I am doing Into Mind‘s 30-day minimalism challenge this month to try out some new things and get out of my comfort zone. I will be swapping out some of the daily challenges with ones from Lauren, etc.‘s 30-step minimalism challenge (indicated with an asterisk). Feel free to follow along with me as I log how each day went.
Day 11: No email or social media until lunch (swapped with Day 10)
Since this was a weekday, I decided to make the cutoff 10:30 AM. I was hoping to run errands, but didn’t really want to go out in the rain, so I made it into a lazy morning instead. I read almost half of the The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less, which I would recommend so far. I spent some time cuddling and playing with the puppy (we didn’t go on a walk this morning since both of us are rain-averse). I also focused on some household chores that I had put on the back burner, like doing some laundry and cleaning up the clutter that inevitably converges on the kitchen table. Once again, I found that time went more slowly when I wasn’t tuned into social media. I’m considering giving myself time restrictions for things like going on instagram and reading blogs, e.g. only allowing it at certain times of the day.
Day 12: Create a bucket list for your hometown*
I moved here less than two months ago, so I’ve already started keeping track of cool places I’ve read about and want to visit for the first time. Here’s the list I came up with:
Grocery shopping (for zero-waste exploration purposes, of course)
- pickle factory where you can get a reusable pail of fresh pickles
- Mediterranean shop that has bulk spices and coffee
- local brewery where I can get growlers of beer
- local farmer’s market
Exploring the outdoors
- local hikes
- park near my house that’s right by a lake
- get involved with a local volunteer organization
- join a special interest group
Day 13: Practice single tasking*
This one was tough for me. I spend most of the day on the computer for work, and I often have anywhere from six to 20 tabs open in each of two windows: one with work-related items, and one with personal items. When I’m waiting for some code to compile or for someone to respond to an IM, I’ll often click between the tabs and sometimes lose track of what I was initially doing…which is so bad! So, for this challenge, I tried to close tabs when I wasn’t actively using them. I also minimized the window that I wasn’t currently using to keep my desktop more clear. Another thing I started doing was listening to podcasts while taking the dog for a walk. Yes, that is still technically multitasking, but it’s a much smarter type of multitasking than listening to podcasts while trying to do other things on the computer. I’m planning to keep doing this, as it makes the walks more enjoyable and productive for me, and therefore gives me motivation to go on longer walks (which is much appreciated by the puppy).
Day 14: Take a step towards learning a new skill
I have been trying to learn Vietnamese forever. My boyfriend is Vietnamese, and his entire family speaks it fluently. They usually remember to speak English in front of me, but I would love to be able to understand the jokes they make as well as the words that are difficult to translate from Vietnamese to English. We are also hoping to visit Vietnam sometime soon (we were supposed to go this past spring but ended up going to Thailand instead for various reasons), so I’d like to have a grasp on the language by then. Up until this point I’ve been using Rosetta Stone to learn vocab, but the trickiest part for me is the pronunciation and intonation of the various words. So, I decided to look into classes nearby to see if anything is available. From my research, it looks like I can either travel to Boston on Saturdays for an in-person class, or I can do online sessions with a tutor via takelessons.com. I’m not quite ready to jump on either of these yet, but now I feel more motivated to work on the Rosetta Stone lessons, so once I’ve gotten a little further with those I’ll continue to pursue one of those options.
Day 15: Examine your daily habits
This challenge was a little…open-ended, so I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Here are some of the bad habits I noticed throughout the day, and my thoughts on how I could make healthy changes:
- I often sit down at the computer to look something up, then end up getting pulled down a rabbit hole and spending way more time than I had planned. Maybe I should consider standing if I just want to check something quickly, or use my phone instead.
- I’ll open the fridge and cabinets multiple times a day to see what’s in there, even though it hasn’t changed since the last time I checked. I tend to do this when I want to snack mindlessly. This would be a good opportunity for me to work through my stash of tea instead.
