Fiscal and spacial constraints forced me to really evaluate the lifestyle I wanted to lead after moving to an apartment in a new city just over a month ago. In the end, I made some rather counter-cultural decisions. I currently have no:
1. Wireless Internet Access
I am one of those people who struggles to turn the computer on just for a few minutes to accomplish a well-defined task. Somehow, I always discover a trail of websites on something wildly interesting that I just have to learn about right away. Minutes turn into hours of lost time. My hope is that by restricting internet access to only one part of the apartment, logging on will be enough of a pain that I won't just do it as a bored reflex. You only need to check your email or read the newspaper so many times in one day.
Historically, when I am eating alone I tend not to make as much of a nutritional effort as when I am cooking for two people or more. My hope is that the absence of a microwave will force me to pay more attention to what I am eating and make healthier choices.
This decision was of a practical nature. Essentially, you could fit all of the dishes I own into a dishwasher at the same time. The idea of having a dishwasher only to run it every 3 or 4 days seemed rather inefficient to me (and, frankly, smelly).
I have been offered two free television sets, so the absence thereof is a conscious choice rather than one born of economic necessity. The idea of refusing an offer of a free television has really perplexed a number of people. It's not that I have anything against television -- the problem is more an issue of self-restraint. Turning on the television is just so easy, and the hours just melt away. By not having access to cable tv, I'm finding that I suddenly have a lot more time for other hobbies such as yoga, piano, and painting. And, many shows are available online to get my 'fix' of pop culture.
Bonus: the money I am not spending on cable every month can be put against much more memorable social outings that I might not otherwise be able to afford.
The decision not to have a car was entirely a financial one. I have had a car before, and so I am very well acquainted with the convenience that this brings. Grocery shopping via public transit in minus 30 degree weather is not a treat no matter how you cut it. However, because I do not own a car, I was able to rent an apartment in a wonderful neighbourhood known for being especially pedestrian/public transit friendly (and conversely, a real nightmare to find parking in). I also. plan to look our local car sharing program.
And yet, I can honestly say that I feel like I live a life of luxury. I wouldn't want more square footage - even if I could afford it - because being able to clean my entire living space in under an hour is great. My neighbourhood is terrific, with tons of things to see and do. I am enjoying the extra time my lack of television watching and internet surfing is giving me by pursuing long-neglected hobbies. I have wonderful friends who I visit with regularly. And, the money I am saving by leading a simpler lifestyle is allowing me to do things like purchase a gym membership and pay off my student debt more aggressively. I'm a happy girl.
Have you made any decisions to simplify your life? If so, what did you do?
Note: This post concludes the Time Management component of our month of Gorganization. Next, we will look at how to plan for the future/organize our dreams.