De-Cluttering is Not Just about Stuff

At the heart of de-cluttering (on the way to simplifying our lives) is the notion that we should identify the essential – and eliminate the rest.

While we generally think of clutter as having a physical form – like objects that you can see and touch – it also extends to other things like:

  • ideas
  • thoughts
  • mindsets
  • habits

I love new ideas…and I constantly think (and write) about them.  I’ll often spend large amounts of time entertaining ideas to the exclusion of other things that I really should be doing.  

I also have a continuous improvement mindset which means that I’ll often be so busy trying to make something perfect that it actually prevents me from just making it good…with the result that nothing happens.  Perfectionism is said to be the mother of procrastination…with which I have enormous experience.

Suffice to say, some people find this irritating.  

While it’s often interesting to reflect on what other people think (another great time waster), I’m really motivated to do something about this because I have a lot of things that I want to do before I depart this mortal coil – and mental clutter is an obstacle to that happening.

Anyway, in my quest to resolve this issue I’ve enlisted the assistance of Leo Babauta – author of “The Power of Less” – The 6 Essential Productivity Principles that will Change Your Life.”

Babauta’s big 6 include:

  • Set limitations
  • Choose the essential
  • Simplify
  • Focus
  • Create habits
  • Start small

Since this is an abiding topical issue in my life, I’m going to commit to a project to fix it.  I’ll be documenting my progress on my Have More For Less discussion forum…HERE…and you’re welcome to join me to see how things are going…and to discuss any aspect of de-cluttering.

-o0o-

De-Cluttering

De-cluttering is the pathway to minimalism…and simple living.

The notion that underpins minimalism is that we accumulate stuff…but we eventually get to the point where that stuff owns us. It determines how and where we live…and what we have to do to buy more of it…and to keep what we’ve got. Then we have to insure the stuff so that, if someone steals it, we won’t be out of pocket.  The theory goes that individual freedom (to large part) comes from abandoning our attachment to stuff.

We find that as we own less, so we have greater freedom to choose where we live and how we live. If life is suddenly costing much less, then we don’t need to spend as much time working…and we’re free to pursue other things like travel, volunteering……anything!

In 2013, we moved from a three bedroom house on 3000 square metres to a one-bedroom cottage on less than a thousand square metres on Macleay Island.  While we welcomed the lifestyle change, an initial declutter was necessary just for us to be able to get almost everything under cover.  This was our first faltering step toward minimalism – and a simpler life.

In the ensuing three years, we slimmed down a bit more, but we still had a 20′ shipping container full of things for which we had a questionable need.  I’d also erected a 6m X 3m shade shed to accommodate the things that would no longer fit in the container.

My living space is just 6m x 4.5 metres (20′ x 15′) but its contents were such that it made keeping the place clean and tidy took more time that I wanted to spend on housekeeping.  My workshop was even worse.  Undertaking any task that required access to a workbench required that I move a heap of things before I could start work.

So, in late May, I embarked upon the third stage of the de-cluttering process.  

I can now walk the length of the 6m x 2.8m shipping container and I can also circumnavigate the bench in my workshop.  Housekeeping my living space now requires less time.

Some of what I’ve discarded will be sold and the rest will be donated to local service clubs.

Another outcome is that I’ve learned that decluttering is an ongoing process.  As I sit at my desk, I can see several items that seem to have escaped our most recent move toward minimalism – and I’m sure that the same applies to the house, workshop and backyard.

I’m also confident that each subsequent decluttering event will become quicker and easier.

-o0o-

Sayonara Aquaponics

In recent weeks, I’ve been reflecting on aquaponics – and its impact on my life.

I wrote the Urban Aquaponics Manual back in 2007 – and then revised it three times – and I’ve been endeavouring to roll out the 4th Edition for several years…but I struggle to make the time to complete the work.

I’ve designed and built a dozen systems…and I currently have my latest creation ready to go…but I lack the motivation to even find the fish and start it up.

I’ve spent about 13 years on various discussion forum and Facebook groups and that has brought me into contact with the full spectrum of humanity ranging from the delightful to the absolute arsehole…and I’m tired.

Part of my problem with aquaponics has to do with my introduction, in 2014, to iAVs…the method that best demonstrates what integrated aquaculture looks is really about.

Suffice to say, I’ve been at the aquaponics crossroads for some time…but the disenchantment has peaked in the past couple of weeks.

