A Hygge-lism Quick Tip

One of the first steps when adopting a hygge / minimal lifestyle is purging the excess.  This excess is applicable to all facets of our lives, but the area that is typically assessed first is the physical possessions within the confines of our living areas. 

There is a helpful question to ask yourself when it boils down to whether or not something should be kept and is valued.

Would I buy it again at the same price?

Take a look around the room that you are currently in.  

Now picture that room completely empty.  

How many of the items that you currently own, would you buy all over again at the same price point that you paid initially to put back into that room?  You now have the unique advantage of having “test drove” everything that you own.

Sustainable bamboo sunglasses by WearPanda

You can utilize this process for each and every object that you own if need be.  I would not base your decision on what to purge and what to keep solely on this process, but it is a good way to really assess the value that you place on the items that you own.  If you can look at what you own and say that I would absolutely buy everyone of these items all over again, that is fantastic. If you say that you would not repurchase a single thing, that is fantastic as well.  What you are looking for is an honest assessment of what you deem valuable and useful.

Oftentimes, seeing an object for the first time in a store window will invoke false feelings of desire and need.  Impulse decisions more often than not lead to regret later, a buyer’s remorse of sorts. Even purchases that were not made on impulse, but were thoroughly researched and contemplated can disappoint after the fact.

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Junk the Junk (Drawer)

A Hygge-lism How To

Everyone has a junk drawer.  More than one junk drawer is not out of the question either.  Junk drawers are great for hiding junk, a catch all for every small item that doesn’t have a place of its own, and for left over screws and those little Allen wrenches from your latest IKEA purchase.  They put all these little items out of sight, and out of mind.

The problem is that occasionally there is the possibility that there is an off chance there is an item that could be useful, quite possibly, one day, maybe.  All joking aside, there are typically a few items that you use regularly, or just that you should not throw away lurking in these drawers.

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Your initial urge for cleaning out a junk drawer is likely to pull the drawer out and turn it upside down over your biggest garbage can.  While I don’t necessarily disagree with this method, I would hate for you to dump something kind of important.

Step #1

Remove the drawer or drawers, if you can without them getting stuck and jammed, and place them on a table with room for you to sift through them and lay items out.

Step #2 

Remove items that should be kept.  It is very important to define “important” here.  Most items that are important do not end up in a junk drawer because they are important enough to have a designated space.  There are a couple exceptions to this rule though:

Spare Keys – Be it house or car, this is possibly the only “Just-In-Case” item that I recommend holding onto.  If you can’t figure out what the key goes to, you don’t need it.

Tools – There is a good chance you have a few home use tools in this drawer, a small hammer, a screwdriver or two, duct tape etc.

Batteries – Let me specify, batteries that you know still hold a charge.

Step #3

Junk the junk.

Papers – Clear the paper clutter as referenced on my Clear the Paper Clutter Post.

Apply the 24 hour rule – Any items that remain, if they can be replaced within 24 hours, for less than $24 (roughly 22 Euros), throw/recycle/donate them.

Still skeptical?  Place all remaining items in a box, seal it and put it in your garage, basement, attic… If you don’t open that box back up in a month, drop it in the trash.

Step #4

Return the drawer to its home with its few actually useful items.  Take note of the smooth and easy glide of the no longer overstuffed drawer.  Along with that smooth motion you will literally feel the stress melt off of you.  Don’t believe me? Clean them out and see for yourself.

Step #5

Keep the junk out of the “junk drawer”.  The next time that you have leftover parts, or random items that you don’t know what to do with, consider the 24 hour rule, and deal with it right away.  If it takes less than 5 minutes to put something away, incorporate the do-it-now mentality and spend those 5 minutes or less.

Be completely honest with yourself, most junk drawer item candidates will serve the same purpose by simply dropping them into the trash can or recycling bin 

Just-In-Case items are just another way of saying, currently useless clutter, or junk.  Also known as, just-in-case you want to dedicate your valuable time, space and peace of mind and add stress to your life items.  

Check your drawer regularly.  Now that you only have useful items in this drawer, chances are you will use it regularly.  Whenever you look in this drawer, give it a quick once over and get rid of anything that doesn’t belong there.

Step #6

Now that the junk drawer is gone, do yourself a favor and rename the drawer.  Sounds silly I know, but referencing the junk drawer as a junk drawer is setting yourself up for failure.  Go ahead and name it after its purpose or location. Name it after your third cousin if you want, just don’t call it a junk drawer anymore.

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Office Space Hygge-lism

A Lesson in Productivity

You have heard the excuses, “my desk is messy because I am busy” or “It looks messy, but I know where everything is” and of course “That’s how I work, don’t mess with my process”.

