Monday, February 24, 2014

Simple: Workspace

As a minimalist, I have to change my habits, the way I think, the way I act and the way I live. This might seem like a lot, but consider this: When shouldn't you be changing these things? If you're choosing a better lifestyle, you're choosing to change yourself, your core being, the way you show yourself to the world. Keep in mind, I'm not changing my religion or my character or my foundation, I'm changing my life. I'm still me, just living differently. In this way, by changing my life, I'm reaffirming myself in my religion. Wasn't Jesus a minimalist, after all? His Heavenly Father provided for all his needs, so he had no need for a house, garage and car crammed with stuff. I want to be more like Jesus. I want to trust my Heavenly Father to provide for all my needs and not rely on my stuff to make me happy, to make me feel fulfilled.

I should say that I'm not going to live like a monk with a robe and a cup, but I am going to start living with A LOT less stuff. I would say half as much, maybe less.

I thought that since I just did my filing cabinet, I'd do the rest of my workspace as well. At this very moment, it is what frustrates me the most and I currently own all the supplies I need to fix the problem. So what's the holdup? I made this list before I started the project last night, so I have marked off a few things that I have finished already. Also, in between the picture below and now we have moved to a new rental so the after picture will look a bit different, but it's still the same work space.

As embarrassing as it is, here is a picture of what I started with:

Like I said before, I'm a messy person. But I don't want to be anymore. I don't want to be embarrassed to post a picture of the inside of my house. I don't need to be proud, I just want to be comfortable with people seeing my space.

For this project, I'll follow these steps:

1. Get rid of all trash, shredding and recycling and stage it for proper disposal. I'll make a run to the recycling bins up the road after I've completed all the other steps.

2. Find a picture of what I want my workspace to look like when I'm finished.

Here's what I found:

3. Remove all things that don't belong on my desk and put them where they belong. This includes crackers, baby snacks, a can of spray paint, a bottle opener, a digital scale and some sunglasses among others.

4. Start scanning in paper documents that need to be archived. Recycle or shred when finished. (will be completed as time allows)

5. Empty my bench seat of all unnecessary items and refill.

6. Purge all items from the large filing cabinet that haven't been used or are unnecessary.

7. Purge all out dated files (anything older than 12 months for tracking, and anything other than important personal documents).

9. Remove inbox bin. I will no longer use a bin to corral paperwork that needs to be acted upon. I'm setting the new expectation that I'll take care of the items immediately or leave them front and center on my desk until I do have time, preferably the same day.

10. Update household binder. We keep a household binder with information about how I run our house. This is so my husband knows how to run things if I'm gone and so everything we might possibly need is all contained neatly in one place. It's also a place for me to corral my grocery lists, tracking and coupons.

11. Move the printer into the top section of the filing cabinet. This is to keep it out of sight because I use it maybe once or twice a week so there's no reason to have it so visible. At this point, I'll also move all the accessories for the printer (paper, specialty paper, spare cartridges, etc.) into the same space.

12. Remove all trash, recycling and shredding again and deliver to appropriate bins.

13. Pour a cup of tea and admire your handiwork!

Here is the final result:

Not too shabby, I'd say! It's certainly not magazine-worthy, but it's neat and tidy and organized.

In the wicker basket on the right is all the items I have listed on eBay and any packaging supplies I have on hand. On my desk you'll see the teal plaid edge of our family binder and next to it is my notebook for thinking on paper and a little basket of items I need to put away. Then of course my laptop, mouse and coffee cup. these can be stashed in the storage space inside my bench. In the drawer of my desk I'm keeping my checkbook, camera, glasses, tablets and 'out' basket (any paperwork that needs to leave the house. Right now there's a bill and a stack of mail for the previous tenant). I'm keeping my purse on my bench or on my eBay basket for now until I mount some hooks just inside the front door. Inside my bench is my laptop case, my tripod, and a box of items I need to return via mail.

