Water Challenge: 17 day Wrap-Up

I’ve posted a little about my August goal of drinking a gallon of water a day. It’s 17 days in, and I’m extremely shocked that I continue to be on an almost perfect streak.

To hit the goal, I have been using my bullet journal to track daily the number of Kor water bottles I knock back. To hit a gallon, I need to drink five. The fact this bottle is so beautiful definitely helps me remember to put it to work. I left it at the gym once, and left work early to go look for it because I was so distraught.

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The Kor One bottle that goes everywhere with me.

As I reported in my week one wrap-up, drinking this much water makes you pee a lot. This is not all bad – if I wasn’t getting up to pee, I’d spend my entire day sitting on my butt, staring at my computer. This is not a side-effect that has gone away, but I’m not hating it as much. This is also assisted by the fact my office is conveniently near the bathrooms, so I’m not feeling the eyes of the office on me as I trudge to the bathroom for the one thousandth time.

I’ve dropped a little weight, although I would credit this more to starting the Sweat with Kayla app than drinking water – but all of it counts! Weirdly my skin is still not smooth, but I did take a before selfie and I’m crossing my fingers a face-by-face compare will show more results than my very judgmental eyes.

The biggest change I’m noticing is how I turn to water when I have a craving for something. Craving chocolate? Have some water. Craving a hot bowl of cheesey pasta for lunch? Have some water. Craving a coffee? Have some water. A few minutes later I find the craving goes away, and I’m generally feeling much better for it. This has highlighted to me how much health is a mind-game, and how necessary it is to have tools at your disposal to combat moments of weakness. While I’m definitely not against treating yourself or depriving yourself, I do believe in building self-discipline to know the right thing for you. Learning that drinking water addresses the root of many cravings for me is a really big step in my journey to find better balance. I’m looking forward to expanding on that knowledge and finding other tools to help me address cravings and indulgences when they aren’t what I want in the long term. The other big bonus is this saves me a tonne of money I would otherwise fritter away on the vending machine that’s dangerously close to my desk!

Only 13 days left of this challenge officially, but I don’t see it being a habit I want to give up. While there’s definitely no magic in drinking exactly a gallon a day, drinking more water can only be a benefit, and the concrete goal and internal peace I feel about the number five (completely unexplainable but completely there) is helping me keep it up.

27 by 27

The day I have been reminding the boyf about every five minutes for the last week is here – my 26th birthday! Each year I think I will become less fuss-obsessed but the reality is, I just love birthdays. All birthdays – family, friends, and of course, mine 😉 I love celebrations and a chance to recognise how much someone means to me. I love buying (or making!) thoughtful gifts and writing cards. And I love cake. Duh.

A big part of that birthday fuss love fest is the chance to take stock of where I’m at across the core pillars of personal relationships, professional life, financial life and wellness generally. These categories wax and wane each year, but the key theme is that they are pillars to which I reflect on how far I’ve come and to which I can tie new goals.

I have loved my 25th year. It has felt like a whirlwind, but in the best way. I settled into my baby city apartment. I settled into my first official law firm job, and was admitted to the legal practice. I did my first Ironman 70.3. I went to Trinidad and Tobago for an amazing wedding. I opened my first business in the form of a little etsy store! And created a local fitness program for young lawyers. I found ways to say no to things that didn’t fit into my values. I built up some really powerful female friendships and feel inspired and empowered everyday when I spend time with those women. I did my first set of push-ups on my toes. I competed as a national semifinalist in a mooting competition.I’ve stuck to a budget (well, mostly). I made my first commissioned crochet blanket! I’ve begun to distill that which I love about life.

The boyf and I hiked and bonded and found a really great life rhythm together. We struggled through visa woes and job-related sucker punches. We each said goodbye to a grandparent. We supported each other through new starts and complicated times. We started working out together. We began to seriously plan for the future while recognising our future is forever warping and that our hearts are forever spread across two continents. 

And there really is so little more I could ask for. But at my core I am a goal-setter. It is my most favourite of all my hobbies and one of the habits that defines me. As I begin my 26th year, I have set 27 goals to hit (or progress!) before I turn 27. Generally I set hundreds of goals, and life helps me drill down to those that matter most – so it may be that reality gets in the way of some of these. But that’s okay. They reflect my values as I stand here now, freshly 26 and freshly embarking on part 2 of my twenties. 

