SLT 022: Life’s Spam Filter & Simplicity for a Lifetime

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Life’s Spam Filter and Simplicity For A Lifetime

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Before we get to the topics…we wanted to let you know that we had a terrific Skype visit with Mohamed Tohami of Midway Simplicity not too long ago and he posted it up on his website, MidwaySimplicity.com. Of course we have links to Tohami’s site in the Simple Living Blogs section of our Recommendations page  here on the website. You can also go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/midway and that will take you right to our Skype video. We had such a good time talking with Tohami and if you like to see us in video action, check it out! Heads up though…Vanessa’s face is cut off in the video. It rendered full screen during the interview but for some reason Skype software cut her off on the final render!

Dan’s Topic: Life’s Spam Filter

Alright so you know I love my Gmail, and I have all of my email accounts setup come into my Gmail account. I’ve had my Gmail account since it first came out in ‘by invitation only’ Beta back in 2004… and it’s done nothing but get better and better, and more powerful. One of the best things about Gmail is its incredibly efficient spam filter. It’s very seldom that I get spam in my inbox because long before I check it, my spam filter has already done what it does best…keep all the junk that I don’t need to deal with out of my inbox so I can focus my attention on the emails that are truly important to me, including the ones that you send (which we love to get, by the way).

Occasionally, I do go back and check my spam folder just to see if something got filtered out that shouldn’t have been. I’ve only had this happen a few times and I can tell you that in none of the cases was this catastrophic. It might have been a minor inconvenience to me, or more importantly, to the sender. But it never really caused any issues that couldn’t easily be resolved.

I also go back and check my spam folder from time to time…not regularly…just once in awhile, out of curiosity. It’s interesting to see the junk that goes in there! As of today….I have 3,576 junk emails in my Gmail spam folder. That’s from less than 30 days ago. Apparently I’m missing out on all sorts of opportunities! Loans, inheritance from afar, opportunities to help the Nigerian Finance Minister with that country’s accounts…countless pharmaceuticals to make some of my body parts bigger and others smaller, and apparently I’m pretty irresistible to foreign women from lots of different countries (but especially Russian women) and the ideal candidate for instant credit! And adding up just the totals on the first 2 pages I have almost $450 dollars of unclaimed Wal-Mart gift cards. I have so many offers for Lasik surgery that I’m starting to think they’re from listeners of last week’s show who heard me tell my story about petting ODC’s tail, aka the watering can. Suffice it to say, I really appreciate all the hard work my Gmail spam folders do for me. It’s just something that is too easy to take for granted but really saves me a lot of time and effort.

Well, you might be thinking this topic is about Gmail or tech. But the reality is, as I checked my spam folder the other day, something hit me. As I scrolled down…and saw the thousands and thousands of  things that I didn’t have to deal with anymore because my filters did it for me, I realized that SIMPLICITY is the spam folder for my life!

Simplicity helps us deal with the physical manifestations of the spam emails we all get. If we let it, it helps us immediately discern what’s important and what’s not…what’s in line with our life plan and what’s not…what’s congruent with our faith, our morals, goals, aspirations, dreams and relationships.

Just as spam filters protect us from following links that lead to trouble such as scams, malware, viruses, deception…so simplicity protects us in our everyday lives from the false promises of more, better, bigger, limited time offer and “but wait there’s more.” Simplicity filters out much of the negative so we can concentrate on the positive. Because the reality is we’re so much happier in a world where less is more, we love what we have, and subtraction nets a greater sum than addition. Choices become easier and we don’t have to triage how we spend our time because we’ve taken on too much. With simplicity we can afford the finer things because we’re not spending on frivolous things. With simplicity, we have the latitude to channel our effort, energy, finances, time, and emotions on all that we’ve determined to be important to us in our life plan.  Simplicity can be our lens, our filter, and our focus.  

So, if you’re a regular listener you’re likely well on your way to simplifying your life. But if you’re just getting started, I’d like to share  a few lines from a reply to a very gracious note we received from listener just the other day. In the note, they mentioned that their lives were becoming “incrementally simpler. I think that’s the perfect way to effect true life changes. In reply I mentioned my thoughts about that. I wrote:

“I think making small incremental changes like you’re doing is right on track. It seems like a lifetime ago, but “back in the day” when I used to jump out of planes for a living, we had a saying when inspecting parachutes and rigging for drops: “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. While the context certainly is different I think the same guidance applies to any changes we make in our lives. Slow and steady wins the race.”

