This is part 4 of the 7- part simplify for an easier life series.
We feel that a living room has to reflect who we are as a person, and the things in it should so how sophisticated and interesting we are to anyone who enters the room. So we stuff our living rooms full of things. Pretty things, practical things, entertaining things. After all, it’s the room in which we live! At no point do we sit and reflect on how sad a state it has become that objects should indicate who we are to people, not our personality.
Get rid of the TV – The TV is the biggest monster that lives in your living room. It ensures that you don’t live in in your living room but be zombified. It also takes up a huge amount of electricity to run the big screen, and the sky/cable box and the DVD player and the games console. If you only want to remove one thing from your living room, I recommend taking away the TV. It will save you money, save you time and it will make your room feel so much bigger. I have now been without TV for two years, and I really don’t miss it. I can still watch TV shows online (on my laptop) if I really want to. Here are some other people that have given up TV and loved it, such as Courtney Carver, Man vs. Debt, Frugal Babe, and Becoming minimalist.
Reduce sky/cable – If getting rid of the TV altogether is too much for you, how about considering reducing your sky/cable package or getting rid of it? I know it’s scary to go down from 500 channels to 5, but how many times have you found yourself saying ‘there’s nothing on’ when you had the 500 channels at your fingertips anyway?
It’s almost impossible to not be without gadgets these days. In fact, I don’t think having gadgets that make your life easier is a bad thing. Owning more gadgets than you know what to do with and replacing them every time a new model comes out might be a bit excessive though.
Choose multi-purpose devices – consider buying one device that does many things rather than several devices that each do only one thing. I do own an iPod, and it doubles up as my calendar, music player, notebook, alarm clock, timer, travel guide books, eBook reader and much much more. Of course, having only one device to charge means less chargers to own and less electricity to use.
Consider not buying a device – It’s really tempting when the newest model of your favourite device comes out. However, is it really worth buying a new one, when your current device can keep going for at least one or two more years (by which time an even newer model would’ve come out). Another question to ask is do you really need that device? Who here knows someone that bought an iPad1 and had no real use for it? I’m not saying iPads are bad, they are great for some people, but don’t buy a new device just because it’s there. Really consider whether you need it first.
Reduce your chargers – If you have an entire forest of chargers, each with big bulky plug, consider converting to USB chargeable devices. Then you only need to carry one plug that converts to USB, and several cables in one adaptor such as this one to charge many of your devices.
Books, CDs and DVDs
These are the things which we love to collect to show our wide interest in life. We spends thousands of pounds gathering these little trophies that define us of who we are. We put up meter upon meter of shelves in our houses to neatly showcase how much time and money we’ve spent in giving ourselves culture.
Get rid of trophy books & media – when questioned about their mountain of books, CDs, and films, people tend to go on a strange denial rant that goes along a very similar line to that of an addict. ‘Oh I don’t need to keep all these, I could get rid of them at any time, but I spent so much money on them.’ It’s totally understandable to keep books that you know you are going to look something up in, or the novels you absolutely love reading, but what about that mediocre novel that you really had to force yourself to finish and in all likelihood are never going to read again? Why keep those?
Seek in the library first – the best line of defence against book, music and film clutter is to not own them in the first place. That’s not to say you have to ban yourself from new stuff though. Local libraries have been going through some serious transformations in the last few years and you will be amazed at how many great books they have or can order in for you. Most will also let you search their catalogue and place reservations online from the comfort of your own home.
Get free first chapters – one way to reduce buying books that turn out to be not great is by using the sample chapter feature from Amazon. For any eBooks that they sell, you can have the first chapter totally free to see if you like it. You don’t need a eBook reader to make use of this handy service. You can download the kindle software onto your computer, and use that to read the free samples. This feature has saved me from buying so many books that sounded interesting but turned out to be boring or difficult to read.
Staying on top of clutter in your living room is all about asking yourself difficult questions such as ‘am I just keeping this as a trophy?’ or ‘can I let go of the person I think this device portrays?’ So go easy on yourself. See if you can get your partner or a friend to help you and give you encouragement to keep you going. Take small steps (such as tackling one book shelf at a time) and make sure you are emotionally nourished for your achievement in other ways.