1. Open an index fund.

2. Open a second facet of my business.

3. Publish another article.

4. Apply to masters at Georgetown.

5. Do a pull up.

6. Finish an ironman 70.3 in 6.5 hours.

7. Maintain this blog and continue to grow my readership.

8. Participate in one handmade market.

9. Make one amigurumi toy.

10. Read 10 books.

11. Go hiking in the Stirling Ranges.

12. Plug in to the Perth female small business community.

13. Write 15 pen pal letters.

14. Learn brush lettering.

15. Volunteer at one big local event.

16. Participate in a national mooting competition.

17. Watch one documentary on a completely unfamiliar topic.

18. Do a handstand.

19. Build a stronger relationship with my family.

20. Save $30,000.

21. Reduce belongings by 25%.

22. Finish project life scrapbooks for 2015 and 2016.

23. Settle as a litigator.

24. Find a flow around our home.

25. Develop my meditation practice.

26. Find peace with food.

27. Embody the spark joy mentality.

There is one secret goal life event for this year I haven’t included – mainly because it is one I have no control over. But I’m positively buzzing for this year of life! Thank you for sharing in it. Now – time for cake.

Inbox Zero

One of the most important habits I’ve implemented in both my personal and work email is reaching Inbox Zero on a daily basis. Email is an integral element of communication and identification now. And as a direct result of using your email as your identity for anything and everything, your email is a hot spot for serious clutter. Since getting rid of clutter is basically the ultimate unicorn goal of life, I wanted to share some useful tips in reaching Inbox Zero yourself.

Unroll.Me

I definitely struggled most with keeping my personal inbox at zero. I attribute this to a lot of things – but mainly that my personal email is just the place where every single online store registration, pointless competition or scoopon advertising email hides and multiplies. I tried the unsubscribe button, but I never seemed to clear all the junk that was already sitting in my inbox, until a colleague told me about Unroll.Me. Once you create an account, Unroll.Me scans your inbox and comes up with a list of all your email subscriptions. You can then go through and select to unsubscribe, keep in inbox or ‘roll up’ – that is, include that as part of a single summary email sent to you each day that gives a quick snapshot of all the emails you’ve expressed an interest in still viewing, without needing to see as a stand-alone item.

If you delete the roll-up email, but want to see what you received that day, you can check out your daily roll up on the Unroll.Me website once you’ve logged in. It’s a really accessible and usable interface, and you can check your past allocations of different lists in unsubscribe, roll up or keep, and change them if need be. To date, I’ve unsubscribed to 261 lists, rolled up 98 lists and kept only 45 lists in my inbox. That means I now receive at most 3 emails a day directly to my inbox, and I can quickly deal with them. My roll up email I receive each morning requires a quick scan of content and is quickly archived. All other emails are read and dealt with, or archived.

Maximise the app functionality

Until it was tragically discontinued, I used the Mailbox app administered by the same team that runs Dropbox. It was a magical app that used the swipe functionality of a smartphone to allow you to quickly and easily sort your emails – whether to delete them, mark as unread, get ‘sent’ to you again at a later date (basically reappear as though they were a new email on the day or a few days before they were actually relevant – great for concert tickets), or get filed away. As an extra bonus, every time you cleared to zero, you got a new daily picture. It was a magical time.

Although Mailbox is gone, the inbuilt Mail app on iPhones now has a lot of the functionality that Mailbox offered, including the ability to easily sort with a swipe. I find dealing with gmail on a laptop or desktop surprisingly clunky as you can’t just drag emails – you need to click to select, then move to folders (although I acknowledge this may be my lack of understanding of how gmail works…). Using the swipe functions is quick, simple, and intuitive, and can be done almost anywhere you go with your phone (which for me, is basically anywhere on this earth).

Rules

Setting up Outlook rules has been critical to maintaining my work email at Inbox Zero. I have no idea how to do them in google, but setting it up in Outlook is a quick process through the help icon. As a result, you can direct all your outside work / personal emails straight to the personal folder, avoiding awkward moments when your boyfriend emails you something ridiculous while your partner is in your office. And you can save yourself from that low-level stress that comes with flagging emails in your core inbox and never dealing with them – the emails are automatically sorted and listed as unread, and you can check the individuals folders as and when necessary.

I recommend starting with setting up rules for friends or family you email often in a non-professional capacity, redirecting those emails straight to a Personal folder. Then you can start playing with rules for certain types of emails you get regularly for certain projects that don’t require immediate attention.