Despite popular belief – a messy work space is never more productive than an organized, minimal, hygge work space.  I challenge anyone to prove me otherwise. A desk should have room to work, not be covered in it.

Sitting down at  a messy desk is proven to instantly raise your stress level, and that is before you even start any actual work.  Vice versa, a clean, minimal, organised desk instills a sense of accomplishment and calm.

Waking up your desktop on your computer and phone can have the same effect.  We have all seen the desktops that are border to border app icons, notifications and file folders.  No rhyme or reason, just a random assault on your eyes and mind. You cringe as you watch and wait for someone to locate the file or app that they are searching for.  Precious seconds tick by…

Know what you have and where you have it.  This will make you more productive.

The time that you take now to organize your desktop as well as your desk will be repaid tenfold in small time saving increments over the course of your day.

At first it may seem a little unusual.  When someone asks you for something and you instantly produce it or are able to say you have it or don’t have it without even needing to look for it.  Your coworkers will without a doubt give you an odd look the first time or two they see your clean, organised work space. The inevitable wisecrack will be made about how it looks like you don’t have anything to do when they look at you behind a desk with little to no papers, strewn across every available space.

The same reactions will happen when you wake up your desktop and only one or two files appear on it, or when you unlock your smartphone and there are no app icons or notifications cluttering up the screen.

I warn you, the freedom of less mess and clutter is as addicting as it is beneficial.  Want to see instant results? De-clutter and minimize your most used spaces; office spaces, computer, smartphone.  These are the places that most of most people’s time is spent, unfortunately. You should do anything that you can in order to spend less time in these places and on these devices so that you can spend more time living life.  Improve your productivity so that you can stop working so hard.

Now add some hygge to improve the time that you do have to spend in these places.  Bring the outside in; a plant on your desk, a comfortable chair, a warm inviting memory as your desktop and phone wallpaper and a hot cup of coffee as you answer work emails.

The Travel Tree

Christmas Reminiscing

Souvenirs and trinkets are not my thing.  As you know, I don’t like accumulating and I don’t like clutter.  Traveling really opens you up to the possibility of collecting items in the name of memories and marking the moment.  A small item or two from each place that you visit can really start to add up though, and if you get into the habit of picking up a souvenir or two early in your travels it tends to stick and carry though to all of your future travels.

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I have resisted.  Resisted the snow globes, spoons, shot glasses, coffee cups and little statues.  I have resisted the picture frames, refrigerator magnets, key chains, hats and t-shirts.

Children love souvenir shops though, so whether or not we plan on buying something we always end up walking through the shops.  On one of these many tours through one of these identical cheap trinket stores, my wife and I stumbled upon something that made too much sense to resist.  It satisfied the inner yearning to mark our travels with something small and next to useless, but it did not clutter up our shelves or inflict us with instant buyers remorse after purchasing it.

Figure it out yet?

Christmas tree ornaments.  We began to pick up ornaments from places that we have traveled, and it has turned into a wonderful idea.  Throughout the year we pick these up and pack them away without a second thought, no clutter, no dusting around them, no visual eye sores.

Every December when the time comes to decorate the Christmas tree, we break out the box of ornaments.  We put on some hot chocolate and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. One by one we pull ornaments out, each one with memories and locations that were nearly forgotten about.  We say the names as we look at each one and a memory inevitably follows the location. “Aruba!” I say, “Remember that place right on the beach, we could hear the waves from the room and we sat on the beach and listened to the Red Sox game!”

“Clark’s Trading Post!” my wife says, and my kids follow up with, “Scram you old Goat!”.  This one might need some explaining. Clark’s is in New Hampshire, and it has a train ride that gets chased by the “Wolf man” and whenever he gets too close to the train all the passengers have to yell “Scram you old goat” at him to get him to leave.  It was a lot of fun and one of those memories that gets renewed every December while we decorate the tree.

Each and every ornament comes equipped with at least one or two of these memories.  We get to end our year reliving our travels, and then we start the next the same way as we take the ornaments back down and pack them up again, no mess, no clutter.  Next Christmas they will be pulled out again and most likely there will be a couple more to add to the tree with a couple more memories attached to them.

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Laundry Room Hygge-lism

Simple and functional.  The two adjectives could easily describe just about any aspect of minimalism.  The addition of comfort and outdoor accents transform it from minimalism to hygge-lism.

The laundry room is an often forgotten about space, more utilitarian than decorative.  Just a few simple items can make a world of difference to keep you from cringing every time that you walk into the room.  

