5 Days, 6kg

I will be flying to Jakarta this Thursday to attend We The Fest. Aside from Laneway, this has been an annual thing for me, my bestfriend, and my sister. It’s so nice that this year, Allan and his brother will also be joining us.

I started diverting my expenses from foods and clothes to music festivals since last 2013 when I made the conscious decision of spending more on experiences than material things.  I save up for my walwalan expenses every 4th quarter of the previous year in anticipation for the 1st quarter music festival season. To make sure that the gigs/concerts I go to will be worth it, I make sure that the artist lineup are all in my Band Bucketlist. Else, I wouldn’t spend a peso for it.

When it comes to traveling, I’m pretty sure I’m also in the top 10% of women who pack light. I do this by not availing check-in luggages, especially for trips that are only 1 week long. This helps me manage my airfare cost and shopping expenses. I get to stick to the 7kg carry-on luggage allowance by keeping these 3 things in mind:

  1. My clothes and shoes should have one color theme for easier mixing and matching. In my case, it’s obviously black, white, and gray.
  2. I only pack the exact number of clothes and toiletries for the whole trip. In my case, I wear 2 pairs of clothes and undergarments in a day – one for sleeping, one for going out. Of course there will be exceptions depending on the purpose of my travel.
  3. I ask the hotel/hostel/Airbnb owner in advance if they have towels and a hair dryer in advance so I won’t be packing my own.

I applied these 3 rules to my upcoming trip. Here’s how my things look like:

Clothes + Undergarments

We’ll arrive in Jakarta on the 12th, then fly back to Manila on the 16th – that’s a total of 5 days. This would mean 5 pairs of clothes for going out, 5 pairs for sleeping. My travel wardrobe is very no-frills and functional. I make sure I look decent enough in it, while at the same time comfortable enough to walwal in it.

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I’m very very OC about undergarments that’s why I overpacked this item.

Toiletries

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I buy the travel size packs of my everyday consumables. For my shampoo and conditioner, I use the sachets so I can throw it right away. Though its weight is negligible, it makes a huge difference in my luggage’s physical space.

Other Items

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  • We will have a 6-hour layover in Singapore going to Jakarta and back to Manila so I packed my Aquazorb towel so I can freshen up during this time. I seriously swear by this product – though it’s only a few inches bigger than a regular hand towel, it’s super absorbent it can dry up my whole body, including my hair.
  • Instead of packing isopropyl alcohol or hand gel, I replaced it with wipes as it’s easily disposable and more portable.
  • My slippers and laundry bag are staples for me.

Combining all these, here’s how my luggage looks like and how much my luggage weighs:

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5 days worth of stuff, weighing only 6.7kg. If I bring my laptop and jacket, the 7kg is still more than enough. It also helps that my luggage is lightweight. Come to think of it, I can actually fit these in a backpack. But yeah, I don’t want to roam the airport with a bulky thing on my back, so this would definitely do.

I’m ultra conscious of making the most of all experiences I go through. Taking away mundane things from my mind like clothes and toiletries allow me to put more focus on the experience and be present in every single second of it. I hope this minimalist take on  packing/traveling was helpful so you can genuinely enjoy your trip.

With that, I say walwalan na, guys.

Daily Declutter: Phone

If you think getting rid of your physical stuff is tough, wait until you try decluttering the “soft” stuff. I’m pertaining to the documents in your laptop, apps in your phone, photos and movies in your hard drive, mp3s in your iPod – basically, all your files. What makes these hard to delete is because of its non-physical property. Just because there’s no hard evidence that it’s there does not mean it’s not taking up space.

I’m guilty of being a hoarder of the soft stuff, especially when it comes to my mp3s. I’ve been holding on to songs and albums in my iPod that I haven’t listened to for years now. Up until this day, I find those hard to delete because of “just-in-case” days when I suddenly feel like playing my #TBT/#FBF tunes. Anyway, I’ll write about my mp3 player in a separate post as I feel this will be a huge life-changer for me. But for today, I’ll focus on decluttering another EDC: our phone.

People who have tinkered with my phone have consistently described it as very organized. To give you an idea, here’s how my homescreen looks like:

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Check this out – there’s only one dot at the semi-bottom part of my screen. 

Since I started using a smartphone, I’ve always hated flipping through countless screens just to look for an app. Smartphones are supposed to make our lives easier, but it has been doing the opposite. Our cluttered devices prevent us from becoming more effective because it is full of apps that distract us from what we intend to do. Instead of making us feel more in control, we’re more out of it because we have access to all this digital freedom which, sad to say, is used irresponsibly.

