Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A look at simplicity

This morning I was running around the house, looking at all the things I had to do and thinking, "My gosh, what do I do first?" Then at breakfast time, "What should I have?" "How should I cook it?" "What dish should I use?" "What should I clean the counter with?" Decisions, decisions...

That was when it hit me. Back in the day, I think we'll all agree, things were simpler. Why was that? Well, I will put forth the hypothesis that it was simpler because there were not as many choices to make in the course of the day! People ate what was in season, they washed with the soap they made, they had the dishes they got when they were married. They had a routine of things to do that changed very little day to day, because they had nothing else to do. They didn't have to make the decision, "Should I check Facebook first or should I have my coffee?" They didn't have to worry about the internet sucking them in when they should have been doing their housework. They didn't have the guilt of food going bad in the fridge, because that was the only food they had--they ATE it.

So I would like to propose a method of simplicity (I have no idea if this has been addressed in a book somewhere. If it has, lead me to it!): make less choices. Create a home in which there are, simply, fewer choices to be made. Only have the food that you need, and eat that. Have a routine where everything has a time and place. Keep the clothes you need, and donate the rest. And the clothing you keep should be simple enough where you don't have to agonize over which top you want to wear with those pants. I'm not an expert on how to make fewer choices, but I'm sure with some practice I could come up with more ideas. The gross-ery store has completely spoiled us. Eight brands of chicken broth. Honestly. Make your own and save that choice. Ten brands of pasta, four brands of flour. Really? Even APPLES have brands now, not just varieties. Too many choices. What does the nearest orchard have? Simple, choice made. And if people would stop throwing out half of what they buy, they could actually afford to pay the price to have local food. The amount of waste this country makes is astounding. And every bit of that waste costs money. Money to buy, and money to dispose of.

Cleaning products--there are like a million things to choose from. Why not just use the simplest things--vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice--and forgo that choice as well?

Can't decide what to do with your time (and therefore end up staring at the computer for hours?)? Why not set a schedule, as loose or tight as you want. Then you are not rushing at the last minute trying to get things done, and at other times, moseying around in a haze. You'll know what to do when. And you won't have to go around making decisions all day.

I believe during the years of our Ford, a lot of research was done in order for people to work more efficiently. I can't remember the guy's name, but this man came up with things like "touch each thing once." When you put your hand on something, make one decision about it, and do that thing. Don't just put it off so you have to make yet ANOTHER decision about it later.

Any other ideas?

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