start small or with one thing at a time, it’s much easier to implement it, sustain it, and spread to other areas of your life. So have a rough plan…a punch list, if you will, of areas you want to simplify. That way, you can concentrate your efforts and capitalize on your efficiencies.

And the fourth thing is that by doing this, you can Go At Your Own Pace.

You’ll know what pace is right for you and when it’s time to stretch a bit or ease up. Find people, books, podcasts or blogs that help guide and support. But don’t fall for the “gurus or experts” who pretend to have some secret formula or easy solution. They sound great, but they don’t know you. You know you. Follow what feels right to you. And as we mentioned before, be prepared for some friendly “critiquing” along the way from others who just don’t get it…YET. We talk about that pretty in-depth in Episodes 13 about escaping cubicle life and in Episode 55, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Simplicity.

So for a quick recap, we had 1- Take an objective look at where you are, 2- Start With One Area of Your Life, 3- Know That Simple Living Will Become Addictive, and 4- Go At Your Own Pace.

Now, the 5th and final step is… Take action!

Get started and tweak things as you go! Try personal simplicity challenges, like our Edit & Forget It Challenge, Project 333, and others. Measure your progress against your own yardstick and try to stick to your objectives. Of course, it always helps to have a very well developed plan, but to paraphrase von Moltke, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” So, armed with your motivation to simplify and your rough plan from Step 2, get started and be prepared to tweak things along the way. That way you can always stay on the offensive and have the agility to change course when you need to, but still work toward your objective. There are lots of sayings in the military that follow this advice, such as “improvise, adapt and overcome,” and “Flexibility is the key to Airpower.”  So, as you take action, remember it’s better to follow your overall objectives than it is to follow a rigid plan. So there you go…5 Steps to Simple Living at Your Own Pace.

Major Takeaway

So the major takeaway here is this: Remember, no matter what area of your life you’re trying to improve, there is help out there. But don’t fall for the “gurus or experts” who pretend to have some secret formula. They don’t know you like You know you. Follow what feels right to you. Figure out where you are now, where you want to be, make a plan, take action and tweak along the way. That’s it. If that sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s about the same thing as the OODA loop we talked about WAY BACK in Episode 16, Making Decisions Like a Fighter Pilot.

Question:

So, have you ever found yourself frustrated with the advice of so called gurus or experts? Or do you take advice with a grain of salt and adapt a little here and there to fit your needs? Do you have any tips or advice on ways you’ve been able to reach your simplicity goals and stay on track? We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment

Dan just reviewed a terrific Evernote guide titled How to Automate Evernote, Save Boat Loads of Time And Make Your Life Easier. It’s a 76-page ebook on how to automate Evernote with some cool programs he’s talked about before such as If This Than That, Gmail, and others. Kosio, the author, sent Dan a copy and it has some pretty interesting tactics that’ll save you lots of time. You can find it at SimpleLifeTogether.com/automate. It goes great with Brett Kelly’s “Evernote Essentials, another terrific book to help you make the most of Evernote. You can get that at SimpleLifeTogether.com/essentials.

Qs and Comments, iTunes Reviews

And we got a nice voicemail from Genevieve Parker Hill from PackingLust.com on our Speakpipe app on the website.

iTunes Reviews:

Candabar: The best simple living podcast out there!!! If you are looking for a way to cut down and live a more simple and meaningful life, look no further! This podcast is perfect for that and it has really helped me. Don’t bother with any other simple living podcast!!!

Mopjunkie: The two of you are a great inspiration. I found you recently on James Kinson’s Cash Car Convert. I’m in!!! I had to come to the realization that I had too much stuff! We’ve already started the reduction phase and also just signed up for your edit and forget it. The two of you are entertaining yet informative! I listen during my 30 minute commute and your segments are just the right size, begin in the morning and finish in the afternoon. Look forward to the drive, yet know I will soon be caught up soon as I listen to a different session each day. Love your shedquarters!!! And keep up the good work!

James Sandercock (Canada): Real life, real hosts, real help. Vanessa and Dan bring well focused, good humoured, and encouraging words of advice into my home each time I listen (and re-listen) to their podcast. They are not syrupy sweet silver lining know it alls. Instead they are sweetly helpful, dig for the silver, know some…and share some type people. They follow a great structure with a lot of fun and loving banter between the two of them. I have subscribed and look forward to each episode. Sincerely, a mum in the toy filled trenches with four manic munchkins!

 Announcements:

  • Our Big Announcement!

    • We’ll be doing the show every other week, versus weekly, to keep things “fresh”.
    • Plus, we want to pursue even more things, too. Here are a few:
      • You’ve heard us talk about our teardrop trailer. Well, we have wanted to do a podcast about our teardrop camping adventures but haven’t been able to find the time.
      • We also want to do some more writing, short-form videos, etc.
      • Dan is also considering taking some classes so that will take a time commitment.
      • We have lots of travel planned for the summer and want to document that for Teardrop Talk.
    • And…just to keep you on your toes…we’re going to switch back to Thursdays for our typical podcast release days, too!
    • Matter of fact, we’ll be producing more content than ever…just spread more evenly across how we live our simple life together.
    • Just to give you a little more insight into our plan, instead of doing a completely separate website for our new Teardrop Talk podcast and videos, we’re going to start out by just doing a separate tab right on SimpleLifeTogether.com. We may have to switch that down the road. We’ll let you know when that goes live and, of course, we’d love to have you follow along there, too.
    • We’re hoping that we’ll be able to bring some of our Teardrop Talk listeners over to the simplicity side, and lead some of our simplicity lovers over to teardropping, too!
  • Our Next Big Announcement

    • We have a Simple Life Together Facebook page and forum. Yeah…some of you are saying “FINALLY!”
      • Now, admittedly, we’re not the biggest fans of Facebook, but it seems to be where most people are.
      • We’ve had the private Edit and Forget It page on Facebook for over a year and it’s become a wealth of information and and a great resource for everyone there. We’re hoping the open Facebook page for Simple Life Together will grow to be the same.
      • We’ve installed a forum app there too so we can categorize things by topic. That should help a lot!
      • We haven’t started seeding topics there yet but it is an open page and open forum so feel free to start setting up topics too!
    • So, we look forward to seeing you on our open Simple Life Together Facebook page
      • We’re building the new Simple Life Together page on Vanessa’s previous GetSimplifized page. So, while the URL has already changed to Facebook.com/SimpleLifeTogether, it’s not changed in the Facebook search yet. It still shows up as GetSimplifized.
      • FYI, Facebook told me they have a 14-day waiting period for page name changes, so it should change on the 21st of April.
  • SimpleRev Tickets:

    • Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleRev! Only 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Yours Truly

Apr 07 2014

29mins

Play

SLT062: Stop the Accumulation of Clutter

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We all have clutter in our lives. Naturally, one of the first steps on the road to simplicity is to challenge what and how much you consume. The basic idea here is that, the more you consume…meaning buy, acquire, receive, etc…the more complicated your life can be, and the more clutter you have, too! The less you consume the simpler it will be.

So as important as editing is…and that’s an ongoing process…understand that just as important on the road to simplicity is your ability to slow your accumulation of stuff.  Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Topic: Stop the Accumulation of Clutter

But stopping the accumulation of “stuff”(aka clutter) is not as easy as flipping a switch. You’ve got to change your mindset, establish boundaries like we talked about back in Episode 54, and exercise a great amount of self-restraint.

The reality is, most of us have been on autopilot when it comes buying and accumulating things. To consume is human. But consuming is easy…too easy as a matter of fact; which makes slowing the accumulation a little more challenging. But who doesn’t like a healthy challenge?

Ways to Stop Clutter from Finding Its Way Into Your Life

Awareness

The first step in slowing the accumulation is becoming aware of your own buying habits and also being aware of how marketers and advertisers work.

The Stuff Cycle: On the last show, Dan introduced the Stuff Cycle as this seemingly natural 6-Phase cycle of why and how we consume stuff.

You can go back and listen to that in Episode 61, but remember the 6 phases are the:

        • Perceived Need Phase
        • Acquire Phase
        • Utilization Phase
        • Replacement Phase
        • Edit Phase and the…
        • Refine Phase

Let’s focus mostly on the Perceived Need phase and how that influences the Acquire phase. There are a few things you can make yourself aware of that influence how you perceive unmet needs or desires which effect how you act in the Acquire phase.

Marketing Strategies: Being aware of how Marketers and advertisers try to convince you that your life will be so much better if you get their product. Now…a lot of times they’re right. We definitely like some products we buy because they have made our life simpler….or added value to our lives. But more often than not, products just add clutter.

Here are just a few strategies marketers will use to get you to buy “stuff”:

      • They’ll use simplicity and minimalism against you: 
        • Ex: Target had a commercial about minimalism with their clothing….yeah right!
        • Ex: After saying Vanessa didn’t use or need a lot of product because she takes a minimal approach to makeup, she was told at a makeup counter that the manufacturer was “all about minimalism” too.
      • They tout their products will make life “easier” but usually they just cause more clutter. 
        • “If Necessity is the mother of invention, Convenience is the mother of the unitasker!”
      • They use “sale” terms are used over and over again but their real intent is to make you buy. Such as:
        • “It’s FREE!!!” Well, nothing is ever FREE. 
        • Advertisers will tempt you with quantity over quality by using “Buy one get one free” or “Buy 5 for the price of 4” strategies for example. Seriously? You only need 1 tub of yogurt. Can you really go through that much before it spoils? Just sayin’. Or…
        • Buy one get one free but…“just pay shipping and handling”…which usually ends up being outrageous!
      • They capture your information for their sales funnel and hope for a later sale.
        • Ever put your name in a drawing to possibly win a FREE whateveryoucallit? Well, you just entered their sales funnel. Now they’ve got your email or mailing address.
        • Your name will be added to a list for a later sales pitch at their convenience
          • Most likely, they’ll sell your info to third parties (for profit) and those companies will contact you, too!
      • They offer a deep discount to you now, to be made up by them later (sometimes in multiples).
        • “Save 20% off your purchase today if you open up an account with us”
        • These deals almost always come with hidden fees.
        • They also cause temptation for easy purchases later since you have a store card.
      • They’ll strategically place front of the store sales, clearance items, and end of aisle “As Seen On TV” gadgets and unitaskers. These places are “key terrain,” giving stores a marked advantage. They use these areas strategically to:
        • Capitalize on impulse buying
        • Make you to think “you can’t afford not to buy it”
        • Funnel traffic through to increase likelihood of sales because they know you’ll pass it.

Action Steps:

Now that you know, how do you stop the flow in the Perceived Need phase before you act in the Acquire phase?  Here are some techniques we use and you can too!

Change your mindset. If you want simplicity, you need to focus on your needs and priorities. LESS really is MORE! Practice it…and embrace it.

Ask yourself the following questions before you buy:

      • Do I need it?
      • Will I use it?
      • Where will it live in my life if I buy this?
      • What actions will I have to take to make it fit in my life?
      • What will I have to move or get rid of to make room for this?
      • What type of maintenance and upkeep will be required?
      • Is it really going to add VALUE to my life?

Create Boundaries for yourself:

      • Use the one in one out rule.
      • Wait a period of time before making any purchase. 
      • Reconsider bulk items…will you use them, will you have room for them?
      • Have a budget.
      • Shop with a purpose…with a list…and stick to it.
      • Research products before buying.

Consider borrowing or outsourcing:

      • Ex: Yard service vs owning a ton of yard equipment
      • Pay for access to entertainment versus buying it. Things like:
        • AppleTV, HuluPlus, Netflix instead of owning a lot of DVDs or subscribing to cable
        • Only buy entertainment that has been “vetted” by others with similar tastes:
          • Movies that have been vetted
          • Music you absolutely love
          • Books with great reviews or recommendations

Stem the Flow of Junk Mail Advertisements:

Go back and re-listen or re-read Episode 24. Specifically, we give you some great tips to stop the mail flow, cut down on ads, and opt out of things you just don’t want to receive. It’s a great, proactive way to stop accumulation…stop it before it even gets to you!

Major Takeaway

So the major takeaway here is this: Yes, slowing your accumulation can be challenging when it comes to simplifying your life, but by being more aware, mindful and deliberate about what you consume, after a little practice it won’t be s0 difficult. Sure you may splurge here and there (like we talked about back in Episode 60 , What’s Your Simplicity Splurge?), but hopefully you won’t feel as guilt-ridden because that “splurge” was a deliberate one and not one based on impulse or weakness.

Question:

So, how do you slow the accumulation of stuff into your life? What tips or techniques do you use that could help the rest of us as we try to combat the temptation of consumerism? We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment

Dan:  Taking my Dad and nephew driving around the Texas Hill Country. Once again, experiences win out over stuff!

Qs and Comments

MicheleStiches wrote and said…

Dan and Vanessa,

As a mom of 7 kids (5 of them now moved out) I could comment on this topic till the cows come home! I’ll try to stick to just a few things. Let me preface by saying that with 7 kids, and limited income, some of our family ways have been out of necessity, but know that much of this can work for many or few!

We tried to limit toys. We found that the creative-play toys (like blocks) were likely to last longer than toys that only did one thing. Also, we tried to get toys that could easily be added to, for example, Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train set or Legos…enabling them to build bigger, and more complicated set-ups but not adding to the sense of clutter.

We also limited organized extra-curricular activities. Each kid got to choose one sport or music lesson they could do. This taught them that you can’t do it ALL. You have to decide what you really love and what is truly fulfilling. It also taught them that what they do as an individual affects the whole family, and sometimes the good of the many outweighs the good of the one.

A wise woman once told me to never do for your children what they can do for themselves…i.e. teach the kids to clean their own messes, pick up their own toys, do their own laundry. This is one thing that worked really well for us. My kids even had assigned days for laundry to prevent arguing over the washing machine. Not only were they responsible for their own stuff, but we had chore charts and everyone helped with the shared spaces of the home. They washed dishes, dusted, swept, vacuumed, scrubbed bathrooms, etc. And I confess, we never paid our kids for these jobs. We wanted them to learn that it was part of being in the family. Mommy doesn’t get paid to cook dinner. Daddy doesn’t get paid to mow the lawn. We do it because we all work together to keep our home running smoothly.

Our kids have all worked outside the home. They learn that spending money equals giving up a piece of your life for whatever you are buying. It is amazing to watch a young person at a store who “NEEDS” something, change their mind after you tell them, “Sure, you may get that if you want to spend YOUR money on it!”

Another thing that we do in our family is start at an early age educating our kids about responsibility and unrealistic expectations. We have a saying:

“With adult privileges comes adult responsibilities.”

For example, my kids know from a very young age that if they ever want a car, THEY will have to pay for the car (and the gas, and the insurance, and the maintenance.) Granted, there has been a time or two when we have helped them out a bit, but they do not EXPECT this from us. We do it as an act of grace and love…a gift. We actually have one teenage son who got rid of an older car he had been gifted by a grandmother! After a year of ownership, he realized he was sacrificing a large chunk of his life working just to put gas in the machine and pay for the constant repairs. He decided having a car was not worth it!

We also teach our children that when they decide to leave the nest, they are on their own financially. I know this may seem harsh to some readers, but we explain to them that if they want to be an adult and make their own decisions and not have to report to us, then they get ALL the responsibility (rent, utilities, food) that comes with that privilege. This is only fair. It is responsibility that often grounds people and keeps us from behaving foolishly.

 Announcements:

  • Check out the first episode of All Things Simple Rev, the podcast about the SimpleRev simplicity summit I’m working on with our friend Joel ZaslofskySimpleRev will be 200+ passionate simple-living advocates. Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist will be there, too! To learn more, just go to SimpleRev.com or SimpleLifeTogether.com/rev.
    • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Date: October 3-4, 2014
    • Venue: University of St. Thomas Downtown Campus
  • Joel put together a fantastic page on SimpleRev.com where you can find all your transportation options, lodging, what to do, how to get around…everything a conference attendee would like ask about the area at SimpleRev.com/allittakes.
  • Special thanks to ScrappydCote  for the review you left for us on iTunes. It really does help people find the show.
    • If you’d like to leave a review, just go here on iTunes and click “View in iTunes,” launch iTunes, and then click “Write a Review.”

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF  of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: FreddieBrown

Mar 28 2014

37mins

Play

SLT053: Fewer Things, Fuller Life! Are You Ready?

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On our journey toward a more simple life in the modern world, one point that keeps hitting home is that less is more. We like to say, fewer things, fuller life. Last year, we started the Edit & Forget It Challenge to eliminate 2013 things from our lives and hundreds of you joined us. Well, we’re going to keep it going this year, too! Now, we know 2014 fewer things is a lofty goal and certainly won’t be for everyone. But remember, it’s never about the numbers, it’s about your relationship with stuff. The real focus is to eliminate anything that you really don’t need any longer and to reach a point where you have truly what you need…what you love…and what you use. You’re trying to build some margin in your life and the Edit & Forget It Challenge will help you do that!

So, if you’re considering doing the Challenge…if you’re ready for fewer things cluttering up the margin in your life…we thought we’d share some of the experiences we had as we eliminated over 3000 things from our lives last year. Plus, we’ll tell you how you can sign up too (it’s FREE!), and and we’ll go over the “rules” (think of those rules in air quotes because you can shape them a bit to fit your needs).

So let’s get started! Read more…

Topic: The Edit & Forget It Challenge

Our Experiences from 2013

Starting Out: As we embarked on this challenge I was chomping at the bit! Editing clutter has become second nature to me. Not just because of the work I do as an organizer, but because I make a regular habit of letting go of clutter in our home. I’ve also come to appreciate the concept of “less is more” and so I’ve been ready to let go of a lot more things for awhile.

  • We started off easy by editing our own clothes first. We’ve mentioned before that starting the Edit and Forget It Challenge by editing your own clothes is a really good place to start simply because, for most of us, we don’t share our clothes so its usually easier to make decisions on them.
  • What’s interesting, is we started the challenge knowing we really didn’t have much clutter in our home to begin with, but I knew once we got to the garage it would be a different story. 
  • The cool thing about the garage project was that Dan…well…he let me take over. He decided “hey…she does this for a living…I need to let her lead the way.” That was cool and it worked out well. But there were a few other reasons why it worked out well other than me leading the charge:
    1. We set a date…actually we set aside an entire weekend just in case we couldn’t finish in a day.
    2. We shared the same goal. We both wanted less stuff overall… and to make room for our car (or future teardrop camper) to fit in.
    3. We worked as a team. The beautiful thing about working together is not only do you have additional manpower…but you’ve got someone to help guide or keep you in check. Like asking tough questions to really get you to think about if you should keep an item or not. Or knowing when to take a break when the other is tired or struggling to make decisions.
  • So, we were able to meet and exceed our Edit and Forget It goal once we edited the garage. And it felt AMAZING!!! You know how cool it is to set a goal and then achieve or surpass it…it’s AWESOME!
  • And that’s what you are going to experience. But there are a lot of other things you’ll experience along the way which I’m going to go over with you in a moment. But first let me break down what our actual stats were for you:

Our Results: We edited 2920 things (a little more because I lost count and forgot to record a few things…plus we didn’t count all of our garage items).

  • Of those 2920 edited items: over 2300 were donated or given away
  • Over 130 were recycled
  • Over 150 items were sold
  • 50 were digitized (keepsakes and manuals)
  • The Best Thing…was that only 190 items were TOSSED! It felt so good that we had better options of letting go than to dump it all in the trash!!!!
  • Another cool thing….was that we made over $2000 from selling our stuff! Which included things like our treadmill, oriental silk rug, saddleback leather bags, clothes we sold at a yard sale, power tools, home fitness equipment, and podcasting equipment. Oh, and we sold our land which freed up a lot of other financial obligations…that was the biggest EDIT (but we didn’t include that in our stats)!
  • We used Ebay and Craig’s List for selling most of our stuff. It was really nice to get a little something back for going through the process.

Some Edit & Forget It Challenge “Side Effects”:  There were definitely some other side effects that we experienced that you might experience too by going through this challenge:

  • Once you start you may not want to stop! We kept going even after we met our goal. Letting go of our clutter was such a relief and it gets addicting.
  • You will become more mindful about what you let into your life in the future. It’s like this natural side effect of editing….you become more aware. As you edit, you will no doubt experience moments of frustration, sadness, or regret because you spent way too much or wasted money on things that you got little use from or they didn’t deliver on their promise to make you happier. It’s normal and it’s ok….I know Dan and I had several moments of shaking our heads thinking… “what were we thinking?!” But what I would recommend is to try and channel that frustration and regret and use it to your advantage by becoming more aware. You’ll have a better sense of what triggers you have that make you buy….heck after you go through the E&F it challenge you may be like: “I’m never going through that again!”, so you are now determined more than ever to not allow clutter into your life.
  • A side effect of being more mindful and another benefit of the E&F Challenge is that you’ll curb your spending and probably save some money. I know I cut down dramatically on clothes, shoes and toy shopping. And Dan cut down on tech gadgets, etc….
  • You’ll relieve yourself of some guilt. Have you ever looked at things in your home and thought… “Ugg! Man, we bought that gadget 6 months ago and we haven’t used it yet! We really should use that more!”? And then every time you see it you say the exact same thing. And after a while you start really getting down on yourself and feeling totally guilty? I know I felt the same way about our treadmill. I use to look at it everyday and think; “I really should use that!” And then I’d go for a run outside. Ha! But once we sold it, I no longer felt guilty for not using it as much as I was telling myself I should. The same thing happened when we sold my silk rug. I felt guilty for keeping this beautiful piece of art stored away for 8 years and not displaying it properly. But once we sold it, I was instantly freed of that guilt!
  • If you join the E&F Facebook group, you’ll get a TON of help and support! Dan and I don’t have the answers to every editing question that gets posted….but there has been some amazing advice. I’ve learned so much from folks like, Dayis, Kaylin, Tania, Robin, Kate, Ellis, Anne and sooo many others on who are active on the E&F page.
  • You can get overwhelmed at the tasks ahead. I know we put off the garage for a few months because of how big it was….and we’ve delayed editing our personal and professional boxes of papers and keepsakes until this year. But just start in one small/easy to edit area and then move to another, bigger area once you get into the groove. Remember, you have all year.
  • Your family and friends won’t “get you” and think you’re crazy!!!!
  • It may become a way of life. Like I said in the beginning, editing has become second nature. Mostly because we’ve made a habit of editing different areas of our home on a consistent or recurring basis. It may not be a specific date on the calendar, but I’ll know when it’s time to edit and reorganize when things are feeling chaotic like in a closet, garage or in the kitchen…it’s probably because it hasn’t been edited in a while. So, basically, once you feel the benefits of editing you’re going to want to keep going and keep it up.
  • You may be tempted to test the “minimalist” waters….like Dan and I have with testing out a minimalist wardrobe. That was uber simple for Dan…and uber tough for me…at first. But it gave us an even greater sense of and appreciation for “less is more”. And you can experience the same thing…maybe not in every facet of your life or space, but just one small area. We highly recommend taking it to the next level once you’re ready and experience some of the benefits of minimalism.
  • And I gotta say that this is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll see over on the Facebook Page just how much this challenge has affected people’s lives. It’s really been kind of amazing. You’ll see…

Moving Forward in 2014: Our Edit & Forget It Challenge Goals

  • Do a second round in the garage
  • Digitizing more of our documents
  • Digitizing our keepsakes and photos
  • Continue with Project 333 and Dress with Less
  • Contemplate becoming a one car family (yikes!)
  • Implement new buying strategy of not buying anything until we’ve waited a week or two to think about it.

Things to consider:

The Numbers: To eliminate 2014 things from your home in 2014 the numbers work out like this:

    • About 6 things per day
    • About 40 things per week
    • About 170 per month
    • We’re also including going paperless because that is a great way to eliminate paper clutter from your home.

So, you may want to re-listen to Episode 6 and our interview with Brooks Duncan of DocumentSnap. We recommend ScanSnap scanners!

It’s also really good to have an accountability buddy and that’s what we and all the members of the Edit & Forget It Facebook Page are for. We keep each other on track, with encouragement, suggestions, and reinforcement.