Setting up a simple system of local folders

At work we have an integrated online document management system, which makes filing matter-specific folders very seamless. However, email is rarely limited to work-only matters, and it’s important to have a simple set of folders for filing emails you want or need to keep. I have 15 local folders set up to capture personal emails and non-billable project-specific emails. 15 is definitely more than I would like, but somehow I have quite a few projects going on. The benefit of Outlook is the powerful search function which allows you to find things quickly no matter where they are, so your folders can be more generic. I just haven’t overcome a compulsion to have a separate folder for each project, rather than more over-arching concepts like ‘Community Projects’ and ‘Yoga’.

Use those dead five minutes towards the end of the day

You know the ones I’m talking about. When you have Ctrl+Tab+Facebook’d on autopilot a couple of times and read a few articles blowing hot air on the latest non-issue (usually someone’s completely pointless faux-authoritative opinion on parenting, veganism or millenials), and it isn’t quite time to start work on something new, or there’s no motivation to finish something off…or you’re just in that delightful stage of CBF. Take just one minute to clear out all the emails in your core in box that you’ve dealt with, or don’t need to deal with any longer. Be ruthless with the delete key, and drag and dump the save-worthy emails into your local files. Only leave in your inbox what must absolutely be left behind. Challenge yourself to keep at 3 items or less.

These tips merged between personal and work inbox – which I tend to recognise as personal = gmail and work = Outlook. However, the key thing to come out of it is discipline. It is great to deal with your emails as and when you read them. But you only need to commit to once a day, getting rid of (either deleting or filing) everything that no longer needs to be front of mind, being those emails in your core inbox.

As you get into the habit of maintaining Inbox Zero, you’ll find that your stress levels lower as you aren’t faced with a scary pile of unfiled documents and uncertain locations. You’ll also find you don’t waste time looking at useless subscription emails who only aim to sell you stuff and steal your money, under the premise of a ‘once in a lifetime sale!’. They’re lying. It’ll be back. And you won’t need that sale – now or later.

All you need is to commit just a small part of your day to achieving a clutter-free inbox, and you’ll reap the benefits of a less cluttered mind.

 

 

Everyday with Emily: now on Etsy!


Just stopping by the blog quickly on this delightful long weekend to let you know that Everyday with Emily is now an etsy store! The store focusses on icon and quirky word stickers, with the goal of maximum versatility and maximum fun. Each sticker sheet contains a minimum 45 stickers, which are perfectly sized to be used in any medium: Kikki K, Erin Condren, Plum Planner, Happy Planner, Midori, Bullet journal, your standard wall calendar … anything!

Stickers can be purchased in transparent (my fave), glossy or matte, and colours as you preference. Each sheet retails for $1.50AUD, plus shipping – total bargain. Come stop by at http://www.everydaywithemily.etsy.com or click this link, pick up a collection of fun stickers and get organised 🙂

 

The Side Hustle Experiment

As you may have deduced from my in-depth blog on the February finances, I’ve been enamoured with personal finance for a long time, despite not really doing much about it. I love the idea of having control over my daily spending (personally, and jointly – the boyf and I have had what we cutely term Team Accounts for going on 3 years now), and I love the idea of control over my future wealth and stability, but actioning that? Honestly, it’s hard. Especially when you lack a familiarity with financial literacy, and suffer from the innate laziness that plagues most modern-day millennials such as myself. 

But 2016 has been a year of spurring myself in to action on a lot of fronts, including finances. And February was, secretly, the month of the Side Hustle Experiment. ‘Side hustle’ is that term bandied around the personal-finance island of the internet and basically means ‘way of making money that isn’t your salary/wage.’ Without realising it, I’ve been a great proponent of the side hustle for a long time. I tutored for cash throughout my six years at uni; I usually held down multiple jobs to finance my expensive year abroad and taste for the fun life; I would have the yearly clean out of my accumulated junk and sell the wares at community flea markets. I even had a weird memory the other day of a small business course I did in year 10 where we had to imagine up a small business and actually implement it. My team sold flavoured ice for $1/ cup – hilarious, yet hilariously popular. We ended up making over $700 amongst four of us after selling at school lunch times for 2 weeks (it is extremely hot through Australian summers, which greatly contributed to our success) and covering our costs. So you can say the bug for making money on the side bit early.