This realization has enabled me to create a system that will make my smartphone more value-adding. Here are the things I keep in mind whenever I organize my phone stuff:

  • Starting with my wallpaper, I make sure the background is simple (design- and color-wise) so the app labels are readable even when I’m mobile. I try to avoid using bright-colored images as it is too distracting especially when I use my phone at night.
  • After choosing the wallpaper, I create folders that are aligned with my daily activities (finance, health, messaging, navigation, productivity, social media), and interests (music, photography). All the apps installed in my phone are classified based on these categories
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There’s an “outcast” folder I named Pre-Installed. I prepated that just in case Apple rolls out an option to FINALLY get rid of useless apps.
  • For the contents of each folder, I make sure I only retained those oftenly used. I shortlisted this by going to Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage. From here, I uninstalled apps that do not consume my battery life aka unused apps. It all boiled down to the Pre-Installed apps.

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  • We have this tendency to keep useless apps especially those connected to our hobbies/interests. In my case, this will be music and photography. To make sure I’m not wasting storage space, I only install 1-2 apps per hobby/interest.

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I only have Spotify installed in my laptop. I do not have it in my phone as my iPod has more than enough songs for me to enjoy. This also helps me manage my phone bill, enabling me to spend less on data as what I originally budgeted. I kept Songkick because I want to real-time updates on gigs/concerts happening nearby.

As for my photography apps, VSCO is the only thing installed as it’s the one recommended by my #LifePeg, Ta-Ku (hahahaha). I also kept Google Photos as it automatically backs up the photos I take, allowing me to delete photos saved in my phone. This gives me more space again to take photos.

I hear a lot of complaints about the 16GB iPhone, mostly revolving around its small storage space. To be clear, my phone is the exact same model. But despite all these negative reviews, I’m over the moon satisfied with it.

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I still have 3.2GB worth of free space, which I feel is more than enough for me to get by day to day. With less apps installed in my phone, I get to manage both my phone memory and data charges.

My phone is no longer a distraction. Instead, it enhances my real-life interactions – I pay attention to the people I’m with and the happenings around me as I don’t get sucked in the Bermuda Triangle of videos, memes, and newsfeeds in my device. If I do use it, I only whip it out to capture moments I want to remember forever.

My phone declutter has significantly improved my daily routines. By simplifying my digital life, it has helped me worked smarter – exactly what it’s purpose in our life is supposed to be.

Allan x Minimalism, Pt. I

In a span of just a month, minimalism has tremendously improved the quality of my life. Allan is the primary witness of these changes that he even pointed out in one of our conversations that I’m starting to live like Tim Ferris (huge compliment, if you ask me). I became aware of Tim Ferris through Allan because he kept raving about how Ferris has learned so many new skills by reverse engineering and automating processes of these regular tasks to become productive in more value-adding aspects of his life. Minimalism, in a way, is one of the hacks that I feel can help a person become more productive. By removing all the distractions and clutter in your life, you are able to allocate most of your bandwidth on more important things.

For those of you who don’t know Allan, he’s ultra passionate about business growth and goal setting, and achieving these through transparency, accountability, effectiveness, and efficiency. Since he himself is an advocate of  productivity and has seen how minimalism has positively changed my everyday life, he warmed up to the idea of decluttering his own stuff. The lowest-hanging fruit, according to him, would be his closet as it is the least organized aspect of his room.

And so yesterday, we started his journey to minimalism, starting off with his clothes. Days before our decluttering weekend, I asked him to start pondering on these things:

  1. his wardrobe’s theme/color scheme
  2. what events/occasions he sees himself attending within the year

Answering these were no-brainers. We have very similar tastes in clothing, so the answer to the first item will be white, gray, and black. As for the second point, we’ll pretty much be going to the same occasions as we’re each other’s +1s.

With these in mind, shortlisting his stuff was manageable. Here’s a pre- and post declutter photo of his closet:

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Before decluttering, he had shirts and pants hung outside his closet, and the doors are so hard to close as it was literally overflowing with clothes that haven’t been used over the years. It may look like we just neatly folded his shirts, but for your perspective, we actually got rid of a bed-full of old clothes. Here’s a photo of the minimized pile, placed right beside his bed for size impression:

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He’s super happy with the turnout of this decluttering process that he’s even considering shooting his video courses here instead of renting a studio which would cost him a few thousand bucks. Today, he said it was so easy to dress up and decide what clothes to wear as his closet is now easier to navigate; he doesn’t need to dig through the pile of clothes he hasn’t used for many years now. What was left are the pieces he sees himself wearing everyday and in the next 90 days.