So if you think you’d like to simplify your life a bit, don’t feel like you have to make changes overnight. Sure, take action, that’s how things get done…but don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” you own, the stacks of files, the digital clutter, and lack of white space on your calendar. Take some time to visualize how you want your life to look. Make small incremental changes. Be confident that low and steady wins the race. Keep plugging away. Make lots of little positive decisions and changes. Over time, and before you know it, simplicity will become a spam filter for your life too.  And things will become so much easier. Trust Vanessa and me…you CAN do this. It is so worth it. And we’d be happy to be able to help out along the way. You can reach us through the comments or email us at Dan@SimpleLifeTogether.com or Vanessa@SimpleLifeTogether.com

Vanessa Topic: Simplicity For A Lifetime

Recently I’ve worked with a client who is managing the estate of a loved one she lost.  She loved this family member dearly…I mean…truly loved and admired her. It’s been an emotional time just dealing with the loss.  But making matters very difficult, is that she’s now having to manage the estate…the estate of a hoarder.

If you’ve seen shows on television (Hoarders or Hoarding, Buried Alive) you can see how challenging it can be to live with someone who suffers from hoarding.  It’s painful, frustrating, and heart-wrenching…especially when it’s someone you truly love.

And it’s just as frustrating…or even more so after a person passes away.  Not only are you grieving the loss of a loved one…now you’re faced with mounds of reminders of their life. Some good, some bad.

You start to ask why?  What were they thinking?  What were their intentions for all this stuff?  Why did they hold on to all this junk? And why is all this really cool, valuable and sentimental memorabilia stuffed under mounds of trash?

Then the hard realizations start to set in….why did they shop and collect so much?  Did this stuff make them happy?  Were they truly happy?  Did they really plan on living their life in and under all this clutter…sharing it with rodents and their feces? Oh gosh...was all this stuff a way to fill a void in their life?  How did I not see it before? How could I not help them?  Dammit…why didn’t I help them!!!

And then you’re left with filtering all that stuff.  All those reminders…spending hours, days, weeks and often months trying to discern what to keep and what to let go of.  Trying to put the pieces together to finalize wills, financial documents and what to sell, give away, or trash.  It’s exhausting!

But there is a silver lining here…a bright side if you will.  One of the greatest things that comes out of dealing with a situation like this is that you put your own life in perspective.  You start to analyze how you want the end of your life to be…not just for yourself…but for your loved ones.

So what I thought I would do is share some of the recurring mistakes I’ve seen folks make that lead to difficult end of life experiences and offer some ideas to make it smoother.

Regardless of if you’ve had to deal with the loss of a loved one or not, I think there is a lot you can learn on how you can deliberately live your life and potentially alleviate a lot of heartache and pain for your loved ones.

1. Start with the End State:  We foot stomp this practically every show but it’s sooooo important!  I see this as one of the major things missing when it comes to dealing with these types of situations.  How do you want your life to look in the end?  How do you envision your loved ones handling your estate and affairs?  I’m sure most of you don’t want to be an inconvenience right?  I know I don’t want to be a burden or inconvenience to my loved ones.  I envision the executor of our wills/estate being able to access our most important information in one spot that answers as many questions as possible so that there’s not a lot  of “thinking” to do on their end.  Our wills outline our intentions with our things and our bodies. All of our account information is in one spot (banking, savings, investments, property, vehicles, insurance, other valuable property, etc)….and any other important info like special notes or letters to loved ones are there too.  One-stop shopping….that’s key!

Still thinking about the end state…I also don’t want my home to be a burden when it comes to selling it.  Let me just tell you…if two homes were identical as far as having the exact same items and number of things in them…a home that is unorganized and cluttered is a heck of  a lot more difficult to prep and sell than one that is organized.  A loved one is going to have to invest a lot more time, energy and money (like my client) prepping it to sell.  Is that a burden you want to pass on to a loved one? Probably not.

2. Evaluate Your Multiple Streams Of Clutter:  Often times we have too many streams of clutter flowing into our lives but little to no streams flowing out.  We have streams of clutter flowing in in the form of gifts, mail, flyers, schools, paperwork, holiday gifts, shopping excursions, hobbies (oh the hobbies), awards, travels, hand me downs, freebies, etc.  But rarely do we have streams flowing out.

There are a couple of ways to navigate these streams.  You can ONE…dam a couple of them up to stop the flow!  Or TWO, create new backwards/outward flowing streams to get clutter out.