Edit & Forget It Guidelines:

  • Things that normally go together or that you originally purchased together count as one, e.g. a pair of shoes counts as one (not 2), a deck of cards counts as one (not 52) a puzzle counts as one (not 150).
  • Donated packaged food counts, thrown out food does not.
  • Scanned documents count as one original if disposed of. A document is a document whether it is a single page by itself or a ten page document. Each scanned document counts as one item.
  • Consider not counting things that you don’t ordinarily keep in your home (like junk mail, catalogs, etc) if you recycle or trash them immediately upon receipt. But if you typically keep them in your home, then you should count them!
  • To help track your progress we made a very generic spreadsheet that tracks:
    • What you sell (and logging the actual sale amount)
    • What you donate (and logging the market value)
    • What you give away
    • What you discard
    • And what you digitize!
    • You’ll get links to the spreadsheet that you can use when you sign up for the Challenge. Of course you can make your own if you’d like! We’ve had members simply gather things and take pictures. Whatever works for you. Now, I will say that some members even stopped counting. If it’s just way too much trouble to keep count, well…ok, but some of them who are continuing this year said they’ll keep an accurate count this time.
    • So, these are our guidelines. We’d love it if you’d join us! Feel free to use our guidelines “as is” or adapt them for your needs.
    • To sign up, just click here or click on the Edit & Forget It box on the right side of the page. 

Again, we know 2014 fewer things is a lofty goal and certainly won’t be for everyone. The focus of Edit & Forget It Challenge is eliminating as many things you truly don’t need any longer. It’s not about deprivation, it’s about reaching a point where you have what you truly need, love, and use. It’s about shedding some things that no longer have the impact on you that they once had, so you can focus on the quality of things you let into your life. The Edit & Forget It Challenge really will help you take control and build that margin in your life that you’ve had as your goal.

Question:

So, if you’re a returning Edit and Forget It member, what’s next for you? If you haven’t signed up yet, what’s holding you back? Are you ready for fewer things and a fuller life? It doesn’t cost a thing but you’ll get so much out of it. Oh, and would you like to hear from some of those that took or are taking the Challenge? We’re considering an occasional segment from members. Let us know! Be sure to leave a comment below!

THING Segment:

Our trip to Vegas for the Podcast Awards. Well, we didn’t win, but we had a fantastic time with some amazing friends, none of which we wouldn’t have ever met if it wasn’t for this show.

So thanks again so much for taking the time to vote for us. Maybe next year is our year, huh?

 Announcements:

  • We moved our show release days to Mondays for a while. We’re testing to see if that works better for our schedule. So, today’s show is going out on a Monday and look for future shows on Mondays, too. Now, you’ll have the whole week to listen to us on your commute!
  • Special Announcement: Especially for listeners in and around San Antonio/Austin, TX…

Our friend and colleague Karen Meade of Let’s Get Organizing will be hosting her annual Organize and Energize workshop. It’s on Saturday, January 18th, 2013 from 9:00 Am to 1:00 PM at the Norris Conference Center, on Fredericksburg Road in San Antonio, Texas. There’s a great lineup of speakers talking about organization, financial planning, health and fitness…you name it. Dan and I will be there talking about “Five Things You Can Do To Lead A Simple Life In A Modern World”. For more information check out LetsGetOrganizing.com and we’ll have a link in the shownotes, as well.

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit Amodiovalerio Verde

Jan 13 2014

38mins

Play

SLT047: Simplify Your Wardrobe

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Is it time to simplify your wardrobe? Think about it, what is it that dictates how big your wardrobe is or how many clothes you have? Is it fashion and changing trends? Is it utility? Is it the weather or the climate? Is it an expectation of society or your social circle? Is it the activities that you do that necessitate what you wear? Or is it simply the size of your container…be it an overnight bag or walk-in closet? The answer to all of these is probably YES! That’s the thing about clothes, we all wear different things for different reasons.

But, sometimes it’s like cable TV…500 channels and nothing on, right? You go into your huge walk-in closet and you can’t find a thing to wear! So what’s the real problem? Is it analysis paralysis…just too many decisions? Well, let’s dive into that. Read more…

Main Topic:

We all have different reasons for what we wear and how big our wardrobe is. It’s a pretty personal thing and each of us is unique, but maybe it is time to simplify your wardrobe a bit? Our ancestors certainly lived with a whole lot less than we do…and there are those who choose to minimize what they keep in their clothes closets. We decided to ask ourselves some very pointed questions about what we wear and why, and some others questions to see if there was an opportunity to edit our closets and drawers to a point that feels more like “enough” and less like “too much.”

Question: So what things shape your current wardrobe?

  • Vanessa:
    • Work: professional business attire and hands-on organizing work attire.
    • Climate: mostly warm weather clothes needed here in San Antonio, TX.
    • Culture: cowboy, Western, relaxed.
    • Lifestyle: fitness and travel dictate need for lightweight and versatile clothing…nothing to iron!
    • Personality and Image: pretty tomboy look…fun yet put together…balance of attractive yet conservative clothing.
  • Dan: 
    • The look: going for that “guy in shorts” with a little bit of “guy in tee shirt” look (ha-ha!).
    • Mostly comfort: work from home so commute is only 19 steps…like to stay pretty comfortable.
    • Uniformity: think of clothes as a uniform with everything capable of mixing and matching.
    • Weather: the San Antonio  heat really does dictate my wardrobe.

Question: So what does your wardrobe look like now?

  • Vanessa:
    • A lot of fitness clothing.
    • Closet: 40% work and professional attire, 40% casual and 20% travel/merino wool and coats.
    • Few accessories: 8 purses, 6 belts, 6 scarves…but only wear or use half of each!
    • Shoes are my weakness! I hate to admit this… but I have 40 pairs, half of which are for professional attire which I wear maybe 10% of the time if that!
  • Dan:
    • 8 of the same identical black short sleeve shirts, 4 identical long sleeve shirts, identical calf wool socks and SmartWool ankle sock…a lot of the same!
    • Very few “accessories”...a few baseball caps, 3 cowboy hats and only my wedding ring for jewelry.
    • On the “dressed up spectrum” most of what I wear is on the lounge around at home or very casual end.
    • Only have 1 or 2 options for business attire.
    • “Business casual” however is a little slim.

Question: What would your ideal wardrobe look like?

  • Vanessa:
    • Nothing to iron.
    • Everything is comfortable.
    • Everything fits or is tailored to my shape.
    • All clothing is attractive and flattering.
    • Can coordinate pieces into different outfits.
    • variety of colors other than black and brown (can be a limitation though).
    • No dry-cleaning.
    • Be able to pack everything I own in 1 piece of luggage or large duffle bag!
  • Dan: 
    • Very casual wardrobe that doesn’t show sweat.
    • Drapes well and doesn’t bind or make me feel self conscious.
    • Mostly black or brown .
    • Favorite clothes are ones I can wear and feel comfortable in 70 degree weather.
    • I wish I could pull off keeping my shemagh around my neck like in the desert…they’re very functional.

Question: What are some of your favorite pieces and why?

  • Vanessa:
    • My running shoes: bright hot pink, comfortable and fit my running style.
    • Bling bling cowboy pants:  comfortable, don’t stretch out, and are flattering on me.
    • Merino wool long skirt: comfortable, breathable, fits well and can look casual or sporty.
    • Shirts with built in bra: way more comfortable than having a separate bra!
    • Long necklaces and scarves: they can dress up an outfit in an instant!
    • Vera Wang tall riding boots: casual yet slightly dressy and I can wear with pants, skirts or shorts.
    • Sunglasses: stylish and can be used as a headband.

Reflection, personal takeaways, and things we learned:

  • Vanessa:
    • Just because your container isn’t stuffed doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a lot.
    • Realized I still had quite a bit of clothing! My perception wasn’t necessarily reality.
    • Although I do like versatile and utilitarian clothing…I care just as much about how they look and wondered if that’s a vanity or a self-conscious issue.
    • It’s not a bad idea to conduct a little 80/20 analysis every once in a while.
  • Dan:
    • There are definitely things I can get DX (get rid of).
    • Don’t need so many of the same shirts…probably only half.
    • Too many shoes, too!

Courtney Carver’s Project 333:

So…recognizing all of these things, we’ve decided to take a look at Courtney Carver’s Project 333. Basically it’s a project that challenges you to pick just 33 things…and only 33 things to wear for 3 months. She also has a microcourse called Dress With Less that goes along with Project 333.

So here’s a little bit more on how it works:

  • When: every 3 months (you can start any time)
  • What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear (coats, hats, scarves and gloves) and shoes.
  • What not: items not included as part of the 33 are wedding bands or sentimental pieces that you always wear and never take off, underwear, sleepwear, in-home loungewear and workout clothing (as long as you don’t wear it as casual clothing too).
  • How: choose your 33 items and box up the rest. You don’t have to toss them…just box them up and store away.

Courtney goes on to explain that this isn’t meant to be a project in suffering. If clothes don’t fit, or are in poor condition…replace them!

We’re definitely doing it! We were going to make our own plan, but we’ve heard so many great things about Courtney’s Dress For Less microcourse that I figured, “Why reinvent the wheel?” Heck, it’s only $15 and honestly, we’d spend way more in time trying to figure out how we were gonna do this! So, we’re going with Courtney’s course!  If you’re looking to simplify your wardrobe, consider joining us too!

Take Away:

We all have different reasons for what we wear and the size of our wardrobe. It’s personal and each of us is unique. Only you can decide what’s right for you, but maybe doing some experimenting once in a while will let you see how much you truly need or want to keep.

For us, we think we’re best served when we base our wardrobe on how we want to live, how to best portray who we are and the image we want to project. The more authentic that is, the smaller our wardrobe needs to be. Regardless of the size of the container, we’re trying not confuse needs with wants and we’re shooting to live with just enough. And for us, living with “just enough” is a perfect way to help make our lives simpler.

Question:

So, maybe it’s time to take a second look at your wardrobe to see what’s right for you? If you decide to makes some changes, we’d love to hear about them. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Thing Segment:

Dan’s Thing: Getting back to basics and spending some time riding horseback around the Silver Spur Ranch in the Texas Hill Country

Vanessa’s Thing: Same thing (pun intended)! Making new memories horseback riding too, and enjoying the benefits of paying for access versus ownership.

Announcements:

A HUGE thank you for all of you who nominated us for the Podcast Awards! Amazingly, Simple Life Together is a finalist in the Education category and also the coveted People’s Choice category. So, we’re up against 9 other shows in each category, but as Vanessa said there were over 4400 shows competing and we made the final cut. We really feel like we’ve already won.

So here’s how the shows were graded to make the finals:

    • 40% from number of nominations
    • 20% from relevance of content
    • 15% from website design quality
    • 15% from sound quality
    • 10% from podcast delivery and show format quality

So what happens next?

    • Voting starts 1 November and lasts until 15 November.
    • You can and should vote once a day at PodcastAwards.com
    • As much as we’d really like to win, we have no desire whatsoever to inundate you with info about this.
    • So, if you’re up to voting every day for two weeks we’d love it. If not, vote when when you can. No matter what, we sincerely appreciate your support!
    • As far as I can tell we’re the only podcast dealing with simplicity in any of the categories.
    • Some of our good friends also made the finals so consider voting for them too: Mommy’s Cocktail Hour for Food and Drink, and Ivy Envy & Who-Dey Weekly in the Sports category.
    • While voting is from 1-15 November only, the awards aren’t announced until 5 January at New Media Expo in Las Vegas, so it’s a bit of a wait!

Thanks again soooo much! SLT listeners rock!

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

As always, you can help support SimpleLifeTogether.com by using our Amazon Affiliate Link for any purchases you must make. Thanks!

Courtney Carver’s Dress With Less and Project 333

Dan’s Ranger Panties 😉

Ibex Merino Wool Clothing

Icebreaker Merino Wool Clothing

If you haven’t already, please be sure to go to iTunes to subscribe to the show. Don’t forget to leave us a rating & review! Thanks!

Oct 31 2013

50mins

Play

SLT073: Simplifying Simple Life Together

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Okay, folks. We had intended this episode to be more of a “finality”. It was supposed to be more of a “farewell” episode and post. But the truth is, we’re having trouble with this because Simple Life Together is such a big part of our life. If it sounds like we’re waffling a bit, that’s because…well, we are!


So I guess you could say that we’re simplifying Simple Life Together. We should just jump right into the dirty work and break it all down for you…  Read More…

Note: Get a copy of Supermom vs Super Mom for yourself or gift it to a Mom who needs a little “less” in her life. It’s less than $5 and will save you countless hours and effort!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Simplifying Simple Life Together

It Hasn’t Been an Easy Decision to Simplify Simple Life Together!

On the last episode and up until we went to SimpleREV in Minneapolis we intended for this episode to be our last for quite a while. Here’s why:

  • What started off as us documenting our journey to simplify our lives, turned into something more…something better than we expected!
  • We unexpectedly built an amazing community of supporters and like-minded people in 154 countries.
  • We’ve gotten and continue to receive such heart felt support from that community…especially when we shared some of our toughest challenges.
  • We’ve also made some amazing friends along the way.
  • We were blessed with opportunities to speak about our life and our podcast at different conferences and on different podcasts.
  • We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet many of the people who inspired us both personally and professionally on our journey. Folks like Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker, Patrick Rohne, Mohammed Tohami, The Minimalists, Joel Zaslofsky, Dan Miller…just to name a few. Some of them have become good friends.
  • Even better…we’ve gotten to meet some of our loyal listeners and supporters…how cool is that? And, we’ve helped others in the community who are just starting out and making a real impact; folks like Dave & Sheryl Balthrop, Chris & Sarah Wehkamp, JF and Cheryl Moreau, Lara Blair, and others.
  • We were blown away by the amount of positive feedback about the show and how we influenced others to simplify their lives too. Feedback that brought us to tears. We never thought we could impact people the way that we did…and be impacted by them, as well.
  • The podcast helped us to really focus on what was important to us…and solidified our passion for simplicity and to live more deliberate and meaningful lives

But Producing the Show Isn’t All Sunshine

Although we love sharing and teaching others, over time, the success of our podcast led to the feeling of obligation of having to produce awesome content ALL the time. And let’s face it…our lives just aren’t THAT interesting that we have some type of major topic to talk about for 40 minutes each week. Still, we started realizing that the show was shifting from documenting our journey to “having” to produce good educational content each and every week, then every two weeks. Some of which took a lot of time to either research or compile coherent thoughts.

And we started to feel the pressures of the podcast from:

  • Coming up with content
  • Arranging our week to fit in research, recording and editing
  • Dealing with tension between the two of us...running out of content, waiting until the last minute to produce, the time obligation, defining roles and expectations, mistaken assumptions of who should do what, etc.

We get along really well and, for the most part, what you hear on the show is what you get with us. But every once in a while, working together on the show stretched things a little bit. Not too often, but definitely more so when we started feeling like we HAD to do a show as opposed to the times when we just couldn’t wait to share something. Hopefully, those tougher times were transparent on your end and you weren’t any the wiser. They weren’t often, but hey, we’re human, you know?

But that’s not all…we’ve also reached a part of journey where it made sense for us to pause the podcast a bit and shift from regularly scheduled content to “targets of opportunity-type” content…at least for now.

We’re Coming Into a Time of Refocus

The cool thing is that we’ve reached an important waypoint on this part of our journey, and now it’s time for us to refocus and work toward that end. But just like in any journey, when it comes to careers there are breaks along the way…if you’re lucky that is.

Back in our military days…during patrolling, we would occasionally take breaks on our mission called “SLLS Halts” (pronounced ‘sils’) that’s an acronym for Stop, Look, Listen, and Smell. Those halts would let you take things in and sense what was going on at that point in the operation. A time to just focus. I think we need to do that with life, too, and I feel like this SLLS halt I’ve taken has really refocused me on what I love and what I excel at. And that’s being in a leadership position with a team.

Wrap Up:

So this is what we’ve decided: Keeping in mind our original goal of the podcast and in light of our new focus in life….it’s not the end the end of Simple Life Together! As we have things to share, we will. That’s what we started out to do and that’s what we want to continue to do. Just not on a regular scheduled basis. So we’re simplifying a bit. But the sharing will continue. And I think it will be a better quality because it’s not rushed, forced, or done out of a sense of obligation…but from a point of sharing and community.

Many many thanks to you! We can’t thank the community enough for your constant support of SLT and hope you continue to support us when we do decide to pop in from time to time!

We are blown away at the community on Edit & Forget It Facebook Page and plan on keeping it going and participating as long as the group is active. We’ll pop in from time to time, but the really cool thing is that it’s really at a point where it’s a bunch of great folks that have a ton of advice and support to offer.

Question:

So does simplifying the show sound okay to you? A little less of us…a little less predictability…but still here to share our journey? We’d love to know.Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Announcements:

SimpleREV!

  • SimpleREV was amazing!  We’ll have more about it soon, but I just have to say…it really exceeded expectations. So much so that I actually tweeted this out:

Project 333

If you have questions or just want to learn more about Project 333 or Courtney Carver’s Dress With Less microcourse. You can learn more about that at SimpleLifeTogether.com/dress.

Edit & Forget It Challenge

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit: Modified Photo From Ken Conley

Oct 09 2014

29mins

Play

SLT 024: Simplicity Can Be Complicated & Tackling Piles of Files

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Simplicity Can Be Complicated & Tackling Piles of Files with Smiles

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show!  Thanks!

Dan’s Topic: Sometimes Simplicity Can Be Pretty Complicated

One of the major topics people talk to us about is how it seems that a good portion of society has given up or lost their way when it comes to choices they make and and even seems like they’ve given up on taking responsibility for shaping their lives.

  • On last week’s show I mentioned Stephen Covey’s classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  • Covey addresses at the beginning of his book that responsibility is our “ability to respond.”
  • When it comes to living out our decision to pursue a more simple life, we exercise our ability to respond in the choices we make.
    • Choices on what to let into our lives, and choices on what to let go of.
    • In doing that, we exercise that responsibility at many levels..first in our choice to live simply and then with each decision we make to support that choice.

Simplicity is a completely personal choice. No one, including us, has all the right answers on how to make your life simple. Like most things in life that are truly important, there is no:

  • magic pill
  • definitive blueprint
  • roadmap
  • or treasure map to find the simple life that perfectly suits you.

The answer can only be found by truly contemplating your desires, formulating your life plan and tweaking it along the way as you get wiser. Matter of fact, listening to gurus and experts will often run contrary to your goals because it limits your ability to respond…to be response-able.

Responsibility is a like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it, it will atrophy over time and you won’t be able to use it.

That is the path a huge part of society has chosen to follow these days and their decision muscles become more and more atrophied every single day.

 So how did this happen? Well, I’ve thought a lot about it and wanted to share some things with you.

  • So, as you’ve heard me mention before, many sources tell us that the average adult is exposed to as many as 5000 advertisements per day.
  • Now, I think this number might be a little high, but who knows.
  • I’ve done some research on it and to me there’s definitely a ballpark figure range from 1800 to 5000.
  • Still, the crux of the matter is that we’re inundated with advertisements, and heck, traditional media for that matter, that are designed at their best to influence our decisions, and at worst, to replace our decision making process all together!
  • Advertising tells us what we’re supposed to drive, what we’re supossed to look like, wear, live, what medicines we need to take if we want to be 70 and hold hands with our significant other as we sit in separate bathtubs after a long day’s motorcycle ride.

If you’re new to simplifying your life, I just want to reinforce the decision you’ve made to give this a shot. I wanted to start out by just going over what decision making was like back in the day and what it’s like now. I’m not going to get into what’s better and what’s not…just sort of present some realities and how our options have changed. Like “stuff” in our lives, more options isn’t always better. So let’s compare some available options of a few things between an era we’ll call “back in the day” to now:

  • First off, television.
    • Back in the day we had about 3-4 TV channels to choose from.
      • If you’re like me and lived near Canada, maybe you were able to pull in 2 more, and maybe your town had a VHF channel to watch reruns of shows that were off the Big 3 here in the States of ABC, CBS, and NBC.
      • If you lived outside the States, then maybe you have even fewer options.
      • If you wanted some advice about what to watch, you asked your friends. The sample was small and just by asking a handful of friends would give you all the info you needed.
      • The advertising model was a holdover from the radio days. Products sponsored shows and trusted spokespeople told us what products were right for us.
      • But even then you were exposed to so few Ads that you could discern for yourself whether coffee A was better than B, or if more doctors really did smoke Camel cigarettes.
    • Today, most of us probably have access to 300+ channels
      • We say there’s still nothing on
      • There’s no way we could ask friends to sample all the options.
      • Many people just accept at face value the advertising they see as true.
      • They suffer from analysis paralyisis and have just given up.
      • Sure, it’s easier…but it won’t lead to the simple life you’re trying to build.

Tip: As a minimum, we should try to crowdsource our feedback by doing things like reading reviews on Amazon, checking site like Consumer Reports, and yes…still asking friends that we trust are informed. But taking things at face value from ads?  No way!

Tip: I’d be pretty skeptical that the celebrity spokespeople actually use these products. Here in the States you see a lot of ads for reverse mortgages that are hawked by celebrities.  Do you really think they’re using a reverse mortgage?  Doubt it.

  • Now when it comes to food it gets even more deceptive, and I’m just going to hit a couple examples and I’ll have reference links in the shownotes at SimpleLifeTogether.com/024:
    • Did you know that here in the States, the Food and Drug Administration has no definition for “natural” or “organic”?
    • The US Dept of Agriculture does have an organic program which specifies how organic items are supposed to be grown.
    • So even taking for granted that labels such as natural and all natural lead you to healthy choice may not in fact be the case.  And that’s where sticking with your simple goals can get tough.
    • Advertisements by companies can be even more deceptive. Remember, these are publicly traded companies and their boards have a fiduciary responsibility to make more profit. “Trust but verify.”
    • Here’s an example…here in the States we have a popular “healthy cereal” (put that in air quotes) called TOTAL.  Well, Total came out with Blueberry Pomegranate cereal. Sounds delicious right? Well, the truth is, it contains no blueberries and no pomegranates. Seriously!  Here’s a quote I verified the ingredients right from the box labels on Amazon:

Quote from NaturalNews.com: “Yet it is called “Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal” and positioned as a highly nutritious cereal with the words “100% nutrition,” “Blueberry” and “Pomegranate” appearing prominently on the front of the box, in a very large font size. While the cereal contains no actual blueberries or pomegranates, it does contain eight different sweeteners: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Barley Malt Extract, Brown Sugar Syrup, Malt Syrup, Sucralose, Molasses and Honey.”

  • Another thing I want to address briefly about advertisements and reality is this…how can a teenage girl compete with the advertisements that show what she’s “supposed to look like”?  I don’t want my daughter to spend her life trying living up to an impossible standard that has no basis in reality.

So, more options have given us a lot more to juggle around in our minds and have put the responsibility…like it or not…where it always has been, on our own shoulders. And when it comes to our self image, we need to know ourselves and help others see that if they’re going to measure themselves against someone or something else, be sure to use the yardstick of reality and not the Photoshopped version of reality that no one can compete with. Since any rant should include at least one dead guy quote, I think Teddy Roosevelt’s comments that  “Comparison is the thief of joy”, apply pretty well here.

And I think the most insidious thing is that, because there are so many options, because it’s hard to know what decision to make without taking the incredible amount of time it takes to research every option, people just give up.  They opt to relinquish their ability to respond, set their decision processes to “Receive Mode” and simply accept as truth what these media sources feed the. Worse yet, they typically take the next logical step and adopt a victim mentality when something doesn’t go their way. Why wouldn’t they? And that’s when things really start to break down for us…when we accept we can’t do anything about our circumstance.

Well for those new to the show, I can tell you this. You won’t find that mentality here from other listeners or from Vanessa and me. Sure, we all have our moments, but if you take some time to read through the reviews on iTunes, comments on the blog, or if you’re an Edit & Forget It Challenge member on the Facebook Page, what you’ll hear is people taking control of their complex lives and making them simpler for themselves. Nobody’s doing it for them…not me, not Vanessa, and certainly not society. They’re doing it themselves and we all care enough about each others’ success to offer some help, advice, tips and shared experiences…but certainly not the blueprint or the magic pill. When people send us notes they don’t say Dan or Vanessa can you tell me how to, “whatever.” They ask, “What are your thoughts on this?” or “Do you have any recommendation about that?” And of course, we’re happy to share what works for us. If it works for them, too, then great! The folks over on the Edit & Forget It Challenge page have been the same way…generously offering options and experiences so others can choose. And that’s awesome.

