Why not ask a professional? Guest Author Crystal Eakle is a licensed professional organizer who brings extensive experience to helping businesses and consumers organize their priorities, processes and possessions. In this post, Crystal addresses the mental challenges of de-cluttering.
Make the dream of living in a tiny house a reality this year. The first step in making it a reality is to get mentally ready for a new and exciting life! Living with less stuff, stress, and obligations allow more time, money, and creativity to be your best self and live your best life.
Simplicity isn’t always a simple journey. The first step is identifying what is most important in your life and then carefully eliminating the rest. Let’s begin by eliminating internal mental clutter.
Addressing mental clutter
Mental clutter is something all of us battle in our daily lives. It can be overwhelming when our minds get noisy. The fear that a deadline will be missed or a loved one’s birthday will been forgotten creates anxiety. Our minds are filled with thoughts, worries, anxieties, fears, memories, desires, questions, yearnings, and more thoughts.
To reduce mental clutter we need to get our minds in a productive state where we are in control, relaxed, focused, inspired, and engaged. Just like clearing clutter from a physical space, we need to decide what is worth keeping and what can be eliminated.
Here’s how to begin
First make a list of the purposes, principals, and priorities that make up what is important in your life. These are the things that you really care about and can’t or won’t live without. Maybe living in a tiny house will allow you to spend more time with family and friends, have time to volunteer and help others, spend more time outdoors, consume less easing the burden on the environment, or get out of debt.
Now make a second list of every small thing that you could, should, or might want to do. The collection device can be a notebook and pen, your physical inbox, smart phone, tablet or computer. From jumping out of a plane to buying a new kitchen trash can, it all goes on this list.
Now review the tasks on the second list. Does this list tie back into the purposes, principles and priorities that you identified on the first list? Which items give your life value and further your goals? Which ones add enjoyment? Which items are negatives that you have no intention of starting? Which items just don’t fit in with your new life?
Focus and begin to work on the tasks that tie back into the purposes, principles and priorities that you identified on the first list and you will begin to notice how much easier those items are to complete. Your mind will be in a productive state when you are working on those items because the tasks are associated with the important things in your life.
In the future, when you consider adding a task to your list, ask yourself the important questions. Does this task tie back into my purposes, principles and priorities? Will this task give my life value and further my goals? Will this task add enjoyment to my life?
Remember - when you introduce new tasks into your life, you immediately associate value with those tasks making it harder for you to give them up in the future.
Just like physical clutter, mental clutter is constantly tugging on you for attention. Stop mental clutter and be your most productive, focused and best self.
Crystal Eakle is licensed, bonded and insured and a member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers), based in Beaufort, SC. She brings extensive experience to helping businesses and consumers organize their priorities, processes and possessions.
Reach Eakle: crystaleakle-at-gmail-dot-com.
Connect with Crystal Eakle's on LinkedIn
Other Posts: Physical De-Cluttering - Mindful Consumption
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company endorses this new Grist chart because it should make you smile AND address key questions about going tiny. If you are considering full or part-time living in a tiny cottage or house to go, this chart is worth a couple minutes. We also offer our two-cents below.
Should I live in a tiny house? (Grist, March 2014)
Primary motivations to go tiny
At Tumbleweed, our mission is to help you turn tiny dreams into reality and we're lucky to hear many reasons for going tiny. Your main motivations often include:
- Home affordability - having resources to either build or buy
- Ongoing finances - getting out of a mortgage (or not taking one), changing jobs
- Home ownership - wanting security of your place, on wheels or foundation
- Environmental impact - reducing footprint, utility costs, whether on or off-grid
- Aesthetics - seeking a nice, archetypal home, seeking a simpler mode
- Adventure - moving elsewhere, wanting a vacation place, new hobbies
- Life stages - graduating, empty-nesting, returning family, caring for others
Can you leap over the stuff hurdle?
The Grist chart asks about your stuff first, which is a funny yet true gut-check. We laughed because it should be as important as your motivations, philosophies and living priorities. In our culture, stuff is a big deal that fills a house. If you're not ready to store, sell, donate or trash your stuff, then (full-time) living in a tiny house is still a dream.
