Netflix Indecision

I have the TV all to myself this evening so in anticipation of this I bought myself Working Girl on DVD in a charity shop the other day. One of my favourite movies from the 1980’s. Why would I bother buying a DVD of a movie I’ve already seen countless times when there are a multitude of things to watch on Netflix? I mean my list of things I want to watch is pretty long. I could watch The Crown, House of Cards, Luther, Peaky Blinders, Fargo, Grace & Frankie, Homeland, How to Get Away With Murder, Call The Midwife, Derry Girls and Messiah to name but a few! But I’ve had enough decision making for this week thank you.

‘Decision Fatigue’ was coined by social psychologist Dr. Roy. F. Baumeister and refers to how people struggle with their choices after making too many decisions over the course of the day. We make so many decisions that by the end of the day, we find it hard to make a decision and we lack will power. Is that why I get to the end of the week and I can’t decide what to have for dinner or what to watch on Netflix?

Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg famously used to wear ‘a uniform’, the same thing each day, in order to reduce the number of decisions in their day. Barack Obama had multiples of the same suit. Steve Jobs used to wear black turtlenecks with jeans and sneakers. While Mark Zuckerberg is well known for grey t-shirts.

Barack Obama told Vanity Fair in 2012:

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Mark Zuckerberg explained in a public Q&A in 2014:

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”

They realised that by wearing the same thing each day, they could save their mental energy for more important decisions. Important when you are running a country or a large social media company maybe, not so important if you are little old me? But I think there is something to it and that everyone can learn from it no matter what their job.

I first heard about decision fatigue when I started decluttering my clothes. I did another little cull there this week. I’ve now downsized my wardrobe to the extent that I don’t quite wear the exact same thing each day – but I’m not too far off it. I usually wear my brown boots, dark jeans, a top, an extra jumper or fleese if it is cold and a navy jacket. So not quite a uniform but a capsule uniform? Everything easily mixes and matches and I have multiples of the same jeans and some tops. I find it so easy to get dressed now that I don’t have to think and it takes me no time at all. A bit boring I hear you say? If being a bit boring with your clothes is good enough for Barack Obama, former president of the United States of America, it’s good enough for me. 😊

But each of us make so many decisions each day – so many that we hardly realise we are making them. What to wear is just one out of many! If I think about my usual morning – Will I wash my hair or is it ok?Tea or coffee? What mug? What to eat for breakfast? What bowl? What jacket to wear? Will I bring an umbrella? What will I pack the kids for their lunch? Will I put a load of washing on now or later? Will I bring the recycling with me or will I drop it off later? And this is before I have even left the house. So while I’m not making big life or death decisions each day, I am still making plenty of little decisions and they build up. Having a boring capsule uniform helps me at least. It’s one less thing to think about.

The kids at the moment don’t go asleep before 9pm usually. So really I only have about a two hour window if I want to watch something on TV before I need to go to bed myself. So I don’t want to waste precious time and energy scrolling Netflix trying to decide what I want to watch only to finally select something an hour later and then fall asleep half way through it!

So Working Girl it is. Decision made! We all have decisions that we have to make each day, there is no getting away from them but maybe there is a lot to be said for saving our decision making energy and being a bit boring. So wear the same thing, eat the same thing, use the same cup and be a bit boring. And instead of scrolling Netflix and having Netflix indecision, re-watch one of your favourite movies for a change. Fingers crossed that DVD works now!

Links below are to good articles on Decision Fatigue and how to help prevent it:

#rachelwithless #lessismore #minimise #simplifyyourlife #simplify #minsgame #minimalism #declutteringchallenge #decluttering #declutteringtime #declutteringmylife #declutteringcontinues #declutter #sparkjoy #letitgo #clutterfree #livingsimply #minimalism #minimalist #minimalisthome #minimalistlifestyle #clutterfreeliving #simplifylife #organise #thegentleartofswedishdeathcleaning #sustainableliving #sustainable #reuse #reduce #recycle #reducereuserecycle #2020in2020declutterchallenge #2020in2020declutteringchallenge #decisionfatigue #beabitboring #barakobamauniform #uniform #clothesuniform #capsuleuniform

Finishing what you start

On 16th February 2018, I watched The Minimalist’s documentary on Netflix ‘Minimalism – A Documentary About The Important Things‘. That evening, I resolved to declutter once and for all. I set up an account on Instagram @rachelwithless where I would post a picture of what I decluttered every day for a year. A bit each day for a year, that should do it I figured.

