30-Day Challenge – Week 1

It has now been a week that I’ve started the minimalism challenge. Here’s a little wrap up of what I’ve done this past week.

Day 1 – Clean out your closet
Who knew that cleaning out your closet could be so revitalising. It felt good. My closet now feels new, clean and makes it much easier to pick out my clothes! That said the process was long. I started at around 10 am and took a break two hours later. And I was not quite finished. You are probably wondering what took me so long – I had some clothes that needed folding, and our bed had to be made so that I could lay everything out. I also did some much needed vacuuming in our tiny closet. Then the fun part began – colour coordination! I’m not sure about you, but I quite like having some kind of colour coordination in my closet. Why? Because one it is easier to pick out your clothes and two it looks so much cleaner when you open your closet door. I therefore decided to have all of my dark coloured clothes on one side, my colourful tops in the middle and my cream/white clothes on the other side. It took me time as everything was pretty mixed up. I also took care of the shelf above my clothing rack. You’d think that it looked clean, but there were quite a few t-shirts, jogging pants and other things at the back. Once that was done, I went to the stores in order to buy some small storage boxes as I wanted to remove the blue clothing organiser. It simply took too much space in our tiny closet. Once that was done, I was completely finished. Now my only issue is to find a place to put our socks! But hey it felt pretty good. I didn’t throw any clothes away, as I had done a huge cleanup last year. But our closet now feels new, clean and it’s much easier to pick out my clothes. I can finely see everything very clearly!

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Day 2 – Learn to enjoy solitude

IMG_6206Solitude is not something I usually enjoy. I love to be surrounded by people, going out for dinner and drinks, listening to music or watching a good movie or series. So this was a little challenging. The first thing I did that afternoon was switch off the television, take my iPad and continue reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest for about an hour. In the meantime my boyfriend was re-styling my blog so once in a while I would pop up in his office to check out the progress. I then decided to go for a walk. I thought that being at home was not really solitude, especially with my boyfriend around. So off I went and that is when I really understood what solitude was. While I was walking millions of thoughts came through my mind – the re-styling of my blog, my next blog post, thinking of vacation, family, my new job and more simply I was able to enjoy the scenery that was surrounding me. We leave right next to a very big park. It was a beautiful day and took a few photographs of where I walked. It was very peaceful and enjoyable, but my brain was certainly not at peace. It was constantly thinking of things, trying to figure things out but the funny thing is I did not feel stressed. I actually felt relaxed even though so many things were on my mind. In the end, the two hour walk felt good. I enjoyed it and understood what solitude was – definitely not staying at home or even going into town. That is not solitude to me. Solitude is getting away from your home, going to a quiet and peaceful location and enjoying silence and your own thoughts. And it is even more enjoyable when the sun is shinning!

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Day 3 – Define your goals for this year
If I had asked myself this question about a month ago my first goal would have been to find a new job. My temporary contract ended mid-January but I was not too worried as I had numerous phone calls from recruiting agencies and had quite a few opportunities coming through. Within a week I had a very successful job interview and will be starting in March. Therefore, here are my new goals. These are definitely not the usual goals (i.e. buying a house or a car, moving abroad, starting a family etc) but goals that are applicable to me.

I. Back on track
A few years back I starting running 5 km and slowly took on 10 km too. But between October and February I usually stop. It’s too cold, it gets darker earlier and earlier, and when you have a job it simply seems too complicated. But on Tuesday I started exercising again. It was difficult but I felt refreshed after an hour of outdoor exercise. This is why I want to make this my number one goal for this year – exercising daily even when I start my new job. This will take a lot of discipline and I will have to make a schedule and keep to it. As I have a whole month off, I hope to get this routine going so that once I start work in March I will only need to adjust. And I’d also like to plan a few races through out the year in order to keep myself motivated and to keep exercising.

II. Be happy and appreciate life
Now don’t get me wrong here. I am a very happy person. You can ask my boyfriend, my family, my grand-parents and my former co-workers. I am a very happy person. I always have a smile on my face and enjoy life very much. But I would like to do this year is, of course, continue to be happy but appreciate life. Appreciate what I have. We usually don’t realise what we have or how lucky we are. And I’d like to realise this more. To be more appreciative of what I have, who I’m with and enjoy life just a little more. Life is short and we must all make the most out of it!

III. Stop complaining
This will be very hard and to some extent is in connection with the goal number two. If you ask my boyfriend, he can tell you how much I complain, and whenever he tells me so I say “I’m not complaining but just saying”, even though I am really complaining. This can be frustrating for him and I, and I have definitely come to the realisation that I complain a lot. So let’s try this out – complain less and eventually stop complaining!

I think it would be good for me to come back to these goals in six month time in order to see where I am. Have I kept my commitments? Will I be able to keep on track? Will I appreciate life a little more each day? Will my complaining decrease? Let’s see in July where I am!