So when it comes to simplifying your life, the decisions you make during your life planning will help you limit the seemingly endless options you have. For instance, if health and fitness is one of the pillars of your life plan then it should follow that the food decisions you make are in line with that goal. Instead of having to choose between the 31 original flavors of ice cream, maybe it’s easier to be true to your goal and decide to stay away from ice cream all together?

So in the end, which is opposite of “back in the day”, yes…sometimes it’ll take a little bit more effort to find the answers or a trusted source for yourself, but one thing’s for sure…take the recommendations of conventional experts, gurus and advertisement with a grain of salt. But please, just pick a salt…because if you ask the “so called experts” which salt to pick you’ll have to decide between:

Rock Salt, Fleur de Sel, Flaked Sea Salt, Crystalline Sea Salt
Kosher Salt, Table Salt, Pickling Salt, Sel Gris, Grey or Celtic
Coarse, Gale Grosso, or Gros Sel, Hawaiian Sea Salt
Smoked Salt (in every wood variety), Seasoned Salt
Himalayan Salt, Truffle Salt, Black Salt, Lemon salt
Iodized, Popcorn Salt

Or you could choose products like No Salt/Lite Salt/ExSalt, which aren’t salt at all. But don’t worry, they must be good for you, they’re labeled “all natural” and are made out of pure MSG.

Vanessa Topic: Tackling Piles of Files with Smiles

So, with our Edit & Forget It Challenge, there’s been a lot of buzz about folks digitizing their paper files. I think after Episode 6 Going Paperless with Brooks Duncan and Episode 15 Living Without a Printer…folks got totally motivated to banish their paper piles. I think it’s great to get those old files digitized.  And if you haven’t listened to Episode 6 with Brooks Duncan, you may want to go back and get some basic tips on how to organize your digital files.

You know what’s really neat is how liberated folks feel after letting go of piles and piles of files!  I have to tell you, paper clutter is one of the most common complaints I get from my clients.  Everyone has to deal with paper and sometimes folks just get lost in it!

One thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes, folks will get super motivated and get their digital and paper files all  organized….but then they struggle with managing the daily flow of new papers coming in!  Because isn’t it crazy how much paper we deal with everyday?

Well, guess what?  I’ve come to the rescue.  I got some really easy tips here to help you out.  And regardless if you’ve already gone paperless….or if you are trying to go paperless…or if you’re still keeping the hard copies which is totally ok…I’ve got a few ideas for you on how to control and maintain your daily influx of papers.  Because like I eluded to earlier, the fact of the matter is…we deal with paper on a daily basis and we’ve got to come up with ways to control it before it controls us!

So, here’s what I’m going to discuss with you today:

  •  I’m going to talk a little about creating an overall paper plan.
  • Then I want to discuss some tips on how to slow the flow of papers and stopping them at the source.
  • And lastly, I’ll wrap up with a step by step guide on how to create a simple…but oh so powerful…daily paper management system called…an Action File.

Creating an Overall Paper Plan. Just like every other project or goal, what is it that Dan and I always say you have to start with first?  Yup!  The End State!  It’s that end state that’s going to drive your action steps and routines to manage your paper.

Please note….I’m just talking about one facet of paper organization. There are books solely dedicated

to managing paper alone, so just keep in mind I’m tackling just one facet of that today.

Think about having two general categories of paper: Permanent and Temporary.

  • Your Permanent Files are files you want to keep permanently and be able to reference later.  These are the ones you keep in filing cabinets or bins.
  • Then you have your Temporary Files… which are things you have yet to go through or things you need take action on right? Like bills, RSVPs, to-dos, appointments to make, etc….some of which may become permanent files later. Yeah….these are the ones that end up in little piles all over the house like the kitchen counter, dining table, coffee table, end tables and dressers, right?  Well, don’t worry, we’re going to solve that problem a little later.

Permanent  Files:  I want you to think about how you envision organizing them? Do you want primarily digital files or paper files?  Or maybe you need both?  How and where do you want to store them?  In your office, in your kitchen, out of the way, locked up, in a pretty cabinet, cardboard boxes, plastic bins?  Just think about it because all of these factors are going to affect how you set up your routines, how you organize your storage space and how you setup your action file….which we’ll get to in a bit.  Again, really think through that end state so that you can properly plan.

Temporary Files and Slowing the Flow. Again, these are things that you have yet to get to or need to take action on.  The thing about temporary files…especially the mail…is that half of it is junk!  It’s stuff that we really don’t need…and most of the time didn’t even ask for yet it’s made it’s way into our lives for us to deal with.

Well, the good news is that you can help slow the flow by stopping it at it’s source.

  • Stop all those credit card and insurance company offers by going to OptOutPrescreen.com.
  • Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance even if you don’t initiate it.
    • But the FCRA provides you the right to Opt -Out (how nece of them).
    • Now this is good if you no longer want or need those offer.
    • If you opt out you can always opt back in.
  • Stop unwanted magazines and other mail by going to DMAChoice.Org.
    • DMA choice is a on online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association to help you manage your mail. It allows you to manage catalog, magazine, credit card and other mail offers.
    • I always choose to unsubscribe to all of them, but you can be selective
  • Unsubscribe from email.  Yes, once you order something from Harry and David just as an example…even if it was an online order….you’re bound to get a magazine from them.  So  unsubscribing from email offers is helpful too.
  • Other ways to cut down on the paper in our lives is to do auto bill pay, cut down on printing and don’t give your information out to the cute guy or gal at the register.

 Let’s Create an Action File. Ok, let’s talk about how to tame those Temporary Files. 

  • First things first…an action file is just as the name suggests….its a file for you to take action on.
    • This is not a permanent filing system.
    • It’s simply a holding facility for you to house your papers until you can take the appropriate action on them.
    • The idea here is to prevent paper piles from piling up and to give those random papers a home.
  • Here’s what you need: a desktop file sorter and file folders
    • You’ll want a vertical desktop file sorter to either put plain manilla folders or hanging file folders in.
    • The idea is to File Not Pile so you can quickly.
    • You probably don’t want one deeper than 10 inches because it’ll take up too much space on your desk plus you want ones that’s portable.
    • There are all types: clear plastic, silver or black mesh, colored metal designed one, leather and linen wrapped ones.
    • They range in all sorts of prices but just remember: Function First…Aesthetics Second.
  •  Now what you need to do is label your files.
    • At a minimum I recommend having a To Do, To Pay and To File.
    • You may consider other files: one for to read, for receipts, for coupons, for schedules, for each family member, or for take out menus, etc.
    • You can modify this to meet your needs.  For example, Dan and I have separate files for receipts and tax receipts.
    • Since we have both digital and paper files we have folders labeled: To Scan Then File and To Scan Then Shred.
  • Next you need to put it in the right location.
    • Put it where you naturally dump or sort your mail.
    • A place that’s easy to access.
    • If it’s too far out of the way then you’re not going to use it and you’ll end up with paper piles again.
    • You’ll also want it in a spot that has the right supplies nearby like: a shredder, recycle bin, pen, sticky notes, calendar, checkbook, calculator, stamps, etc).
  • Once it’s in the right spot, now you can use it. Here’s what I recommend:
    • Check your mail daily!
    • Sort your mail and any other papers and make decisions on each item
    • Check it daily for To Do’s or To Pay…or know that you can do right there because they now have a home!
    • Remember, this is a temporary paper home…you’ve got to take action.  So…you need an action plan!

Now, don’t forget…Check it Daily….or Weekly…or at the very least…clear it out Monthly!!!!  That’s it!

I have some pretty comprehensive videos for setting up your Action File on my GetSimplifized website. Be sure to check these out for a step by step guide to setting up your Action File!

How To Create An Action File Quick Tip

Paper Piles, Paper Piles…Here’s An Easy Way To Control The Clutter

OK…and here’s a bonus video on the basics of working with hanging files. Check out the “Handy Count” in the video:

Working with Hanging Files and File Folders

Thing Segment

  • Dan’s Thing: Feedly as a Replacement for Google Reader
  • Vanessa’s Thing: Oh How I Love My iPhone Camera!

Links

Would you like to help us help Charity Water? If you make purchases on Amazon.com through this link it will be applied to  Vanessa’s Charity Water Campaign

Give directly to Charity Water Through Vanessa’s Campaign

To Create An Action File Quick Tip

Paper Piles, Paper Piles…Here’s An Easy Way To Control The Clutter

Working with Hanging Files and File Folders

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show!  Thanks!

Apr 18 2013

55mins

Play

SLT 005: The One Secret To Accomplishing Anything and the Laws of Simplicity

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The One Secret To Accomplishing Anything & the Laws of Simplicity

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show! Thank you!

Feedback:

  • We got some terrific voicemail feedback from John Bukenas from  LetsReverseObesity.com. John’s podcast Let’s Reverse Obesity is fantastic! John is doing great things chronicling his weight loss and is helping so many others along the way.
    • Thanks, John, for listening, subscribing, and taking the time to send us some feedback.
  • We also got a very, very nice comment here on Episode 004 from Marshall Ponzi. Thank you Marshall for your kind words and you’re so right…it IS amazing what we can do without. And, I think we’d agree that doing without all the extra allows us to truly appreciate what we do have all the more.
    • Marshall also has a terrific podcast over at InboundInFocus.com that gives great inbound marketing tips for business owners. If you’re a business owner you’d be well served to check out Marshalls podcast, Inbound In Focus, as well.

Main Topics:  

Vanessa’s Topic: The One Secret To Accomplishing Anything

 “I’m often asked what my secret is to being organized and how I get my clients to become more organized.”

The single most important component to becoming organized is commitment.

So why is commitment to change so difficult?

1. It’s not a priority….at least not yet.

2. Change is hard…even when you know it’s good for you.

3. It takes a lot of work…and that can be daunting and discouraging.

4. Unfortunately, often times people have to reach some sort of “breaking point.”

Vanessa highlights some of her efforts to change:

Finances

  • $24K in debt
    • Electricity and phone cut off
    • Creditors hounding her for payments.

Fitness

  • 40 lbs heavier than her current weight

Combined, the struggles led to:

  • Low self esteem
  • Depression
  • Low energy

Keys to her commitment to change:

  • Stopped playing the victim
  • Committed to a lifestyle change vs “quick fix”

Results?

  • Paid off debt in 2 years
  •  Rebuilt credit score
  • Kept the weight off
  • Better level of fitness than in high school (20 years ago! Wow! She’s OLD!)

Vanessa’s Truths:

  • Truly believes “If I can do it, so can you!”
  • One key is to be realistic about the change you want to make…and understand that it’s a process…not a quick fix.
  • Be patient, systematic and strategic…otherwise you might do something you’ll regret or resent.
  • One positive example is a blog she subscribes to, “Becoming Minimalist” by Joshua Becker.  I like the word…Becoming…because it implies that it’s a process.

So, here are some points to ponder if you are thinking about making a change in your life:

1. Change your mindset…it’s a lifestyle change not a quick fix. Just like my progress with weight loss and fitness.

2. Change doesn’t happen overnight.

3. Realize that you may get discouraged at the task ahead.  But don’t sell yourself short.  You can do it! Again, think of it as a process and break it down into bite-sized chunks. (organize one space at a time…pay off one bill at a time…try one eating lifestyle or fitness plan at a time)

4. Realize that you may “fall of the wagon” and that maintaining your lifestyle may be difficult.  Pick yourself back up, and hop back on the wagon!

5. Once you get in the groove, you’re probably going to get addicted! Ask Dan…I can be a real grouch if I’ve missed a few workouts and if my house gets too cluttered.  That’s because I’ve gotten addicted to the results and love how they make me feel.  Feeling comfortable in my clothing and in my home are incredibly elating.  You’ll feel the same once you get in the groove. These are healthy addictions in my opinion.

6. You’ll start to build confidence!  And reduce stress.  You won’t have those negative thoughts lingering around in your mind.  Instead you’ll be thinking about taking the next step…decreasing your debt further….trying a new fitness routine…shedding some more clutter…etc.

7. You’ll love the results! And the freedom you’ll experience. Creating goals and setting out to achieve them is one thing…accomplishing them is nothing short of AWESOME!

 Dan’s Topic: The Laws of Simplicity

Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda

  • John Maeda is the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, where his bio says he’s dedicated to linking design and technology.
  • Entertaining TED talk on YouTube (link below)
  • While the book covers more, Dan discussed just the ones below
  • Actually “rules” more than “laws”
  • There are some really terrific take aways

Some of the “Laws”

REDUCE – The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction

ORGANIZE – Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.

TIME – Savings in time feel like simplicity.

LEARN – Knowledge makes everything simpler.

DIFFERENCES – Simplicity and complexity need each other.

You can only appreciate “highs” if you’ve experienced “lows.”

CONTEXT – What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral.

 Think of this like “margin” … room in your schedule to breathe, margins on a sheet of paper that highlight what’s within the margin, etc… Simplicity is highlighted by margin.

FAILURE – Some things can never be made simple.

Yep! Unfortunately, this one is true and we just have to accept it.

THE ONE – Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.

Much like Dan’s quotation in Episode 001 from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Dan’s Musing’s About More Simplicity “Laws”

  •  Sometimes complicated leads to simple. (Example: Apps and computer programs are very complex in the programming/designing process; yet hopefully simple for the user).
  • However, sometimes complicated leads to more complicated, as there is always a human element and relationships can easily be very complicated
  • Positivity tends to lead to simplicity. Negativity tends to lead toward complication. Much like Sir Walter Scott’s line: “Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practise to deceive”
  • Simple does not equate to easy.
  • Over-planning for contingencies causes complexity. Considering Murphy’s Law (“If anything can go wrong, it will”), but don’t let it stifle simplicity.

The “Thing” Segment:

Vanessa: Vanessa’s “THING”:  Vanessa discussed a client’s successes since implementing some strategies that Vanessa suggested during an organizing session. The client relayed how much more effective and easy organizing had become, how the Action File Vanessa recommended had drastically reduced their paper clutter, and how Evernote (after some “getting used to it” time) has become part of her workflow.

Dan:  Being a “tech guy,” Dan talked about how much he loves RSS feeds. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and “pushes” out updates on blogs and podcasts so you don’t have to go searching for new episodes and “pull” them into your reader or audio device.

Dan’s RSS uses:

    • He uses Google Reader to collect content from his RSS feeds.
    • He links his Google Reader account to apps like Flipboard on the iPad
    • Going through his feeds is part of his morning routine…like reading the paper used to be back in the day

Closing Thoughts:

If you like the show, please subscribe and consider giving us a good review in iTunes

If you know someone else who might enjoy the journey too, send them a link to SimpleLifeTogether.com

There are links to our Twitter and Google Plus profiles and other contact info on the left side of the website. We’d love to hear from you !

Be sure to leave comments below, send us a voicemail from the little microphone icon on the right side of the page, or you can go “old school” and email us!  Comments, questions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions…they’re all welcome and we’d love to hear from you!

Links we mentioned in the show:

John Bukenas’ Let’s Reverse Obesity Blog and Podcast

Marshal Ponzi’s Inbound in Focus Blog and Podcast

Get Simplifized.com: Vanessa’s article, How to Create and Use an Action File.

Vanessa’s article The One Secret To Achieving Anything

Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist BlogJohn Maeda’s Blog: lawsofsimplicity.com

John Maeda’s TED Talk:  John Maeda on The Simple Life

Be sure to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review in the iTunes store! It helps others find the show! Thank you!

Dec 07 2012

52mins

Play

SLT031: Simplicity Resources & Learning Styles in Organizing

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Simplicity Resources & Learning Styles in Organizing

Wow! There is so much information out there to simplify our lives that some times it can get pretty complicated!!! Isn’t it great to have a resource you can go to to find most of what you need on a subject in one location. That’s when a site move from being just entertaining to become a real resource. Same goes for books, or any other type of information for that matter. We have lots of other great links on our Recommendations tab at the top of the site, but we wanted to highlight a few here.

Which resource work best for you are often dictated by your learning style. Each of us is unique in the way we prefer to learn. When it comes to organizing, the same thing applies. Which type of learning style works best for you? Read more?

Dan’s Topic: Simplicity Resources

So a couple of episodes ago we talked about the start of our journey toward simplicity so I thought I’d share some resources that influenced me as I started the journey, and still do.

Like most things, when someone asks you “how you know something” or where you learned it, often times the first thing that comes to mind is “Well, I dunno…I just learned it.” Which is typically true! We each have our own unique path that we travel and you do just pick things up along the way. So it can be hard to say definitely where along the path you picked up a skill, a tidbit of knowledge or, harder yet, philosophy.

The other problem I had while putting together this list is that many of these won’t seem like “simplicity” resources at all. Matter of fact, lots of them are straight out business resources. But our business is a big part of our lives and has influenced ability to simplify our lives immensely so I couldn’t just leave those resources, or that part of the story, out. Things don’t happen in a vacuum…they’re intertwined, with lots of cause and effect going on, with actions and reactions.

I also need to preface this: For all my adult life my day to day existence was focused on doing my duty; to leading learning and doing things you’d expect from a career military guy. I was starting a transition. There’s a saying from Benjamin Franklin that goes- “Most men die at 25… we just don’t bury them until they are 70”. I never wanted that to apply to me. Luckily, I was able to shape my service to where I could always be where the action was…doing things others didn’t want to do. I loved it! But as I prepped for my transition, I knew I wanted to do things on my terms. So that’s how I framed things…that was my lens. So, consider that as I go through the list.

So what I’ll do is, for each resource, I’ll give a good portion of the 5W&H…the Who-What-When-Where-Why-How that I talked about way back in Episode 10 when I revealed some Secret (But Simple) Military Communication Techniques

I’m going to focus on Books, Blogs, and Podcasts that influenced me in the beginning.

  • The first one I’ll cover is…

Who: Tim Ferriss’s

What: 4HWW

When: I first read in 2008

Where: Amazon Link to 4HWW

Why: This was the first book that really opened up the whole idea of not following a “deferred retirement” lifestyle. A main premise of the book focuses on numerous “mini-retirements” throughout your life versus waiting for the deferred retirement plan followed by most. In the book, Tim guides you through developing what he calls a “muse” or a side business that supports the lifestyle you want to live. Now, I talked quite a bit about deferred retirement in Episode 29 and in our About Us video so I won’t go too deep into that here, but I took that and adapted that a bit.

Essentially for us it’s a little different. We always have my retirement pension from the military to back us up, but that has allowed us to develop our lifestyle businesses around what we truly love to do versus having to worry too much about it being our sole income source. That’s certainly an advantage we have because we can take our time, tweak things and make them truly reflect what we’re passionate about and not just what will “sell” to others.

How: So, the “How” is, the 4HWW really sparked our dive into the possibility of a, or many, lifestyle businesses. That got me focused on starting Vanessa on the path first as I was still in the military at the time. And I’ll admit, what followed…setting up a website, soaking in all the (then new) social media platforms, and learning as much as I could about starting a business and becoming a solopreneur…was FAR from simple!!! But as we’ve often said, sometimes simplicity is the outcome of many “not so simple” efforts. I be underestimating if I said I spent around 500 hours just on learning about and building a website. But, the good thing is that I captured that process, simplified it the best I could, and wrote the Simple Life Website Guide which is yours for free at SimpleLifeTogether.com/websiteguide. It’ll save you tons of time, guaranteed.

Of course, 4HWW also includes lots of other topics that are near and dear to my heart, such as Pareto’s 80/20 Rule, Parkinson’s Law, Occam’s Razor and others that I talk a lot about in Episode 4. So that’s it for the 4 Hour Work Week

  • Next up is another favorite which you’ve heard me mention quite a bit. It’s…

Who: Dan Miller’s

What: 48 Days to the Work You Love (both the book and podcast)

When: I started listening to Dan Miller in 2008, too.

Where: 48 Days Podcast
and the book 48 Days to the Work You Love

Why: Dan’s podcast was one of the first I ever listened to on a regular basis. Back in the day I used to go to the base library and check out audio books on cassette, and when podcasts came out I dabbled a bit. I was amazed how much information was available in free podcasts and I soaked it all in, bought some of their books, courses and tutorials, and really started charting my (well I guess ‘our” path).

How: But in Dan’s 48 Days Podcast, I found incredible inspiration and actionable advice to help me get started. He has this wise, fatherly, and sometimes “Dutch Uncle”-ish way of getting you to ask yourself the tough questions to figure out ways to find your true passion and offers possible ways to use that passion as a source of income. I think his podcast was the first I ever subscribed to and I still listen to this day. I’m also a member of his 48Days.net community, too. So, his podcast, books, and community have all been a big help to me. Hopefully someday I’ll attend one of his seminars too,

  • There were times I thought I knew what I wanted to do for a business, but then realized it wasn’t what I was meant to do. But that doesn’t mean that was a bad or wasted experience.

One podcast that I loved listening to actually influenced me to start down one of those dead end paths. That wasn’t the show’s fault…the show was great…it was my fault. So, the next one I’ll talk about is by…

Who: My friend Cliff Ravenscraft and his co-host Andy Traub

What: Business Tech Weekly podcast

When: I started listening to this show shortly after I started listening to Dan Miller

Where: While the show isn’t being recorded anymore you can certainly find the original episodes in iTunes, just search for Business Tech Weekly

Why: So, you can probably already tell from the title, the show was tailor made for me…it’s about business, and it’s about tech. It was a digital Reese’s Cup for me!

How: Together, Cliff and Andy would discuss new programs, apps, devices…anything new & tech that came out that business owners and solopreneurs might benefit from. And it hit me…that’s exactly what I love! I could build a business around helping business owners who were confused by technology, intimidated by the options, or just didn’t have time to get into it all. That’s what I love to do and I could do it for them! What a great business! So I actually pursued that for a while as a side gig and was actually doing pretty good at it. I had a decent website a few clients to keep me busy on the side and it seemed like it should work out great. Except I fell into that trap of turning something I enjoyed as a hobby into a business. And I started not to enjoy it anymore. So you know what…I stopped doing that. But it did give me some terrific experience explaining tech to people who aren’t tech savvy, and I have a new outlet for my re-found “hobby”…that’s right, Simple Life Together! I love sharing my tech tips and I feel no pressure to make a penny from any of it...it’s not the core of my business, it’s something extra that I like to be able to share.

Of course I’m a big fan of my friend Cliff Ravenscraft, and as I mentioned in the initial episodes of the show, without his podcasting mentorship this show would not be what it is today. And that’s proof that although you may start out on one azimuth toward a goal, you may find your true destination one a completely different course. Such was the case with Business Tech Weekly leading me to Cliff’s show Podcast Answerman.

  • I had also started to read more and more blogs. One that really struck a chord with me was…

Who: Leo Babauta’s

What: Zen Habits blog

When: All this was going on around the same time

Where: ZenHabits.net

Why: It resonated with me because if you’ll recall from previous shows, within a couple years Vanessa and I got married, merged households, had a baby, moved twice…lots of major life events going on and of course they cause two things; stress and contemplation about how we were going to live our lives together.

How: Zen Habits got me thinking more and more about minimalism, goal setting (which is funny because now Leo is “anti goal”), and living simply. Funny, because I’m not zen and not a minimalist… But, it was also a pretty major influence for me at the time…I guess this was late 2008 or early 2009…on my thinking about organization. I didn’t share Leo’s site with Vanessa right away. Honestly, she was too busy taking care of Sunshine to be much of an RSS reader. But the things Leo discussed about organization in his blog, I saw vanessa doing in our home. And as we’ve mentioned before, she was kind of searching for what was next for her career-wise. I saw a blurb somewhere about Professional Organizers. So, I looked it up, found the website for the National Association of Professional Organizers and sent it to Vanessa in an email that said, “This is what you were meant to do!” She thought I was joking…  Of course, when we met Leo a couple years later it was nice to thank him in person for influencing our start at simplicity.