After spending a good amount of time in a variety of living areas, Kendra is seeking something more. Whether living urban, suburban, rural or in the wilderness, there's always a price to pay. Rent payments are neverending, and no kind of investment to speak of. To make a home somewhere so often means signing up for a mortgage or non-stop payment. Kendra plans to build her Tiny Home when the sun comes back to Seattle. From there she hopes build a farm, create a community center and continue her passion of working in outdoor education and community healing. She may even start a food truck (or food cabin on wheels), or help you build your tiny home, or your dream.
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of having a house on wheels to live and adventure in. I asked for one that Christmas, and awoke to a girly RV toy with little dolls. Dismayed, my tomboy heart deflated a little. "No, like a REAL house, on wheels." I was informed there was no such thing. I then realized I was going to have to build it myself.
Twenty years later, I was working as an Adventure Guide in Central America, living in a plastic tarp off very little money. I was trying to figure out a way to acquire a homey shelter that could afford me the feeling of home wherever I went. Rent was a taxing idea on so few dollars, and I had college loans to pay off. I recalled my childhood dream, and began searching the internet for images of 'houses on wheels'. I found Tumbleweed, and was romanced by the visions of their economical warm spaces.
This spring I will be building the Walden, in Seattle, Washington. Once it's built, I plan to continue working in as a youth educator and performance artist and build a community garden and healing center with my partner. We hope to host events such as concerts, farm days, DIY workshops, summer camps, as well as host getaways for individuals and families. You can be a part of the process! Check out the fundraising campaign here.
Thanks for your support!
Therese Ambrosi Smith is a writer- check out her work here. She spent four months constructing a modified Tumbleweed for use as a mobile writer’s studio. She loves cooking and eating as much as she loves writing and building things. One example of a recipe she's cooked in her tiny kitchen - that her guests have loved - is wild rice and mushroom soup. Her regular contribution to this blog, “Meals on Wheels," addresses the challenges and rewards of working in a tiny kitchen.
I love to invite people to dinner -- I like cooking and eating --
but I also enjoy sharing our tiny house.
Folks with thousands of square feet marvel at the comfort possible in
our 286 sq ft home, carved from a single
car garage. With leaves in the table, we handily host gourmet meals for eight.
Recently we downsized our office, building a new space based on a Tumbleweed design. We work efficiently in the 84 sq
ft trailer. As an author, I’m trilled to have my workspace double as a mobile
retreat and guest cottage. An inflatable
bed and RV toilet are employed when we need to house visitors.
We made the decision to rent the “main” house for income when I
decided to live more creatively. The
journey began with shedding a mind-numbing job and the trappings it provided.
Designing a functional living space was task one.
Everyone who decides to downsize - and designs his own house - goes through the
very healthy exercise of defining what’s important. We determined that our most
used room was the kitchen - and we used it for non-eating activity too -- from
conversation to crafts. The table was
central to our plan.
We spent as much time planning the space as building it. Everything we thought we’d need was measured
and plotted on graph paper before the first board was cut. The garage conversion took four months of
weekend work and now, after four and a half years -- and a novel and a half -- I think it was the smartest thing we’ve
Living small became fodder for fiction. My first novel “Wax” was about young women
coming of age in the shipyards during WWII.
If you’re familiar with the history, housing was in very short supply in
war industry towns. Parking Lot C, in
the Kaiser shipyards, became a village of Airstream trailers for the duration.
When “Wax” was nearly ready to print, I was asked to provide two
pages of filler. The printer’s final page “signature” is produced in multiples
of eight, so my 334 page book was a little short. What would be worth printing? (Clue: the women are eating spaghetti in two
important scenes.) Sylvia’s Famous
Spaghetti Sauce Recipe (As adapted for the two-burner propane stove in
Airstream No. 28).
Back home in Kansas City, Sylvia would spend all day on a rich
meat sauce starting with garlic and olive oil and cubes of pork and beef
shoulder, seared at 475 degrees for half an hour. She’d transfer the meat to a
big stock pot with two quarts of broth, veal bones and vegetables. A long, slow
simmer in the broth would tenderize the tough but flavorful cuts of meat, and
to the whole she would add tomatoes and the remaining seasonings. The sauce
would then simmer for another six hours until the meat fell apart. Everyone she
treated to a serving of her Famous Spaghetti Sauce said it was the best ever.