I continued to tutor ad hoc once I started my career, but as always I lacked discipline in dedicating this money to anything and saw it frittered away on expensive international trips and activewear. Life would be so different if I’d never heard of Lorna Jane. But there’s no point in lamenting it now. While I did stack up the cash, it disappeared quickly, and I never really quantified how much it was adding to my income to understand its true value at any one time. Although last year the boyf and I created the Party Jar, where our tutoring cash was stashed, alongside any bonus babysitting money (my cousins are party animals and we are lame, so we look after their kids for an easy $100 – $150 a pop) and other random cash incomes (such as selling our surround sound system from 1992 on Gumtree), which funded a week in the Caribbean, we didn’t really budget it out with hard and fast numbers to actually prove any benefit or spur us on to do it again.

Cue the Side Hustle Experiment. Complimenting my strict approach to tracking my spend and strictly monitoring where those hard earned dollars were running off to, I endeavoured to improve my total income pie. Because when I did that budget with the boyf, I realised that no matter how much I scrimped, squished and remoulded my income, the only way I could get more out of my money was to get more money. So. I did.

Obtaining additional streams of income was subject to the following limitations: time, as I work as a lawyer and the jokes about only seeing the sun every second Thursday can be scarily accurate; and flexibility. I also introduced the limit of using what was available to me with no start-up cost.

With those limits in line, I undertook the following additional income streams for the month of February: market research, tutoring, and selling my own crap on eBay. These options worked effectively because they cost me nothing in start-up costs (although eBay does involve some fees), they were mostly flexible, and many I could do during brain-dead moments when churning through episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix (or I was having a moment at work). (Wow. I like to write with brackets). (Lol).

Anyway, I sat down and  crunched the numbers, and I made an additional $197.83  in February. Using very rough figures, the effect was to increase my monthly income by 4.5%. And, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to overstate the situation, but I term this a massive success. Not only did I earn a tidy little profit on my endeavours that I wouldn’t have earned otherwise (although I wish I’d made just another $2.17 to crack that $200), but by keeping meticulous track of this income, I feel a strong degree of control over the actions I took to generate that $197.83. And that is extremely rewarding.

So, here is how I did it, and how you can do it too. 

1. Swagbucks

I love this site. I wish I had been using it earlier. It is the easiest market research site for making dollars just doing what you normally do: searching the internet, wasting time doing random things (I’ve done a lot of surveys, but earning those Swagbucks are addictive), playing some mindless games, points back on online shopping (I lament the multiple $200+ Lorna Jane purchases from 2014 that would have earned me some serious Swagbucks…), downloading apps… there’s a billion ways to earn points (called Swagbucks), on this multi-purpose site, and all of them add up in order to be cashed out in the form of Paypal vouchers (my personal favourite), or vouchers for favourite online stores such as Amazon, or XBox Live memberships (the boyf was super excited for this particular option). Effectively, if you find yourself messing around on your computer a lot, put that time to more productive use, click around on Swagbucks, get yourself some easy points and find yourself a little richer at the end of the month for no real effort.

In February I earned one $25USD Paypal voucher, and inched over the line for the second on the 1st of March Australia time (which was still actually February in Swagbucks time…but I left the official numbers at 1 x$25 for February). So Swagbucks isn’t an epic earner, but it’s an easy, passive kind of income, and I’d always take an extra $25 every few weeks to boost my total income for the month. If you click my referral link above, or here, you get some bonus Swagbucks to start you off.

2. MySurvey

A simpler take on Swagbucks, MySurvey is a site where you take surveys, earn points, and can cash those points out for dollaz when you reach certain thresholds. I earned 2 x $10AUD vouchers in February. You are notified when new surveys become available which you qualify for, which is really nice, and I found it really quick to rack up the points. I would have probably earned 4 x vouchers, but there was an extended period of time where I just wasn’t hearing anything from them. Anyway, it all seems to be going gang-busters now, and I’ve cashed out a few extra vouchers already in March. I highly recommend signing up, even if you only do a survey every now and again – the points add up quickly, and, as with Swagbucks, it’s an extremely simple way of boosting your account in small but meaningful ways.