This exercise, he said, has made his room more liveable that he wants to declutter the rest of his items. I’m actually excited to help him out again as I’ve started to find decluttering a very therapeutic exercise. We’ll both work on the next phases, and I’ll update my blog once we find the time again. 😎

🔥🔥🔥

2 Things I Learned from a Month of Minimalism

I’ve dabbled with the minimalist lifestyle since 2014, but it was only a month ago when I had the courage to live and breathe it. I started with decluttering my stuff, aiming to own a maximum of 500 items, including my car, undergarments, shoes, books – basically, everything. I purged more than 50% of my belongings in a span of three weeks with the end goal of getting more sleep on a weekday.

It has been a month since I did this exercise, and I’ve been seeing nothing but positive changes in my life. Not only was I able to get more sleep; I also had more time to do things I’ve always felt were impossible to achieve before. I’ve had the time to reflect on my life so far, leading me to shortlist 2 things I’ve learned from my month of minimalism:

Time is the only asset that will make us rich.

We’ve all been brainwashed to believe that money is the only thing that can augment the quality of our life. Most of us do this by buying things. I know this because I was in the exact same situation. During my early 20s, I used to hoard clothes and shoes to impress my colleagues and be the trendiest person in the office. It came to a point wherein it took me almost 2hrs to just prepare to work. My mornings were spent thinking about how it wouldn’t be obvious to my co-workers that I repeated the same shirt from last week. It was hella stressful, I swear.

But now that I’ve significantly cherry-picked my wardrobe to just the essentials, I can finish prepping in a matter of 20mins. Since I started trimming down my stuff, I have more time to do things that add more value to my life. I’ve been exercising, reading, writing, and even interacting with people who share the same passions before my 8am call time to work.

This time surplus has made me richer, qualitatively-speaking. My wealth is now defined by having a healthy, meaningful lifestyle aligned to my values and the things I deeply care about. I’m improving myself and the different aspects of my life with the endgoal of helping and becoming more valuable to the people around me.

We are all equally given 24 hours in a day to do the things we want. If spent wisely and meaningfully, I’m sure we won’t be living in regret. Money is only an added bonus; it won’t even be used if we don’t have time spend it.

Decision-making is now easier because I know who I am and who I’m not.

A major pre-requisite of my minimalist journey was establishing my taste based on my personality and values. Because I’ve set a system to identify what best represents me as an individual, it’s now easier for me to make decisions especially those involving material things.

During a workshop I attended for work a few weeks back, the concept of decision fatigue was brought up. The speaker mentioned that we make approximately 35,000 decisions on a normal day. Unfortunately, the quality of our decisions degrade as we go about the day because we get tired physically and mentally. Studies also show that major decisions are best done in the morning because that’s when we are in out optimal mental and physical state.

The fact that I have significantly improved on my morning rituals is a very comforting feeling because I know I’m saving my best self to things that matter most. I’m reserving my precious human bandwidth in making the best decisions for my work and education.

In just a matter of 4 weeks, I already felt notable improvements in my life – I have deeper conversations with friends, I sleep better and exercise more frequently, I get to enrich myself by listening to podcasts and reading books/essays/articles that will help me become better in my craft. By owning less material things, we are given the chance to allocate our time, money, and energy on relevant, memorable, non-depreciable stuff that we can take with us even to our deathbed – relationships, health, passions.

Daily Declutter: Sharing is Caring

Coming from a super hectic week, I only found the time today to clean up and inventory the stuff I’ll be giving out from my last declutter session.  Originally, I was supposed to put them up for sale using a some sort of “name-your-price” scheme, but I realized this was not aligned with my values.

As much as I want to earn extra income from my stuff, I realized I want to share the things I used to find valuable before to people who would find them valuable today. After all, the feeling I’d get from sharing my stuff to people who would appreciate them means more to me than profiting from it. I know I sound so preachy, but whatever. This is what makes me happy, so I hope you’ll be happy for me. 🙂

Anyway, here are the stuff I’m sharing to all of you. I’m putting this up for grabs to my Facebook friends. I’ll upload an album on Facebook and those who comment first will get first dibs on the item.