Day 4 – No email or social media until lunch
So the main purpose of that morning was to get things done, but before I start I would also like to add no series before lunch. The moment I knew that I could not check social media and emails, I thought ‘hey I can watch a series’. No my dear, the purpose was not to lay in bed and watch series for three hours. The purpose was to get shit done! So I started with a little laundry, followed by breakfast and then cleaned out my boyfriend’s office. I do go in his office on a daily basis and seeing his messy desk, sports bag, cardboard boxes and shoes laying around, I knew that something had to be done. After dusting everything off and clearing everything out, I took time to vacuum and mop. He now has a very clean office that smells fresh. I then did some small cleaning here and there in the house – mainly our two chimneys and television furniture. I still had half an hour to go before checking my mails and social media when my father wanted to have a small Skype session. So off I went meaning that I kind of broke the rule but managed to not check my emails while on the computer. And right when I was about to start making myself lunch, off I went on social medias and emails. Surprisingly enough I thought that this would have been easier and that I would have done more things that morning but it simply was not. When you have this habit of checking your phone the first thing when you wake and once every 30 minutes or so, not doing that for a whole morning is difficult. I am simply wondering how I’ll do when I’ll have to go offline for a whole day!

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Day 5 – No-complaint day
Like I’ve previously said, I complain a lot. I think that I complain every single day. On Sunday night, while I was having dinner with my boyfriend I asked him ‘did I complain yesterday?’. He thought for a couple of minutes and realised that I had not complained the whole day and quickly said that it was probably because I knew that that was Saturday’s challenge. I knew it wasn’t and he said that I should try this challenge again on days where I do notice that I am complaining and then see what actions I can take. Therefore, even though I had not complained for the whole day I do agree with him that I should try this particular challenge on a day where I am complaining.

Day 6 – Declutter your digital life
Now this was quite fun. I actually deleted a lot of files on my computer. I first looked at my documents section. I had folders from my primary school projects (!!!) and high school years. I clicked delete on this immediately. I then went through my Bachelor’s degree folder and deleted quite a lot of things there too. The only thing I kept was a copy of my dissertation. I looked through my Master’s degree folder too and only deleted some very useless documents, but kept quite a few things. I, of course, did not delete any important documents that I had previously scanned as those always come in useful some day or another.

I then had a serious look at my photos. On my computer I have photos from 2008, all by date. Some folders had none to very photos, while some folders were completely useless. So there too I deleted quite a few things. Then in order to make things easier for me, I created different folders (family, friends, vacation etc) and dragged and dropped the corresponding ‘date’ folders to the correct main folder. For my main vacation folder, I created year sub-folders so that I know where we went in which year. When I now look at my main picture folder with all of my other sub-folders, it definitely makes more sense, but I know that some time next week I will spend more time on this and go through each folder once again to see how I can make this even clearer and easier to navigate.

What have I learnt from this? That I have kept too many old documents that I no longer used and that I had not opened in years, meaning that they were completely useless to me. I’m quite happy with how I’ve arranged my documents folder but I still have some work to do concerning my picture folder.

Day 7 – Examine your daily habits
Since I am currently not working, I find it a little easier to pinpoint my daily habits. One of the first things I do and have done for a very long time and will keep on doing is making our bed every single morning. I find this first habit very important. It makes our bedroom clean, proper and it shows the beginning of a new day. When the days will start getting a little warmer, I will open our window and let our sheets freshen up before making our bed.

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My second daily habit is drinking plenty of tea. I’ve noticed that through out the day I drink three teas; one in the morning for breakfast, one after lunch and one late afternoon. This is usually how I stay hydrated during the day. I either make one big teapot that can last my through the day, or use one tea bag multiple times. I usually drink around 1.5 l of tea per day, and two big glasses of water before going to bed.

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My third habit is reading the daily posts on the couple of lifestyle blogs I am following. Each lifestyle blogs posts about two posts per day, morning and evening. So I find myself quite often on those blogs. I’m usually quite good at keeping up, and can usually cannot wait for the posts to come up. I love reading all the posts; new recipes, new locations, daily outfits, new finds, funny links etc. These are moments I enjoy very much.

Finally, my fourth habit is to watch series. I have at least one series to watch per day, sometimes two. It’s not something that I watch immediately when I get up, but usually keep it for the afternoon or before going to bed. My boyfriend and I have quite a few common series and the only time we can watch them together is in the evening. However, sometimes I do feel like I watch too many series but this is a habit I simply cannot get rid off. I’ve already decreased the number of series I am watching, so that’s a start.

There is one habit though that I’d like to drop, and I know will reduce quite significantly when I start my new job, which is to be less on the internet surfing around. Or sometimes not even surfing at all. Sometimes I find myself there in front of my computer, not doing much but never come to the realisation that I could be doing other things. Useful and meaningful things. There’s always something to do around the house, or I could just go into the city and walking around instead of sitting on the couch with my laptop on my laps.

Besides dropping this habit, there’s one that I would like to take on. Maybe I shouldn’t call this a habit but more a lifestyle change. Eating more fruits and vegetables. I can already see a change, especially on Monday nights as I usually try to make pasta with vegetables only, and try to always have fruits around the house. But I feel like this is not enough and that I should be eating more. Sometimes what I do is make a big smoothie (with yogurt, no milk) with two or three different fruits. It’s a good way of keeping up with all of the fruits and vegetables we should be eating every day.

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This wraps up my first challenge week. So far I feel like some days were more successful than others. For example, cleaning out my closet was a big task and can clearly see some visual changes. The same can be said with enjoying solitude, even though when I do chores around the house I usually have some music as background noise. However, after a while I don’t really notice the music anymore but find myself in my own thoughts. Decluttering my digital life was also successful but work still needs to done on that end. Finally, I will now have to keep a close eye on my three main year goals (check up in six month time) and try keeping up with the no-complaint day! So far I’ve enjoyed doing this challenge, and cannot wait for this new week to start.

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