Dams can be in the form of budgets (not allowing yourself to spend outside your means)…limiting exposure to advertisements on the internet (FB) and television…or limiting yourself to random shopping trips.

One example of creating a stream to flow out some of your clutter is practicing the one-in-one-out rule. They can also be clutter busting routines like systematically editing your mail and paper clutter on a daily basis or organizing different areas of your home on a monthly or quarterly basis.

3. Establish Clear Boundaries For Yourself:  How many hobbies can you possibly have and truly enjoy?   I see this time and time again where people have a need for a creative outlet (which I think is incredibly important), but have too many hobbies.  I can’t tell you how many empty scrapbooks I’ve come across…or shelves of unused tools and supplies (like sewing material) in the homes I’ve worked in.  Try and pick just a couple at a time, and if you want to start a new one…have a system of evaluating what stays and goes…it may be a hobby altogether.

You can also establish boundaries physically…like actually enjoying the “white space” or “margin” in your life like Dan refers to.  You don’t have to fill your calendar with events to stay busyor fill every shelf and wall in your home.  Leave time to breath and relax.

How about setting boundaries with gifts that you receive.  We’ve started doing this with our families.  We tell them we’d much rather enjoy an experience rather than a “thing”…like dinner at a nice restaurant… or a play or sporting event….or just plain cash is nice!   Express your boundaries to your loved ones…it’s ok….if if they don’t understand… put it out there anyway.

Boundaries for gift-giving. Again, I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve been in where clients have closets…sometimes rooms full of items intended to be given away as gifts.  It’s like it’s an excuse/justification for buying that post-holiday bargain!  Don’t do it.

As with any shopping whether it be for gifts, clothes, or groceries…shop with a purpose.  Don’t get things just because it’s a great deal…or maybe you could use it someday…or that you’ll need it for your future hobby…or that you might sell if for a crazy amount of money on Ebay.  Be mindful with your shopping.

4. Establish Defined Homes For Your Things:  Like I said earlier.  If you don’t have homes for your items…you’ll end up purchasing the same things over and over again because you can’t find them.  That’s what I notice time and time again with many of my clients.  Because they can’t find what they are looking for they go out and buy it again.  You can save loads of time and money if you create zones and homes for you things.

Having defined homes for your things is also very beneficial when it comes to managing an estate.  Even if you have a lot of stuff, if it’s organized…it’ll be much easier for your loved ones to know exactly what you have and they’ll be better equipped to make speedy decisions on what to do with things. I spent hours sorting through items that were scattered throughout my clients home and property.   Just when you thought you had all the pottery and dishes together, you’d find 10 more boxes in a shed.  Or all the family photo albums…then you’d find a random box or album in a box of miscellaneous items. Too much time and effort will be wasted. And even worse…you risk the possibility of something valuable or sentimental being thrown away because your loved one gets fed up and just decided to toss it all!

So, those are just a few things to think about as you look ahead to your future and the future of loved ones.  None of us like to think about end of life…it can be sad.  But reframe your thinking about it…think about how you can live your life now with a plan and with a purpose.

No, you won’t see the benefits immediately but you will see them as you drift along on those uncluttered streams of life...leading a course for your loved ones to navigate easily on.

I don’t know about you but I’d much rather be remembered as someone who loved and cherished her life and loved ones…not just in the moment but even in the end.  Life should be celebrated not just at birth and in the middle…but also in the end.

Thing Segment

  • Dan’s Thing: Simplifying My Wallet and CardStar App
  • Vanessa’s Thing: The Truth Hurts But Can Lead To Positive Action and the movie Hungry For Change

Links

Midway Simplicity

Belkin Travel Surge Protector

Vanessa’s Charity Water Campaign

Hungry For Change Movie

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3 thoughts on “SLT 022: Life’s Spam Filter & Simplicity for a Lifetime

  1. Great post! I tell clients. Don’t fret over getting it all done. It took you years to collect. It will take some time to simplify. Not as long though.

  2. Dear Vanessa, I am still working through old episodes and just finished this one (22). I was very pleased to hear your nod to the Dermatology world. Thank you for your candid and honest discussion about your skin care (your past sun abuse — as if we didn’t all do too much sitting in the sun “back in the day” — and your new habits to practice “safe sun”, as we like to say in the Dermatology world, because it is never too late to care for your skin). I wish more of our patients took our advice (as you have). Thank you, again for the positive role-modeling!!

    Brooke in Boulder, CO