  • Lots of Other Influences, including:

Blogs:
MichaelHyatt.com …life plan, platform info, Michael’s take on things
BecomingMinimalist.com …inspirational for pursuing minimalism even with a family and “day job”
MinimalMac.com… just the look and feel of it, and the info shared

Books:
7 Habit of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Rework by Jason Fried of 37 Signals…don’t fall for the trappings of more and complicated when starting your business
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie…made this required reading for my son, too!

Personal Influences:
Auntie Paulette…Franciscan nun. Pursued her passion, lived simply and taught/inspired others
Mom and Dad…lived simply, made sure we had a happy childhood
Changed underwear
Handy Andy

  • Wrap Up

The thing I want to leave with you is this:  Once you decide to simplify, resources will reveal themselves to you as you look. You may be surprised when you look back just what resources served you well and others that led you to take a new fork in the road.

It’s our goal to become a resource for you and to share what we’ve learned along the way. I wish I could just print out a roadmap for you to follow… but your life, your desires, your motivations and dreams are different from mine. They’re different from Vanessa’s. Some things, like my website guide, can be a road map. A good solid, step-by-step “how to” that you can use…but on your journey of simplicity, we can help guide you…but you have to choose your own steps.

You can do it…you can find your way. Just like we’re finding ours.

Vanessa’s Topic: Learning Styles in Organizing

I think most of us get a lot of satisfaction of working with and helping others. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to help someone work through a problem and then seeing them with that sense of relief (you know…that ahhhh expression and that instant relaxing of the shoulders kind of relief)…or that “the lightbulb just went off in their head” kind of look…or just that beaming sense of accomplishment. It’s pretty amazing for both me and the client.

I think what really drives and motivates me as a professional organizer…is the whole process of trying to solve my clients problems and figure out the best solutions to help them fix those problems. I love being able to pick up on the verbal and non-verbal clues to figure out why my clients are struggling in a particular area. It’s like a challenge for me and when I can’t figure it out…I’m even more determined to solve the problem!

Most of the time I can figure out pretty quickly what the main culprits are that are holding my clients back, just by listening to what they say, how they say it and by the patterns of physical clutter around. Now, I certainly can’t figure out all the reasons a client is “stuck” because I’m not a psychologist…or a doctor…or a mind-reader…but I can usually determine most of the overarching obstacles.

  • There are different types of learning and schools of thoughts out there about styles of learning… and you’re probably familiar with what these are:
    • Left-brain thinkers: more adept to tasks that involve logic, language, and analytical thinking
      • Details first to understand the whole; puts pieces together to draw conclusions
      • Like lists and think sequentially
      • Are rule followers
      • Processes math and language symbolically
    • Right brain thinkers:  tend to be best at expressive and creative tasks
      • Seeing the whole picture before the details
      • Likes to use non-verbal expression
      • Rule breaker
      • Like to touch, feel or see to visualize as opposed to math and language
      • Like to use colors to learn or actually walk through a sequence to understand something
    • Auditory: This is probably the least common style of learning:
      • Prefer using hearing to learn
      • Listen to a lecture rather than taking notes
      • Can grasp verbal instructions or directions easily
      • Learn from discussions
    • Visual: Visual Learners prefer:
      • Using their sight to take in information
      • To see demonstrations to understand how something works
      • Making lists to organize their thoughts
      • To use imagery and descriptions
    • Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learners prefer:
      • To learn by doing
      • To perform rather than listen or watch a task
      • To touch items to understand their use
  • Why is this important and what’s my point in sharing these types of learning styles with you?
    • Well, I think too often we try to take a cookie cutter approach to everything in our lives…like the best way to parent…the best way to complete a project…the best way to teach…the best way to organize…or the best way to live.
    • The fact of the matter is, we’re all wired differently and there is no “easy button” or one way of doing things.
    • I just thought by sharing some of these tips on the different ways people learn, then maybe it can help you at work or home and in your relationships.
    • Knowing how folks best receive and learn information will only help you communicate better.
    • It’s just another tool to use in your toolkit to help simplify your life….and the life you share with others.

Thing Segment

Dan’s Thing: Using Google Cloud Print to save web pages and Gmail attachments to Google Drive

Chrome > Preferences > Show Advanced Settings > Google Cloud Print > Manage Printers

Vanessa’s Thing: Evernote Peek

Great for making your own digital flashcards on your iPad using the smart cover!

Announcements

Google Drive Tutorial     

The Google Drive Tutorial is now available for purchase! This tutorial is just over an hour long and focuses on all the fundamentals of how to use Google Drive for creating, sharing, and storing  documents using Google’s free, full-fledged office suite. This tutorial will be available at the discounted price of just $7.99 until 30 June 2013, when it will increase to $9.99. Either way, it’s a bargain! In this introduction, you’ll learn how to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and even forms and surveys! So, don’t wait to pay full price! You can have immediate access to Dan’s 1 hour+  windshield tour of Google Drive right now! Simply click here or go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/GoogleDrive. Plus, if you’re not completely satisfied I’ll give you your money back. So, no clutter and no risk…simple!

Links:

Support Charity Water Through Your Amazon.com Purchases

Google Drive Tutorial

Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Dan Miller’s 48 Days To The Work You Love

Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Work Week

Podcast Answerman

Photo by http://www.onlinecollege.org/what-type-learner-are-you

If you haven’t already, please be sure to go to iTunes to subscribe to the show. Don’t forget to leave us a rating & review! Thanks!

Jun 20 2013

57mins

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SLT042: The Upside of Downsizing

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Downsizing is a word we hear a lot about these days, and I’m surprised at how often it’s talked about in the negative sense versus the positive. If you’re not familiar with the term, typically, we hear “downsizing” being used in one of two contexts: the first is as a business term, used when business are scaling down & people are getting fired or laid off. The second context is the one we’re focusing on today. It’s often when people are facing retirement or decide it’s time to make some lifestyle changes and “scale back” their personal econoomies. Heck, sometimes the business downsizing leads to personal downsizing!

In the end we think you’ll agree that downsizing can be a very positive thing. Armed with some information, downsizing tools, and a plan, you too can benefit from the “upside” of “downsizing.” Read more…

Main Topic: Are you missing out on the benefits of downsizing now? Why wait for retirement?

  • How downsizing is perceived

  • Reasons to downsize

  • Some benefits of downsizing

  • Planning to downsize on your own terms

Background:

But before we address those 4 things, first let’s look at the starting point…downsizing from what, exactly? Well, most articles about downsizing are home-size centric as opposed to stuff-centric. They focus on going from a big house, to a smaller one. Most articles end there. And home size is certainly relevant. OK, I’m going to throw some numbers at you:

  • According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the average household size (meaning members in the home) in the United States has dropped steadily from 3.67 members in 1940,  to 2.58 in the 2010 census.

  • The average size of new houses increased from about 1,100 sf (100 m2) through the 1940s & 1950s, to 2505 sf in 2012.

  • That’s about 290 sf (or 27 sm) per person in 1950

  • That’s 970 sf (or 90 sm) per person in 2010

Everyone has to figure out for themselves what size space is right for them. I just wanted to put those numbers out there. But I think it more than just the size of the home that matters.  In Episode 4 we mentioned Parkinson’s Law, which states: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. You may recall I discussed some corollaries to Parkinson’s Law, one of which is: “Storage requirements will increase to meet storage capacity.” Want that big house because you’ll enjoy the extra space? It’s not likely to last long…it’ll fill up.

Here’s why we say it’s not likely to be spacious for very long:

  • Back in Episode 14, we talked about a study conducted by UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families that focused on how much stuff is in the typical middle-class American home.

  • They sent a team of professional archaeologists, anthropologists and other social scientists to conduct a systematic study of home life in 32 middle-class, dual-income families in Los Angeles.

  • Four highlights of what they found:

    • With Family #27, they found 2,260 visible possessions in the first three rooms recorded (two bedrooms and the living room),” and that didn’t include “untold numbers of items tucked into dresser drawers, boxes and cabinets or items positioned behind other items.”

    • In another home, Family #1 they looked at a display shelf in a girl’s bedroom and found: 165 Beanie Babies, 36 Human/Animal Figurines, 22 Barbie dolls, 20 other types of dolls, 3 Porcelain dolls, 1 Troll, 1 miniature castle

    • The average refrigerator front panel in the homes studied holds 52 objects. The most crowded refrigerator was covered with 166 different objects. In most cases there was a direct corollary to the amount of stuff on a fridge and the amount of stuff in the home (ie: a more cluttered fridge = a more cluttered home)

    • Only 25 percent of garages could be used to store cars because they were so packed with stuff. One article called this, “The New Junk Drawer” and rightfully so because that’s exactly what it’s become.

    • There are links below to a 3-part video series on this study. It’s pretty eye opening

  • The bottom line is that a lot of house is likely going to mean a lot of stuff! A lot of house plus a lot of stuff equals a lot of cost. It’s life, supersized.

How Downsizing is Perceived:

Note: Dan uses Google Alerts to do research. Google defines Google Alerts as: Emails sent to you when Google finds new results — such as web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs — that match your search term. You can use Google Alerts to monitor anything on the Web. For example, people use Google Alerts to:

    • Find out what is being said about their company or product.
    • Monitor a developing news story.
    • Keep up to date on a competitor or industry.
    • Get the latest news on a celebrity or sports team.
    • Find out what’s being said about themselves.
    • Dan uses Alerts to do research, and one of my alerts is set for “downsizing.”
  • Many links that show up in our alerts refer to downsizing negatively.
  • So, Dan typed “what is downsizing at retirement” into Google. Here are some of the first 10 results (the most negative ones are outlined in red):

Wow….such a negative spin on downsizing! Why not call it “Rightsizing”…to reduce to an optimal size…or creating new surroundings by decluttering eliminating, throwing out, donating and simplifying one’s own environment to create a more functional home that better suits your needs.

 So, why do people downsize? Let’s look at some possible Reasons to Downsize:

  • Frustrated with or don’t have enough time for the upkeep

  • Maintenance and cleaning costs are too much

  • Expecting a decrease in your monthly income (retirement, loss of job, quitting job, lifestyle change/business like us)

  • Home is not functional or not being used efficiently (space not used, or not well designed for your needs)

  • Physical limitations to literally downsize…like take the house down a level..from a two-story home to a one story home

  • Decreasing their environmental footprint

Now let’s take look at Some Benefits of Downsizing:

  • Save money now and direct it towards others important goals

  • You’ll save time down the road

  • Things tend to run more efficiently: less to care for = less stress and confusion….a smaller home = smaller utilities bills…systems don’t have to work so hard.

  • You can decrease the chance of a major inconvenience to loved ones having to help you downsize if you wait until you “have to” downsize.

  • Downsizing now can give you a sense of control.  You’re doing it on your terms as opposed to waiting until you have to downsize…which could cause undue stress and resentment.

  • And watch our for some unexpected positive side effects…downsizing has a funny way of simplifying your life overall. And when you simplify, your more focused of your life goals, more deliberate with your purchases, and more in-tune with what’s important to you like family and relationships.

Planning to Downsize on Your Own Terms:

  • We’d suggest looking at downsizing from the “stuff” centric point of view versus the house-centric point of view (explain)

  • Maximize the market to decide when to downsize

  • Take a good look at your life goals…remember to start with the end in mind.

  • Get in tune with your finances and where your money is really going to see if downsizing is the real issue

  • List was your must have’s in your your life and home are, then work backwards from there to eliminate the excess. It helps to have an idea of what you’re downsizing into.

  • Take a systematic approach…no need to rush.  Just like our edit and forget it challenge…you have an entire year to let go of 2013 things.

  • Edit one room or one area at a time.  It’s probably best to start with the easy and not-so-sentimental stuff first like in the garage…then tackle the more difficult items.

  • Set goals for yourself like: edit “x” number of rooms by “x” date; or sell “x” amount of items on eBay or Craig’s list before “this” date….have garage sell on “such and such” date…put home on market “no later than” this date date……or decide on new home by “this” date… and so on.

So, when it comes Downsizing, there’s a huge upside! Why wait until retirement to make the decision to simplify your life? That isn’t a rule. Do it when it’s right for you. Take some time to think about ways to edit the “stuff” in your life. Take little steps every day to shape how you want your life to be. The benefits can be huge.

We’ve talked about how we’re not following the deferred retirement plan, well why defer the benefits of living life at the right size now…on your terms?

  • Make incremental changes to meet your goals.

  • Bend with the wind.

  • Find targets of opportunity to get rid of the things holding you back.

  • And let us know how it goes!

Question:

So, have you started downsizing on your schedule yet?  If not, what’s holding you back from right-sizing your life? Share your thoughts on downsizing in the Comments below.

THING Segment:

Dan’s Thing: The new Get Noticed Theme we switched to on our site.

Vanessa’s Thing: Using the new IX500 ScanSnap to help a client go digital!

Announcements:

  • ScanSnap Scanner Sale at Amazon
  • New Look for Simple Life Together: We’re changing themes to better support the kind of content we want to share. As we’ve said in the past, look for more blog posts, more videos, and a different look to the site and the podcast cover art, as well.
  • Platform Conference: If you’re trying to build your platform within your company, industry or field, or your business, you may want to consider Michael Hyatt’s Platform Conference: 3-5 November, in Dallas TX this time, at the Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West. If interested to SimpleLifeTogether.com/Platform and use Coupon Code SIMPLE to save $100 off your registration.
  • Green Juicing Intensive Clinic: You met Farnoosh Brock back in Episode 19. She is the premier expert on juicing and author of The Healthy Juicer’s Bible. Her Green Juicing Intensive Clinic is priced at $147 right now, but we’ll let you know of specials as they come along. Go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/juice to learn more about The Green Juicing Intensive Clinic.
  • Edit & Forget It: We have people sign up every day for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! It’s never too late, so just head over to right sidebar and click the Edit & Forget It Challenge banner.
  • Tutorials: We’ll be hosting all our free tutorials and guides on the Tutorials Page from now on. So, to reach them, just click on the Tutorials Tab at the top of the page.

Shownotes:

You can download the full PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Platform Conference: Coupon Code for $100 Off: SIMPLE

Farnoosh’s Juicing Clinic

ScanSnap sale on Amazon

Videos from the CELF Study:

A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance (Ep.1) Stuff

A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance (Ep. 2) Food

A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance (Ep. 3) Space

2010 census

US Home Size 2012

If you haven’t already, please be sure to go to iTunes to subscribe to the show. Don’t forget to leave us a rating & review! Thanks!

Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Alachia

Sep 26 2013

35mins

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SLT079: Part 2 of Still Simplifying After All These Years

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Designing the life you were meant to live is not only possible, it’s is something you can take control of yourself and MAKE it happen. A great place to start is by making the commitment to simplify your life. As I said in the last episode, simplifying your life is one of the most impactful things you can do.

As we bring Simple Life Together to a close, we wanted to offer a little update on where our simplicity journey has taken us over the last three years. This is Part 2 of that update. Do yourself a favor and listen to Episode 78 first 😉

This is what will most likely be our final update episode, so if this is your first time listening in, I’d suggest you go back to around Episode 65: Strategic Simple Living to make sure this episode and Episode 78: Still Simplifying After All These Years Part 1 make sense. Of course if you want in on ALL the goodness, just start at Episode 1! It’ll be worth it, guaranteed!

Thank you all so much for listening in! It has been a great ride and I’m sure we’ve learned much more from you than you learned from us. Please…go out there enjoy your… Simple Life Together!

Jan 21 2019

47mins

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SLT078: Still Simplifying After All These Years Part 1

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Simplifying your life is one of the most impactful things you can do to ensure you’re living the lifestyle you’ve designed for yourself. The life you were meant to live.

In this episode of Simple Life Together, we offer a little update on where our simplicity journey has taken us over the last three years. And…it has been amazing!

This is an update episode, so if this is your first time listening in, I’d suggest you go back to around Episode 65: Strategic Simple Living to make sure this episode and Episode 79: Still Simplifying After All These Years Part 2 make sense. Of course if you want in on ALL the goodness, just start at Episode 1! It’ll be worth it, guaranteed!

Jan 21 2019

57mins

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SLT077: Simple Answers to Listener Questions

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It’s been a while since our last episode and many of you said you wanted an update. So, we posted on the Simple Life Together Facebook page and the Edit & Forget It Facebook Group and asked for your questions.

Since we’re in the thick of the Holiday season, many of you had holiday simplicity related questions. Others were looking for lifestyle answers for their questions, and many just wanted to know what we’ve been up to. Well…we sat down for over an hour last night and just kinda “freestyled” it. Read More…

Topic: Simple Answers to Listener Questions

Update on Vanessa’s S.I.M.P.L.E. Organizing System Course

Vanessa launched her S.I.M.P.L.E. Organizing System course to a small list of people and it went really well! That said, we’re not really happy with how the course is currently hosted on an external site.

The content is proven and system works, but we’re just not happy with any platforms we’ve tried. They’re too expensive and seem clunky. So we’re considering just making the course an “in your Inbox” course, so people don’t have to log into an outside website, remember another log in, hope the site isn’t slow, etc. People are comfortable in their Inbox. They go there every day. And it would lower the cost of the course dramatically. So I’m working hard on that, to bring Vanessa’s amazing system to more people in a simpler way.

If you want to be in the loop with Vanessa’s course, the S.I.M.P.L.E. Organizing System, you can sign up for updates at GetOrganizedSOS.com and you’ll be the first to know when things are ready to go!

Listener Questions

Simplifying The Holidays

– Tips on storing your Christmas decorations and paraphernalia…for next year

– Giving experiences instead of things

– How to keep the holidays simple

– How to be present…NOT perfect…for the holidays

– Tips on simplifying cleanup after the meal

– Creative non-material gift giving ideas

– Favorite holiday traditions

– What to tell people when they ask what gifts you’d like

– Favorite podcasts, audio books, blogs, simple living role models you find inspiring, iPhone apps as gifts

New Year’s Goals, Resolutions

– Setting  goals and resolutions for the New Year or any time

– How to stop procrastinating

– Simplicity when no one is watching or listening

What We’ve Been Up To

– Expectations vs. Reality as we transition

– Updates on our move, status of the house build, etc

– How Sunshine, our son, and his mom are dealing with our move

– Our teardrop camper, favorite trips this year, planned trips for next year

– New business ventures/challenges for moving Vanessa’s organizing business

– When we’re getting our nationally syndicated talk show on HGTV and/or Oprah (we loved this question!)

– Changes/updates to our exercising routines or smoothie making/juicing

Question:

So, we answered your questions…how about you answer one for us? What are your plans for the New Year? How do you plan on incorporating more simplicity into your life? We’d love to know!

Announcements:

Feedback:

We’ve had lots of great comments on iTunes…thank you so much! The show went a little longer than we expected, so we’ll be sure to read the comments on the next episode.

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit 

Dec 22 2015

1hr 5mins

Play

SLT076: Simplifying to Sell Your Home

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There are so many reasons to simplify. But one very lucrative reason to simplify is to increase the sale price of your home and set the stage for a quick sale. So, let’s talk a little about simplifying to sell your home.

To do that, we’re going to share some of our experiences with doing exactly that over the last couple of months, so if you’re selling your home…or know someone else who is…or if you’re simply looking for a fresh start in your current home, maybe we can shed some light on things that worked for us. Read More…

Topic:  4 Key Points To Keep In Mind When Simplifying To Sell Your Home

Topic

We recently had a fantastic sales experience when selling our home in preparation to move to East Aurora, NY.

Our home went up for sale the evening of the 15th of May…and before our realtor was even able to put a sign up in the yard, it sold on the morning of 16May! The first 3 couples that looked at the home all put in solid offers. The first 2 for $10k over asking price! We accepted both and had a back-up offer throughout the entire closing period (yeah)! In the end, it sold for about $35K more than we had originally even hoped for!

Background

So as we mentioned in the last episode, we’re moving from the suburbs of San Antonio, Texas to the little village of East Aurora, NY, home of America’s simplicity movement back in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

Well, back in December of 2014, I was doing some backwards planning and realized that in order to build our new home on schedule, the right thing to do was sell our house in San Antonio in the Spring of 2015. So, we planned on listing at the start of the real estate season…1 May.

But in the mean time, all through Jan, Feb, March and April, I had been working out all the curriculum, scripts, testing the right platform, etc, for Vanessa’s soon to be released training product, Get Organized SOS, which is an intensive online course that teaches her proven system to organize any space. All this while prepping our house for sale. Vanessa and I planned to work on things in the background during this busy time, and launch a beta or test program in the late summer.

But while meeting with my marketing coach in April, he challenged me to launch the beta NOW. I insisted that now wasn’t the time

Vanessa was actually in the middle of attending her week long annual professional organizers conference…

Plus we were prepping a house, listing a house, selling a house, packing to move and moving into a new place over the course of the next 6 weeks.

And, while Vanessa and I had all the material ready, we had exactly NO videos done! Plus, some of the video conferencing platforms were new to us. We needed more prep time!

No…now was not the time to launch!

But as any good coach does, he gently nudged me (actually, it felt more like my old paratrooper days as he kicked my butt out the jump door of the plane)! I called Vanessa and she said “Let’s go for it!!” No guts, no glory, right? So we launched the beta, shot the videos, and…it was awesome!

But, man, it was hectic!!! The beta lasted all of May, and all the while we were prepping our home and the World Shedquarters for sale. Our home went up for sale, sold…done!

Trouble was, now we had to find a place to live.

So Here’s How It All Went Down…

There were 4 key simplicity points that led to that great sale experience, our ability to to juggle a “crazy busy” schedule and still stay sane. And candidly, you could glean something from each one of these points even if you’re not simplifying to sell your home, but just looking for a fresh start or some positive change in your life.

So here goes!

Key Point #1: Make sure your desires are in line with your life plan, your goals are in line with your desires, and your actions are in line with your goals.

Way back in Episode 32, we talked about how the choices we make impact everything in our lives.

If you’ve been listening to the show for a while, you’ve heard about the start of our journey and you were with us through the sale of our land out in the Texas Hill Country, scrapping the idea of the big house in the middle of nowhere, etc. If you’re a new listener you can check out our About Us video and you’ll hear all about our decision to pursue a path toward more simplicity in our lives.

So since then, we’ve taken consistent action. To a large extent, we shaped our own little world and how we live our lives in it. The world loves a self-made man or woman, but I love the saying from Earl Nightingale that “We are all self-made, but only the successful will admit it.”

You know we’ve been on this journey for a couple years now, and we’ve been taking all the steps necessary to shape our world. And you can shape yours, too! You may have a lifestyle you want to live someday and by staying true to that you can achieve it. Make sure you’re living your Now in a way that supports your tomorrow.

So again, key point #1…make sure your actions are in line with your goals. Stay focused. You can do this…but you have to be consistent. It’s the little things we do every day that keep us consistent and on path toward our goals.

Alright…if you’re simplifying to sell your home, take heed. Key Point #2 is: Planning is a must!

We followed our own advice from Episode 42, The Upside of Downsizing. We also took steps to make the 1800sf  home we had, live like it was much larger.

Long before we planned to move, we made improvements to the house using what we call organization-based design. It’s our perspective of how we design simplicity and organization into our spaces. Our remodeling projects in the kitchen and bathrooms had a great return. And the World Shedquarters was apparently a hit, too! Improvements like cubbies, built in storage, the Elfa shelving system in the pantry, the new kitchen cabinets with slide outs, etc, all tied in to our organization-based design concept. And trust me…people know organized and simple when they see. They’re drawn to it. Nobody “wants” to live a cluttered life. So, show people a little calm and they’re drawn right in.

On the tech side, we used Trello as a planning tool to manage, share, and track our To Dos. Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. We had a “Get House Ready for Sale” board that had lists for Inside, Outside, and Done. As we finished tasks, we’d move the from the Inside or Outside board, over to the Done board. I like it because it’s very visual, as opposed to standard “list” based. I’ve been using it since. You can find out more at Trello.com. Steve Dotto has some great videos on Trello over at DottoTech.com. I’ll put a link in the shownotes.

So again, Key Point #2 is to make your plan. This will go a long way in helping to ensure you stay on track with Key Point 1, too, making sure your actions are in line with your goals.

OK…Key Point #3 is: Understand the value of margin.

