Miscalculating My Mess

This past winter, my friend – henceforth known as Pickles – challenged me to the 30-Day Minimalism Game (full details here). Each day we were to chronicle what we donated or tossed; e.g. one item on Day 1, two on Day 2, etc.

I didn’t want to play because, between regular (long) hours in The Young Human and at physical therapy, my bed beckoned. But Pickles was facing off against her charming Picklettes, so she wanted adults to play, too.

I told her I’d encourage her and comment on her photos, but I couldn’t do the daily updates. After all, I don’t have a smartphone and I deliberately cut back on having a so-called digital life. 

Secretly, I planned to cheat. I’d just figure out the total, spend a weekend collecting items, and post a list at the end. However….

There are 465 items to “win” the challenge.

FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY AND FIVE!!!

It was impossible.

On Day Nine, there should have been 45 things in the donation box or the dump. There were nineteen in the former. The three trashed items were worn-out clothes that I immediately replaced. I couldn’t find anything more unless I got rid of things I had already decided to keep. I began to consider how to cheat without breaking the rules. For example, there are 52 cards in a deck, plus jokers.

But I wasn’t going to lie to my friend. I told Pickles that I could be her cheerleader, not a player.

I admit I was more baffled than thrilled by how much I’d pared down my belongings. I’d streamlined my life to make room for writing – and It showed. So why did I think I had so much superfluous stuff?

I figured it out a few days ago.

When it comes to projects involving material possessions, I grossly miscalculate how big and bad they will be.

Case in point: My rooms at The Young Human Factory needed to be organized and packed up.

Last Friday marked the end of another year.  A crew and equipment arrived this week to tear off the roof and replace it. In-between, I had to prepare for the inevitable fallout of a construction project.

My colleagues and I weren’t given any instructions, just warned that we cannot return until July. Even the custodians, who know everything, had only a bare outline. Therefore, I set an entire Saturday afternoon aside to gather summer materials, clear all horizontal surfaces, and pack away items in (I hope) dust-proof places.

Less than three hours was all it took.

That included sorting through several binders of paperwork given to me  by a former colleague.* I was amazed that even the office, which seems disorganized during the year, needed superficial changes

I begin to wonder how many other projects that I view with dread – rearranging the garden, organizing boxes of photos – aren’t nearly as bad as they appear.


*She lasted less than five years in the profession and went to work for the military in some capacity. No doubt she uses the skills she learned in The Young Human Factory to break the wills of recalcitrant spies or something similar.

Trying out the Bullet Journal

I started a Bullet Journal this week.

I’m actually a little angry that I didn’t do it before. Not angry at myself, mind you – no, I’m angry at the ladies who introduced me to the concept, complete with different colors, highlighters, stickers, etc. and apps on their Smartphones.

In other words, they complicated it when the entire point of bullet journaling is to focus on what is important. Ryder Carroll created it as a tool to combat a cluttered mind and a distracted life. Continue reading

The Factory is not closed for me…

As faithful readers may remember, my job as a Quality Control Inspector at the Young Human Factory underwent a transformation this fall. I was put in charge of teaching English to members – or potential members – of the Middle School Mafia. A daunting task, but I am buoyed by the vision of them communicating without grunts, egg-flinging, and ritualistic doorbell-ringing.

For the same low price, I now deliver eight more hours a week of service AND the daily 53 minutes of preparation time was eliminated. But it has really helped my time management, since I have so little.

Weekends are not my own, nor vacations. Continue reading

End of Year Threats, erm, Resolution Ideas

It’s that time again when friends forward all sorts of intriguing ideas about how to improve oneself in the New Year. Decluttering, trying a new hobby, building a need-only budget, replacing one meal a day with a colon-cleansing smoothie….

They make me want to revive the practice of The Unresolution: declaring what life improvements will be discontinued. My former co-workers promoted it at their year ending parties. (My favorite was when M’e the Fashionista declared she would no longer attempt to like jazz.) Continue reading

An unpaid part-time job

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I had an epiphany of sorts when I started considering a part-time job: It’s very difficult to schedule around my full-time job.  My colleagues who moonlight set their own hours; e.g. driving for UBER, making items they sell online, housecleaning, etc.

I decided to wait until a couple of months have passed at The Factory. Then I can re-assess whether I truly need additional income. And whether I’ll have weekends free to do so. (At the moment, no. The only reason I’m not typing away at yet another web-based tool  is that I’m awaiting a reply to an e-mail I sent an administrator; re: log-in problems.)

In the meantime, I began to fill in my schedule with writing, exercise, and housekeeping. Before long, I discovered that the hours dedicated to my health regimen – from preparing (and freezing) nutritious meals to swimming – will take 10-15 hours.

There’s a part-time job!