- When chatting with an acquaintance, I caught myself saying negative things in response to a benign question, and also realized that I was answering all of her questions without posing many of my own. I’m a little out of practice when it comes to making new friends, and I think I could do a better job of it. From now on, I’ll try to be more mindful of my interactions and maybe even read a book on the topic…
Day 16: Don’t buy anything for 24 hours
This challenge fell on a Sunday. I did end up spending money this day – but rather than buying something, I donated the money. I finally got up the nerve to attend a local church for Sunday mass, something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. I enjoyed the service and was happy to contribute during the offertory. The deli I frequent is actually right next to the church, and I had considered stopping by on my way home, but I decided to put it off for this challenge. I went home and had a nice relaxing afternoon with my boyfriend instead. Overall, it was a mellow, enjoyable day, and it was really nice to take a break from running errands.
Day 17: Clear out your junk drawer*
Since we have only been living here for about two months, the junk drawer wasn’t too junky yet; however, it was starting to get pretty disorganized. I didn’t actually end up getting rid of anything, but I did do the following:
- clipped together mailing items (envelopes, stamps)
- clipped together takeout menus
- used rubber bands to corral all the writing utensils
- used a magnet to put my sister’s birthday card up on the fridge so I’ll remember to mail it soon
- relocated the trash bags to the drawer where the trash can resides
- pulled out receipts and coupons to sort through and clean out
The drawer is a lot easier to navigate now, but still has all of the essentials that we might need in a pinch.
Day 18: Unfollow and unfriend
I’ve had Facebook since my senior year of high school, and honestly, I really don’t like using it. I barely update it, and when I do go on it, it’s usually because I want to see what articles other people are linking to. My boyfriend recently suggested that I link our dog’s Instagram account to one of our Facebook profiles (yes…I keep an Instagram account just for him, although to be fair it’s mostly a way to keep our families up to date with pictures). I strongly dislike the idea of people I only tangentially know being privy to the daily ins and outs of my life. So, I decided to do the following: 1) unfriend people who won’t even remember that we used to be Facebook friends, e.g. people I met at camp with whom I have no mutual friends, and 2) limit who can see most updates to my profile, so I’m still technically friends with the remaining people but only real friends can peer into my life. Wow, that was pretty complicated for a minimalism challenge!
Day 19: Go for a walk and practice mindfulness
Lately I’ve made quite a routine out of taking the dog for a walk. While we’re walking, I’ll listen to a podcast and pick up trash I find along the way. It’s become a nice productive part of my day, but I definitely wouldn’t consider it relaxing. For this challenge, I decided to go back to basics and just take him for a walk without any distractions. I actually decided to try going to a nearby park that’s right next to a lake, which seemed like it would be a really great place to take in the sights and sounds. The weather was cooler, so we were able to make the longer trek, and it really was peaceful to just walk, think, and look at the lovely views. We will definitely be adding this walk into our regular rotation, and in the future I’ll evaluate my state of mind first instead of just deciding to play a podcast each time.
Day 20: Bring the
indoors outside outdoors inside*
The biggest downside of our current rental is that there isn’t really any outdoor space where you can just hang out. We have a fairly sizable front yard, but it’s hilly and on a busy street so it’s not a place where you can sit and relax. This was a bummer for me, because I love sitting outside during the spring, summer, and fall. Our last apartment in Baltimore had a roof deck that you could often find me on (in fact, all of the pictures from this series were taken from that roof deck). That being said, the neighborhood that we are in now is much more wooded and quiet than past places I’ve lived. All I have to do is open the windows in the back of the house to look out onto tall trees and hear birds chirping. So, that’s what I did. We’ve been keeping our blinds closed so the neighbors can’t see into our place at night, but it’s really a shame since the view is so nice back there. This morning I pulled up the blinds and opened all three windows (luckily it’s cooler here today). It’s amazing how such a small change makes you feel more immersed in your surroundings. This is something I definitely plan to keep doing moving forward.
This challenge has actually become pretty fun, especially since it gives me a chance to look back at my thought processes earlier in the month and see areas in which I’ve made strides. For example, I have already crossed two items off my bucket list (visiting the local brewery and the nearby park). As I’ve said before, I’m not naturally introspective, so giving myself some structure for making minor changes in my life and recognizing what is good and bad for me has been really helpful. I’m excited to see what the last ten days bring!