3. Tutoring

The only difficult thing with tutoring is finding a solid family to tutor for. I’ve worked through all kinds of students: smart ones, hard workers, extremely not-smart ones, and ones with passionate parents, and the ones who succeed are almost singularly the ones with passionate parents. I’ve been tutoring for the same family since 2014, which is fine, and often it can take that time to build up enough of a rapport with a student (especially a young one, like this student), in order to see results and get the parents on side. Unfortunately, although the parents are happy to pay me, they aren’t happy to put in any work which can undo a lot of the effort you put in. But I digress. I charge a paltry $40 for 45 minutes, which includes me coming to their home, but I’ve found keeping that fee low means that when I just don’t feel like it one week, or they make up a lame excuse at the last minute to cancel, no one is too upset. This month I made $80 in tutoring, because the family cancelled twice. So it’s not necessarily a reliable income stream, but it’s a quick financial boost with great results and can be very personally rewarding if you and your student develop a good relationship and see some personal and grade improvement. 

4. eBay

This has surprisingly been my favourite way to bring in some cash. Marie Kondo filled my mind with dreams of neatly folded envelopes of clothing that only brings me joy, and in that adventure, I discovered many good quality clothing items in my wardrobe that, despite not bringing me joy, could bring me back some cash. Selling stuff on eBay is exceptionally easy with the app. The only limitations come from those imposed on you by eBay at the start as you build your seller’s profile, where you are limited to free ten items to be listed per month. My limit was quickly raised to 30 free items a month once I proved I actually sent off what I sold. The only other limit for eBay is your personal limitations. People will buy the most surprising things; and the only way you’ll know what it is they’ll buy is if you make it available for purchase. My biggest surprises were a used Lorna Jane sports bra that went for  $31 after a hectic bidding war and a broken bracelet (I’d fully disclosed the extent of brokenness in the listing). I’ve learnt a lot of things through my adventures on eBay that I’ll share in another post. But even taking into account the PayPal fees and the eBay fees, I sold eight items in February for a final profit of $72.83. And already in March I’ve made two sales, and have three big bidding listings. It’s looking like another successful month.

So that’s how I made $197.83 in February. Since this month was such a resounding success, I’ve put that money into my Gold Star account, continued with Swagbucks and MySurvey (and tutoring of course), listed another 10 items on eBay and taken the risk of investing some money into some items to kickstart my own etsy business. It’s an idea that’s brewing and taking shape, but I’m so excited to take some real risks and churn over some real income – one very small step at a time.

Anything I missed? Any tips you’d like to share, or you’d like me to share? What else do you recommend I try? Let me know in the comments!

E x

Hello March

Somehow, it’s happened again – the sun has started rising a little later, the mornings are a little crisper, the days aren’t quite so sweltering and the leaves have started to fall. Autumn has hit, and it feels like 2016 has just been racing past my peripheral vision until all of a sudden – here it is. The reminder that summer is over, and it’s time to hunker down for the long haul that is the no-longer-new year.

February had great moments and hard moments, but overall it was a month for positive growth and hard conversations, as well as returning to old yet cherished hobbies, and great news. The highlights for me included returning to ‘creative planning’, using my Kikki K planner and newly acquired Erin Condren life planners to set out my life, which fills me with a sense of peace and focus, as well as fulfill a desire to be more creative. I focused on just writing for this blog; getting out my ideas, trialing new things, and practicing to find my writing voice. I’m getting much more comfortable with sharing that voice on the internet, and working on refining and enhancing that voice as I share more with you all in the future. February was also a month for finding a life-changing approach to tidying and organising. I haven’t provided a more recent update, but currently my home is down approximately 250 items, and every day I feel lighter because of it. The unexpected results of this include finding a peaceful daily morning routine, and building the habit of putting things away. I find much more delight in my bathroom than I ever thought possible, and my bedroom and kitchen are also moving in that direction. It really was a month of finding greatness in the simple things, and I can see 2016 being defined by that understanding: that simplicity has the capacity to  be the cornerstone of greatness. Removing the extraneous makes room for that greatness. And greatness is discoverable in all its

And now, it is March. I have a lot of visions and ideas for March. It is a month for change, as I move teams at work and redefine my role for the penultimate time. It is a month for breaks, as two long weekends loom excitingly on the horizon. It is a month for pursuing some dreams with more focus, including a side business and a five year plan. It is a month for continuing to move and push my body out of its comfort zone. And secretly – it’s a month for chocolate (hello creme eggs!). It is a month for writing and refining that voice I spoke of earlier. And finally, it is a month for hunkering down and just doing it. Not debating with myself, or delaying, or justifying pauses in forward motion. March is for reminding myself to say goodbye to fear and step outside my comfort zone regularly and with the confidence in myself to succeed, and if I fail, to fail well and bravely.

