Since I’m working on the 100 Thing Challenge, I thought that it would be a good idea to have an easier to find, more permanent list of the 100 things that I’m keeping. So created a permanent list and added a link at the top of the screen. It’s called “My 100 Things”, which I thought was pretty self explanatory. Any time you want to see what I’ve got, or how my list has changed, just head to that link to check it out.
I’ve read about the 100 Thing Challenge before, and found the idea intriguing. Recently I’ve been thinking about it again, this time with more interest in giving it a try. Unlike Dave, the originator of the idea, I am not interested in selling all but 100 of my personal possessions. However, I think that I could happily live for an extended period of time while limiting myself to 100 personal items. So, as an extension of the Minimalist Experiment, I’m going to pack away almost everything that I own and give it a try for one month.
The Basic Concept
The Goal: Live for with only 100 personal things for the entire month of October, 2010.
- “Personal Things” means things that are entirely or mostly mine. Shared objects (like the bed) are not personal and thus won’t be counted.
- A few things are counted in groups. For example: the power cord, mouse and earbuds always go with the computer, so together they are a system: one item. In the original rules, like items could be clumped together: underwear, 1 item; socks, 1 item. I may do that, once I determine how many items I will be using.
- I won’t be throwing things away, or getting rid of them. I will simply be storing them away for the month’s experiment. After the experiment, I may decide to get rid of some of them, or not.
I’ve got a couple of weeks to prepare for this experiment. I’ve been thinking about what I use on a daily basis and made a tentative list of the 100 things I’ll need to keep out. Over the next few days I’ll pay more attention to what I use day to day so that I can tweak my list before the month starts.
My 100 Things
- gym shorts
- swim trunks
- track pants
- pj pants, silk
- pj pants, cotton
- pj pants, fleece
- running shoes
- dress shoes, brown sketchers
- dress shoes, brown other
- belt, leather
- belt, leather, 2-sided
- belt, fabric
- handkerchief, white
- handkerchief, blue
- underwear, group counted as 1 item
- socks, group counted as 1 item
- dress shirt
- dress shirt
- dress shirt
- dress shirt
- button shirt
- button shirt
- button shirt
- polo shirt
- polo shirt
- polo shirt
- running shirt, black
- running shirt, gray
- rain jacket
- glasses, prescription
- wedding ring
- desk chair
- pillow case
- pocket knife
- sticky-note pad
- cell phone (incl: charger)
- razor (incl: brush, soap, stand)
- electric clippers
- laptop (incl: mouse, power cord, headphones)
- camera (incl: case, charger, mini-tripod)
- Moleskine planner
- fountain pen (incl: bottle of ink, needle for refill)
- 3-ring binder
- misc. writing instruments
- books, 2
- sketchbooks, 2
- cardboard tube – for transporting work from home to school on motorcycle
- art supplies, drawing
- art supplies, painting
- boots, slip-on
- boots, lace-up
- doo rag, skulls
- doo rag, American flag
- jacket, leather flight
- jacket, textile motorcycle
- gloves, leather
- stainless steel water bottle
- books in library
- camping gear
As you can see, I still have some extra items that I could hold on to. I’m leaving the slots open so that I can easily see where I am at.
I went ahead and included the dishes that I use on a regular basis. Since I’m thinking about limiting myself to only a single set, I will have to wash them after eating every meal. I may quickly tire of having to do dishes after every meal, but I think it will also add an interesting twist to the experiment. They may not make it to the final list, replaced as I pack away the rest of my items and discover that I have overlooked a few things that I will need.
We’ll see how it goes. It is, after all, only the preliminary stages of an experiment.
While reading this post on mnmlist.com, I realized that this is exactly what I need to do. I need to subtract the desire from my life, not the need for the object.
I don’t need an iPhone, but I like the idea of having one and often want one. I think that one would be quite useful, for a variety of reasons:
- Use it as a phone, to make and receive calls and check my voicemail.
- Use it as an alarm clock.
- Built-in camera.
- Utilize the calendar function to track my schedule.
- Keep track of my contacts.
- Start lots of lists/notes to myself to capture data.
- Play games.
The thing is…
I can already do those things with what I already have. Sure, my system’s not as flashy, it has more parts, but it’s entirely functional. Here’s what I’ve already got:
- A cell phone that does far more than I want.