About a week ago, Permaculturist David the Good released a YouTube video called “The Aquaponics Delusion – Why Aquaponic Gardening Doesn’t Make Sense” in which he canvassed his concerns with aquaponics.  The ensuing reaction from elements of the aquaponics community caused David to pull the video but the gist of his argument can be found in this article.

While article had some shortcomings, enough of it resonated with me that it became the straw that finally broke the aquaponics camel’s back.

My problem with aquaponics is exacerbated by other personal issues.  Suffice to say, I have too many projects – and too little time – to the point where I’m not achieving anything except to frustrate myself and others.

As things stand, right now, I’ll be selling my latest (unused) recirculating aquaculture system.  I’ll also be calling a halt to the rollout of the 4th Edition of the Urban Aquaponics Manual…at least until I’ve cleared the backlog.

I’m not abandoning integrated aquaculture…simply changing direction. 

-o0o-

Hope for the Best but Act for the Worst

My recent hospitalisation achieved two things.  Firstly, it served as a timely intervention for what might otherwise have been a life-threatening situation – and it provided the opportunity to think about things.

Since this is not the first time that Mother Nature has reminded me that she recycles redundant organisms, I viewed my enforced break as an opportunity to pause and reflect on how I was doing in my quest for happiness through simple living and self-reliance.  Given my circumstances (I’m 66 years old and I’ve dodged two bullets), it’s not unreasonable that such reflection eventually settles on the question of time.

To say that one’s own time is finite, is a blinding flash of the obvious.  Much less obvious for most of us, however, is the question of time as it relates to the planet…or, more specifically, the amount of time that the planet can continue to support its most troublesome organism…the human race.

Scientists are divided into two camps on this question.  First, there are those who don’t talk about it out of fear of the professional consequences.  Then there’s the second group…the scientists who believe that human habitation of the planet is at imminent peril.  The only thing that divides this group is not if…but rather when.

At the other end of the apocalyptic spectrum is Guy MacPherson who says that human extinction is likely by around 2030.  Other scientists have a more optimistic outlook.  For example, a History Channel documentary titled “Two Degrees:  The Point of No Return” predicts that the world will start to really feel the effects of climate change by 2052…with the “end of days” happening in around 2117.

Regardless of where you’re placed on the spectrum, there’s no denying that it’s getting hotter and that this will have serious consquences for humanity.

MacPherson’s strategy for dealing with this?

“I recommend living fully. I recommend living with intention. I recommend living urgently, with death in mind. I recommend the pursuit of excellence. I recommend the pursuit of love.”

While I don’t know who’s right in this debate (although the emerging evidence seems to support the “apocalyptic ecologists”) I’m drawn to MacPherson’s strategy for dealing with the crisis.

Even if we assume that he’s wrong about the whole human extinction thing (much less the timing), his prescription is a sound one for humans living in troubled times.

My approach will be to hope for the best while acting for the worst.

-o0o-

 You’re welcome to put your views…and offer suggestions…and you can do this by joining us over at Have More For Less.

Are You Part of the Solution?

The United Nations has stated that, if we are to meet the food needs of the projected population, food production will have to double by 2050.

A formidable task of itself, this goal is further complicated by some serious environment factors including:

  • Desertification
  • Soil Salinity
  • Erosion
  • Water Pollution
  • Aquifer Depletion
  • Drought
  • Climate change
  • Loss of biodiversity

Any one of these poses a serious challenge – but all of them together place the world’s ability to feed itself at serious risk.  

And it’s risk from which no-one is immune.  For those of us who live privileged lifestyles in so-called developed countries, think about how quickly the food disappeared off the supermarket shelves the last time you experienced a power blackout – or a little riot – or some similar disruption to your otherwise cruisy lifestyle.

These are the times when having money is really not much use at all.  In anything other than a 48-hour ripple, inflation (official or unofficial) will quickly see your money lose its value leaving you to pay exhorbitant amounts just to acquire life’s staples. 

The first part of dealing with any problem is to know that it exists.  

So, now you know…and, quite simply, if you’re not taking active steps to mitigate against the risks to the food chain, then you’re part of the problem.

So, where are you on the problem/solution spectrum?  Do you have any ideas for how to turn this mess around?

-o0o-

You’re welcome to put your views…and offer suggestions…and you can do this by joining us over at Have More For Less.