So each day for a year I posted a photo on Instagram of what I was decluttering. I thought that if I got rid of at least one thing each day then that would be enough. I soon got momentum and it was usually multiple things per day. I was accountable to my followers. That feeling of obligation kept me going along with all the fantastic support and encouragement from others on Instagram decluttering like me. At one point I thought that I wouldn’t have enough stuff to declutter each day for an entire year, but I did. I had more than enough. I had too much. And nearly two years later, I still haven’t gotten through everything. So why haven’t I finished what I started?

Part of this reason is that I took my foot off the pedal once the year was up. I didn’t need to declutter each day. I wasn’t accountable to my followers any more as I had completed my year long daily decluttering challenge. I didn’t have to post anymore. A few more mins games kept me going alright but there was no urgency to finish. Things were fine. The house was in much better shape, we had less stuff, things were organised, the house was easier to keep clean and I wasn’t feeling as overwhelmed.

But I haven’t got through the sentimental category of stuff. I haven’t finished. Old toys, clothes, books, photos, papers and diaries from when I was younger. The hardest category to face and the most time consuming in my mind. It is stuffed in boxes in a few cupboards, out of sight but not out of mind.

So yes Will Scarlett, I am going to finish what I started. As Magnus Magnusson would have said:

‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish.’

To help me do this, I’m going to start another decluttering challenge of decluttering 2020 items in 2020. I’ve seen a few others I saw on Instagram who have already started it including @NourishingMinimalism @Vickie_Declutters @Minimalistmouse_pipamini and @Debtissopasse

So I’m going to join in with them. I think it’s a realistic and achievable target and we can encourage each other along the way. It will help to keep me focused, keep me accountable and help me finish what I started.

#rachelwithless #lessismore #minimise #simplifyyourlife #simplify #minsgame #minimalism #declutteringchallenge #decluttering #declutteringtime #declutteringmylife #declutteringcontinues #declutter #sparkjoy #letitgo #clutterfree #livingsimply #minimalism #minimalist #minimalisthome #minimalistlifestyle #clutterfreeliving #simplifylife #organise #thegentleartofswedishdeathcleaning #sustainableliving #sustainable #reuse #reduce #recycle #reducereuserecycle #goanddo #juststart #makeastart #2020in2020declutterchallenge #2020in2020declutteringchallenge #finishwhatyoustart

Taking The First Step

I’ve started reading ‘The Sustainable (ish) Guide – Everything you need to know to make small changes that make a big difference’ by Jen Gale to get more tips on living more sustainably. So far it’s very good by the way. But I liked what she said on her Instagram during the week, that she didn’t want people to buy the book for

‘Buying a book, in itself, changes nothing. Even reading the book doesn’t ensure that change happens.’

She has a point. There is plenty of information out there already about living more sustainably if you look for it. You don’t need to buy her book, or anything else for that matter, to start living more sustainably. On the contrary, one of the first things you can do to live more sustainably is to buy less stuff.

How many times have I bought things before making a start? How many times have I told myself ‘I’ll start exercising when I buy gym membership. And sure I can’t go to the gym until I buy new gym gear. And sure I may aswell get new runners too while I’m at it. Or I can’t go walking without getting a good pedometer, so I’ll start walking once I get one.’ Or thoughts to that effect.

I said this last excuse to a friend of mine before Christmas and she kindly gave me a spare Fitbit type tracker that she had. I still haven’t even gone out for one walk let alone go to the gym. 🙈 What is my excuse now? The weather? It is pretty cold these days!

These are common enough thoughts of mine over the years and that’s only relating to exercise. I have had plenty of other similar thoughts when it comes to other things I’m aspiring to do. I’ll start crafting when I buy a sewing machine. Or I’ll buy this months slimming magazine and then I’ll start my diet. What is it about spending money on stuff to feel better about my lack of action? Is it just so I can get an immediate sense that I’m taking a step in the right direction without actually taking any step?

So whatever it is you have resolved to change or do, you don’t need to buy anything at all. You more than likely have everything you need to take the first step.

My Mother would often paraphrase Benjamin Franklin when she would say

Never leave to tomorrow, what you can do today.

I’d like to change that to:

‘Never put off until after you buy new stuff, what you can do right now with all the stuff you already have.’