- Including have 5 alarms that cover my alarm needs.
- And a camera, even if it’s not quite as good as the iPhone’s.
- I carry a Moleskine planner around. It’s small enough that it fits into my pocket, but large enough that I can track my schedule and other stuff.
- Such as carry a contacts book in the back with more space than I have entries to fill it with.
- And enough space for me to scribble in, as well as a handy surface to attach sticky-notes with that day’s todo list.
- My current cell phone has some games on it, they just aren’t as fancy. Plus, I have more than enough to occupy me without killing time with games.
- I always have a writing instrument or two with me, so I don’t have to worry about scrounging for a pen.
Why Would I Change?
Since my current system works just fine, and has for over a year now, there are only two reasons that I might change it.
- Because of my minimalist desires I can see where it would be a good thing for me to carry a single device instead of the 3 (cell phone, Moleskine planner, fountain pen) that I am currently using.
- It’s new and shiny and I want it. Basic desire. I don’t need an iPhone, but I want one because I see so many other people around me who have one.
Why I Won’t Change
Despite the two reasons above, I won’t be getting an iPhone any time soon. Here’s why:
- It’s a single device, yes, but is it wise to become dependent upon a more fragile system? My current phone can be replaced very cheaply. Sure, my Moleskine shouldn’t get wet, but it will dry out and keep working, which I’m not sure can be said about the iPhone. Likewise, I can drop my Moleskine and not have a heart-attack. I don’t ever have to be concerned that the batteries in my Moleskine might run out. Part of my minimalist goals are to minimize the stress and worry in my life; I feel that a gadget like the iPhone would be counter-productive in light of this goal.
- I don’t need it. Why spend money on something that I don’t need? This is the Modern Luddite coming out in me. The technology would be nice to have, but it’s not needed and isn’t necessarily “better” than my current system.
- I can’t get it without a data package. If I could, I might consider getting an iPhone. However, I just can’t justify increasing my monthly cell phone bill just to have a shiny new toy. If you look at my list of things I would use an iPhone for, you’ll notice that none of them require the internet. If I did want to check my email, I could easily use the WiFi access that I am around the majority of the time. A data plan is a waste of my money and would only provide an added distraction.
An iPhone (or any other “smart” phone, for that matter) isn’t something that I see in my near future. Even though they might offer some decent advantages to my current system, over-all they are not a step in the right direction. Too dependent on modern technology, too expensive, too distracting, and too stress inducing. I’ll keep my dumb phone for now.
Perhaps this is an example of my modern Luddite tendencies coming through, but I enjoy writing with a fountain pen. For that matter, I just enjoy writing (that would be part of why I run a blog). I write notes, scribble out todo lists, doodle in my margins, compose blog posts, jot down interesting quotes, and otherwise record things in a written format.
Because of this tendency for the written word, I always have a writing instrument on me. Since I enjoyed my Pilot Plumix so much, my fabulous wife presented me with a Lamy Safari for Christmas last year. I’ve been carrying it ever since.
This pen never fails to receive a comment from those around me, especially once it’s borrowed. Some love it as much as I do. Others try it for a few moments and decide that it’s not for them (writing with a fountain pen requires a different style than writing with a ballpoint.) Love it or hate it, a simple writing instrument manages to incite interest and provoke comments. That’s a pretty good day’s work for a pen.
If you happen to see me around and need something to write with, I’ll have this guy with me. Who knows, you might begin to share my passion after trying it.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a micro-blogging site. Users can sign up for free and then send text-based messages, called Tweets. Tweets can be no longer than 140 characters (hence the micro part of micro-blogging.)
Following / Followers
Twitter allows you to “follow” others. When you follow another twitter user, you see their tweets in your twitter stream (the main page of your twitter account). Likewise, you have followers, which are the people following you and they see what you tweet.
People can talk to and interact with one another on Twitter by using @replies. By typing an @ symbol followed immediately by the user’s name (ie: @AdventureSome ) the tweet will show up in the mentioned user’s @reply stream. This allows conversations to take place as people talk back and forth, as well as allowing one to know when they’re being talked about.
A direct message is Twitter’s version of an email. The private (still 140 character) message is visible only by the person you send it to. Unfortunately, unlike email, it is not currently possible to forward the message, and if you reply the person must remember the original message so they know what you are replying to.