BOOKS

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(L-R) Marley and Me, The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday, The Birth of Venus, Never Mind the Bollocks: Women Rewrite Rock, Way Past Cool, My Sister’s Keeper

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(L-R) Cross, Secrets of Angels and Demons, I’ll Be Seeing You, Fruitcake, Rant, Until You

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100% Official Justin Bieber – First Step 2 Forever: My Story

CDs

IMG_6917(L-R) Crash by Dave Matthews Band, Pulp Freakshow by Various Artists, Mantra by Agaw Agimat, Elemental Chill Vol.3 by Various Artists, Tell All Your Friends by Taking Back Sunday, Morning View by Incubus, Five Stories Falling by Thursday, A Crow Left of the Murder by Incubus, Scarlett Walk by Tori Amos

IMG_6920(L-R) Full Collapse by Thursday, Techy Romantics by Techy Romantics, Guilt Show by The Starting Line, Tugish Takish by Pedicab, 4th Degree Burn by Slapshock, Marquee Moon by Television, Grace and Dragging Her Wings by Don’t Forget Clementine, Suwerte by Narda, Kitsilano by The Roman Foot Soldiers

TOYS

There you go. I’m giving these all away. Will arrange a meetup, and I will use this as an opportunity to catch up with you over coffee. 🙂

My Journey to 500, Pt. III: The Last Stretch

Done with my clothes, done with my shoes. This morning, I decluttered all remaining stuff that are just gathering dust in my room. The task was actually simpler and easier compared to the first two, partly because getting rid of stuff that aren’t useful is a no-brainer.

While I was gathering all my things from all corners of my room, I was trying to recall why I even bought them in the first place (please refer to the GIF below). What automatically came into mind was my attempt to start a collection or have some decorations in my room. I realized these reasons are just plain illogical and mundane. I felt deceived – I spent my hard-earned money on such useless, depreciating stuff that I could’ve used for a vacation somewhere or even deposited in my trust fund.

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WHY????

With this in mind, I immediately dove into my shortlisting:

ACCESSORIES: Watches & Jewelry

Women my age would normally have more than 1 pair of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. But for me, I haven’t been (and am not planning to) buy those diamonds. I have nothing against those who do opposite. I’ve just been more practical and secure as I’ll feel like I’m in danger all the time. I don’t plan to be mugged again, and don’t want to potentially put myself in debt. So no, thank you.

Currently, I have 9 watches and 10 pieces of jewelry. I only use here my pearl earrings and black watches, so it was pretty easy to trim it down. Here’s how it looks like now:

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What’s good about these chosen pieces is that it also matches my neutral wardrobe. This saves me so much time again as basically I have no other choice but these 5 items.

BAGS

For someone who hates bringing bags, I have quite a lot. I have 17 bags for different occasions in different shapes, sizes, whatever. But examining this loot, the ones I regularly use can be counted in one hand.

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From 17, I’m left with 6 –  1 backpack, 1 totebag, 2 satchels (small and medium), 1 carry on luggage, and 1 medium check-in (not in the photo). Each has a purpose in my life, and there are no “just-in-case” items.

BOOKS & MUSIC STUFF

Just like any other person, I feel this high whenever I see the spines of my CDs and books neatly lined up on my shelf. Unfortunately, this feeling is also temporary. After that fleeting moment, I go back to my normal routine and forget that I even own those items.

I checked out our ceiling-to-floor shelf here in my room and I tried to recall which books and CDs are actually mine (meaning I bought with my own money or given to me). I can only pinpoint 26 books and 30 CDs/music-related items. Here’s how it looks like pre- and post-declutter:

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For my CDs, I just kept with me all old Incubus records (Fungus Amongus, Enjoy Incubus, SCIENCE and Make Yourself) because Brandon Boyd wahahahaha. Good thing I have my 120GB iPod Classic so just in case I feel like giving these up again, I’ll just burn and upload it.

As for the books, I only left with me those I haven’t finished yet. The rest are up for grabs. I’ll post in a different entry all the items I’m selling/giving away 🙂

CONSUMABLES

For these items, shortlisting my toiletries was too easy since my hygiene/kikay routine has been minimalist ever since – wash, exfoliate, moisturize, brush teeth, take a bath. I don’t wear makeup (therefore I don’t own one) so this was not much of a hassle.

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I just removed all redundant items like the lotions, EDTs, and the depilatories. I don’t need to have more than one of those all at the same time.

GADGETS & SCHOOL SUPPLIES

This was harder to trim down as most of the things here I use daily – laptop, cords, pens, notebooks, powerbank, USB sticks, etc. I have approximately 20 pens, 5 USBs, 6 notebooks, 2 powerbanks, 1 laptop, 4 cords, and 3 wall chargers.

For this declutter process, I used the same principle as the one for the consumables. I just let go of the double-count items like my the pens and USBs since these can be easily bought and replaced. Obviously, I did not let go of the cords as my other gadgets will not be functional without it. Here’s the before-after photo:

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I’m left with just 1 pen, 4 notebooks, 1 powerbank, 1 USB (since I have a hard drive anyway). This is my EDC on a working day. Now that I’ve trimmed it down to just the essentials, my bag will be so much lighter it won’t be a pain on my shoulder.