And as Jen Gale goes on to say very simply in her post, ‘GO AND DO!’. As for me, I’d already taken small steps in becoming more sustainable before I’d bought Jen Gale’s book. I’m now off for that walk around the block with my Fitbit type tracker finally. Thanks Catherine. 😊

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Rest and Catch Your Breath

The past week I’ve been listening to the ‘Your Top Songs 2019’ that Spotify kindly made me. Thank you Spotify. One of these is the song ‘Have It All’ by Jason Mraz. A lovely song where one of the lines is:

‘May you get to rest, may you catch your breath’

So far January has been about that for me, catching my breath. New Year Resolutions? I haven’t made any. The Christmas period was a lovely time for us but it was busy. With three kids off for two weeks and a build up to Christmas which started in early December, there was a lot going on. By New Years Eve, I was asleep by 10pm. I was shattered. The kids were not back to school until 6th January. This week it was about taking my time getting the house back into some form of reasonable shape and focus on getting the kids back into a good routine.

The kids went back to school on Monday and I started to put the house back together. Trips to the recycling centre, loads of washing done, bags sorted and decluttered and Christmas decorations put away. What I didn’t get done? I didn’t get around to sorting through my Christmas Cards or writing up my 2020 diary or I the million other things that I would have liked to get done to make the house and my life perfect. But that’s ok. There’s always next week. Or the week after. I’ve learned not to put unrealistic demands on myself (or others) and remember to slow down. Rest and catch your breath.

In the past, I would have always made numerous resolutions on New Years Eve, only to give up come the third week of January and beat myself up about it for a while after. But I resolved to start @rachelwithless and do a major clear out of my stuff on 16th February 2018. There was nothing special about that date whatsoever except it was the day that I was really ready to make a start and follow through. So resolutions can be made whenever you are ready to make them. It doesn’t have to be the first day of the year, or month, or week. So my 2020 New Years Resolutions can wait for the moment while I rest and catch my breath. In the mean time, I’m going to continue with my post Christmas tidy up at my own pace and in my own time, whilst listening to Spotify. 😃

Happy New Year everyone.

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For me September brings with a feeling of a fresh start as it is the beginning of a new school year and things get back into a routine. So it felt like the right time to do another minsgame. For those who haven’t heard of a Minsgame, it is a decluttering game that ‘The Minimalists’, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, came up with to help people declutter their belongings. On the first day you get rid of one thing, day 2 two things, day 3 three things and so on until you have done 30 days in a row and consequently decluttered 465 items from your home. If you challenge someone else to do it then this can keep the pressure on and make it a bit more fun. I have done two Minsgame a so far – my first was in May this year when I decluttered books, magazines and newspapers. My second was in July when it was a mixture of music and other miscellaneous stuff. This time I want to revisit a few categories that I’ve started on but not fully finished principally toys, books, clothes and music. Since the kids are back in school it’s a great opportunity to declutter toys 😆

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Half Way Through

So I’ve made it to the half way mark on my year long decluttering challenge and I’m glad to say I’ve decluttered 2018 things at this point. When I set myself this challenge back in February I really didn’t have any sort of target in mind. I simply needed to sort out a large room in our house filled with mainly my stuff. As I progressed the room got worse to begin with as I slowly decluttered stuff from around the house and it became the head office for sorting it all out. Now at the half way mark, I’m happy enough with every other room and my ‘decluttering head office’ has greatly improved. I’ve made countless trips to the local clothes bank, charity shop and recycling center. And I’ve read a few books and listened to numerous podcasts on decluttering, organizing and Minimalism. I’ve learned a lot. Now I simply need to keep going and get through the rest of the stuff. I also now have a clearer vision for what I’d like to achieve by the end of the challenge namely:

1) I need to finish certain categories that I’ve already done an initial cull of – clothes, books and miscellaneous items.

2) I want to sort, organize and scan (where appropriate) all my photographs so that they are saved up on my hard drive and to the cloud – this is a major undertaking considering I loved and still love to take photographs.

3) I want to sort, organize and scan (where appropriate) all my paper work into just a few key files – again a major undertaking since I like to keep everything!

4) I’ve set another interim target of decluttering 3000 items but I’ve no doubt that I will reach this if I include all the paperwork and photos I’ve yet to go through so fingers crossed.

It hasn’t been easy to find the time to do this with three small children. Doing a bit daily is the only way I can do it at the moment. Staying motivated is key because it is taking such a long time. I have to say that the support I’ve had on Instagram has been brilliant. I’ve also got great inspiration from following others on Instagram who are doing similar and facing the same struggles in their decluttering. But ultimately I’ve already seen improvements in the house – there is more space, it takes less time to clean and tidy up, the kids now play much better in a tidy, less cluttered play room and my feelings of being overwhelmed, although not completely gone, have certainly improved. So reminding myself of these benefits is keeping me going. Here’s to the next six months.