Because it is possible to follow thousands of people, there has to be some way to manage that amount of information. You can add users to lists and narrow them down this way. You can create as many lists as you like to organize the people you follow as you prefer (though you might want to be aware that users can see what lists they are on) and then view only the lists that you want to really keep up with.
What’s it good for?
This is one of the great debates that take place concerning all social media venues. The greatest potential it holds is to build relationships. Isn’t this just another form of networking? Yes, it is, but you really have to build a relationship, not just know someone. Twitter allows people to connect who would never meet otherwise (think A-list graphic designer talking to a graphic design student).
This is why I’m interested in keeping my Twitter account. I want to reach out and connect with others who share my interests and passions. The majority of the people I will talk to won’t be anywhere near me, geographically, but Twitter will allow me to connect with them anyway. Hopefully I will network, but the real goal is to make new friends.
It’s easy to spend a lot of time on Twitter, but with a little forethought, one can easily be productive in only a few minutes a day.
Now that I’ve started over with Twitter from scratch, how do I keep using it in a productive way without letting it take over my life? Careful time management. (If you don’t know what Twitter is, find out here.)
Twitter in 10 Minutes a Day
I once read that twitter can be used in 10 minutes a day. Putting that advice to use has proven to work for me. Since I’m trying to spend less time on my computer I figured that returning to this strategy would be a move in the right direction. It is easy enough to schedule 10 minutes during the day to spend on twitter, and then be done until the next day.
The first 4 minutes
I spend the first 4 minutes checking messages that I have received. Either Direct Messages or @replies. Since these are the messages that are specifically intended for me, I feel that they deserve the first of my attention and a response.
The next 4 minutes
I then use the next 4 minutes to see what’s going on. I read other people’s tweets, retweet the ones that I like and generally get a feel for the trending topics. No, in 4 minutes I won’t see all of the tweets since the last time I checked, but as I scan through them I can read quite a bit (especially since I’ve drastically narrowed down the people that I am following) and pass on some good information to my followers.
The final 2 minutes
Now that I’ve gotten up to speed on what has happened since I last checked, I finally tweet about myself. This can include things that I’m doing (what I’m reading, which includes interesting links), adventures I’m taking part in, or interesting things that I’ve found (recipes, books, photos, etc). If I have a question, either for someone in particular or just for twitter in general, I will ask it now. When I have a product that I’m promoting, I can also carefully mention it now.
My 10 minutes is up
Since my 10 minutes has been spent, I’m done with twitter for the day. If I do decide to come back later in the day, I follow this same schedule, so that I don’t end up spending too much time on the site.
I like Twitter. I think it has lots of potential. However, in 2009, I got caught up in the race to get more and more followers. I ended up following almost 4,500, with around 4,000 following me. That’s too many, well past Dunbar’s Law of 150 people that a human can cognitively be friends with.
Who are these people?!
Furthermore, I didn’t know any of the people. None of them were friends or business associates. There were a handful that I actually talked to, for a short time; then I quit. So out of the nearly 4,500 people, I actually know and communicated with a total of zero of them. (None, nilch, nada.)
So it was well past time for me to either quit Twitter all together or just unfollow everyone and start over again. Since I do think that Twitter has potential, I didn’t want to turn my back on it all together. I did want to make it more manageable, however.
I browsed through some of the people I follow on twitter and picked out a few names who I actually want to follow (7 of them, to be exact). Then I deleted EVERYONE using this nifty website. (It took some time, since I could only delete 100 at a time. I did find a helpful plugin that made it quicker.) Since I also had about 1,300 direct messages, I used this script to delete all of them. Following zero people, zero DM’s, and I still have a healthy number of people following me!
Since I wrote down the people that I DO want to follow (7, plus an additional 1), once my following count reached zero I added them. Occasionally, I will search out more users in order to find other people that I want to connect with, and really take the time to actually communicate with them.
I suppose this could be considered an extension of the Minimalist Experiment, since I’m changing my Twitter experience into a minimalist one. I’m pretty excited to see how good it feels to have only a few people I’m following, instead of thousands! Horrah for modern Luddites!
I mentioned that I’m going to become something of a modern Luddite, but I didn’t explain what exactly that was. So, here we go…
A Bit of History
During the Industrial Revolution, a group of people protested against changes that were taking place. This social movement often expressed itself by destroying mechanized looms. These textile artisans felt that the machines were going to replace them and that their livelyhood was in danger.