Of course, aspirational generalisations are fulfilling and delightful to write, but a goal can’t be achieved unless it is actually identified. My specific goals for March are to run 60km; complete my physiotherapy exercises daily; complete the KonMari transformation of my apartment; complete my Project Life album of our January vacation; deal with the hard parts of money (go to the bank!!); complete steps one and two of my business plan; go hiking once; and meditate each day. And a bonus goal: not break up my Duolingo Spanish streak, which is currently sitting at 59 days (!).

And enough of my soapboxing and navel gazing! Share with me, what are your goals and visions for March?

 

 

Zero Funds February

I’m confident I’m not alone in thinking where the heck did January go?? I’ll be doing a January recap at the end of the month, but – it was an amazing month. It also had the added benefit of involving very little ‘thinking about the future’, which means my real new year can begin in February.

February is just awfully convenient for setting mini goals. This particular February is greater than most, since it begins on a Monday and ends on a Sunday (excluding 29 February – am I the only one who thinks 29 February isn’t a real day?). After tossing up some different titles for this month’s goal, I settled on Zero Funds February (although ‘No Fun February’ was the lead contender, I thought it was a little on the Negative Nancy side). Zero Funds February involves the following:

Zero.

Spending.

Yep – you guys, I’m doing a one-month shopping ban. Except for pre-approved items, I will be spending zero dollars. This is functioning as a warm up for a future longer-term shopping ban. For now, it gives me a hyper-focussed period of time to examine my habits and triggers, and make some informed decisions about how I want to work my money going forward.

My mantra to get me through is extremely unoriginal:

recite-a7tow2

 

 

And behold – the pre-approved February shopping list:

  • Groceries / petrol / bills (obviously) (note that ‘bills’ includes gym membership, 4 week challenge cost and Netflix).
  • Protein powder.
  • Printing photos (9c / 4×6 picture at Harvey Norman – this is part of my year long goal to Project Life my photos and importantly use up all the craft crap I hang on to).
  • Skin cancer check (these appointments are IMPOSSIBLE to get, and the only Saturday I could get is the last Saturday of the month).
  • Two trips to the 50m pool for swim practice ($6/each).
  • 2 x gifts: Valentines Day, nan’s birthday.
  • Stamps.

More importantly – things that I will not be spending on this month:

  • Take-away coffee.
  • Lunches.
  • Sweet tooth snacks.
  • Yarn (I like to crochet in my spare time #legend).
  • All other craft-related items.
  • Stationery (including to do lists, notebooks, journals, colourful pens, stickers…).
  • Candles.
  • Clothes (including all activewear).
  • Accessories.
  • Shoes.
  • Make up / Skin care / Hair care.
  • Apps.

Do you have a monthly goal for February? Any advice on the above? Let me know in the comments!

Steps to KonMari-ing the crap out of my bathroom

A year later and I am on board the KonMari train to tidying and magically transforming my life into a world of unicorns and rainbows dancing around all the newly freed up space in my home!

I got back to the land down under on Saturday and, after watching all the crap spill out of our suitcases, adding to the stuff already filling up our little home, I was itching to get discarding. I defied the KonMari laws and started with the bathroom, because I embarrassingly harbour very strong emotional connections to my clothes (I know, I’m insane), and wasn’t ready for that horrible process of saying goodbye.

With jet lag waking me at the delightful hour of 4.50am, I got up, got to work, and “discarded” (aka got rid of a tonne of sh*t). Below is a step-by-step guide to my first foray into performing magic upon my bathroom.

Step 1: Take a before photo or two ( obviously )

   

  

Room deets: combo bathroom/laundry. Contains 3 drawers, three cupboards under the sink, and one long cupboard with 6 shelves. Laundry sink is also full of random items. There is an additional box hiding in the bedroom containing nail polishes.

Step 2: Does it spark joy?

Every item got lovingly held, interrogated about its ability to bring me joy, and put either into the bin (see ya exploded lip gloss I never dealt with), the throwing away box or the keep box. This was quick, as a lot of the stuff was embarrassing (shimmery Ed Hardy body lotion? Seriously, why).

Step 3: Get tracking

I sat down with a clear coffee table, notebook and pen, and wrote down every item and tracked whether it went in the discard purgatory or the bring-me-joy-baby keep pile. (This step was motivated by Cait Flanders, and an intention to start a shopping ban).

