Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday / The Chair Today

Monday, October 24, 2011

In Which I Organize My Vintage Tea Stash

A few days ago, I attempted to be ruthless with my (admittedly ridiculously) large stash of tea.  Much of it should probably be consider 'vintage." But unlike wine or Beatles memorabilia, vintage tea is likely not so good. 

Note I said "attempted" up there.  I did discard quite a bit, but there was much I chose to keep.  What I did do was switch the tea from higgledy-piggledy stacks in a 2-shelf cabinet into more orderly single file line-ups in a 3-shelf cabinet.

Here's a picture of the 2-shelf tea cabinet as it was in 2006 (and yes, it looked much the same in 2011!) when I used for an Illustration Friday project:

and here is the tea, a bit more organized:

Doesn't look much different and what's the big deal? Why write a post about this?  

Well, tea is a big deal to me. It's an important part of my daily life, my self-care. Tea is good for me in many ways, both for the physical health benefits, and for the emotional/spiritual benefits of ritual. Sitting down with a nice hot cup of tea is soothing and de-stressing. The motions of tea-making (especially when loose leaf tea and a tea pot are involved) can be calming, almost meditative.

So to have my tea cabinet in order is a big deal.  Most of the tea I kept was Republic of Tea in their nice little cannisters.  My hope is that the tight-fitting lids have kept the tea fresher than the tea in bags in cardboard boxes, most of which I discarded.

And I've decided to make an effort to use that old vintage tea. Now that I can actually see what I have, I'm choosing a Tea of the Day to have for at least one of my several cups. 

Sometimes the Tea of the Day becomes the Tea of Several Days.  I have been enjoying this one very, very much:

So I think this is worthy of a  post  because organizing my tea stash gave me a message about organizing what is most important to my life- when those parts of my life are in order, they are fulfilling in ways that make easier to deal with and let go of the things that aren't really important.

(In the interests of full clutter disclosure, I must note that I still have a great deal of tea in my basement pantry and on the counter in my kitchen, though all those are much newer teas of which I partake with regularity and which have less likelihood of becoming vintage.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Declaring Email Bankruptcy

Today I want to write about what Leo Babauta of ZenHabits calls ‘declaring email bankruptcy’ :
freeing one’s self from the mountain of unread or unanswered email debt that so easily accumulates.

You clear your inbox in one decisive move,  by archiving or deleting EVERYTHING. 

The mail isn’t really gone if you archive, it’s just not in your inbox anymore.   It’s kind of the equivalent of self-storage - not a good idea when you are dealing with physical Stuff, but not a bad idea when dealing with email.

It was very exciting to hit that button that archived well over 3,000 emails on gmail.
And it was more exciting to delete the 1,000+ emails in my AOL account. 

Deleting is truly letting go.
However, I’m glad I archived the gmail, as I have needed to retrieve a couple of things at that mailbox over the last couple of weeks.  But if I hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been disastrous - just more time-consuming to gather the information I needed.

It has been well over a month since I declared email bankruptcy. Right now, there are 0 emails in my AOL inbox, and 2 emails in my gmail - both the latter have been read, but need to stick around a bit as reminders for things that need to be done.

In order to maintain this blessedly minimal inbox, I have:

--steadily unsubscribed from dozens of things, keeping less than 10
--been consistent in quickly handling all the email that does come in
  Read or delete? is the first question I ask for each one.
  If I read it,  my next choice is between these actions:
    --answer now if  at all possible /save for later answering
    --file with an appropriate label in one of my google sidebar files or file in the general archive

98% of mail leaves my inbox, the other 2% sticks around until I take whatever action it required. I review those stick-arounds often and make sure to deal with them in a timely fashion.

The result of this cyber decluttering is very satisfying and I’ve extended it to the way I keep my computer desktop and files. Since I got a new computer last month, it has been very easy to start off with a clean slate. All my files from my old computer are in one file, sort of the equivalent of my email archive.  I am slowly pulling out what I need, and handling it in a much more organized fashion.  I have very little on my desktop these days.

An important part of both decluttering the mailbox and the computer is finding a way that works for you to maintain the lack of e-clutter.
Limit what comes in.
Find the simplest way to deal with what does come in.
Deal with it regularly.

Hmmmm….exactly what works with physical clutter as well!