Their name comes from Ned Ludd, who was believed to have destroyed two large pieces of equipment (stocking frames) earlier in England, making him the first actor in the movement. At that time, breaking machinery could be punished by execution, so the name Ned Ludd might have been ficticious. False name or not, the name stuck, and the Luddite movement was formed.
Since the Luddites thought that the new machines were going to take away their source of livelyhood, they were acting in self-preservation. They didn’t understand basic economics, and so didn’t realize that they would still have their jobs, the factory in which they were working would have simply made more product by using the machines.
The term Luddite managed to stick around from the early 1800s until today. In the 1970s large numbers of people began to question technology and called themselves “New Luddites”. And so the Neo-Luddite movement was born. People opposed to advances in technology because of the cultural and socioeconomoic changes that are associated with it.
Most often, the term Luddite was used in a negative way by advocates of technology, insinuating that Luddites are backwards and foolish for their beliefs. However, I believe that the term can hold a positive connotation. It is with this aim which I will be using the word.
Luddite as a positive. I am not against technology. I believe that technology has provided us with many opportunities that simply weren’t available only a few short years ago. The world has shrunk, we can travel around it in a matter of hours, we can talk across it after only a few short rings, on phones that we carry in our pockets. Work can be done from anywhere, at any time. What amazing opportunities are now available to us!
Unfortunately, with the ready availibility of technology, it has begun to take over our lives. I constantly see people who “cannot live” without their cell phone and texting, or without an mp3 player of some sort stuck in their ears. Not only do I resent the erosion of manners that have taken place, but I feel that we are actually less productive than ever before, precisely because of the devices that have been created to help us.
So, as a modern Luddite, I am breaking the technology habit. People lived quite happily for years without a cell phone in their pocket, without email, and without Google to control all of their information. I will be taking a look at the technology that I use and make educated decisions about what to keep and what to let go.
Technology might be here to stay, but that doesn’t mean that I have to use all of it all the time.
Well, I’ve cleaned off my computer desktop, so the next natural step would be to… complete the homework that I have open in my browser. Since I have no desire to do that, and no looming deadline, I decided to work more towards my luddite goals.
There wasn’t much on my desk to start with, but most of those few items needed to go.
- I copied the photos from the camera onto my computer and put the camera back where it belongs.
- The todo/reminder lists were condensed and put into digital form.
- Random papers were filed away.
- The coin rolls from when I rolled my loose change were put in my backpack so that I will remember to change them for paper money.
Now my desk is much less cluttered and more pleasant to work at. On it are:
- My laptop and mouse.
- A hand-made mug (from childhood) that holds some of my fountain pens.
- A small scratch pad for capturing ideas.
- The piece of paper that is part of the project I’m currently working on.
After only about 10 minutes, this is a nice step in the right direction. Now I just need to keep the momentum going. Guess I should really get started on that homework…
As I mentioned in my recent post, one of the things that I wanted to do was to declutter my computer’s desktop (once again). Once I finished writing the last post, I decided that it was the perfect time to do exactly that.
As a sign that I really wanted to make this change, I had already narrowed my browsers down to a single window with only three tabs open (email, homework, and post editor for blog). It was a simple matter to close my email tab and leave the homework tab for later (since I need to actually do some homework.) And once I finish writing this post, the post editor will be closed as well.
I had gathered quite a few items on my desktop, so I had to spend a few minutes to take care of them. As I cleaned I listened to a podcast that I had downloaded. Once it was finished I was able to delete it. A number of files were reminders to myself, many of which had already passed. They were deleted, and the remainder were transferred to my todo list. The rest of the files were thrown into the “Stuff” folder on my desktop. This folder and the “Recycle Bin” are the only icons on my desktop at this point.
Of course, it was time for a new background as well. I checked to see what I had already downloaded, and then spent less than five minutes checking online. Nothing online beat what I already had, so I went with these adorable penguins. (Though I deleted the text, as it was too distracting to leave.)
So, the finished result? After less than fifteen minutes, I have a total of two icons on my desktop, a relaxing background that I enjoy, and far less clutter on my computer. Here in just a moment the only programs I will have open is some sort of music player and the web page I need to do my homework.