On top of the filing cabinet is my money jar, my business books, a magazine holder with paper office supplies, a photo box with other office supplies and a photo box with (gasp!) photos in it. The photos are for a future project but I'm collecting them as I unpack so I'm keeping it handy for now. In the upper portion of the cabinet lives my printer, scanner and paper. In the top drawer are my files, user manuals and a box of checks. In the bottom drawer are some random things I'm not ready to get rid of and my CDs. In the lower right portion of the filing cabinet, I'm storing a basket of technology and cables on the top shelf and some curriculum, business archives and a giant manual for my car on the bottom shelf.

Just the fact that I can describe everything that's in or on my desk in two short paragraphs is pretty amazing to me. Previously I couldn't find hardly anything, didn't want to put things away because it was difficult and had way too much stuff for the space. I do have another box of items that need to be fit in the space but the the good news is there is room! And if there isn't, something will have to be purged.

Now if only I could keep it clean...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Simple: Files

Yesterday was a day to get stuff done. I crossed off almost half my list (quite a feat, let me tell you!), got the baby through the day alive and only forgot one appointment. The icing on the cake happened in the late evening when the simplicity bug bit me really hard. Right on the filing cabinet. So I opened up the drawers and started purging.

First I purged old bills and bank statements. Then old school files. Then papers we'd been keeping around since the 90s. Yeah, I know... I'm still wearing shame on my face. 

As I purged, I started building on my existing system for keeping the papers I wanted to keep. Rather than putting everything in the filing cabinet, I am keeping a house binder. This is a brilliant creation and many variations are available on the internet. My binder is a combination of several different ideas.I made sure to buy a pretty binder with matching pencil pocket, folders and sorting tabs. You could probably put one of these together with the things you already own, but I like things to be pretty and since this binder would probably be kept out in the open, I wanted to make sure it was nice to look at. Also because I often grab the mondo thing and take it to the grocery store with me so I have all my grocery info. I may eventually make another binder just for groceries and budgets, but for now it's working reasonably well.

Once all the purging was done, I am keeping a 3" binder , a 1.5" binder and a few hanging folders. The drawer is now about 1/4 full of files. Previously, I kept everything in a hodge-podge mess of hanging folders in the two drawers of the filing cabinet so tightly crammed in there I never wanted to put a document away because I couldn't get it in. Now I keep my binder on my desk or very close to it and as soon as I have a document to file, I hole punch it and put it away. No mess, no fuss. As another positive to this, I no longer have an inbox. I am motivated to keep up with my paper clutter because it looks a lot better in my pretty binder than in a tray on my desk.

In the large binder, I keep a pocket for writing implements, all my active documents (budgets, grocery lists, etc), informational documents (personal, emergency and babysitter), our insurance policies (auto and renter's), "Fire Safe" documents (birth certificates, social security cards, marriage license, etc), medical records and expenses, car registrations and titles, car maintenance record, investment portfolio, rental lease, credit reports, important documents & receipts for guns and jewelry, tax documentation, and school transcripts.

In the 1.5" binder, I keep 12 months of bills, bank statements and pay stubs. This is stored in one drawer with the folders where I keep 7 years of tax archives, our will and long term storage. In the same drawer, I also keep all the user manuals for our equipment in a photo box.

I now have an empty drawer in my filing cabinet! Here's a photo for proof:
Of course, it won't stay empty for long. I have been storing some things on top of the filing cabinet for some time and now they have a home out of sight!

Very soon my goal is to not need a filing cabinet at all, but unfortunately that is a long process and a big adjustment. I am not ready to go paperless, but I'm working toward that goal.

What are you keeping in your filing cabinet? How would you like your system to look?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Simple: Makeup

We all have routines we follow. Some of us are more structured, and some of us are spontaneous. Either way, we each tend to wash, rinse, and repeat our daily routines.