TOYS

I’ve been collecting Legos since I started working, mainly driven by nostalgia and guilt for not taking care of my toys when I was a kid. When I started earning my own money, I said to myself this is my chance to experience the things I took for granted when I was young. I bought so many Legos everytime I had the extra money. And Legos are not cheap, mind you. Those Minifigures actually cost Php300 each. I could’ve used that to buy 3 cups of coffee each time I work/study out of home.

Buying and playing with the Legos made me happy for just 5 minutes. After I’m done with the assembling, the feeling just fleets away like nothing happened. Same as my book and CD collection, I love seeing them all displayed on my shelf. But after staring at them, I never even bothered playing with it.

These realizations made me want to get rid of them already so I won’t have that sayang feeling anymore. Examining my collection, I only left with me those that are useful and have sentimental value. From a whopping count of 34, I’m down to just 9 (7 here at home, 2 in the office).

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I left my Lego calendar, Lego cardholder, Gundam model kit, Ironman Funkopop, Lego Cars , and the Starwars minifigures for my desk to still have a bit of color and life.

Whew. I can’t believe it’s done. Checking the running count of all my belongings, I did not achieve the 500 as expected. I actually did better than expected!

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Apparently, I just own ~650 items, including my car. With the 3-phase decluttering process, I was able to get rid of almost 60% of my stuff. I’m down to 274. The arbitrary number I set early on, which was 500, was not much of a difference from my starting point. I guess I should’ve inventoried everything from the very start. But hey, this is not bad at all. I’m very very happy with the outcome as I’m left only with items that have meaning and purpose in my life.

In all minimalist blogs, podcasts, articles I’ve read, the concept that was consistently brought up was keeping only things that add value to your life. Ideally, these should make your lifestyle more efficient and effective so you’ll have more human bandwidth to allocate on things that matter most to you, like your passions, health, relationships, etc. Clearly, that Lego Shell truck was not able to contribute anything to my overall improvement as a person. It just gave me temporary happiness, and I felt that for a mere 5 mins while I was building it. All these realizations just made me even more determined to fix this part of my lifestyle. I want to be more intentional in all my actions. I want to put more meaning in my life by exposing myself in things that will contribute to my passions – music and marketing.

So what’s next? I’ll continue giving music marketing advices on Quora to widen my network in the industry, and Allan has agreed for me to help him declutter his wardrobe. So excited. 🙂

Daily Declutter: One In, Two Out

From my declutter session 2 weeks ago, I found two unused clothes that have been sitting in my closet for almost a year now – a black buttondown shirt from Everlane and a black dress from Uniqlo. I remember buying those because I said I had to build the basic elements of my wardrobe.

Was I wrong. I never even removed the tag.

If you’re asking if they’re part of my give-away/resell list, unfortunately no. I decided to keep them because they perfectly fit my three-point “keep list” criteria:

  • They’re within the grayscale color theme of my wardrobe
  • They’re classic-cut pieces, and
  • They’re easy to transition from formal to walwal

I feel this situation can be somewhat considered buying new stuff since they are practically unused. I felt guilty, to be honest. I’m down to just 191 items (175 clothes, 16 shoes) and by keeping these 2, I’ll be up again to 193 (if you round that up to the nearest hundred, that’d be 200).

But then it dawned on me. If I’m really keen on keeping it, and if I feel it really has a place in my closet, then it should actually replace more than one existing item. That’s when I thought of this new principle that can make my decluttering both manageable and intentional: One item in, two items out.

Putting this into action, I immediately raided my closet again and looked for replacements for the two new items. I challenged myself further actually. To put a place for the Everlane shirt, I took out 4 tops. While for the black dress, it took the place of 3 mini (!!!!) skirts (echoserang frog).

This is actually not only applicable to newly-bought stuff. It can also be applied to other existing pieces in my closet – like for instance, I have 4 gray sweatshirts right now. I technically don’t need the other 3 since 1 can do the job. This mini-declutter session has brought my item count down to 186 from 191. Congrats, Tima. 🙂

I keep on saying this in my previous posts, but it’s very liberating to become intentional even in the littlest things, like knowing what the purpose and value of that gray shirt in my life. The whole point of minimalism is having the perspective and knowledge of what is important, meaningful, and aligned to who we truly are. Because we are removing the clutter, our human bandwidth is shifted to the things closest to what we aspire in life.