Remember our definition of margin is “Uncommitted time and space in your life.” In this case, I’m referring to the ‘unused space’ portion of our definition. In the real estate world, nothing (meaning empty space and square footage) is worth a whole lot more than your “stuff” that takes up that space!

There were so many things we could have kept “just in case” but as we were going through this I kept reminding myself that “just in case” things do nothing but get in the way. When you really need something, you can find, rent, or borrow it. As a worst case scenario, yes…you may have to buy it again. So forget about the just in case stuff. It’s just getting in your way. If you need something, you’re smart and can find it when you need it. Trust yourself and your resourcefulness.

Tying in with that…our Edit & Forget It Challenge in 2013 and 2014 was key! It set the stage for truly decluttering our home and our day to day lifestyle. That said, we still got rid of well over 3000 more things in 2015 as we were simplifying to sell your home just before the move! We intend to live even more “light and lean” in our year in the apartment and in our new home in East Aurora.

We’ve just really embraced the idea of incorporating margin in our home and appreciating the openness and empty spaces in it. As we’ve decluttered our home over the past couple of years or so, we’ve really come to love the increased peacefulness that having less stuff has given us.

So again…Key Point #3 is to understand the value of margin. Free space. Both the Census Bureau and the National Assoc’n of Home builders list the number one reason for moving, as the pursuit of a better home. And one thing that consistently ranks at the top of desires for home attributes, is space. Living space and storage space. Show them the margin, they’ll show you the money. Or, give yourself some margin and gain a little more peace.

And finally…Key Point #4 for us was: Get past the mentality that you’re selling YOUR house. It’s far more about the buyers buying THEIR future home!

They need to see themselves there…the possibilities, the opportunities, and the wonderful memories they’ll make there. It’s not about you. If they walk into a messy, poorly maintained, or cluttered home, it becomes about you and how you live, and not about them. It needs to be about them!

So again…key point #4 is you’re not selling your house, they’re buying their home. It’s kind of like gift giving… If I’m looking to give you a gift, I look for a gift that you’ll want and appreciate, not necessarily one that I want to give. Same goes for selling your house.

Wrap Up:

So if you’re simplifying to sell your home, here’s a quick recap:

Key Point 1: Make sure your actions are in line with your goals
Key Point 2: Planning is a must!
Key Point 3: Understand the value of margin. Free space.
Key Point 4: You’re not selling your house, they’re buying their home.

So…there is no way we could have gotten more than our asking price, had such a great sale experience, and wrapped things up so quickly if we hadn’t simplified our lives and our home.

Vanessa was able to keep an influx of clients happy, and we were able to prep, list, and sell the house, move, and develop and launch a 3-week, multimedia and coaching product all over the course of 6 weeks! (More on Vanessa’s product in later shows).

And boy…were we ready for our road trip!!!

Question:

So, are you planning on simplifying to sell your home or do you want to make a positive change in your life? Do you think some of the key points we mentioned could help? If so, we’d love to hear about it and what tools or strategies you’re using that are helping you. Leave us a comment below!

Announcements:

Feedback:

Special thanks to Jodialgara, Suea626 , Whitephone, and Ja-Ro-El-Sha for your reviews on iTunes!

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit MarkMoz12

Jul 25 2015

28mins

Play

SLT075: 4 Critical Areas You Need to Consider When Downsizing

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Back in Episode 65, we talked about Strategic Simple Living and shared a few great tools you can use to plan your simple living strategy. Specifically, we used the 4 Direction Ideation Tool of Looking Outward/Inward/Backward/Forward as lenses for developing your strategy. We shared how we used this tool when downsizing for trying to find the perfect area for us to live.

But when we came to a decision point, we used a different framework for evaluating our final choice…and actually choosing where we’re moving to. So, armed with all we learned from the 4 Direction Ideation Tool process, we did our final analysis through the lenses of the 4 major areas of our life: Home, Work, Community, and Self.  And yep, we’re moving! We don’t have a hard and fast timeline yet, but we actually put our money where our collective mouth is and bought a lot to build on! Read More…

Topic:  4 Critical Areas You Need to Consider When Downsizing

Background

So there are 4 critical areas you need to consider when downsizing, moving, simplifying, or making any other major change in life if you want to achieve and maintain some kind of congruence. They are Home, Work, Community, and Self.

I borrowed and tweaked some definitions for these from a course I took through Wharton taught by Stew Friedman. But the true key is that you need to define these areas for yourself. What works for you might be completely different from what works for us and that’s fine. Again, the goal is to achieve some congruity between these areas and create what Dr Friedman calls “4 Way Wins.” A 4 Way Win is an activity that has a positive impact on each of the four major areas of your life. Again, those are Home, Work, Community, and Self.

Example

Continuing on with our example of looking for the ideal place for us to live, you can listen in to the episode and hear how we looked at those 4 critical life areas and how they impacted our downsizing efforts and our simplicity journey.

So the big announcement for us is that we’re moving to East Aurora, New York. Yeah…we know…we’re the family that is actually moving TO the Buffalo, NY area! But we know exactly what we’re getting into! I’m from Buffalo and it’ll be great to get back there after 31 years away, and living all over the world. And the little village of East Aurora embodies so much of what we’re looking for in a small town community. If you listen back to Episode 65 you’ll be amazed at what we said we were looking for, and what East Aurora has to offer. All except “mild winters,” that is!

“Anyhoos” (as Vanessa would say), here’s a quick video of some of the history of East Aurora and it’s influence on simplicity. You’ll see right off why we’re attracted to it!

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Four Areas

So we’ve mentioned these four major life areas. Let’s address these one at a time. If you listen in to the show, you’ll see how we used each of these to evaluate where we’re going to call home.

The first area is Home. The home, or family, can include the people (or animals) you live with, your family of origin (parents, siblings, and others), or your family of creation (spouse, partner, significant other, children, and others). We include our physical home too. For us, we want that to be an outgrowth of our relationship with those close to us, and serve as a setting for interaction with them.

The second area is Work. Now, this could be different for everyone. For most people, this is your job… what you do for a living or, if you’re between jobs, what you’re aiming to do next. If you’re in school, then consider school as part of your work domain. You can include here the wide array of things you do as part of your career.

Then we have Community. Community can mean friends, neighbors, social groups, religious institutions, charitable activities, political committees, membership in nonprofit organizations, or anything that bears on your impact on the world beyond your work and your family.

Finally, we have Self. Self includes your physical and emotional health, intellectual and personal growth, leisure, and spirituality.

Wrap Up

So that’s it! The four life areas we considered and analyzed as we downsize our life. Starting off with a strategic focus using the 4 Direction Ideation Tool was a great start, but honing in using the major life areas of Home, Work, Community, and Self really helped us to decide where we want to live.

Again, whether you’re downsizing or not, take some time to examine your life using Home, Work, Community, and Self as lenses. You might just be surprised how many “4 way wins” you’re able to achieve and help bring some real congruence to your life!

Question:

So, what decisions could you make to achieve more 4 Way Wins? Are you considering downsizing or a big move in your future? If so, we’d love to hear about it and what tools you’re using to make your decisions. Leave us a comment below!

Announcements:

Feedback:

Special thanks to Jodialgara, Klund08, SimplyClearly-Laura Spawn and SherryLCarver.com for you reviews on iTunes, and to Henriikka in France and Katie in Okinawa for your comments on SimpleLifeTogether.com!

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit Timothy Valentine

Mar 21 2015

42mins

Play

SLT074: 3 Simple Living Habits You Can Use Right Now

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When it comes to simple living, we can all use a few more tips to help us along. We’re going to share 3 more simple living habits you can start using right now for a better today and tomorrow.

One of our most popular shows was Episode 55, 7 Habits for Highly Effective Simplicity. We passed along what we feel are the top 7 habits you can develop to bring some serious simplicity into your life. That show was shared thousands of times…over 2300 times on our Pinterest page alone! Well, today we’re going to share 3 more. So let’s jump right in!  Read More…

Note: Get a copy of Supermom vs Super Mom for yourself or gift it to a Mom who needs a little “less” in her life. It’s less than $5 and will save you countless hours and effort!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  3 Simple Living Habits You Can Use Right Now

Habit 1: When searching for a solution, start with yourself first. Chances are, just like Dorothy with the ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz, you had the power all along.

Tap into resources you already have. Shop in your own closet, pantry, etc…

When you work to solve your own problems, you are exercising your innovation muscles!

Too often we ask someone else for an answer. At least Google it before you ask.

By looking outside yourself, automatically you established a need…a need that didn’t exist. That makes you a consumer instead of a producer and plays right into the hands of the marketing messages we’re subjected to 3-5000 times a day.

Habit 2: Often, establishing a simplicity habit involves establishing a framework that helps you deal with things in a predictable manner. Try experimenting with different frameworks to see what works for you! Here are 3 we use:

The W-I-N Framework: One I’ve been using more and more lately is the WIN framework. WIN stands for “What’s Important Now” and Vanessa first heard about it in Greg McKeown’s excellent book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

The Eisenhauer Matrix Framework: You’ve probably seen this one before, but just imagine a simple foursquare matrix. The vertical axis plots importance and the horizontal axis plots urgency. So if you picture the four squares, the top/left square is Box 1, Urgent & Important box. The top right is Box 2, Less Urgent & Important. Box 3 on the bottom/left is Less Important & Urgent. And finally, Box 4, Less Important & Less urgent, is on the bottom/right. The folks over at Eisenhauer.me did a great little video:

Isn’t that the truth! “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

The S.I.M.P.L.E. Method of Organizing Framework: Another framework is Vanessa’s S.I.M.P.L.E. Method© of organizing which she breaks down in great detail in her book Super Mom vs Supermom: Simplicity Tips for Busy Moms Here’s an outline:

Strategize:
• What are your needs?
• How do you want your space to look, feel, and function like?

Identify:
• What’s working?
• What’s not working?
• What are your limitations of the space?
• Draw or take pictures of the space.
• Take measurements.

Make Piles:
• Clear your space one area at a time.
• Work from left to right and top to bottom.
• Sort into general categories…like with like.
• Don’t edit yet! Make the piles first to see what and how much you have.

Pare Down and Edit:
• After you make piles then tackle one pile at a time…one item at a time.
• Decide: Do I USE it? Do I LOVE it? Do I NEED it?
• If yes…KEEP it!
• If no…LET it GO!
• When you’re done editing, remove unwanted and unneeded items immediately!

Let’s Organize:
• Assign zones.
• Keep like items with like items.
• Put it where you use it.
• Put frequently used items within arms reach.
• Make sure things are easy to get to…think accessibility; open bins, simple systems, etc.
• Don’t compromise safety for organization.
• Use containers and containers within containers.
• Label, label, label!

Evaluate and Maintain:
• Establish routines.
• Develop habits.
• Set reminders.
• Don’t forget the One-In, One-Out rule.
• Repeat the  S-I-M-P-L-E Method as a means to maintain your system or to update your systems when your needs change.

You can find the whole SIMPLE process in Vanessa’s book on Amazon. Seriously, it’s less than a decent cup of coffee and you should treat yourself.

Habit 3: Lead Others To Simple Living By Leading Yourself:  The number 1 question or pain point we get from people is “How do I get (someone they care about) to embrace simplicity? They’re into simplicity and someone close to them isn’t. It may be a spouse, a parent, your kids, a friend…whoever.  Well, the real bottom line is this: you just need to lead by example. Sure, you can establish some controls with kids, but for the most part just setting the example will go a long way to influence others to adopt positive change.

Wrap Up:

So there you have it! Three more simple living habits you can use to make your life a little easier. As we enter the Holiday season of 2014 we’re faced with lots of simplicity challenges. Be good to yourself in all the right ways. That includes forgiveness if you get off path a bit.

And the new year brings lots of opportunities for new beginnings, too. If you need some extra motivation, scroll through the older episodes of the back catalog and re-listen to some of those shows.

You can find links to all our shows on one page by going to SimpleLifeTogether.com/showlist. But here are 5 that can really help you jumpstart your New Year: Episodes 51, 52, 55, 63, and 65.

Question:

So, what new simplicity habits are you willing to try? Are you ready to start tapping into your own innovation and resources? Which of the 3 frameworks we shared might work for you? And finally, what area of your life can you start simplifying that sets the example for others? We’d love to know and I’m sure others would too! Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Announcements:

Project 333

Why not start out the new year with a challenge? If you have questions or just want to learn more about Project 333 or Courtney Carver’s Dress With Less microcourse. You can learn more about that at SimpleLifeTogether.com/dress.

Edit & Forget It Challenge

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Dec 08 2014

31mins

Play

SLT073: Simplifying Simple Life Together

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Okay, folks. We had intended this episode to be more of a “finality”. It was supposed to be more of a “farewell” episode and post. But the truth is, we’re having trouble with this because Simple Life Together is such a big part of our life. If it sounds like we’re waffling a bit, that’s because…well, we are!


So I guess you could say that we’re simplifying Simple Life Together. We should just jump right into the dirty work and break it all down for you…  Read More…

Note: Get a copy of Supermom vs Super Mom for yourself or gift it to a Mom who needs a little “less” in her life. It’s less than $5 and will save you countless hours and effort!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Simplifying Simple Life Together

It Hasn’t Been an Easy Decision to Simplify Simple Life Together!

On the last episode and up until we went to SimpleREV in Minneapolis we intended for this episode to be our last for quite a while. Here’s why:

  • What started off as us documenting our journey to simplify our lives, turned into something more…something better than we expected!
  • We unexpectedly built an amazing community of supporters and like-minded people in 154 countries.
  • We’ve gotten and continue to receive such heart felt support from that community…especially when we shared some of our toughest challenges.
  • We’ve also made some amazing friends along the way.
  • We were blessed with opportunities to speak about our life and our podcast at different conferences and on different podcasts.
  • We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet many of the people who inspired us both personally and professionally on our journey. Folks like Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker, Patrick Rohne, Mohammed Tohami, The Minimalists, Joel Zaslofsky, Dan Miller…just to name a few. Some of them have become good friends.
  • Even better…we’ve gotten to meet some of our loyal listeners and supporters…how cool is that? And, we’ve helped others in the community who are just starting out and making a real impact; folks like Dave & Sheryl Balthrop, Chris & Sarah Wehkamp, JF and Cheryl Moreau, Lara Blair, and others.
  • We were blown away by the amount of positive feedback about the show and how we influenced others to simplify their lives too. Feedback that brought us to tears. We never thought we could impact people the way that we did…and be impacted by them, as well.
  • The podcast helped us to really focus on what was important to us…and solidified our passion for simplicity and to live more deliberate and meaningful lives

But Producing the Show Isn’t All Sunshine

Although we love sharing and teaching others, over time, the success of our podcast led to the feeling of obligation of having to produce awesome content ALL the time. And let’s face it…our lives just aren’t THAT interesting that we have some type of major topic to talk about for 40 minutes each week. Still, we started realizing that the show was shifting from documenting our journey to “having” to produce good educational content each and every week, then every two weeks. Some of which took a lot of time to either research or compile coherent thoughts.

And we started to feel the pressures of the podcast from:

  • Coming up with content
  • Arranging our week to fit in research, recording and editing
  • Dealing with tension between the two of us...running out of content, waiting until the last minute to produce, the time obligation, defining roles and expectations, mistaken assumptions of who should do what, etc.

We get along really well and, for the most part, what you hear on the show is what you get with us. But every once in a while, working together on the show stretched things a little bit. Not too often, but definitely more so when we started feeling like we HAD to do a show as opposed to the times when we just couldn’t wait to share something. Hopefully, those tougher times were transparent on your end and you weren’t any the wiser. They weren’t often, but hey, we’re human, you know?

But that’s not all…we’ve also reached a part of journey where it made sense for us to pause the podcast a bit and shift from regularly scheduled content to “targets of opportunity-type” content…at least for now.

We’re Coming Into a Time of Refocus

The cool thing is that we’ve reached an important waypoint on this part of our journey, and now it’s time for us to refocus and work toward that end. But just like in any journey, when it comes to careers there are breaks along the way…if you’re lucky that is.

Back in our military days…during patrolling, we would occasionally take breaks on our mission called “SLLS Halts” (pronounced ‘sils’) that’s an acronym for Stop, Look, Listen, and Smell. Those halts would let you take things in and sense what was going on at that point in the operation. A time to just focus. I think we need to do that with life, too, and I feel like this SLLS halt I’ve taken has really refocused me on what I love and what I excel at. And that’s being in a leadership position with a team.

Wrap Up:

So this is what we’ve decided: Keeping in mind our original goal of the podcast and in light of our new focus in life….it’s not the end the end of Simple Life Together! As we have things to share, we will. That’s what we started out to do and that’s what we want to continue to do. Just not on a regular scheduled basis. So we’re simplifying a bit. But the sharing will continue. And I think it will be a better quality because it’s not rushed, forced, or done out of a sense of obligation…but from a point of sharing and community.

Many many thanks to you! We can’t thank the community enough for your constant support of SLT and hope you continue to support us when we do decide to pop in from time to time!

We are blown away at the community on Edit & Forget It Facebook Page and plan on keeping it going and participating as long as the group is active. We’ll pop in from time to time, but the really cool thing is that it’s really at a point where it’s a bunch of great folks that have a ton of advice and support to offer.

Question:

So does simplifying the show sound okay to you? A little less of us…a little less predictability…but still here to share our journey? We’d love to know.Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Announcements:

SimpleREV!

  • SimpleREV was amazing!  We’ll have more about it soon, but I just have to say…it really exceeded expectations. So much so that I actually tweeted this out:

Project 333

If you have questions or just want to learn more about Project 333 or Courtney Carver’s Dress With Less microcourse. You can learn more about that at SimpleLifeTogether.com/dress.

Edit & Forget It Challenge

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit: Modified Photo From Ken Conley

Oct 09 2014

29mins

Play

SLT072: How Do You Define Work Life Balance?

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Vanessa was getting ready to throw away a magazine (because of course, she practices the “one in one out rule“) and the headline on the cover was: The Balanced Life! She told me that she paused for a moment and thought, “Do I have balance?” We hear so much about it, but how do we define work life balance?

What does it really mean? Can we really achieve a balanced life? And so we got to talking about balance for a while, and thought we’d explore that a little more…. (Read more…)

Note: Get a copy of Supermom vs Super Mom for yourself or gift it to a Mom who needs a little “less” in her life. It’s less than $5 and will save you countless hours and effort!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  How Do You Define Work Life Balance?

It seems like the whole “balance thing” has become a buzz word. We hear about balance all the time in magazines, on television, supposed experts, life coaches, etc. Terms like work life balance, balanced diet, and even balanced budget are pretty pervasive.  But what does balance really mean in your life? We think “balanced” is different for everyone and there’s no one prescribed balanced lifestyle that works for everyone. Nor is there one way to define work life balance in a way that’s universal. So, we took a look at it from our own experience.

For us, work life balance includes myriad topics we’ve discussed on previous shows, such as:

    • The right size home
    • The right amount of time spent on work
    • Valuing experiences vs things
    • Freedom from stuff…in exchange for more free time to do what we love
    • Healthier living and relationships
    • Working as part of a team, focused on a larger goal…at work and/or in the community
    • Essentially, we define work life balance as living a fulfilling life…that will include ups and downs but overall full of happiness, joy, etc.

As we talked about what this balance meant to us, there were some pretty specific things that were NOT included in our definition of work life balance, too. Here are some:

    • We don’t think it means being on permanent vacation
    • It’s not about striving to eliminate all challenges in  our life…that’s part of life! Sure, balance is easier when you don’t have challenges, but that’s not real life!
    • It’s not about eliminating everything…just all the “junk”

So what gets in our way of achieving a good balance? For us, historically it’s been things like:

    • Putting an overemphasis on work related tasks when it interferes in other areas of our lives
    • Over obligating ourselves monetarily through too much spending
    • Over obligating ourselves by accepting too many commitments that sap our time
    • Consumerism always makes you feel like you’re missing something, and if you have this item, take this pill, look this way, then your life will be complete
    • Overindulging in one way or another, such as with:
      • Food
      • Drink
      • Technology

Speaking of technology, that deserves a deeper look. What’s the problem with technology? It’s invading every realm of our personal space, that’s what! It’s even encroaching on the most intimate of spaces and events:

    • The bathroom
    • The shower
    • The bedroom
    • Family meals

When we overindulge in technology, it distracts our attention and focus, and affects our ability to communicate and deal. For the younger generation of teens, it’s even impacted the way they communicate. Many rely on electronic communication versus face to face communication. In some, this has hindered their ability to deal with confrontation. Technology, when abused, hinders our ability to be present…to pause, and be in the moment; to be alone in our thoughts to contemplate.  Ironically most people say they want to “give it up”, but never do.

How We Strive To Create Balance

So here are some ways we try to maintain to ensure we stay true to how we define work life balance. We:

    • Review our goals
    • Reward ourselves when we achieve our goals or reach milestones
    • Avoid triggers and bad situations (negative relationships, inappropriate foods, shopping malls, etc)
    • Establish “no-tech” days or digital fasts. I deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone about 2 weeks ago (Yay!)
    • Schedule in family/fun time
    • Take time for ourselves
    • Focus on the present and don’t dwell on the past
    • Keep moving
    • Check things off your to-do lists….even if it means removing a to-do item all together
    • Learn to value experiences over things

Wrap Up:

So…in the end, like most things, we define work-life balance on our own. It’s not 50/50…it’s not 80/20. It’s up to You to determine the balance that is right for you, You make a plan to achieve that balance, and hopefully, building on the habits we talked about last week, You develop the keystone habits routines, and rituals that bring about the balance that’s right for you.

Question:

So what does a balanced life look like to you? How do you find or work towards that balance in your life? We’d love to know.Share your successes and struggles in the comments below. 

Announcements:

  •  Our LAST Regular Episode:  

    • The next episode of Simple Life Together will be our last regularly scheduled episode of the show. Of course, we’ll talk a lot more about that on that episode, but we wanted to give you not only a “heads up”, but also a chance to write in via email (Dan, Vanessa), the Facebook page, and the Edit & Forget It group on Facebook and ask us any questions you think should be answered on that final show, and we’ll do our best to answer them candidly.
  • SimpleREV Tickets

    • Be sure to check out the podcast Dan does with Joel Zaslofsky called All Things Simple Rev!  In the latest episode we talked about the changes quite a bit and we’re stoked! So is our friend and keynote speaker for the event, Joshua Becker from BecomingMinimalist.com, and all the other speakers as well. Of course you can listen to the latest episode at SimpleREV.com/008.
    • There have been some BIG changes to SimpleREV! As of now, the number of tickets is capped at 60, and EVERY TICKET is now essentially a VIP ticket! So make sure you lock yours in today.
    • Currently, there are only a handful of tickets left, so hurry!
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. And be sure to check out the SimpleREV podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleREV, all one word.

iTunes Reviews:

Thanks to all of you for thinking of us and taking the time to leave a review:

    • Annareview123 (Sweden)
    • Molly DeMond (United States of America)
    • PhilipHMA (United States of America)
    • cwp102c (United States of America)

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit Quinn Dombrowski

Sep 04 2014

41mins

Play

SLT071: The Power of Habit

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Never underestimate the power of habit. In mid-April of 2014, I decided that I needed to make some positive changes to my morning ritual. I’ve talked about my morning ritual a few times on the Simple Life Together podcast, and we discussed the power of habit, routines and rituals back in Episode 30 and also in one of our most popular episodes, The 7 Habits for Highly Effective Simplicity in Episode 55. But recently I read a book on habits (well, actually I listened to the audio version) by Charles Duhigg, titled The Power of Habit.

But let me back up just a bit and talk about my positive changes to how I spend my early morning. Following a visit to the doctor and the results of some medical testing, I decided that I need to get more active. Of course, my wife Vanessa had been encouraging me to do this for years…but you know how sometimes when the “advice” comes from a spouse or other close family member you occasionally ignore it? Well, yeah…that. Moving on…

Note: The school year starts soon! Get a copy of Supermom vs Super Mom for yourself or gift it to a Mom who needs a little “less” in her life. It’s less than $5 and will save you countless hours and effort!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  The Power of Habit

I had always intended to start walking, but I never seemed to be able to fit it into my day. But as I’ve explained in the past my morning ritual consisted of me waking up about 2 hours earlier than the rest of the family, making a delicious cup of coffee with my Aeropress, and sitting down for some “me” time behind my Macbook Pro. I knew that had to change and I intended to not only establish a new walking habit, but to eventually turn that into a ritual as well.