(PS – want to see what 73 nailpolishes looks like? I know. I too am mortified with myself. When the heck was I thinking I could use up 73 polishes? The total square meterage of my finger nails is like 0.05.)

  
Step 4: Wet wipe the world

The adventures of my rank bathroom cupboards required a massive wipe down of every single item and all containers. Apparently my foundations like to randomly squirt out of the bottles and cause havoc when I’m at work. Surprisingly, that process served as a second-round cull, as it did not bring me a single speck of joy to look after some of that stuff and I never wanted to wipe down hundreds of items again.

Step 5: Order boyfriend to take out rubbish to avoiding risking the “temptation” of hanging on to any of the non-joy-giving-devil-items.

(Love you babe xoxo)

Step 6: Give everything a home

I really wanted to go to IKEA to buy the perfect storage, but I held strong to the Oracle (all praise Marie Kondo) and used what I had around the home, since the solution isn’t buying more storage, but having less stuff. I even put my iPhone 6 box to work, since the book had specifically recommended apple product boxes. I took this extremely seriously. 

Step 7: Get grumpy

This takes frickin forever. I got grumpy and had a nap.

Step 8: Resume finding shoe boxes in which to neatly stack your stuff after refreshing nap.

Step 9: Take after photos

  
* ta da *

  
And finally – my review of the process in point-form:

  • Discarding items is awesome and eye-opening. I had SO MUCH MORE junk that I even fathomed – see you later high horse of “I live in a small apartment and hardly have anything”.
  • Tracking your items is tedious but very rewarding. I made up a spreadsheet afterwards so that I can continue to track what comes in and out of my life, and share the total stats below.
  • Don’t ever subscribe to makeup subscription boxes. They increase your Total Crap Percentage (or TCP) by a factor of a zillion, and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll use any of it.
  • Clean or wipe down everything before putting it back – this step really made me appreciate what I had and inspired me to want to look after what I have better so I don’t have an urge for shiny new stuff all the time.
  • Shoeboxes as storage is awesomeeee.
  • Marie Kondo knows her stuff. While I didn’t thank all my items out loud for taking care of me at my worst and loving me at my best and whatever, I did generate a very deep appreciation for what I have, and mentally engaged in some serious gratitude (alongside a little self-berating of why-did-you-ever-even-think-it-was-a-good-idea-to buy-this-you-idiot questioning and avoiding mentally calculating the money I wasted).

So without further ado, the numbers:

Total items owned: 369

Items discarded: 155

Percentage discarded: 42%

See you for round 2 – Clothes, otherwise known as the Era of Activewear Confrontation.

My approach to exercise

It is impossible to escape exercise and fitness as one of the foundations of 21st century millenial life. Exercising more/losing weight/being fit is goal at the forefront of most people’s minds. The number of people participating in fun runs, half marathons, triathlons and other “fit”events has increased enormously.

I am not immune to this trend – in fact, I love exercise. This is very lucky, as I also love food, and all of the “you can’t out-train a bad diet” truths aside, at the very least I’m committed to moving my body, which usually results in a natural desire to fuel it properly.

Anyway – a sermon on exercise and health is not why I am here. Rather, I wanted to share what I spend on “exercise”. Prepare yourself. It’s kind of mortifying. 

To start, I’ll lay out what exercise I do. I found an amazing group training group last year as a result of a Christmas gift from my parents. It revolutionised my attitude to exercise, and was the first form of fitness I actually stuck with, consistently, for an entire year. I saw changes I never thought possible, and I refuse to give up on that group now, after everything it has given me. 

I also recently joined a country-club style gym with my boyf. It is a 6 minute walk from our apartment, and has a huge gym, an indoor and outdoor pool (unfortunately not full sized, but we can live with that), tennis courts, squash courts, and, hilariously, a bar (in fact – two bars). 

The group training costs me $35.88 a week.

The gym costs me $34.50 a week.

So yes – I spend $70.38 a week on “exercise”. That’s approximately 7% of my weekly take-home pay. I note, for completeness and a better insight to my confessional, that my work provides me access to a free gym. 

