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Reduce your kitchen appliances for more comfort

A few days ago, I was looking at the pile of dishes that accumulated in my kitchen-sink that day. While I was dreading the moment I would have to take care of them, it occurred to me: why do I actually have so many appliances in my kitchen?

So I took a look. Here is roughly what I found:

– 12 large spoons
– 8 smaller spoons
– 15 forks
– 12 knives
– 7 large plates
– 5 small plates
– 7 bowls
– 12 glasses

And that’s even though I only live with my girlfriend.

This is most likely because I wanted to feel ‘safe’ that I always had enough appliances no matter what (or perhaps it is a habit I acquired while living with my parents?). After giving it just a few seconds of thought, though, I realized that the only thing this bunch of appliances was doing is causing me to be more stressed out and have much more work to do when it comes to dish washing (and that’s even though I do have an automatic dish-washer, which still requires some work to load, unload and dry). Instead of washing things as I was done with them, I was in the habit of constantly reaching for a new, clean piece of appliance – after all there were so many of them in the kitchen that I never had to worry. But in the end, that moment where you would have to do the dishes would come, and I would hate it 🙂

I immediately got to work, and reduced the above list to the following:

– 4 large spoons
– 2 smaller spoons
– 3 knives
– 3 large plates
– 1 small plate
– 3 bowls
– 3 glasses

And the rest of the stuff I just hid in a cupboard inside a box, and will only dive into it if I ever have a lot of guests come in and really need the extra appliances. Just make sure they are hidden somewhere where it is not super-easy to access them, otherwise you will continue to use them on a daily basis. Just wrapping them up inside some paper bag and hiding it in a hard-to-reach place will be enough.

This was around 4 days ago, and I _IMMEDIATELY_ saw the results. My sink never has time to get filled up with dirty appliances, since I have to wash what I’ve used in order to use it again. I have more place in my kitchen in general. I find what I’m looking for much easier because the things I’m looking for don’t get mixed up together.

Of course, I’m not saying that you should follow my reduction scheme exactly – we all have different needs. Do consider, however, which of the appliances you really need to have available at hand, and which are simply an extra burden that is causing you more pain than helping.

It has definitely helped me 🙂 my day has just become a little more organized and I feel better in my own home. Life has just gotten a bit happier for me 🙂

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Saving time: shut off your computer more often

Today, I have another tip that should also prove useful for those who want to have more free time:

Shut off your computer more often.

I’m starting to find that this is a great way for reducing the time you spend at your computer. Most people nowadays never shut off the computer unless they are going to sleep or leaving their house (and even then, computers often keep running). The idea is that the computer can be constantly ready for us to use any time we think of something we would like to do. And of course, most of the time, when you sit down to check that “one thing”, you end up doing a lot more than you wanted to, get distracted, and end up losing tons of your free time.

I find that simply shutting off the computer is a great way to help prevent this, at least partially. When our computer is turned off, it is much less likely that you will want to turn it on just to check up on one thing. You simply won’t feel like waiting until the operating system and your user settings load, and will opt to ignore it and do something else instead.

This won’t always work, of course. But each time it does, it is quite likely that you have just saved yourself some considerable amount (sometimes even hours!) of time, which you would have lost through internet-related distractions. Of course, you might be leaving your computer on so that you can have some large files downloaded. In this case, go ahead and leave it on; do consider, however, that downloading a lot of files can often also lead to a considerable waste of time – learn why here.

So, from now on, make it a habit: every time you finish using your computer and want to get up to do something else, don’t just shut off the monitor or put your computer into hibernation – shut it off completely. You’ll see that just by following this simple rule, which doesn’t really require any effort or discipline, you will reduce the time you spend at your computer, and ultimately – you’ll have more free time everyday.

Hope it helps, and let me know how it worked for you.

Saving time: have control over what you watch

People are often complaining that they wish the day was longer so that they would have more free time, so it got me thinking : are the days really too short, or do we simply fail to use the time that we have properly? This prompted me to start thinking about ways to save up more time and use the time I have more to my pleasures and enjoyment. Starting this day, I will be writing short articles like this one, in each of them briefly discussing one thing I believe could help achieve this goal.