Vanessa and I have defined “ritual” as a mindful act or actions that have an overarching benefit. Think of a ritual as the sweet spot; something that probably needs to be done, that you actually enjoy doing. So as I started off to develop my new habit of walking, The Power of Habit was playing in my earbuds on Day One. As I listened and walked, Mr Duhigg explained what he calls his Habit Loop which consists of Cue, Routine, and Reward. He also highlights what he calls “Keystone Habits;” small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that carry over into other aspects of their lives. Duhigg contends that Keystone Habits have a ripple effect into other parts of your life, creating positive change unexpectedly. He used examples of exercise and eating together as a family as Keystone Habits, and I’d use our family time around the fire while camping (that “fire circle” I’ve mentioned before) as a prime example, too. Well, thats exactly what I was hoping to develop with my walk, a firm Keystone Habit. So I started off deliberately to ensure I did all I could do to make this work.

Knowing there are many ways to interrupt developing a new habit, here are a few things I did to help ensure success:

    • I prepared the night before by setting out my walking shorts, shirt, my RHA noise canceling aluminum ear buds, and Vibram Five Fingers. Yes, I wear (and LOVE) those funky toe shoes!
    • I set my alarm to ensure I walk at the same time every day.
    • When the alarm goes off in the morning, I turn it off, and say to myself “Get up, get out!” Some days are just tough and it’s easy to make excuses. But I know that once I’m out there on my walk I feel better. So I say every morning…Get up, get out!
    • So once I’m up I go make my coffee. My ritual includes my beloved Aeropress and Cafe Bustelo Espresso.
    • Armed with my coffee and my iPhone loaded with an audiobook or good supply of podcasts, I head out for between 1-1.5 hours and cover 4+ miles each and every day. And I LOVE it!

Sure enough, this walking habit has matured from a simple habit, to a routine, and is now a ritual that I enjoy. It has also become what Mr. Duhigg would refer to as a Keystone Habit, as well, spreading other goodness into various areas of my life. I’ve made great strides with my eating habits and other facets of my life by adopting the principles laid out by Mark Sisson in his Primal Blueprint. You can find out lots more about that at his website called Mark’s Daily Apple. He has so much terrific (and free) information there, but I admit I devoured the audio versions of his books The Primal Connection and The Primal Blueprint. To date, following Mark’s program, I’ve lost over 30 pounds, eliminated most of my prescription medicines (and cut the final one to half dosage), transitioned my complete diet to natural food sources, and I feel better than I have in years. Truly an amazing transformation, all stemming from one new habit: my daily walk.

Wrap Up:

So, if you’ve been waiting for a time to start tapping into the power of habits, maybe now is perfect for you. Be sure to check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I’m sure we could all use some more Keystone Habits in our lives to help us live more fully, more simply, and more purposefully. Habits don’t start without action, so if you didn’t start yesterday, then today is your next best option.

Question:

So what are your Keystone Habits? What habits have you developed in the past that you’re following today to shape your tomorrow? Are they positive habits that support the pillars of your Life Plan? Or are they habits that aren’t really congruent with how you want to live your simple life? We’d love to know. Share your successes and struggles in the comments below. 

Announcements:

  • Be on the lookout for a great guest post tomorrow from Cheryl and Jean-Francois Moreau about Simplifying Your Playroom.
    • Cheryl and Jean-Francois recently launched their site “Revive” which focuses on simplifying various aspects of people’s lives including their spaces, minds, bodies, and relationships. You can find that at http://Revivers.ca. They’re out of Ottawa, Canada, and you can follow them on Twitter @reviversca and check them out on Facebook, too!
  • SimpleREV Tickets

    • There have been some BIG changes to SimpleREV! As of now, the number of tickets is capped at 60, and EVERY TICKET is now essentially a VIP ticket! So make sure you lock yours in today.
    • Currently, there are only 17 tickets left, so hurry!
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. And be sure to check out the SimpleREV podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleREV, all one word.

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit Audrey Low

Aug 21 2014

41mins

Play

SLT070: Voluntary Simplicity with Miriam Ortiz y Pino

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We’ve mentioned in previous shows…sometimes simple isn’t easy. Consistent, voluntary simplicity can be even harder. Matter of fact, it can be an awful lot of work to make simple easy, but in the end we’re opting to live simply intentionally…in as many areas of our life as we can. And that’s going to take a little exploration and effort.

After our presentation at the NAPO 2014 Conference in Phoenix, we met a certified professional organizer, Miriam Ortiz y Pino, who turned out to have a little more in common with us than being an organizer like Vanessa.  She’s been practicing voluntary simplicity for a long time now and after talking with her we thought it would  be great to have her on the show to share her thoughts on what voluntary simplicity means to her, and also tap into some of her tips and advice to those who want to simplify their lives too.

Note: The school year starts soon! Get a copy of Supermom vs Super Mom for yourself or gift it to a Mom who needs a little “less” in her life. It’s less than $5 and will save you countless hours and effort!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Voluntary Simplicity with Miriam Ortiz Y Pino Interview

Miriam Ortiz y Pino  is a Certified Professional Organizer, Simplicity Expert & Coach, Entrepreneur, Writer, Blogger and Creator of The Streamlined System. For over 15 years Miriam has worked with entrepreneurs and other busy and creative people to eliminate the distractions, simplify systems and create routines so they can get it all done practically effortlessly.  The More than Organized Blog was recognized as one of the top 5 Simplicity Blogs in the world and she has contributed to several books. You can check out her website,http://www.morethanorganized.net, for free articles, resources, and to sign up for her FREE “One Minute Mail (& email) Solution Kit.

1. Tells us a little more about what you do and how you make lives simpler.

2. Everyone enjoys a little backstory…can you share with us a little bit about your life before becoming a professional organizer (in other words…were you always organized or did you have to learn to become more organized, etc)?

3. Living a life of simplicity is different for everyone, can you share with us what simplicity means to you and how you embrace it in your own life?

4. In your experience, what are the most common areas people request your help for getting organized and adopting simplicity?  Why do you think they struggle?

5. Getting and staying organized and embracing a life of simplicity is more than just buying organizing products, watching “how to” videos, reading books or even hiring a professional organizer.  Can you share with our listeners your advice on what it takes to embrace a simpler and more organized life…and make it stick?

6. You offer more tips and advice on your blog and website. Can you tell us little more about your workshops, products and services? I know we have a lot of DIYers out there…

7. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

8. What is the best way for our listeners to learn more about you?

Question:

So, what does voluntary simplicity mean to you? How are you practicing voluntary simplicity in your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to know!

Be sure to leave a comment below.

Qs & Comments:

Announcements:

  • Would You Like To Share Your Simple Life Story?
    • We’d love to interview you for the show! Have you started your own simple living journey and learned some lessons that may help fellow Simple Life Together listeners? If you’d like to share your story then drop us an email at Dan@SimpleLifeTogether.com or Vanessa@SimpleLifeTogether.com
  • SimpleREV Tickets:

    • Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleREVOnly 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleREV, all one word.

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

Photo Credit Gisela Giardino

Jul 31 2014

37mins

Play

SLT069: Head Over Heels In Love With Simplicity

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The number one reason we love simplicity is that it gives us flexibility to live our lives the way we want. Sure, it takes some real effort to get to the point where we could drop what we were doing and take a 30-day vacation, but once you get to the point where you can shape your life to do the things you want to do, and live they way you want to live, you’ll love simplicity too. It is so worth the effort and probably how you’d like to live your life too.

During our recent trip, we covered over 6600 miles with our tiny teardrop camper in tow. But thankfully, we didn’t drag along a lot of complexity with us as we traveled. But simplicity doesn’t just “happen.” Some deliberate decisions and actions ensured we could enjoy our experiences together as a family without some of the misfortunes of the Griswolds!

Note: The school year starts soon! Get a copy of Supermom vs Super Mom for yourself or gift it to a Mom who needs a little “less” in her life. It’s less than $5 and will save you countless hours and effort!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Why We Love Simplicity

We absolutely love the freedom to spend our time (for the most part) the way we want to. That’s why we love simplicity. All the things we have done to simplify our lives over the past couple of years is really starting to pay off. So when the time came for our summer vacation, all the dividends of our efforts manifested themselves throughout every facet of our trip. Now, we always like to leave you with some solid take-aways for every blog post or podcast episode we do. So, the take-away for you isn’t us talking about our trip…I mean, who cares about that other than us, right? But rather, the things we experienced tie directly in with almost everything we talk about on Simple Life Together. No doubt you take what we talk about and adapt it for yourself, right? Well, that’s exactly what you’ll do with this info, too. And if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll even save you some time or effort by helping you avoid some of the mistakes we’ve made.

So here are a few key points from the show:

    • How we made time to take a vacation, chose to align our work w/our Freedom Pillar, and then juggling clients to free up vacation time.

    • Why we went where we did and a little about each stop, including:

      • Florida
      • Nashville: Mastermind group and dinner with a fellow CPO, her garden, small town, etc…
      • Other stops in the Blue Ridge area
      • Why one of our ‘hopeful’ spots to live in ended up being a “no-go” for us
      • Meeting some full-time RVers
      • Stopped for an over-nighter in Shenandoah NP. Look out for lions, tigers and bears (oh my!). Well, just bears, actually.
      • A visit to Luray Caverns
      • Why we went to Hershey, PA (duh…chocolate!)
      • Lake Placid in the Adirondacks
      • The Buffalo, NY area and Sprague Brook Park
    • Highlights from the trip:

      • Meeting George & Sheila
      • Spending time with family (basically, for all the same reasons we talked about in Episode 35)
      • Kevin & Evette’s amazing eggs!
      • Exploring Buffalo
      • Visiting Elvis’ Graceland
        • We wonder what it would be like to live that lifestyle sometimes, but I’d bet Elvis would have traded with us on a few occasions.
        • Thanks to Big Jim Sykes of Sirius/XM Elvis Radio at Graceland for letting me explore and get a photo op in the studio setup
      • Small space living in our teardrop, and our son in his Hennessy Hammock
      • Enjoying simple foods and not eating too much ‘junk’ on the road
    • More ‘Wins’ and Lessons Learned

      • Again, we LOVE our Merino wool clothing choices and our techniques of packing light!
      • You can’t beat the good ol’ fashioned fun of sitting around a campfire! In essence, we really enjoyed slacklining, fishing, time with family
        • For another take on spending time with family, check out the new blog by Chris & Sarah Wehkamp of ParentsWho.com
      • There’s a big difference between “living the dream” and just “buying the dream”! We met someone along the way who “bought the dream” but never lived it.
      • And finally, what it felt like to come back to our simple home.

Question:

So, what are some ways you’ve invested in simplifying your life? How are those dividends paying off for you? We’d love to know!

Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment:

Dan: Nearly 30 days off of social media! It was awesome!

Vanessa: Being told by Sunshine, “Mommy…now’s not the time to be on your phone.”

Announcements:

  • Would You Like To Share Your Simple Life Story?
    • We’d love to interview you for the show! Have you started your own simple living journey and learned some lessons that may help fellow Simple Life Together listeners? If you’d like to share your story then drop us an email at Dan@SimpleLifeTogether.com or Vanessa@SimpleLifeTogether.com
  • SimpleRev Tickets:

    • Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleRev! Only 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word.

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Yours Truly

Jul 18 2014

52mins

Play

SLT068: Simple Living with Liz Neighbors

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We’ve been sharing our story about simple living here since the tail end of 2012. But we know we’re not alone when it comes to simple living! We put the call out in our last episode for more volunteers to share their story here on Simple Life Together. Well…you answered the call and and today we have our second Profile in Simplicity guest who is going to share how she’s simplified her life, too!

But before we tell you any more about our special guest, we want to give you a little reminder/background about this segment. Read more…

Background for Simplicity Profiles:

We’re looking at doing Simplicity Profiles every month or so. We’ll start the show with our featured guest and talk with them about simple living, how they embraced simplicity, what they’ve learned along the way, etc. We think the talks will last anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes. Sometimes longer, sometimes not. Then we’ll do the announcements, sometimes a Thing segment, and sometimes the Qs & Comments segment. We think it’s great to highlight your stories, and for you to be able to share:

    • Your triumphs
    • Your challenges
    • Your struggles
    • Things you’ve learned along the way

Each of us has our own story when it comes to simplifying, simplicity and simple living. Sharing what you’ve learned, what you’d do differently, advice you’d share, and even mistakes you’ve made on your journey, helps us all grow individually and as a community. We’re all in this together, so we’d all love to hear from YOU. When we started Simple Life Together, we kind of felt alone on our journey. We really wondered who would want to listen in and weren’t sure whether or not what we had to say mattered to anyone but us. Well, you’ve changed that for us, and we want to change that for you, too. We’ve been incredibly inspired by stories from the Edit & Forget It Facebook page, emails we’ve received, voicemails…you name it. YOUR story is unique...and if you’re willing to share it, it can serve to inspire others to follow your path. We’ve found out first-hand that something we mention in passing on the show can have a positive impact on someone on the other side of the world…and make their life a little better. Your story can do that too! The world is waiting, and we want to share our platform so you can share your story just like we have.

Simplicity Profile:

Liz Neighbors is joining us to share a bit about her simplicity journey. Liz and her husband Griff split their time between Connecticut and spending the summers in Cape Cod with friends. Liz worked in retail for years but stayed home to raise her kids for the past 18 years. In that time, Liz has blogged, ran an eBay business, and started getting that “it’s all too much feeling” lately like so many of us. She’s been a Simple Life Together and Edit & Forget It Challenge supporter right from the start. And get this…Liz started a mission of no shopping back in November of 2013 and is 7 months into her journey!

    1. Tell us how you got started on your simple living journey…and maybe paint a picture of what your life was like before you started simplifying your life.
    2. What was the catalyst?
    3. Everyone struggles in some way when it comes to simplifying or editing, or making major life changes. What has been the biggest challenge(s) for you along the way? And do you still struggle with any?
    4. What does your life look like now that you’ve been on your simplifying journey?
    5. Can you share with us some things you’ve learned along the way or things that you may have learned from others on the Edit and Forget It FB page?
    6. Tell us how people can find you

Question:

So, how have you been simplifying your life!  We’d love to know. Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment:

Vanessa: Aereo….watch tv online. It’s a nice alternative to cable and allows us to watch more local channels on our laptop or on our big screen television via Air Play. It was especially nice to watch the NBA playoffs and finals where the San Antonio Spurs whipped the tails off of the Miami Heat!!!! Dan: Ariana Huffington’s book, Thrive. The book is very much in line with how we want to live our lives…deliberately, on purpose, and taking care of that which is most important in our lives.

 Announcements:

  • We’re hitting the road for a few weeks!!! Shows may be a little sporadic but we’ll be sure to post a few blog posts here and there and maybe…just maybe…we’ll do a fun video tour of our tiny teardrop camper we always talk about on the show!

Resources and Links:

Jun 19 2014

38mins

Play

SLT067: Simplify Your Wardrobe Redux

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Way back in Episode 47, Simplify Your Wardrobe, we explored our relationship with the clothes that we wear and asked ourselves some questions such as: So what things shape your current wardrobe? What does your wardrobe look like now? What would your ideal wardrobe look like? and What are some of your favorite pieces and why? We also introduced that we were going to give a microcourse called Dress With Less a try, cutting our wardrobes down to 33 pieces each for 3 months.

Well, it’s been over 6 months and 20  Simple Life Together episodes since then and while we’ve mentioned quite a bit about our progress along the way, we thought we owed you a good, solid wrap up. So this is it!  Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Simplify Your Wardrobe Redux

When your goal is to simplify your wardrobe, you don’t expect to learn a whole lot of lessons about your attachment to “stuff.” But that’s just what happened with us. Over 6 months ago, Vanessa packed up most of her clothes and put them up in the attic. And then just a few days ago, we sat down and started talking about the process and what we’ve learned along the way. As we talked, I said, “You know what? This is good stuff. We really ought to be recording this!” So we moved on out to our World Shedquarters, sat behind the mics and just had a candid conversation. Vanessa even shared a few journal entries she did early on in the challenge. Here’s a sample:

Day 2: Well I woke up and and the first thing I did, even before going to the restroom was check out my wardrobe. Yup…still pretty empty…nothing really changed. So I cried again. I was grumpy all day…frustrated with the challenge…even more frustrated with my emotions.

But miraculously as the day went on, I started to settle into the idea of living with less. It’s not like this was life or death….it’s a simple challenge….and one I don’t have to commit to if I don’t want to. So that seemed to brighten my spirits a little. And with that….I revisited my closet, made some final edits and settled into the fact that this was just a challenge…only a 3 month challenge.

 So, have a listen and consider this episode a inside look at our own personal triumphs and struggles. It was just Vanessa and me having a little one on one talk, but we thought you’d appreciate being a fly on the wall. If you decide that you want to simplify your wardrobe a bit, too, we’d love to hear some of your lessons learned.

Question:

So, what are some things you’ve learned along the way as you try to simplify your wardrobe? How did you handle your struggles? Did you have support along the way? Was 33 the right number of things for you, or was it more or less? We’d love to know!

Be sure to leave a comment below.

Qs and Comments, iTunes Reviews

Thanks to mcevjael who wrote: “Great content…every episode. 5 Stars. It’s obvious how much prep work goes into each episode. Thanks for the valuable content and the easy listening.”

 Announcements:

  • Would You Like To Share Your Simple Life Story?
    • We’d love to interview you for the show! Have you started your own simple living journey and learned some lessons that may help fellow Simple Life Together listeners? If you’d like to share your story then drop us an email at Dan@SimpleLifeTogether.com or Vanessa@SimpleLifeTogether.com
  • SimpleRev Tickets:

    • Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleRev! Only 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word.
    • There will be some great workshop leaders there, including Joshua Becker from BecomingMinimalist.com, Mike Vardy from Productivityist.com, Brooks Duncan from DocumentSnap.com, David Delp from PilotFire.com, and others.
    • And be sure to check out the All Things SimpleRev podcast as well. There’s a link in the shownotes, or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word. On Episode 3 Joel and I talk with our friend Joshua Becker about…you guessed it…simplicity! So have a listen.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Yours Truly (adapted from Wikimedia)

Jun 06 2014

43mins

Play

SLT066: Predict Your Future

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Abe Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” When living simply, taking action now can help you shape the life you want to live. Back in Episode 38, we talked about the concept of preparation meets opportunity. You may recall a few lines from that show that went like this:

“When you’re working on that Life Plan, or your dreams and goals, prepare for those opportunities you want to come along. I’m a firm believer that you can determine your own destiny if you make your own future. Shape it yourself. You’ll have obstacles along the way for sure, but you’ll also find encouragement and inspiration, too.”

We want to give you a little bit of context for our journey by connecting some dots. Our goal is that it may help you form you own dots to connect later on. So, If you’ve been listening in or reading our blog posts for a while and are familiar with many of our back episodes and posts, now you’ll see exactly why we picked some of the subjects that we did. If you’re new to Simple Life Together (and we have more and more joining us each week…yay!) then this will be a great “jumping on” point for where we are and how we got here! So, the “What’s In It For You” is this...taking deliberate small steps forward from the ideation we talked about on the last show, will help you shape your own journey to live simply. “The best way to predict your future is to create it” is a great way to think about it. So thanks, Mr Lincoln, for that fine quote and the title of today’s episode.  Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  The Best Way To Predict Your Future Is To Create It

Like we said earlier, you’ll see how a lot of our past episodes relate to the things we are doing in the “initiate movement” step of the TLPs, to move towards our simple life goals. In no particular order, here are some of the things we’ve done, are still doing, or getting ready to do, to move us forward:

The Edit & Forget It Challenge

We introduced The Edit & Forget It Challenge back in Episode 9. The Edit & Forget It Challenge has fulfilled a lot of objectives for us. Here are a few:

  • It helped us loosen our grip on “stuff”…physically, emotionally, and intellectually. By intellectually I mean that buying became a lazy, default “easy button” that overrode the acts of contemplation (considering whether or not we really needed something), innovation (what else could I use, how can I get access to that?), patience (do I need it now?), and appreciation (caring for what you have now so it can serve you long term).
  • E & F helped us develop new habits toward spending. (why did I ever buy this?)
  • It taught us to be more deliberate about what we buy or allow into our lives (things, circumstances, commitments and events).
  • And, it influenced us to physically downsize our stuff so we can achieve the goal of living in a smaller home, customized to our lifestyle now and long-term.

Edit & Forget It Continues to Challenge Us

We recently did a another full frontal assault on our garage and it felt fantastic! It helped us reach a few key objectives that we had as our goal. Namely, we:

  • Identified our biggest pain points with the garage and finally solved them
  • Eliminated duplicates, triplicates and quadruplicates of hand tools. This allowed me to find what I needed so much more quickly
  • Eliminated some “space stealers” without sacrificing storage capability. This opened up a LOT of floorspace that was formerly taken up by yard tools, etc that encroached on the main area of the garage.

We still have more to go in the garage! Not that we have so much “stuff”, but when you’re fine tuning,  getting to exactly where you really want to be it takes time. I still have some files out there that we need to go through with a fine-toothed comb.

The Upside of Downsizing

In Episode 42, The Upside of Downsizing, we took a look at some of the benefits of downsizing:

  • It not only includes downsizing your stuff, but your commitments and obligations too.
  • You’ll save money and time now…and direct them towards others important goals
  • You’ll save time & effort…yardwork, maintenance, etc.
  • In a downsized space, things tend to run more efficiently: less to care for = less stress and confusion….a smaller home means smaller utilities bills, and systems don’t have to work so hard.
  • One thing that Vanessa is always cognizant of when working with clients is that by downsizing now you can decrease the chance of a major inconvenience to loved ones if you have to ask for their help when you wait until you “have to” downsize.
  • Downsizing now can give you a sense of control. You’re doing it on your terms as opposed to waiting until you have to downsize…which, like I just stated, could cause undue stress and resentment.

But we’ll tell you this…watch out for some unexpected positive side effects, too! Downsizing has a funny way of simplifying your life overall. When you simplify, you’re more focused of your life goals, more deliberate with your purchases, and more in-tune with what’s important to you like family, relationships, your health and on and on…

 Setting Limits to Simplify Your Life

Other concepts we explored back in Episode 38, Preparation Meets Opportunity, and Episode 54, Setting Limits to Simplify Your Life, have worked and are continuing to work for us:

  • First and foremost we developed 5 pillars (Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances, and Freedom) and goals within those pillars to keep us on track and focused.
  • Selling our land was a huge step in our “initiate movement” phase. It freed us up to purchase the Guidon, our tiny teardrop camper. That act alone fulfills alot of our goals and priorities. We reached a few financial goals as well as our goals to travel more and spend more time as a family.
  • In preparation for living small, we’ve established some boundaries there as well:
    • Limiting how big our home will be
    • Editing our possessions now (almost 5000 things gone in a year and a half!?!?)
    • Preparing to go down to 1 car as soon as we can
    • Getting rid of cable, data plans on tablets, etc…
    • Editing our obligations and commitments as well

Other Ways We’ve Set Limits for Ourselves (aka, “Keeping Us Honest”)

We also limited ourselves to a smaller camper for our travels. Traveling is one of the primary reasons for us wanting to live simpler lives. Living small would allow us the opportunity to travel more. Originally we thought the answer to our traveling dreams was to get a big Class A motorhome. But after further contemplation we realized it would be more restrictive (in regards to cost, time to maintain it, and places we could actually visit). The RV would have required us to find a place to store it, pay lots more in fuel costs, and even restricted the kinds of campsites and parks we could go to. It was way more than what we wanted and needed.

Instead, we decided our teardrop camper was a better fit for us. Although, by design it limits us to what and how much we take, it gives us way more freedom in regards to our time, money and places we can travel to and visit.