 This total also does not include expenditure on the following, which I label “exercise incidentals”:

  • Activewear (maybe my most tragic weakness?)
  • Appropriate footwear
  • Triathlon entry fees (my next half ironman was a breathtaking $400, just to enter)
  • Fuel/nutrition (gels, protein powder, bars etc.)
  • Gear (tennis and squash racquets, tennis balls, gym bag, water bottles, sunnies, bike services, and so on)
  • Washing the never ending pile of sweaty outfits 
  • Pool entry for when I want to swim 50m laps (about $6/entry)
  • Game fees for netball (I won’t be playing this any longer, but last year it was $10/game)

You get where I’m going. I am a sucker for exercise, and affiliated activities. One of the motivations to track my expenses this year is to get an actual figure on what I spend on exercise. I’m convinced it’s a very high number. However, the only thing I could definitively tell you is what I spend a week on entry fees places – the rest disappear into cute amounts I can’t place, and can’t put an exact figure on at this stage.

I do note I labelled this category as “exercise” and not just plain old Exercise. That’s because to a large degree, this category is also Entertainment. Despite not being in a fantastic economic position, signing up to our country club was one of the best things the boyf and I have done for our relationship. The aforementioned shoebox apartment gives rise to strong feelings of claustrophobia sometimes, particularly when you live on top of each other. I always wanted to live somewhere with a pool and gym, but those options were significantly more expensive and more poorly located than our current place. We worked out we could stay at our place, and join the gym, and come out ahead by about $50 – $80 a week, and have access to better facilities than if we’d upgraded our place. 

We also found that this option gave us somewhere to go to get out of each other’s hair when things got a bit too much after long days or just general life stress. Even better, going together has given us a really healthy dimension to our relationship – we have fun conversations while playing squash that aren’t complaining about our day, and when we swim on the rooftop, overlooking the sparkle of the city while the sun sets, we feel grateful for each other and for the little things in the day. 

So at face value – I spend way too much on exercise. But I believe in investing in my health, and in my relationship, and the current set up achieves both of those outcomes. I definitely agree it can be done cheaper – there are thousands of work outs available free online, via apps or Pinterest or ebooks or Instagram – but unless you stick to them, they are useless, simply mental clutter. This category, for me, defines the “personal” of personal finance. I’m excited to share more about it as I transition into the second half of my twenties (nooooooooo!!!) and as I undertake a focussed approach to my finances in 2016.

[De-Clutter] Trying my hand while on vacation 

So as I mentioned, I read The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying up, and I’ve really got the itch to give the method a go. But in true first world problem style, I am on a month-long vacation and can’t possibly de-clutter (although my boyfriend would disagree, since I am known to be a chronic over-packer, but on the other hand, he’s now acquired two tennis racquets to bring home to Australia. Things are equal). 

But the itch still needed scratching and I decided to apply the “does it bring you joy?” test to my Instagram account at 3 in the morning, when another bout of insomnia had me staring at the ceiling. I’m a passionate consumer of social media, and, tragically, reality television shows (amongst other things such as cute clothes). I follow a lot of irrelevant people  and stores who I don’t know on Instagram, and from the book, realised that bloated number of followed accounts and feed full of crap was most definitely not bringing me joy. 

I had done a similar cull in November, after I spend $180 on clothes from an online store who only advertised on Instagram. I was pretty mortified at myself, and immediately went about an extreme cull of brands that caused me to feel inferior and as though I needed to purchase more and better to be happy. 

But letting go in this way can be such a process. Last night I culled every Bachelor and Bachelorette Australia account (it seems like the former “contestants” just go on to a career of mediocrity, unsubtlely advertising miscellaneous irrelevant brands on their Instagram after the show ends), all brands, every celebrity (save for Kayla Itsines, whose #fitspo life I truly can’t get enough of and, pardon my wilful state of gullible-ness, seems not to advertise anything but her own workout app regime anyway) and any other person who I actually didn’t feel “joy” at seeing their account.

The celebrities (real and faux) weren’t too hard since honestly, who cares. I found it trickier to click the unfollow button on people from high school who I wasn’t even that close to back then, or others who at one stage I did care about but truly have nothing in common with any more. I really felt the battle between my instinct, which was surprisingly ruthless, and my brain saying “what’s the harm, sometimes it’s nice to check in and anyway it’s just Instagram, it’s not like you’re clearing out your closet?”

Across the total last two culls, my estimate is I unfollowed 80 accounts which I deemed as not bringing me joy. This was a timely reminder to me to try keep track of some numbers, although I suppose it doesn’t really matter. I undoubtedly feel lighter, calmer and happier when I scroll through my Instagram account (which I do far too often, but that’s another issue). I’m definitely looking forward to applying the method to my apartment when I get home.