A homemade stained wood shelf adds the outdoor element, helps clean up the visual clutter, keeps you from storing items on top of the washer and dryer which inevitably end up being shaken and vibrated off and serves as a folding area post drying.  A matching shelf higher up is pleasing to the eye and storage baskets are a warm addition to the decor. The always useful clock is a quick reference for laundry time management.

A wooden crate between the washer and dryer allows for quick access to the laundry essentials.  The glass on the shelf is perfect for the inevitable change and small toys that WILL be found in the laundry, especially when small children live in the house.  Over time quite a bit of money can accumulate as well, living in Europe where coins can value up to 2 Euro’s really speeds that process up. You can always find something fun to do with that money at the end of the month, or better yet, invest it and see how much you can turn that forgotten about change into.  Every penny counts.

Some would argue that baskets and wall decor are not minimalism, but this is an unfortunate misnomer.  Minimalism and Hygge are about calm, simple yet functional, stress free spaces, not stark walls and cold rooms.  The baskets are great for storing extra consumable items so that you do not find that you are out of detergent at the most inopportune time.  Simple pieces of art or photos on the wall are pleasing and calming to the eye and have a way of relaxing you.  

Having extra anything is not something that I am a fan of, but consumables have more leeway.  While buying 5 bottles of laundry detergent when they are on sale might be a little extreme, 1 or 2 is plenty.  If there is an item that you know will be used over time, does not spoil and can be found at a good price, go ahead and get an extra.  Store it in a basket to eliminate the clutter and keep the space clean and functional.

Kitchen Counter Hygge-lism

Kitchen counters can be a catch all in any household. Not to mention the multitude of cooking gadgets that are enough to overcrowd any size kitchen, and more handy dandy, must have items to make people think you are a master chef are being introduced every day!  Anybody who’s anybody will have all of the most up to date high tech cooking tools right? If your lucky there will still be room on your counter to toss your junk mail once all of your appliances are firmly in place, collecting dust.

Call me crazy, but I like a kitchen that I feel comfortable cooking in, and a counter that has room to prepare food on.  While I am slicing and dicing up some peppers for the frying pan, I prefer to not have my elbows knocking into anything made my Cuisinart, Pampered Chef, Oyster or any of those other pricey paper weights.

Don’t get me wrong I do have an appliance on my counter, but just one.  I have a drip coffee maker. Even that has been considered and reconsidered though, I would really love to switch to a pour over or a french press.  I will make the switch, and when I do you will hear all about it, of that you can be sure. I own a couple more appliances, but they get put away when not in use.  A clean, minimal, hygge kitchen counter is what greets me when I walk into the kitchen and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As you can see, our counter-top is not perfect but it works perfectly as a fully functional and hygge food preparation station. Utensils at the ready, grab and go fruit (and cookies) within reach, a cutting board posted and ready for use and the maybe not for much longer, ever present coffee pot.  Eagle-eyed readers may notice the Amazon Tap standing at attention next to the utensils – I enjoy having music accompany me in the kitchen. There is also a roll of paper towels for quick spill clean up, we would prefer more of a zero waste approach but are not quite there yet.  

Plant life and minimal decorations on the window sill really help to bring home into the house, and bringing elements of outside in is one of the essential ingredients to Hygge.  Minimal, functional, comfortable – Hygge-lism.

The embedded links will bring you to the items that I have researched and contemplated purchasing on Amazon.com – I am in no way endorsing any products or suggesting that you or anyone should buy anything…ever.

Homemade

Less is more, less cleaning, less organizing, less worrying, less time wasted attending to your many many things.

More is the result of less, more money, more experiences, more time doing the things that you really love to do.

Let’s take this a step further, you have less stuff so let’s look at how the stuff that you do have makes you feel.  Having less stuff isn’t the goal, having the right stuff is the goal. Everything that you own should be something that you love.  It’s more that just having items that serve a purpose, your possessions should give you a comfortable, cozy, warm feeling. The Danish term for that feeling is Hygge.  The amount of things that I own is very minimal, the items that I do own are Hygge.

Physical possessions are just the start of Hygge-lism, when you start to apply it to all the other facets of your life is when you really start to feel and see the difference.  Weights are lifted off of your shoulders as your stress recedes. You begin to smile more, laugh more, you start to look forward to each coming day and whatever it will bring. You become closer with your friends and family.  Small annoyances disappear as you start to enjoy the process of daily tasks. The destination is no longer the goal, the journey itself is just as enjoyable. In the coming posts I will give you all the tools necessary to instill Hygge-lism into your home and life, how I apply them to my own and how they have added immeasurable joy to myself and my families daily lives.