An added benefit to our tiny camper is that it has really given us a taste of living small which is our end goal. We mentioned that we actually camped for 3 weeks in a 50 square foot loaner teardrop camper last summer and it was fabulous! We learned how to plan simple meals, how to pack even lighter for the trip and how to create simple routines just as we would in our normal home…they were just a little different and on a smaller scale. We honestly didn’t miss all the luxuries our 1800 square foot home had to offer. Matter of fact, the only thing Vanessa missed was having her own bathroom…but that’s it. We didn’t miss having our laundry room (we just made weekly trips to the laundromat which was awesome because we could do a bunch of loads at once!). We didn’t even miss our big kitchen, or our backyard or home office shedquarters because the views out camping were way better than our backyard. Not having a home office actually helped us curb our digital addiction! So basically, the camper solidified the idea that we can live small and still be happy.

And the same thing goes for our Jeep. We knew eventually we wanted a 4 wheel drive that would be beneficial on our travels and in different climates. So we ended up getting one (a little sooner than we planned but hey…preparation and opportunity helped us out here. Even on short notice!). The Jeep is small, but because of it’s restrictions in storage space, we are much more deliberate about what we bring on trips. Actually, that makes things so much easier when it comes time to pack up and go!

Wrap Up

So, all of these things things are just examples of how we used the tools of Strategic Simplicity and what we call “systematic ideation” to move us forward in our journey of living simpler in different areas of our lives. From ideation to initiation, you can see how systematically looking at things in your life, can really help you move forward…no matter what your goals or dreams are.

Now, the next phase for us will be the “Conduct Reconnaissance” phase! We’ll be doing some recon this summer on our trips out east and west…and probably for the next couple of years as we explore and hone down the places we’d like to live. We developed some criteria of the ideal place for us (which we discussed in detail in Episode 65) and now we’re executing part of the plan by visiting places before we move on the the final troop leading procedures steps, “Complete The Plan” and “Issue The Final Plan”…which of course is moving to a place we’ll call home. From there on out, it’s “Supervise and Refine” for us!

Major Takeaway:

We’re far from the “destination” of our simplicity journey…but it feels great to be on the path. So the major takeaway here is this: You don’t “find” your path to living simply. You make it. You predict your future by making it happen! Our path certainly won’t be yours, but we can share some tools, some experiences, and some support to one another along the way to forge our own path. And it all starts with some ideation, determination, and some deliberate actions to not only make dreams a reality, but make your journey a whole lot of fun, too. As Mr Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Start creating the future you want, today.

Question:

So, what are some things you’re doing to predict your future by creating it? Are you downsizing? Prepping for a new career? Starting a side gig business? What are some things holding you back from getting started? We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Qs and Comments, iTunes Reviews

We had some terrific iTunes reviews! Thanks to:

TClongLPC, Prankstr45, and Sherry from SherryLCarver.com!

And some great website comments, too! Thanks to:

Don Hamilton, Tania of MauiShopGirl.com, and Jenny Thompson, Sara Grafton from Stamp Across the Miles, Hope Griffin from HopeNGriffin.com, Sheryl Balthrop from SimpleLifeReboot.com and Toni Scott from TannerAssociates.com.

So yeah…Episode 65 was a pretty popular episode so check it out if you haven’t already. Thank you all so much for taking the time to write in!

 Announcements:

  • Possible Meetup in Phoenix?

    • We’re speaking at the National Association of Professional Organizers Annual Conference, so we’ll be in Phoenix, AZ from 27-31 May. If you’re in the Phoenix area and are interested in a meetup, email Vanessa and maybe we can set something up in Eventbrite. It would be great to meet you!
  • SimpleRev Tickets:

    • Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleRev! Only 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word.
    • There will be some great workshop leaders there, including Joshua Becker from BecomingMinimalist.com, Mike Vardy from Productivityist.com, Brooks Duncan from DocumentSnap.com, David Delp from PilotFire.com, and others.
    • And be sure to check out the All Things SimpleRev podcast as well. There’s a link in the shownotes, or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word. On Episode 3 Joel and I talk with our friend Joshua Becker about…you guessed it…simplicity! So have a listen.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Yours Truly (adapted from Wikimedia)

May 15 2014

45mins

Play

SLT065: Strategic Simple Living

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When it comes to making long-term plans for our lives, we all go through a “dream stage”…where we just kind of day dream about what our life might be like. Seriously, we’ve all, at some point in our life, thought about what it would be like to win the lottery or be super rich…and you kind of lose yourself in the dream. While I’m sure there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s really more productive to do some systematic ideation. By dreaming systematically, you’ll likely improve your chances for success. For us, this is strategic simplicity.

By going through a process of systematic ideation, you may come up with more questions than answers initially. But in the end, you’ll probably be a lot closer to what you want and be able to formulate a real plan of action. Yes, truly strategic simple living!   Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Strategic Simple Living

Ok, so what is “systematic ideation” and how can you use it? Well, I’m sure there’s lots of different ways to systematically come up with ideas. I’m a bit of a tinkerer…kind of a MacGyver type and enjoy product design. I even recently had a company put one of my ideas into production and they’re getting ready to release it. But years ago, I read a book (I can’t for the life of me remember or find the title) that sparked my interest in systematic ideation.

But today we’re going to share one ideation tool with you that you might be able to use on your simplicity journey. We adapted this from a post we saw on Governing.com that had absolutely nothing to do with strategic simple living. Still, the tool was intriguing, so we adapted it for our use.

The 4 Direction Ideation Tool

So here you go: A good way to be more systematic about your ideation is by looking in all four “directions”. By that we mean, Outward, Inward, Backward and Forward. It’ll help if we give an example, so we’ll show you how we used this tool in our search for the “perfect” town or place for us to live. Of course, you can use it for any ideation exercise you wish!

  • So first we have Look Outward: We’re going to look at the local, regional, and national possibilities. We could even look internationally if we wanted.
  • Next we have Look Inward: What do we really want? What are our “must haves”, and what are the “deal breakers?” Vanessa will break this down a bit in a minute and share some things we consider.
  • Look Backward: Doing a candid review of what has and hasn’t worked in the past. What did we like about it, what did we dislike.
  • Finally, we have Look Forward: What do we want it to look like, feel like, be like?

Our Search for the Perfect Place to Live

Back in Episode 49, Live the Life of Your Dreams, we talked about our “Freedoms From” and our “Freedoms To.” One of those freedoms to was “Freedom To Choose Where & How We Live.” So, again, just to give you an example of using the tool on our quest for strategic simple living, let’s look at our search for the “ideal” place for us to live.

So, before we start the 4 directions, here are some qualities we know our dream location will have:

  • A quality grocery store within walking distance
  • Close to downtown shops; coffee shops, bookstores, diners, local shops, etc…oh and free wi-fi is always nice…
  • We’d like to live near water. Not ocean…preferably a creek or river…or even a lake
  • Small acreage to maintain; ¼ – 1 acre max!
  • Good schools…or good home-school co-ops if needed
  • We’d prefer an empty lot to build to our exact liking
  • No size restrictions on home…for us that means small, not big
  • No Home Owner’s Association (HOA) would be ideal
  • If HOA…hopefully open to green/sustainable building techniques or upgrades
  • Reasonable tax rates…Military retirement not taxed…state taxes
  • Local farmers markets
  • Outdoor activities easily accessible…fishing, camping, hiking, biking, etc.
  • Local attitudes and atmosphere…not too stuffy…easy going where the community cares about taking care of and maintaining a safe and healthy place to live.

So Looking Outward:

    • We’re not tied to a specific geographic location like where our families live.
    • Visiting family and friends is already a part of our plan, and one of the main reasons we want to live small is so we can travel large!
    • Although we could live internationally if we desired, at this point we are more grounded here in the US. Again, we’ll scratch our international itch through travels abroad.
    • We want 4 seasons…with relatively mild winters ;o)

Looking Inward:

    • Keeping our 5 pillars in mind (Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances, and Freedom), we want a place and lifestyle that can support all of them in fair balance. For example, we don’t want to live in a place with a high cost of living that would restrict our freedom to travel and visit/spend time with family.
    • Additional must haves…safe environment, access to the recreational activities we love, the outdoors, ability to live small, high walkability rating (walkscore.com) and 4 mild seasons. The reason these things are so important to us is because these things fulfill us.
    • Deal breakers…restricting our freedom to live in a small, environmentally conscious home….too much traffic…high taxes, intolerance, etc!
    • Bottom line, we want a place with personality!

Looking Backward:

    • We actually miss apartment-style living! No yard maintenance, small space with a home for everything, little home maintenance and access to fitness and pool facilities.
    • Yet we like having our own home and a yard to chill and play…BBQs, darts, playing catch, gardening, fires, bird-watching ;o)
    • We also like designing and creating our own unique home.
    • Don’t like cookie-cutter “suburbia” homes. Although many are incredibly beautiful and offer tons of amenities, in our experience and the suburban homes we lived in, they lacked a sense of community.

Looking Forward:

    • What will it look, feel, be like?
    • For our example of our ideal location, what does a day there look like?
    • What does a week there look like (routines, shopping, weekend, etc).
    • What do the seasons look like?
    • While these are cyclical, what does it look like in a linear sense, from now to a point in the future?

Major Takeaway

So the major takeaway here is this: By all means, DREAM. Dream Big! But when it comes to getting serious about strategic simple living, be systematic about your ideation. Look Outward, Look Inward, Look Backward, and then look Forward.

By going through this process of ideation, you may come up with more questions than answers initially. But in the end, you’ll probably be a lot closer to what you want and be able to formulate a real plan of action.

Question:

So, what is one of your long-term simplicity or other life goals where you could use this ideation process? Is it your home, your career, a business opportunity, a passion, or even a relationship? We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment

Vanessa: I just turned 40 years old and feel great!

Dan:  Recently we had to do some document faxing. We usually bug Dan’s ex and send faxes from her office, but this time I just used the HelloFax extension for the Chrome browser. HelloFax makes it easy to sign documents and send faxes online. You’ll never need to print, sign and scan documents again! You can get 50 free fax pages each month, for 6 months! If you want to check out Hello Fax just go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/hellofax.

Qs and Comments, iTunes Reviews

We just wanted to say thanks to Genevieve Parker Hill for including us in her post, 9 Websites To Help You Live Simply. She lists some fantastic simplicity blogs and we’re honored to make the cut!

And also to Sheryl and Dave Balthrop for mentioning us in their post The 7 Phases of Your Heroic Journey to Margin and Simplicity.

 Announcements:

  • SimpleRev Tickets:

    • Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleRev! Only 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Marina del Castell

May 01 2014

38mins

Play

SLT064: Healthy Smoothies Made Simple With Farnoosh Brock

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We hinted in Episode 63 that we’ve been enjoying more and more healthy smoothies. About two and a half years ago we did a 12-day juice fast. Since then, we’ve slowly incorporated juicing into our lifestyle at least 3-4 times/week. By doing that…juicing became a regular part of our life.  We became addicted to how good it made us feel which led us to look into other ways to improve or expand our healthy eating goals. Juicing led to eating more raw foods, eating smaller portions…and now smoothies!

So, who better to talk about smoothies, than our friend and someone who’s become our own personal… “healthy liquids expert,” Farnoosh Brock, the author of The Healthy Smoothie Bible Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Farnoosh Shares The Skinny on Healthy Smoothies

We asked Farnoosh a bit about simplicity and a lot about healthy smoothies and her new book. So, we’ll share the questions we asked her with you here, but to get all the goodness you’ll just have to listen in to the show this time.

  • Before we get into the book, let’s start with simplicity. You’ve really adopted simplicity into your life over the last couple of years and had a terrific guest post on Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist blog that we’ll link to in the show notes. Share some thoughts on how your life has changed with your focus on simpler living.
  • When we talk about juicing, one of the first questions we’re asked is what’s the difference between juices and healthy smoothies, or juicing and blending. How would you answer that?
  • Which do you recommend, juicing or smoothies?
  • So Farnoosh, what would you list as some of the benefits of integrating healthy smoothies into your lifestyle?
  • How do you recommend people get started with healthy smoothies?
  • Be honest…what is your favorite smoothie?
  • Tell us about the process of making healthy smoothies, and share some tips on how you’ve simplified your smoothie making?

Major Takeaway:

So the major takeaway here is this: Adding healthy smoothies to your lifestyle is a simple way to increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, certain superfoods, and even supplements into your life. While we’re big juicing fans, sometimes prep and cleanup from making healthy smoothies is a LOT easier. Give it a try! You can get your own copy of Farnoosh’s Healthy Smoothie Bible today!

Question:

So, you know we’re enjoying more smoothies! And if you didn’t see it, Vanessa did a post this past week about dehydrated snacks that we like to make, such as fruits and jerky. Be sure to check that out, too.

But how about you? Have you adopted any new healthy changes or simple foods lately? Do you have any tips or advice you’re willing to share? We’d love to hear it.

Be sure to leave a comment below.

Qs and Comments, iTunes Reviews

And we got a nice voicemail from Connor Trueman  from Journey To Simple and also Liz Neighbors on our Speakpipe app on the website. Thank you both so much for phoning in!

 Announcements:

  • The SLT Facebook Page:

    • We have a Simple Life Together Facebook page and forum. Yeah…some of you are saying “FINALLY!”
      • Now, admittedly, we’re not the biggest fans of Facebook, but it seems to be where most people are.
      • We’ve had the private Edit and Forget It page on Facebook for over a year and it’s become a wealth of information and and a great resource for everyone there. We’re hoping the open Facebook page for Simple Life Together will grow to be the same.
      • We’ve installed a forum app there too so we can categorize things by topic. That should help a lot!
      • We haven’t started seeding topics there yet but it is an open page and open forum so feel free to start setting up topics too!
    • So, we look forward to seeing you on our open Simple Life Together Facebook page
      • We’re building the new Simple Life Together page on Vanessa’s previous GetSimplifized page. So, while the URL has already changed to Facebook.com/SimpleLifeTogether, it’s not changed in the Facebook search yet. It still shows up as GetSimplifized.
      • FYI, Facebook told me they have a 14-day waiting period for page name changes, so it should change on the 21st of April.
  • SimpleRev Tickets:

    • Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleRev! Only 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word.

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Farnoosh Brock

Apr 17 2014

39mins

Play

SLT063: Five Steps to Simple Living

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When it comes to simple living, or making any changes in life, there always seems to be plenty of experts around telling you what you should do, and how you should do it. Looking to get in shape? You can find an endless supply of “experts”…many of which will directly contradict each other…that are ready with their magic formula to help you. All you have to do is buy their equipment, take their magic pill, or follow their magic advice.

But what it all boils down to in the real world is developing a simple plan that is right for YOU, and then kicking things into gear! When it comes to simple living or simplifying certain areas of your life, there are some things that have worked for us and that you can use to start making strides in areas of your life that you want to simplify.   Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Buy Supermom vs Supermom

Topic:  Five Steps to Simple Living

We’re just going to offer 5 ways to help you simplify your life…at your own pace.

Okay, first… Take an objective look at where you are.

Once you look at where you are now, you can figure out where you want to be and start working in that direction.

Number two…start with one area of your life.

Simple living has so many different facets. But what’s one area you want to fix? Is it your physical clutter, time commitments and obligations, finances, your professional life, personal life, health? What do you want to focus on? Pick one thing first, then edit what isn’t working and try to streamline ways to keep it simple…and keep it going. Here’s an example: a major area of frustration for me was our kitchen counter that became “The Clutter Zone”. The first thing we did was get rid of the junk, then Dan came up with the idea of making some cubbies in the columns next to where the clutter was collecting…and it worked great! That one change had such a huge impact on our physical space that it led to more and more opportunities to simplify. And that’s what we’re talking about for our third point…

Simple living will become addictive!

And once you start that one area, you’ll likely find you’re ready to expand your efforts and carry that momentum into simplifying other areas of your life. So as we just mentioned regarding those cubbies…that worked so well that the idea spread to other areas of the home to control and contain our clutter.

    • Focusing on our finances was another area that we wanted to simplify. So we focused on selling (editing) our land which set us up to tackle other financial goals we had, and buy our teardrop trailer outright.
    • Our Edit and Forget Challenge became a lifestyle and not just a one time event! The same thing can happen in other areas of your life, too, like health and fitness. Sometimes we try to do everything but quickly get burned out.
    • The best thing to do is to keep it simple and work on one thing at a time. Here’s an example: For us, the idea of doing a 60 day juice fast sounded great, but it just wasn’t realistic for us. Instead we chose to make it part of our weekly diet plan…slowly incorporating it at least 3-4 times/week. By doing that…it has become a regular part of our life…something we’ve been able to sustain for over two years. And we became addicted to how good it made us feel which led us to look into other way to improve or expand our healthy eating goals. Juicing led to eating more raw foods… and eating smaller portions…and now smoothies. Matter of fact, we’ll have Farnoosh Brock back again on the next show to talk about that! You see, when you start small or with one thing at a time, it’s much easier to implement it, sustain it, and spread to other areas of your life. So have a rough plan…a punch list, if you will, of areas you want to simplify. That way, you can concentrate your efforts and capitalize on your efficiencies.

And the fourth thing is that by doing this, you can Go At Your Own Pace.

You’ll know what pace is right for you and when it’s time to stretch a bit or ease up. Find people, books, podcasts or blogs that help guide and support. But don’t fall for the “gurus or experts” who pretend to have some secret formula or easy solution. They sound great, but they don’t know you. You know you. Follow what feels right to you. And as we mentioned before, be prepared for some friendly “critiquing” along the way from others who just don’t get it…YET. We talk about that pretty in-depth in Episodes 13 about escaping cubicle life and in Episode 55, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Simplicity.

So for a quick recap, we had 1- Take an objective look at where you are, 2- Start With One Area of Your Life, 3- Know That Simple Living Will Become Addictive, and 4- Go At Your Own Pace.

Now, the 5th and final step is… Take action!

Get started and tweak things as you go! Try personal simplicity challenges, like our Edit & Forget It Challenge, Project 333, and others. Measure your progress against your own yardstick and try to stick to your objectives. Of course, it always helps to have a very well developed plan, but to paraphrase von Moltke, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” So, armed with your motivation to simplify and your rough plan from Step 2, get started and be prepared to tweak things along the way. That way you can always stay on the offensive and have the agility to change course when you need to, but still work toward your objective. There are lots of sayings in the military that follow this advice, such as “improvise, adapt and overcome,” and “Flexibility is the key to Airpower.”  So, as you take action, remember it’s better to follow your overall objectives than it is to follow a rigid plan. So there you go…5 Steps to Simple Living at Your Own Pace.

Major Takeaway

So the major takeaway here is this: Remember, no matter what area of your life you’re trying to improve, there is help out there. But don’t fall for the “gurus or experts” who pretend to have some secret formula. They don’t know you like You know you. Follow what feels right to you. Figure out where you are now, where you want to be, make a plan, take action and tweak along the way. That’s it. If that sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s about the same thing as the OODA loop we talked about WAY BACK in Episode 16, Making Decisions Like a Fighter Pilot.

Question:

So, have you ever found yourself frustrated with the advice of so called gurus or experts? Or do you take advice with a grain of salt and adapt a little here and there to fit your needs? Do you have any tips or advice on ways you’ve been able to reach your simplicity goals and stay on track? We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment

Dan just reviewed a terrific Evernote guide titled How to Automate Evernote, Save Boat Loads of Time And Make Your Life Easier. It’s a 76-page ebook on how to automate Evernote with some cool programs he’s talked about before such as If This Than That, Gmail, and others. Kosio, the author, sent Dan a copy and it has some pretty interesting tactics that’ll save you lots of time. You can find it at SimpleLifeTogether.com/automate. It goes great with Brett Kelly’s “Evernote Essentials, another terrific book to help you make the most of Evernote. You can get that at SimpleLifeTogether.com/essentials.

Qs and Comments, iTunes Reviews

And we got a nice voicemail from Genevieve Parker Hill from PackingLust.com on our Speakpipe app on the website.

iTunes Reviews:

Candabar: The best simple living podcast out there!!! If you are looking for a way to cut down and live a more simple and meaningful life, look no further! This podcast is perfect for that and it has really helped me. Don’t bother with any other simple living podcast!!!

Mopjunkie: The two of you are a great inspiration. I found you recently on James Kinson’s Cash Car Convert. I’m in!!! I had to come to the realization that I had too much stuff! We’ve already started the reduction phase and also just signed up for your edit and forget it. The two of you are entertaining yet informative! I listen during my 30 minute commute and your segments are just the right size, begin in the morning and finish in the afternoon. Look forward to the drive, yet know I will soon be caught up soon as I listen to a different session each day. Love your shedquarters!!! And keep up the good work!

James Sandercock (Canada): Real life, real hosts, real help. Vanessa and Dan bring well focused, good humoured, and encouraging words of advice into my home each time I listen (and re-listen) to their podcast. They are not syrupy sweet silver lining know it alls. Instead they are sweetly helpful, dig for the silver, know some…and share some type people. They follow a great structure with a lot of fun and loving banter between the two of them. I have subscribed and look forward to each episode. Sincerely, a mum in the toy filled trenches with four manic munchkins!

 Announcements:

  • Our Big Announcement!

    • We’ll be doing the show every other week, versus weekly, to keep things “fresh”.
    • Plus, we want to pursue even more things, too. Here are a few:
      • You’ve heard us talk about our teardrop trailer. Well, we have wanted to do a podcast about our teardrop camping adventures but haven’t been able to find the time.
      • We also want to do some more writing, short-form videos, etc.
      • Dan is also considering taking some classes so that will take a time commitment.
      • We have lots of travel planned for the summer and want to document that for Teardrop Talk.
    • And…just to keep you on your toes…we’re going to switch back to Thursdays for our typical podcast release days, too!
    • Matter of fact, we’ll be producing more content than ever…just spread more evenly across how we live our simple life together.
    • Just to give you a little more insight into our plan, instead of doing a completely separate website for our new Teardrop Talk podcast and videos, we’re going to start out by just doing a separate tab right on SimpleLifeTogether.com. We may have to switch that down the road. We’ll let you know when that goes live and, of course, we’d love to have you follow along there, too.
    • We’re hoping that we’ll be able to bring some of our Teardrop Talk listeners over to the simplicity side, and lead some of our simplicity lovers over to teardropping, too!
  • Our Next Big Announcement

    • We have a Simple Life Together Facebook page and forum. Yeah…some of you are saying “FINALLY!”
      • Now, admittedly, we’re not the biggest fans of Facebook, but it seems to be where most people are.
      • We’ve had the private Edit and Forget It page on Facebook for over a year and it’s become a wealth of information and and a great resource for everyone there. We’re hoping the open Facebook page for Simple Life Together will grow to be the same.
      • We’ve installed a forum app there too so we can categorize things by topic. That should help a lot!
      • We haven’t started seeding topics there yet but it is an open page and open forum so feel free to start setting up topics too!
    • So, we look forward to seeing you on our open Simple Life Together Facebook page
      • We’re building the new Simple Life Together page on Vanessa’s previous GetSimplifized page. So, while the URL has already changed to Facebook.com/SimpleLifeTogether, it’s not changed in the Facebook search yet. It still shows up as GetSimplifized.
      • FYI, Facebook told me they have a 14-day waiting period for page name changes, so it should change on the 21st of April.
  • SimpleRev Tickets:

    • Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleRev! Only 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
    • SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Yours Truly

Apr 07 2014

29mins

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SLT062: Stop the Accumulation of Clutter

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We all have clutter in our lives. Naturally, one of the first steps on the road to simplicity is to challenge what and how much you consume. The basic idea here is that, the more you consume…meaning buy, acquire, receive, etc…the more complicated your life can be, and the more clutter you have, too! The less you consume the simpler it will be.

So as important as editing is…and that’s an ongoing process…understand that just as important on the road to simplicity is your ability to slow your accumulation of stuff.  Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!

Topic: Stop the Accumulation of Clutter

But stopping the accumulation of “stuff”(aka clutter) is not as easy as flipping a switch. You’ve got to change your mindset, establish boundaries like we talked about back in Episode 54, and exercise a great amount of self-restraint.

The reality is, most of us have been on autopilot when it comes buying and accumulating things. To consume is human. But consuming is easy…too easy as a matter of fact; which makes slowing the accumulation a little more challenging. But who doesn’t like a healthy challenge?

Ways to Stop Clutter from Finding Its Way Into Your Life

Awareness

The first step in slowing the accumulation is becoming aware of your own buying habits and also being aware of how marketers and advertisers work.