The first thing that came to my mind is movies/TV series/sit-coms/etc. I’m sure there are tons of people who, upon finding out about an interesting new thing to watch, will download the whole package: if they hear of a new interesting TV series such as Lost or Dexter, they will download the whole first season (or perhaps even all seasons). If they hear of an interesting actor, they will download all the movies with that actor. If they see an interesting movie, they will download all other parts of that movie and sometimes even extra related materials.

What this does, however, is it makes it extremely easy for us to watch a whole lot in one session. We start watching the first episode of a show, for example. When the show is over, we will immediately want to watch the second episode a lot of the times, because we are still full of awe and enjoyment, so we want more of it. Some video players actually automatically start for you the second episode of a show as soon as the first one is over, so you don’t even have a chance to say “no thanks!” 🙂 At this point, we do not notice that this has a destructive effect on us because we are feeling great. This changes though once we realize that we’ve spent the last 5 hours watching a show. With time, we might start feeling that, because of all this, we are failing to do things which we would really like to do. With time I believe this could even lead to lowered self-esteem, but I don’t want to go too far 🙂

All of the above is understandable; after all, we like it, so why not have as much of it as possible? We want to watch it, so you want to watch as much of it as possible. This would make sense if we didn’t have other exciting stuff that we would love to do, but fail to do them because of watching TOO MUCH stuff on our computers. This is where “interesting” starts to turn into “dangerous”.

SOLUTION:

My solution for this is really easy. Simply don’t download so much stuff at once. If you like a new show, download only one episode and watch it. Since you don’t have a second episode ready for immediate watch, and you have to undertake some actions (and wait a bit) before you can watch the second episode, this will give you just enough time to reflect on whether you would prefer to do something else with your time, or if you would really just prefer to watch more. You will have made a conscious decision about this, not dictated by emotions, and you will be better off with it.

That’s the whole idea. You only download that which you actually plan to watch now/tomorrow, and nothing more.

Very easy, right? Please, do try it. Thanks to this, you will not only suddenly realize you have more free time and you are doing and accomplishing more, but you also get to enjoy your favorite show(s) for much, much longer, since you don’t finish watching all episodes in just a few weeks 😉

Have fun

You are your daily habits

I believe this is an extremely important article, so please read it through if you have the time. It might seem long, but I do believe that it is well worth it.

The pitfall of modern civilization (especially western civilization) is, in my opinion, that it favors achievements over how we feel on a daily basis. From quite an early age most of us are taught that your worth is measured by your achievements – you must finish school, have a respected job, own respected and in-demand objects. And this is rather normal and most of us would never even think to question this way of things, after all – why would we? Our civilization thrives on achievements, it is achievements and goals that have made us advance so much in terms of technology and knowledge, but…did it also help us advance as human beings? (yeah I know, sounds like a cliché question, but try to bear with me).

In my opinion, this advance that we are achieving as a society and as a culture is coming at an extremely high cost – the cost of the individual’s happiness. Here is why:

Let’s take a very trivial example. We watch a lot of tv, movies, read a lot of magazines every day (at least most of us do). All of this has a profound impact of how we perceive life. We see that some rich people are smiling a lot, and they own an expensive and nice looking car. With time, we start associating things: having a nice car = happiness.

So we start saving up for that car. We go through a lot of ordeals, from doing extra work, to cutting down on our expenses, saving up every penny we can, taking credits, etc. We are willing to do a LOT for this car because, in our minds – this car, this ACHIEVEMENT, is our key for becoming a happier person.

We do all of those things that are supposed to get us the car, most of the time becoming much more overworked and stressed out than we were before, even though we may not realize it. This whole process slowly but with no mercy drains up bit by bit our life energy. But we accept it and don’t worry about it, because – in our culture – we are taught that in order to be happy, you must ACHIEVE. And in order to achieve, you must, in a way, accept suffering. So we don’t protest, we want to go for that car.

A years or two later, you buy the car. You are overwhelmed for some time, extremely happy with your purchase, which is a normal and healthy reaction for having achieved our goal – we release a lot of adrenalin and endorphins and other enzymes, making us feel happy. We tell all our friends about the car, feeling for a moment “in the spot light”, since everyone is admiring us.