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Start Your Decluttering

So you’ve decided to start you need to do a major decluttering but where do you start? I think quite often what holds people back from starting to declutter is that they see the enormity of the task and don’t know where to start – so they don’t start at all. That was me. I would look at my boxes of stuff and get overwhelmed with the amount of sorting and clearing out that I would just give up and put it off for ‘When I had time’. But there was never time until I made a conscious decision to just start and do it bit by bit. I started with just two old skirts of mine which I hadn’t worn in years and which no longer fit and I wouldn’t wear even if they did fit! I’ve put down some ideas for someone who wants to get started:

  1. Set aside some uninterrupted time to focus on decluttering and stick to it. If that is 10 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour then make sure you are free from distractions for that time.
  2. Start in the place where you spend most of your time and make a start there. If it is the living room then start with a cupboard. If it is the bedroom then start with a category of your clothes. If it is the kitchen, then start with a drawer. This is so that you see the benefits quicker and you stay motivated.
  3. Don’t start with sentimental items – old photos, letters or things that are hard to let go of should be saved for the end of your decluttering. Not only do they take up more time to sort through but it can be quite stressful dealing with these and you want to stay motivated and get momentum in your decluttering. So start with anything you don’t hold dear to your heart.
  4. Only declutter your own stuff and don’t touch anyone else’s belongings. If you clear your own stuff first then you can set a good example for whoever you may live with and they may follow suit.
  5. The stuff you decide you want to get rid of – try to get this out of the house or out of sight as soon as you can. Out of sight out of mind. If you are not sure about getting rid of it then pack it away and label the box accordingly. If you can do without it after a month or two then you can be happier to throw it out knowing you didn’t miss it or need it in that time.
  6. The Minamilists Decluttering Game aka ‘Minsgame’ is where on the first day of your decluttering you throw out 1 item, second day 2 items, third day 3 items and so on until the end of the month or for however long you want to do it for. If you do it for 30 days then that is 519 Items decluttered and a really good start to any decluttering journey. You can give and receive encouragement from others doing a Minsgame on Instagram through the hashtag #minsgame.
  7. If you are tackling a large cupboard or room then try to deal with the larger and more bulkier items first. Old furniture, unused kids paraphernalia, whatever it is – ridding the room of this larger stuff will instantly help.
  8. A quick win would be to start with your car, store cupboard or medicine cabinet. Clear out any unnecessary clutter, expired food or medicine shouldn’t take too long and none of this stuff should cross into the sentimental category. Any medicine that is out of date you can put it together in a bag and bring it to your local chemist who will destroy it for you appropriately.
  9. Try sort through the one area until you have most of it done. It doesn’t have to be perfect before moving on to the next room or area. Try get through as much as you can so that you are happier in that living space and then move on. You don’t want to get stuck in a rut and loose momentum. You can do another cull or sort through in that space when you have tackled other rooms or problem areas.
  10. Remember it is a marathon and not a sprint. Any start you can make is better than not starting at all so try to stay focused on the end goal and bit by bit you will get there.

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Post Decluttering – Where to bring Clothes

So you’ve decided what clothes you are keeping and what you are getting rid of. One of main dilemmas I had was deciding what to do with the clothes I was getting rid of. Here are a few things I tried:

  1. Giving to close family/friends. I guess this depends on what your relationship is like with your close friends/family but I tried to keep to a minimum the items of clothes I offered to my family. Mainly because I didn’t want to run the risk of burdening them with things they might take off me under a sense of obligation or for fear of offending me. So I only offered them a handful of items which I thought they would really like.
  2. Selling some of your clothes or shoes or handbags yourself on Adverts, Done Deal, EBay or Depop or similar websites/apps. This is a good option once you have the time and patience for this. It can take a while to sell things and you have added hassle of dealing with potential buyers and arranging delivery/collection. Put a time limit on it – if you don’t sell them in a month then do something else with them. I put a few good quality things up on Depop. I sold a handbag and ring fairly quickly but there were no takers for the rest after about a month so I gave them away instead.
  3. Consignment – I rang a few consignment clothes shops about some of my clothes but they were only interested in high end designer clothes and not the high street clothes I had. But if you do have high end designer clothes or handbags then this takes the work out of selling these items and you can get some money for them albeit less consignment fees.
  4. Charity Shop – If clothes and shoes are still in good condition then your local charity shop will gladly take them off your hands and the proceeds will go towards a good cause.
  5. Local Women’s Refuge – These usually take women’s and children’s clothes, bedding, equipment etc for those who are fleeing domestic abuse and who often have to leave their home suddenly without many things. Demand for certain items fluctuates so it is best to ring ahead to see if they will take any stuff you may have to give.
  6. Local Parish Fete / Sale of Work – Locally these are not that frequent so it depends on your timing but in my area certainly there are a handful throughout the year that would gladly take clothes and handbags that are in good condition.
  7. Cash for Clothes – This is where you get money based on weight for clothes, shoes, curtains, bedding, towels, handbags, belts, soft toys, hats, scarfs, ties and pajamas. The heavier the bags the better. Some local schools or community groups organize a clothes drive in conjunction with one of these companies where funds raised go to charity / local projects etc. I think this is particularly useful for getting rid of old stuffed toys as sometimes they are not accepted by charity shops.
  8. Freecycle – If you post a bundle of clothes of a particular size/age on your local Freecycle website or Freecycle Facebook group then these are usually taken very quickly by those locally who you can meet or who can collect from you.
  9. Local Recycling Clothes Bank – in Dublin at least there are individual clothes banks for different charitable organizations dotted around the city and suburbs where you can go to drop off clothes. I’ve found that sometimes they are full and so instead of leaving them beside the clothes bank (which you are not supposed to do) I’ve just returned after a few days or the following week instead. So that is potentially one further delay in getting rid of your stuff but you can also go to your local recycling center that accepts textiles including old clothes, shoes, curtains, bed linen and blankets. They don’t accept soiled clothing, cushions, carpets, duvets or pillows.
  10. Finally I think if clothes are in bad condition with holes or bad stains on them then you can rip them up yourself into smaller pieces for use around your home as cleaning cloths or dusters etc. If you are more creatively minded then there are other ideas on Pinterest to turn old clothes into other more interesting things. Otherwise unfortunately it is the bin for them if they are particularly bad.

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My Clothes Decluttering Continued

So how did I go about culling my wardrobe? Well this was the thought process I went through:

  • Anything with a hole or tear or fray or hard to remove stain or badly faded in colour then they were first to go.
  • Anything that was two sizes too small for me or two sizes too big for me also had to go (excluding sentimental items). I didn’t see the point any more having clothes that didn’t look well on me taking up valuable space in my closet any more.
  • Shoes that were not comfortable. I decided life is too short to be dealing with sore feet, blisters, sole burn etc from wearing uncomfortable shoes.
  • Shoes that I had multiple pairs of colour/type. e.g. flip flops. I think I kept three pairs of flip flops hesitantly while the rest went. Still too many in my mind but will cull again I’m sure.
  • After the above I was left with what was really my central wardrobe of clothes and shoes and with these I tried most of them on to decide if I liked it in general and if I liked how it looked and felt on me.

Amazingly after working through all of the above points, I got rid of a lot of my clothes and freed up so much space. But I was still left with just over 100 items of clothes and shoes. However I felt that I wanted to live with everything remaining for the next few months before I did any further cull. And sure enough I already know I will do another cull but I’ve other decluttering categories to tackle before I go back to do this.

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My Clothes Decluttering

So I started my decluttering journey with my clothes. Marie Kondo suggests to start with this category in her book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ but it was the most logical place for me to start in any event. I had heaps of clothes. As someone who has gone up and down the scales over the years, I found that I had four sizes of clothes in my closet. When your someone whose weight fluctuates I always felt I should hold on to clothes ‘Just in case’ I put on weight or ‘Just in case’ I lost weight. I had clothes that fit me, clothes that were too big, clothes that were too small and clothes I was keeping for sentimental reasons. I parked most of the sentimental stuff as I wasn’t ready to tackle them. But I was taking up three wardrobes, two under bed storage drawers, a chest of drawers and a tall boy with all my clothes so I had to make a start. When I started going through it I got through it relatively easily because I was so sick of looking at my closet bulging with clothes yet feeling like I had nothing to wear. So over 5 weeks I gradually purged my clothes and shoes. That was 12 weeks ago and I haven’t missed any of it. In fact it has only been positive:

  1. I save time deciding what to wear in the morning and when I am going out at night. Deciding what to wear isn’t an ordeal any more.
  2. I like everything in my closet now and feel good wearing everything. So I have more choice than I ever had before.
  3. I freed up two wardrobes and two under bed storage drawers. I know what I have and where I have it.

While I got rid of a lot of clothes I still kept more than enough – in fact too much. In the past 12 weeks I have still probably only worn half of the clothes in my closet. So I’ll do another purge soon to get it down even further because I know I can and I can feel the benefits.

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