The Stuff Cycle: On the last show, Dan introduced the Stuff Cycle as this seemingly natural 6-Phase cycle of why and how we consume stuff.

You can go back and listen to that in Episode 61, but remember the 6 phases are the:

        • Perceived Need Phase
        • Acquire Phase
        • Utilization Phase
        • Replacement Phase
        • Edit Phase and the…
        • Refine Phase

Let’s focus mostly on the Perceived Need phase and how that influences the Acquire phase. There are a few things you can make yourself aware of that influence how you perceive unmet needs or desires which effect how you act in the Acquire phase.

Marketing Strategies: Being aware of how Marketers and advertisers try to convince you that your life will be so much better if you get their product. Now…a lot of times they’re right. We definitely like some products we buy because they have made our life simpler….or added value to our lives. But more often than not, products just add clutter.

Here are just a few strategies marketers will use to get you to buy “stuff”:

      • They’ll use simplicity and minimalism against you: 
        • Ex: Target had a commercial about minimalism with their clothing….yeah right!
        • Ex: After saying Vanessa didn’t use or need a lot of product because she takes a minimal approach to makeup, she was told at a makeup counter that the manufacturer was “all about minimalism” too.
      • They tout their products will make life “easier” but usually they just cause more clutter. 
        • “If Necessity is the mother of invention, Convenience is the mother of the unitasker!”
      • They use “sale” terms are used over and over again but their real intent is to make you buy. Such as:
        • “It’s FREE!!!” Well, nothing is ever FREE. 
        • Advertisers will tempt you with quantity over quality by using “Buy one get one free” or “Buy 5 for the price of 4” strategies for example. Seriously? You only need 1 tub of yogurt. Can you really go through that much before it spoils? Just sayin’. Or…
        • Buy one get one free but…“just pay shipping and handling”…which usually ends up being outrageous!
      • They capture your information for their sales funnel and hope for a later sale.
        • Ever put your name in a drawing to possibly win a FREE whateveryoucallit? Well, you just entered their sales funnel. Now they’ve got your email or mailing address.
        • Your name will be added to a list for a later sales pitch at their convenience
          • Most likely, they’ll sell your info to third parties (for profit) and those companies will contact you, too!
      • They offer a deep discount to you now, to be made up by them later (sometimes in multiples).
        • “Save 20% off your purchase today if you open up an account with us”
        • These deals almost always come with hidden fees.
        • They also cause temptation for easy purchases later since you have a store card.
      • They’ll strategically place front of the store sales, clearance items, and end of aisle “As Seen On TV” gadgets and unitaskers. These places are “key terrain,” giving stores a marked advantage. They use these areas strategically to:
        • Capitalize on impulse buying
        • Make you to think “you can’t afford not to buy it”
        • Funnel traffic through to increase likelihood of sales because they know you’ll pass it.

Action Steps:

Now that you know, how do you stop the flow in the Perceived Need phase before you act in the Acquire phase?  Here are some techniques we use and you can too!

Change your mindset. If you want simplicity, you need to focus on your needs and priorities. LESS really is MORE! Practice it…and embrace it.

Ask yourself the following questions before you buy:

      • Do I need it?
      • Will I use it?
      • Where will it live in my life if I buy this?
      • What actions will I have to take to make it fit in my life?
      • What will I have to move or get rid of to make room for this?
      • What type of maintenance and upkeep will be required?
      • Is it really going to add VALUE to my life?

Create Boundaries for yourself:

      • Use the one in one out rule.
      • Wait a period of time before making any purchase. 
      • Reconsider bulk items…will you use them, will you have room for them?
      • Have a budget.
      • Shop with a purpose…with a list…and stick to it.
      • Research products before buying.

Consider borrowing or outsourcing:

      • Ex: Yard service vs owning a ton of yard equipment
      • Pay for access to entertainment versus buying it. Things like:
        • AppleTV, HuluPlus, Netflix instead of owning a lot of DVDs or subscribing to cable
        • Only buy entertainment that has been “vetted” by others with similar tastes:
          • Movies that have been vetted
          • Music you absolutely love
          • Books with great reviews or recommendations

Stem the Flow of Junk Mail Advertisements:

Go back and re-listen or re-read Episode 24. Specifically, we give you some great tips to stop the mail flow, cut down on ads, and opt out of things you just don’t want to receive. It’s a great, proactive way to stop accumulation…stop it before it even gets to you!

Major Takeaway

So the major takeaway here is this: Yes, slowing your accumulation can be challenging when it comes to simplifying your life, but by being more aware, mindful and deliberate about what you consume, after a little practice it won’t be s0 difficult. Sure you may splurge here and there (like we talked about back in Episode 60 , What’s Your Simplicity Splurge?), but hopefully you won’t feel as guilt-ridden because that “splurge” was a deliberate one and not one based on impulse or weakness.

Question:

So, how do you slow the accumulation of stuff into your life? What tips or techniques do you use that could help the rest of us as we try to combat the temptation of consumerism? We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment

Dan:  Taking my Dad and nephew driving around the Texas Hill Country. Once again, experiences win out over stuff!

Qs and Comments

MicheleStiches wrote and said…

Dan and Vanessa,

As a mom of 7 kids (5 of them now moved out) I could comment on this topic till the cows come home! I’ll try to stick to just a few things. Let me preface by saying that with 7 kids, and limited income, some of our family ways have been out of necessity, but know that much of this can work for many or few!

We tried to limit toys. We found that the creative-play toys (like blocks) were likely to last longer than toys that only did one thing. Also, we tried to get toys that could easily be added to, for example, Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train set or Legos…enabling them to build bigger, and more complicated set-ups but not adding to the sense of clutter.

We also limited organized extra-curricular activities. Each kid got to choose one sport or music lesson they could do. This taught them that you can’t do it ALL. You have to decide what you really love and what is truly fulfilling. It also taught them that what they do as an individual affects the whole family, and sometimes the good of the many outweighs the good of the one.

A wise woman once told me to never do for your children what they can do for themselves…i.e. teach the kids to clean their own messes, pick up their own toys, do their own laundry. This is one thing that worked really well for us. My kids even had assigned days for laundry to prevent arguing over the washing machine. Not only were they responsible for their own stuff, but we had chore charts and everyone helped with the shared spaces of the home. They washed dishes, dusted, swept, vacuumed, scrubbed bathrooms, etc. And I confess, we never paid our kids for these jobs. We wanted them to learn that it was part of being in the family. Mommy doesn’t get paid to cook dinner. Daddy doesn’t get paid to mow the lawn. We do it because we all work together to keep our home running smoothly.

Our kids have all worked outside the home. They learn that spending money equals giving up a piece of your life for whatever you are buying. It is amazing to watch a young person at a store who “NEEDS” something, change their mind after you tell them, “Sure, you may get that if you want to spend YOUR money on it!”

Another thing that we do in our family is start at an early age educating our kids about responsibility and unrealistic expectations. We have a saying:

“With adult privileges comes adult responsibilities.”

For example, my kids know from a very young age that if they ever want a car, THEY will have to pay for the car (and the gas, and the insurance, and the maintenance.) Granted, there has been a time or two when we have helped them out a bit, but they do not EXPECT this from us. We do it as an act of grace and love…a gift. We actually have one teenage son who got rid of an older car he had been gifted by a grandmother! After a year of ownership, he realized he was sacrificing a large chunk of his life working just to put gas in the machine and pay for the constant repairs. He decided having a car was not worth it!

We also teach our children that when they decide to leave the nest, they are on their own financially. I know this may seem harsh to some readers, but we explain to them that if they want to be an adult and make their own decisions and not have to report to us, then they get ALL the responsibility (rent, utilities, food) that comes with that privilege. This is only fair. It is responsibility that often grounds people and keeps us from behaving foolishly.

 Announcements:

  • Check out the first episode of All Things Simple Rev, the podcast about the SimpleRev simplicity summit I’m working on with our friend Joel ZaslofskySimpleRev will be 200+ passionate simple-living advocates. Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist will be there, too! To learn more, just go to SimpleRev.com or SimpleLifeTogether.com/rev.
    • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Date: October 3-4, 2014
    • Venue: University of St. Thomas Downtown Campus
  • Joel put together a fantastic page on SimpleRev.com where you can find all your transportation options, lodging, what to do, how to get around…everything a conference attendee would like ask about the area at SimpleRev.com/allittakes.
  • Special thanks to ScrappydCote  for the review you left for us on iTunes. It really does help people find the show.
    • If you’d like to leave a review, just go here on iTunes and click “View in iTunes,” launch iTunes, and then click “Write a Review.”

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF  of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: FreddieBrown

Mar 28 2014

37mins

Play

SLT061: Simple Living With Kids

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The number one question we are asked, is about simple living with kids: “Is it possible to simplify your life with kids?” Of course it is! Now we know not everyone has kids, but even if you don’t you probably have nephews or nieces, or friends with kids. So, the good news is that even if you don’t have kids yourself, you’ll probably be able to apply a lot of this to other relationships in your life.

Well first off, simple living with kids doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. Like simplifying the rest of your life, simple living with kids will take some planning, work, and positive change, but it will be well worth it. Read more…

Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom will be free on Amazon all day Friday, 21 March 2014 from midnight PST to midnight PST.

Topic: Simple Living With Kids

Well worth it, yes…but notice I didn’t say “well worth it in the end.” That’s because there really isn’t an end when it comes to simplicity…that’s why we call it a journey.

The “Stuff” Cycle:

Before we get into the different stages of our kids’ lives and how that effects simplicity, there’s something that needs to be addressed first. I call it the “Stuff Cycle”…for lack of a better term. If you don’t realize you operate in a stuff cycle before you have kids, you will as soon as you’re expecting. Here’s how it goes:

Perceived Need Phase:

      • All the things advertisements tell you you need
      • All the things you ‘think’ you need
      • All the things everyone else ‘thinks’ you need and don’t hesitate to tell you

Acquire Phase:

      • Purchase, gift, rent or borrow

Utilization Phase:

      • You figure out what you really need and use

Replacement Phase

      • You fill those needs with things that actually work

Edit Phase:

      • You take action to get the things you don’t need, don’t use, and don’t work out of your life

Refine Phase:

      • Continuously evaluate, acquire, replace or upgrade as necessary, edit as required.

Simplicity Issues at Different Stages of Our Kids’ Lives

Babies:

    • Just making sure they are cared for requires so much (or we think it does)
    • Amount of stuff required at home…but babies grow up so fast that it’s impossible to use every toy or clothing item 
    • Amount of stuff required on the road
    • Time and attention required

Toddlers:

    • First steps of independence
    • Just trying to stay ahead or just keep up parents feel they need to buy every learning gadget or tool so they are ahead when they start kindergarten

Kids:

    • Starting to understand commercials and get a taste for consumerism and wanting more
      • Brand name toys
      • Brand name clothes
      • Even exposure to peer pressure

Teens:

    • Consumerism: clothing, gadgets, food
    • More time commitments with extracurricular activity, work, etc.
    • As parents now it’s crunch time to teach them the life skills to be successful adults.

Adults:

    • Are you responsible or do you hang on to your grown kids’ “stuff” as they start their adult life?
    • Do they feel “entitled” to things beyond their income?
    • What’s your comfort level or threshold for monetary support?

Ways to Keep Simple Living With Kids, Simple!

    • Toys and Gifts
      • Family members go overboard (time for a talk)
      • Birthday parties (manage expectations)
      • Holidays (manage expectations)
    • Boundaries
      • Not every room is the play room (CELF study, Episode 14)
      • Don’t buy more storage for more toys…edit the old to make room for the new…create a boundaries or limit of how many toys your kids can have
      • Limit screen time
      • Personal chores (clean up after self)
      • Family chores (team building, contributing)
    • Routines and Rituals are key to simple living with kids
      • They make kids comfortable and let them know what’s expected of them
      • We’re creatures of habit…good or bad
      • Morning
      • After school routines
        • Snack
        • Homework
        • Dinner clean up and declutter
      • Holidays
        • Again, managing expectations of your kids and relatives
        • Edit before big gift-giving events
    • Having constant communication with your kids
      • Reinforcing ideas
        • Talk about your values regularly
        • Try to instill valuing experiences over things
      • Set the example:
        • Pick up after yourself
        • Limit your own TV and Internet exposure
        • Play with your kids
        • Read to them
        • Give away and donate things (bring your kids along)
      • Stick to your guns on your rules, boundaries and routines. You’ve got to use them and hold everyone including yourself accountable

Major Takeaway

Yes, kids provide their own unique spin on simplicity, but just like us it has a lot to do with how you establish norms in your home, how you manage expectations, the example you set, the boundaries you establish, and how effective you are at using the Laws of Learning (Vanessa covered the laws in Episode 13 in the segment called First Steps on the Road to Simplicity). Just like simplifying the rest of your life, simple living with kids will take lots of planning, work, and positive change. But it will be well worth it for you and serve them well in their life too.

Question:

So, how do you simplify life with your kids? What tips or techniques do you use that could help the rest of us? We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Thing Segment

Vanessa: Attending the Minimalists meetup, and seeing our friend,  SLT listener and Edit & Forget It member Robin. My main takeaway from Ryan and Joshua was that minimalism looks different for all of us. I also like their take on what they allow or edit in their lives; basically they don’t keep anything that doesn’t add value to their lives (kind of like our “use it, need it, love it” questions we ask when deciding what to edit from our lives).

Dan: The new Add-Ons function in Google Docs. Provides additional functionality right inside Google Documents and Spreadsheets. In your Drive menu bar you’ll notice a new menu option title Add-ons. Click Get Add-ons and explore…you can do mail merge, Avery labels, bibliographies, etc…FREE. For more on Google Docs, check out out our tutorial.

Qs and Comments

Kerry emailed us his story…

Dan and Vanessa,

I couldn’t decide whether to write and tell you how much I appreciate your podcast or to share a little bit of my cluttered story… so I will do both.

I am an Air Force officer, having served for 13 years so far. While I haven’t moved around as much as you did in your careers, moving forced me to take stock of what I owned and what owned me. I grew up with a lot. My dad was a successful doctor and business owner. When I say we had a lot, that might be understating. Christmas morning was like walking into a Toys R Us. While I certainly appreciated the fact that I was lucky, I never took it for granted and shared a lot with my big family that didn’t have as much.

It wasn’t until I joined the Air Force and got married that I began to considered how “stuff” made me feel. I realized that I had hoarding tendencies (from my mother) and a desire to simplify (probably from my dad). From the perspective of having moved away, I realized that my Mom was a hoarder with means. That is, she could afford to keep everything. We had multiple vacation homes and each one had a basement or attic packed full. In addition, she had three 20×40′ storage units, all neatly organized but full! My parents divorced around the time I finished college and joined the AF and my mom continued to spend, collect and store. As a few examples, we had every Dept 56 Christmas Village, Halloween Village, Snow Baby, etc ever made. She also framed EVERYTHING! And you don’t throw away framed things so she now has, in storage, somewhere between 500 and 1000 framed prints.

The longer I was away from home, the more uncomfortable I was going home. While everything in my mother’s home is nice and clean, it’s everywhere. I realized she had a problem when I went home for my sister’s funeral and actually couldn’t set a drink down because every horizontal surface is covered. In the past few years, she has spent and collected herself into near bankruptcy and I still can’t get through to her. But… I started my own journey of self-reflection and consideration. I began to realize that it felt good to divest myself of clutter. I am no where near where I hope to end up, but my awareness of “stuff” has been amazing. I was always a person who collected “just because”. I had 39 bottles of Marylin Merlot wines because people kept buying them and I didn’t know what to do with them. I had every knick knack from childhood stuffed into boxes all over. Most of this stuff (and lots more) is gone. But what I really wanted to do is share with others is that the family aspect can be really hard. My mom and lots of other family members attach so much meaning to stuff that it comes between relationships often. When she visits me and my family, she will load my kids up with toys from the Goodwill. I have asked her not to do this and specifically told her that it makes me stressed and unhappy. But the message isn’t received. When she finds out that I get rid of a lot of the things she buys she is upset. In my mind that means stuff is affecting our relationship.

As for my life, I am inspired by what you guys do and say. I connected with Dan’s story for a few reasons. I am very techie and a mac guy to boot. I am also into home improvement and woodworking. While you guys have your teardrop, I grew up flying hot air balloons (fourth generation pilot). So I own a balloon and that certainly comes with a lot of stuff. But I do my best to keep things simple. I drive a pickup because the balloon fits in the back, but that means I don’t have to own a separate vehicle. Ballooning is my passion and I really enjoy doing it with my family. But if it ever started detracting from life, I would give it up.

So, I have a long way to go, but I am enjoying it. My wife is naturally not a clutterer, but she isn’t sold yet on my journey. I choose to share the important lessons that make my life better. Maybe they will sink in. I learned a long time ago that I can’t force her to do anything she isn’t ready for. Thanks for what you do. I believe it works.

– Kerry

 Announcements:

  • I’m working with our friend Joel Zaslofsky of Value of Simple on the SimpleRev simplicity summit.  SimpleRev will be 200+ passionate simple-living advocates. Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist will be there, too! To learn more, just go to SimpleRev.com or SimpleLifeTogether.com/rev.
    • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Date: October 3-4, 2014
    • Venue: University of St. Thomas Downtown Campus
  • Joel put together a fantastic page on SimpleRev.com where you can find all your transportation options, lodging, what to do, how to get around…everything a conference attendee would like ask about the area at SimpleRev.com/allittakes.
  • Special thanks to Chauddog, Turtletruth, and Robinvb1 for the reviews you left for us on iTunes. It really does help people find the show.
    • If you’d like to leave a review, just go here on iTunes and click “View in iTunes”, launch iTunes, and then click “Write a Review.”

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: Theo B

Mar 17 2014

50mins

Play

SLT060: What’s Your Simplicity Splurge?

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So we talk all the time about scaling back, editing, etc. But there’s probably one thing or another that you’ve decided would be your simplicity splurge. That something that you’re just not going to scrimp on.

Well, that’s perfectly fine. We all seem to have that little something that we’re just not willing to give up. For some it’s photos, for others, it’s coffee paraphernalia. Almost all of us have our little simplicity foil…that thing or things that seem to go against our efforts to simplify. Read more…

First, A Big Announcement!

Okay, we’re sharing some big news on this show…our first book, Super Mom vs Supermom: Simplicity Tips for Busy Moms, A Simple Life Guide to Getting Organized, Finding Margin, and Embracing Simplicity for Moms is done! Well, done enough! We’ll be updating the cover any day now, but it will be live in the Kindle Store at Amazon.com hopefully on Saturday, 8 March 2014.

So, we’re posting the final draft, minus the cover art, on the Edit & Forget It Challenge Facebook page for the next 3 days, so you can have a look or download the DRAFT pdf free there.

If you’re not a member of E & F you can always sign up for free at SimpleLifeTogether.com/edit. You’ll receive an email with directions on how to join the Facebook page.

We ask that you do us a big favor and review the book on Amazon.com (we’ll post the link to the book on the Facebook Edit & Forget It Challenge page, and here on the website, as soon as the book is “live” on Amazon).

So here are some of our goals we had in mind with the book:

  • This one is “mom” focused but has great info for everyone. So, even if you’re not a mom, we’d love for you to have a look!
  • We wanted to keep it short but packed with info! Minimal fluff. 
  • Most people aren’t inclined to read a 300 page simplicity book!
  • Like we said, it’s the first in our series of “Simple Life Guides for Less Than a Latte”, so it’s priced at $4.99 for now…until the price of lattes goes up! We think that’s a great deal and hopefully others will too! 
  • Of course, we’re giving you complete access to the draft on the FB page for the next 3 days, but if you’d like to purchase the book on Amazon when it’s available, that would be especially great!
  • We ask that you do us a big favor and please review the book on Amazon.com, too. Amazon rankings are directly tied to reviews and downloads. So, the more purchases and the more reviews, the more exposure the book gets, and the more likely people are to find it! Again, we’ll post the link to the book on the Facebook Edit & Forget It Challenge page, and here on the website, as soon as the book is “live” on Amazon.
  • Most people who read it won’t be current listeners or readers so the book has lots and lots of links to our shows and Vanessa’s videos. Therefore, most of the info will be new to them.
  • So, all told there’s about 96 pages of written content, with access to around 50 hours of audio podcasts, and a bunch of topical videos related to the written content.
  • Of course we hope for glowing reviews, but be honest. If you see any glaring mistakes, please opt to let us know personally by email, versus an Amazon review. You can reach us by email
  • We have plans for more Simple Life Guides, and you can read more about that in the book!

OK, so this is our first book and book launch. We KNOW we’re going to make some mistakes along the way with it but we’d really, really appreciate all your help.

Finally, anything you can do to help make the book a success would be awesome and so, so appreciated! We wouldn’t have the confidence to even do this without your support! So, as soon as you have it, please feel free to share the Amazon link with your Facebook friends, tweet it out, or gift the book to a mom you know could use it.

Topic: What’s Your Simplicity Splurge?

OK, We’ll Go First…

So we thought we’d share some of our splurges with you, and maybe talk about some of the feelings that can rise up around that little splurge. Some people feel like it’s a weakness, others feel like it’s a reward.

  • Dan’s simplicity splurge: Hot sauce and spicy foods
  • Vanessa’s simplicity splurge: Upgrading to more quality items (whether it’s a new purchase or rep
    • We’ve gotten better as slowing down what we let into our lives and have made a conscious decision to bring in more quality goods if and when we need to.

How Do You Feel About Your Simplicity Splurge?

Do you find yourself struggling with having a simplicity splurge despite all your simplifying and editing?

  • Are you questioning your commitment?
  • Do you staunchly defend it?
  • Do you avoid talking about it?

Are you feeling guilt about your simplicity splurge? If so, you may want to analyze your priorities. Is your splurge interfering them? If so:

  • Maybe it’s too much of a splurge?
  • Maybe you’re not giving yourself enough credit for what you’ve accomplished so far in your journey?

If your splurge isn’t interfering with your goals, maybe it’s:

  • A good healthy way of having balance in your simple life!
  • Maybe it’s a little reward that you should enjoy for all your simplifying efforts?

Major Takeaway

So the major takeaway here is this: Most likely, you’re splurge is okay, and well deserved. Take a good look. Is your splurge, your little foil to your life of simplicity causing you guilt or getting in the way of your priorities? If not, then drop the self imposed guilt trip. If it IS getting in the way, think about why your behavior hasn’t changed and set up a plan to get back on track.

Question:

So, what’s your simplicity splurge? Is it a healthy one and and more like a little reward for all your efforts, or is it undermining your priorities? We’d love to know. We’d love to know.

 Be sure to leave a comment below.

Qs & Comments Segment:

Karen left us a nice voicemail of the website: Audio

Erik left us a nice comment on the website. Here’s just some of what he said:  “Hi guys.   I was so happy to discover your podcasts and to find a community of folks who have similar outlook.  My partner of 27 years and I have decided to downsize and simplify.  …We are super excited about our life changes and your podcasts and WEB site are providing us valuable resources and affirmation that we are not alone in our pursuit of a simpler life. Thanks again!”

 Announcements:

  • I’m working with our friend Joel Zaslofsky of Value of Simple on the SimpleRev simplicity summit.  SimpleRev will be 200+ passionate simple-living advocates. Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist will be there, too! To learn more, just go to SimpleRev.com or SimpleLifeTogether.com/rev.
    • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Date: October 3-4, 2014
    • Venue: University of St. Thomas Downtown Campus
  • Joel put together a fantastic page on SimpleRev.com where you can find all your transportation options, lodging, what to do, how to get around…everything a conference attendee would like ask about the area at SimpleRev.com/allittakes.
  • Special thanks to all of you who’ve left reviews for us on iTunes. It really does help people find the show.
    • If you’d like to leave a review, just go here on iTunes and click “View in iTunes”, launch iTunes, and then click “Write a Review.”

Finally, sign up for the Edit & Forget It Challenge! If you’re already on our Edit & Forget It Challenge email list, that’s great. If not, you can sign up here.

 Shownotes:

You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

Resources and Links:

 Photo Credit: chuckanastasia

Mar 03 2014

32mins

Play