Rejecting “Always Do More”

For a few years now, I’ve been struggling with more. I want to work more, write more, and do more. I want to cook more, clean more, talk to others more, listen more.

I don’t often think about where the time for such “more” comes from. I think I assume that I’m a magical efficiency machine, who keeps figuring life out so thoroughly that I am always doing things quicker and less – my laundry magically is done faster, or I can multitask my way through dinner while simultaneously washing dishes.

This is sometimes true; my tasks at work take much less time than when I first began. But I also have more tasks, and the growing mound of tasks is growing faster than efficiency can mitigate.

All I’m saying here is that I need to stop pegging success and satisfaction with myself to the feeling that I’m doing more than I was doing last year. Never mind whether these things are valuable; I was letting myself feel comforted that at least I’m operating at 110%! At least it’s a whole LOT of nothing!

I’m trying to see my life as refining instead of adding – what must come into my life because it will enrich it? At the same time, what can I lay down, now that I see I cannot or do not need to do it any more? I’m not so good at this part. I either throw a task away, furious at myself for having to admit defeat, or I just try to keep doing it, complaining all the way.

I’m working on it. There are things I need to do less of every time I try to fit more in. I cannot magically make everything hard in life take less time, and I’m starting to really plan my life to cope with that fact.

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Simplifying the Wardrobe

I don’t really talk about clothing on this blog – not exactly connected to cooking! – but lately, I’ve been really experiencing a life change because of the 333 project, which I learned about from the Minimalism documentary on Netflix.

I have always been one of those girls who organizes closet and dresser and then, three days later, has mountains of clothes everywhere, nothing folded or put away. The principle of the 333 challenge is that by selecting a very specific, small amount of clothes and rotating them every week for 3 months, you keep your living space uncluttered, only wash the clothes you need, and always know that something you like is available to wear, cutting down on decision-making time.

Basically, I picked 33 “items,” deciding on tops and dresses and leggings and pants that could intermingle easily to make more than 7 outfits. I picked the things best for the weather this time of year, and put everything else I owned in another part of the house, boxed up. You have to be willing to wear essentially the same things every week for 12 weeks, but the benefits are insane!

I have been able to wake up 5 minutes later and with less stress about the idea of picking an outfit, which is wonderful before work. My floor is effortlessly clean, and since Husband is doing this too, we’ve cut down on laundry: before, we’d run 2-3 loads a weekend, partially because he couldn’t tell what needed washing and what really just needed to be picked up and hung on a hanger. Now we run one load of laundry, which is so much nicer and even a little more sustainable. I’m prepared for these clothes to wear out quicker than when I was rotating among a ton of things, but now that I know what things I really like, I think I’m more in a mindset to get things repaired so I can go on wearing the ones I like best.

In another two months, spring will be inching into my life again and so I’ll sub out this “wardrobe” for 7ish outfits worth of spring weather wear. It’ll be like getting an entirely new wardrobe! It’s not Steve Jobs style, where he always wore the same thing, but I kind of like that – only those closest to me will notice that I have only 7 outfits in rotation, and that’s fine with me! I’ll tell them how freeing, uncluttered, and environmentally-friendly these weeks have been.