But, a short time later – most likely a few weeks tops – this initial outburst of happiness fades away. And suddenly, we find ourselves no longer that happy. In a way, we find ourselves in back to square one – feeling the same way as we did before we even decided that saving up for the car and purchasing it will make us happier. We ponder on it for a short time and quickly decide that, in order to REALLY become happier, we must achieve a NEW goal; perhaps an even better car, or a house this time? Which is also quite understandable – since that’s how our modern society teaches us: if you want to be happy, you must achieve goals, strive for more, reach checkpoints.

What most of us do not realize during this process is that while we are busy achieving our goal, we are slowly becoming what we do daily. In other words: since you’ve spent the last 1-2 years stressing out way more than usual over how to save up and make money for a car, stressing out and worrying has become basically a HABIT of yours. As strange and unusual as it may sound – you have almost become stress itself. So you suddenly find yourself with a car, but unable to simply enjoy it for a long time. You have gotten used to having to constantly challenge yourself and overwork yourself, that you simply have to continue doing that – now you must buy new speakrs for the car, then change the interior, perhaps buy that cool GPS device you saw. And the circle goes on and on and on, actually without any end. We become more and more used to being constantly busy and constantly fighting for something, that the goals themselves actually stop counting – it’s just about the tiring chase now. That is what I believe our modern society’s most serious illness: the inability to simply enjoy things as they are.

There is this nice analogy I would like to use here: think of a donkey (mind you, I’m not saying any of us are donkeys !) with a stick tied to its back, and a carrot hanging from that stick right in front of the donkey’s face. The donkey keeps on trying to get that carrot by various means: speeding up, slowing down and then suddenly jumping forward, running as fast as it can to try and catch the carrot. Non of it works unfortunately. I believe that for a lot of people, the achievements they set to themselves are like this carrot – they embody happiness into some sort of goal, and keep going for it, but never really reach it. What could the donkey do in this case described above? Well, does it really need the carrot? The donkey could simply ignore the carrot (as enticing as it might look), stroll around a bit, find a nice beautiful spot with grass (and maybe even growing carrots?), sit down there, and chew on it delightfully and with complete joy.

That’s what missing in our lives. It’s not the carrot, but the ability to enjoy that what we have RIGHT NOW.

And mind you, I’m not saying that you should simply sit in your house and do nothing, absolutely not! What I mean to say is that, if you set a goal for yourself, you should be absolutely sure that you are NOT stressing yourself out in the pursuit of that goal. The road to achieving that goal should be very pleasant and relaxing for you. And you must also be able to distinguish between what is actually relaxing for you, and what you actually do in spite of yourself, not because you enjoy the activity, but because you enjoy the idea of achieving the goal itself. The other approach is quite self-destructive in my opinion, and I would personally stay clear of it.

This is something I’ve been very much incorporating in my life lately. I’m starting to slow down every day of my life and just be very mindful of everything I am doing at any present moment. I’m of course not trying to force myself to enjoy simple things such as washing your hands or walking down the street – you can’t force that. What I’m trying to do, however, is to never actually go ahead of myself, and never let my thoughts race into the future. If I’m doing something, then I’m doing it completely relax, and I’m DOING it – not just to get it over with, but simply because there is no sense in rushing, as goals themselves don’t really matter that much; what matters is that you get there peacefully and without damaging yourself in the process. With time, I’ve noticed that this approach to life has made me extremely relaxed on a daily basis, and it has actually resulted in me enjoying everything I do daily, much more than I used to. Do I still set goals for myself? Yes I do, but I try to make the journey pleasant! If I want to lose weight , for example, I don’t go out running just because “running makes you lose weight easily”. I don’t like running (I used to think I did, but I was actually forcing myself to like it just so that I could keep doing it, and it wasn’t worth it in the end). Instead, I ride the bike – because I like it.

Or go to the pool – because I like it. Always try to think of the most pleasant and least stressful ways for you to achieve your goals. Because the happiness from those goals is really a short-term thing, so what will matter in the end is the happiness you get from the achievement, but the happiness you get on a daily basis with all the simple and complicated things that you do everyday.

You are what you do on those regular, everyday days, that somehow go unnoticed almost like they don’t matter. Make them matter.