She refined her technique — using ground beef — so she could make
“Camping Spaghetti Sauce”. In her tiny Airstream trailer, with few cooking
utensils, Sylvia did her best to recreate a favorite meal for her friends.
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced onion
¼ cup minced carrots
¼ cup minced celery
¾ lb ground meat – can be pork and beef mixed
1 C whole milk
2 C dry white wine
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes packed in juice
1 Tbsp oregano – fresh, minced
one more tablespoon minced garlic
salt to taste
Melt the butter in a sauce pan over a very low flame and add two
tablespoons garlic. Simmer the garlic very slowly until tender. The more slowly
it cooks, the sweeter it will be.
Add the carrots, onion and celery and sauté until the onions are
soft. Do not brown. Add the cloves.
Add the ground meat and stir to heat evenly for about three
minutes, until the meat is gray but not browned.
Add the milk and allow it to simmer until evaporated, about
twelve minutes; follow with the wine. When the wine has evaporated, add the
tomatoes with liquid and the oregano. Allow the sauce to simmer on the lowest
possible flame, for three more hours. Thirty minutes before it’s finished, add
the final tablespoon of minced garlic. Add salt if desired.
4 Servings Enjoy!
“The time went by so
quickly; we never had a chance to make plans,” Doris said. “When the ships on
the line are launched we’ll be sent home too.”
“Now come on girls,”
Sylvia said. “This is our last night together in The Land of C. Let’s have a
little more optimism. We’ll be at peace soon.” She adjusted the seasonings and
gave the sauce a final stir. Her red hair color was starting to fade. “All
those love-starved men will be returning to wine and dine you marriage-age
treasures. Life will be good,” Sylvia said. She looked at Tilly.
Sylvia drained the
spaghetti into a bowl and loaded three plates. Then she ladled the rich meat
sauce on top.
Tilly took the first bite.
She twirled her fork and wrapped the length of the spaghetti around the tines.
“Thank you so much, Sylvia. I’ll never forget this meal.”
From “Wax”, by Therese
Hi! I'm Nara,
Tumbleweed's staff writer.
You might have seen my name on the bottom of recent blog posts, or perhaps you noticed my face looming over a questionable gingerbread house. Now it's time for a formal introduction!
In addition to managing the blog and talking with you lovely people about your tiny house dreams, I'm in the process of finishing college in the glorious liberal woods of Western Massachusetts. For my what you might call my senior project, I have been attempting to dissect a small but crucial slice of the
American Dream: The American House.
Playing tiny- I had to fend off some small children for this shot
Beginning later this month, I'll
be living in a Fencl on my campus for 120 days. I want to share the benefits
and realities of living small, so I'll be writing about my "Tiny
Semester" on this blog. I'll also be holding several open houses and
informal workshops in the Western Massachusetts area- contact me if you're interested!
I'm so excited to be a part of Tumbleweed, and to pursue these tiny dreams of my own. One of the things that drew me to Tumbleweed was flexibility. Instead of
prescribing one set way to create a structure, Tumbleweed allows for houses and
builders of all shapes, colors and sizes. Everyone is encouraged to create
their own unique take on a tiny house.
To me, creating my own tiny house set-up is the ideal way to wrap up my year of studies. I want to create an interactive, influential space on my campus that represents alternative possibilities for housing. This also presents the opportunity to live off-grid, which is an important step for me. With help from my college and fellow students, I've been
working hard to develop sustainable, low-impact ways of residing in my tiny
house. Hello composting toilet, goodbye refrigerator!
And as I near my final semester of school, I want to try something different: I want to really, truly have to live with myself. To forgo plastic
bins and cardboard boxes of hidden pasts, to be conscious of the line between
useful and excessive. I want to address myself piece by piece, taking it apart,
discarding the excess, and reassembling in an appropriate, Tumbleweed-sized
I will graduate college all too soon, and I don't want to
walk straight into a mortgage. I don't want to be told to buy a house on
unrealistic credit and that it's my fault if I can't pay it. I want to joining
hands with the young people all over the world that are saying "NO!"
to an outdated American dream.
Watch out for upcoming blog posts. Heads up: I'm packing up my life this week, so it's about to get interesting!