Something most women do every day is apply makeup, or at the very least care for their face. (If you're not, you should be!) Cosmetics are one of those things that women collect a lot of. I used to, but since I've been on a journey to live a more contented and intentional life, I have purged the excess and simplified my daily routine. If you're looking to do the same, I have some tips for you:

  • First, shop what you have. Chances are good that everything in your cupboard matches or almost matches your skin tone and type. Figure out what you have that you like and get rid of the rest. Throw away anything that's old or used (I know it's hard, but get over it. You'll feel better when it's gone). Donate anything that is barely used to a women's shelter or to a friend.
  • Once you simplify what you have, start trying stuff on. As you try colors and shades on, decide if they're right for you. If not, toss 'em. If so, keep 'em. 
  • As you remove things from your menagerie, find a makeup bag you like and use that as a boundary. You can only have as much stuff as can fit in the bag. Don't cheat this one by getting the biggest makeup bag you can find. Get one that would easily fit in your carry on or your purse for traveling.
  • If you like one color in a palette but don't like the idea of wasting the other colors, take the palette with you to the drug store or department store and see if you can match it with a single shade. Chances are pretty good you'll be able to find something very similar. 
  • If you find you're missing something in your routine, go buy it. But first, research the brands. There are a few databases online that show the toxicity of the ingredients of cosmetic brands and others that talk about the ethical (or not-so-ethical) manufacturing methods companies use. (I personally love Arbonne.)
  • Don't be afraid to spend a lot on a good product (but maybe not every product). I spent $26 on my primer and $24 on my mascara. It was worth it. To balance that, I found a foundation and translucent powder I really like for $3 each.

First off, I don't scrub my face every day. I wash with a sensitive skin cleanser and facial scrubbie in the shower twice a week. When I get out of the shower, I use a moisturizer with SPF 15. If I'm not planning on doing any other makeup but want a little coverage, I'll use a tinted moisturizer with SPF 15.

I don't take showers every day (I promise I don't smell), so on the days I don't shower I use moistened facial wipes before applying makeup. It's very important to start with a clean face so your makeup stays put longer. I also don't throw the cloth in the trash right away, but use the back to wipe my makeup brushes clean after I use them. 

For my actual makeup routine, I start with a primer, then apply foundation with a foundation brush under my eyes, along the sides of my nose and my upper lip. Blend really well outward to make sure there are no demarcation lines. I don't cover my whole face because I don't feel I need to, but I do have dark circles and just wearing concealer is too obvious. 

Once my foundation is in place, I cover everything with a translucent powder. This sets the foundation and removes shine. As you can probably already tell by it's name, it has very little pigment and is extremely light on my skin. I follow with a tiny bit of blush just on the apples of my cheeks in a really subtle shade of pink.

Then, for my eyes, I'll wear a light layer of mauve eye shadow, a thin line of black liner just over the outside half of my upper lid (giving the effect of longer, fuller lashes), and a coat of black mascara on my upper lashes.

I have what my mother has always called 'voluptuous lips' so I only wear balm (for a more matte look) or lanolin (for a more glossy shine) on my lips and call it done!

Here's a list of all the products I use:

  • Moisturizer with SPF 15
  • Tinted moisturizer with SPF 15
  • Facial cleansing cloths
  • Primer
  • Foundation (and foundation brush)
  • Translucent powder (and Kabuki brush)
  • Blush (applied with Kabuki brush)
  • Mauve and shimmery white eye shadows (eye shadow brush)
  • Cream eye liner (eye liner brush, angled brush)
  • Mascara
  • Lip balm/lanolin
  • Tinted lip gloss

If I want to make my look more for nighttime or more glamorous, I line my whole upper lash line with a thicker line (maybe ending with a little wing) and the outside half my bottom lash line. Then I'll wear more layers of eye shadow with a small amount along my lower lash line and use a highlighting shade along my brow and in the inside corner of my eyes, and finish off with a tinted lip gloss. Because all my colors match my skin tone, I don't feel the need to change my eye shadow or lip color to match my outfit or mood. It's amazing the different looks you can make with all the same products you use daily.

I didn't share specific products or colors because, honestly, it probably wouldn't be useful to you anyways. It took me a long time to find just the right products for my skin type and coloring. That takes a lot of wasted money and energy, but when you find just the right shade of whatever, you'll be glad you spent the time. 

What's your morning makeup routine and how would you simplify it?