Getting along with minimal lifestyle-design again – #ProjectDoMoreWithLess 🙂

2016 has been an interesting and learning year for me. Both personally and professionally.

Personally, I was into my new relationship and was learning to adapt to differential habits we as humans have. It’s interesting how we want everyone else to be like us i.e. force our likings/habits and in the process ruin the relationship altogether. My learning from this is to embrace difference we all have as humans. I am still learning and it’s a long way to go.

Professionally, 2016 was more like reading/learning year for me. I didn’t design much but was reading about design and product development/management. My learning from this journey is that don’t just read articles or watch videos, put them into action. Plus, do one thing at a time and keep your mind focused on one goal until you get a good grip on it. Pretty obvious, right?! Well everyone has their right to their mistakes – a Good mistake that I did, was taking up too many projects at work and doing average in all of them. A year passed and from a design point of view in my career, I was at the same place I was in 2015. I grew very little in terms of enhancing/developing my design skills. Again, that’s another story for another blog post.

This blog post is about a new habit that I am trying to adopt lately. It’s about finding happiness by owning less. It’s about clearing up space around, both physically and mentally for the things that matter the most. It’s about reducing stress while increasing satisfaction and thus happiness in life. It’s about practicing Minimalism in every aspect of life.

This realization of practicing and putting minimalism in place came sudden and strong when I moved to a new apartment this year. In past 3 years, I’ve moved to 4 new apartments, all in 4 different locations/neighbourhood.

House #1 [Delhi]

House #2 [Delhi]

House #3 [Pune]

House #4 [Pune]

This constant change has led me to know more about the things I own. Every time I move to a new apartment, I come across things that I haven’t used for ages, but still kept them for any x number of reasons.

This year, while moving to my 3rd apartment, I noticed that I wasn’t using about 20%-30% of my total stuff and probably will not in near future as well. To give the gist, I had 2-3 shirts that I never wore, a small fridge that I wasn’t going to use because I live in a fully-furnished apt. now which has a bigger fridge, 2-3 extra bed sheets, 3 blue inked extra ball point pens, 2 same color highlighters, so on and so forth.

It was clear that I have hoarded a lot and using very less of my stuff. I’ve tried shedding things in the past but I do it when I am free or have nothing to do on a weekend. But this time I wanted to take this seriously and make this a habit. I needed to shed my belongings.

[Side note: If you’re struggling to see the value in adopting minimalism, don’t read further. Go and read why & how Joshua BeckerJoshua, Ryan and Leo Babauta adopted minimalism.]

Starting this year, among my other new year resolutions, I decided to audit my belongings, from big to medium to the smallest thing that I keep, I’ll audit everything, every 3-4 months. But in order to audit them in the most effective manner, I needed a system where I can track all my useless belongings better so later I can come back to it and decide to throw, donate, or sell.

Here’s how I am doing it:

  1. I am auditing every section of my house every 3rd or 4th month depending upon my availability and stuff hoarded along the way. After shedding a little in the last 6 months, I still have 3 closets to review.
  2. I have divided 4 sections for 4 weekends for the audit month. For example, I’ll audit kitchen the 1st weekend, bedroom room on 2nd, washroom on 3rd, and if anything is left, I am keeping the 4th weekend for that. Since I live in a studio apt., I don’t have rooms i.e. there’s only one room which has attached kitchen and washroom + a small balcony, but dividing them into sections is still easy.
  3. Maintain a note – Track everything. I am using Evernote to keep track of things that I am not using. You can use a notebook or a A4 paper. Don’t let this be an excuse. Just use anything to remember what you’re not using and can shed. Ex:
  4. Action time! Sell, donate or throw – Just do it! Once I’ve identified the items I’m not using or going to use, from different rooms/sections of my house, I decide what to do with them. I am using a combination of The 20-20 Method and The KonMari Method to decide what to do with my items. [I’ve explained what both of these rules mean below]

Rules you can follow:

You can use different rules or a combination of them while auditing and deciding what to do. I’ll list 3 of them here:

  1. The 20-20 Method by TheMinimalist.com says: “If you can get the item within 20 minutes of where you are and by spending less than $20, then you donate, sell or throw the item”
  2. The KonMari Method™ by Marie Kondo says (simplifying here) that if your belongings don’t spark joy when you hold them or when you’re around them, you should discard them. This is quite subjective and needs to be understood before applying.
  3. One Job, Multiple solutions Method says if you have multiple items for doing the same job, you can just keep one and shed the rest. For example, if you have 10 pens and you usually use 1-2 of them, you should shed the rest. People often keep things for the sake of keeping it. A lot of us are hoarders in general and like to collect stuff. Remember that collecting for the sake of it, is dangerous. It adds up to your space mentally and physically. You’ll spend more time maintaining stuff that you don’t own compared to using that time to do something you love.

So what’s my progress?

I’ve started auditing my stuff this year but will be doing this more seriously now. Here are things that I’ve shed so far (with details):

This will be an ongoing process and I’ll keep updating this post. If you want to stay updated and follow me on my minimal journey, you can follow me on my Instagram Profile – I’ll be updating there too.

If you’re auditing your belongings or just starting up, I’d love to know your process and the journey so far. Feel free to mention in comments!

DIY : Smartphone holder

A few months back my phone (Blackberry Z10) started being buggy, slow and non-responsive, so I had to buy a new phone. I bought a OnePlus 3.

For some context, I have also started working towards designing a clean and functional workspace since last 2 years. Here’s what my current workspace looks like (long way to go though):

desk-1

desk-2

More on the history and love of designing a great workspace in a separate blog post. Moving on, I wanted a phone holder for my new phone because of these reasons:

  1. I spend most my time on my desk when I work on design/non-design related projects. So picking up my phone every time some notification has come up takes time and is annoying after a couple of times.
  2. Just peeking what has come and moving along (if it’s not important) with the work that I am doing is preferred
  3. I like things organized and clean around me

So I decided to make a phone holder instead of buying as I didn’t want to spend Rs. 500 or more in a good and sturdy phone holder. Below you’ll find steps to design your own phone holder and how much it can cost you. Here’s what the final model will look like:

finished-look

So, here are the steps to design your own phone holder:

  1. Sketch your design. Here’s mine:
    step-1-sketch
  2. Stuff you need to design the product:
    step-2-things

    • Mount board x 2 – Rs. 50
    • Long Scissor x 1 – Rs. 150
    • Long scale (30 cm preferred) x 1 – Rs. 150
    • Fevicol (100 gms) x 1 – Rs. 50
    • Feviquick 3 gms x 5 packs – Rs. 50
    • Binder Clip (6 pieces) – Rs. 100
    • Total will be Rs. 300-400 if you have few items like Ruler and Scissor at your home. Otherwise, the cost will go around Rs. 500 or below
  3. Cut long sheet to create the base (6 cm wide and 42 cm long):
    step-3-cut-long
  4. Fold from the middle and glue them together to make the stand sturdy:
    step-4-fold-to-make-strong
  5. Glue the board together with the help of Fevicol and clip them with the help of a Binder clip to make sure that all the sides are glued evenly:
    step-5-glue-them-together-and-clip
  6. Fold them around the middle so that one side is 12 cm and other is 9 cm or less. The 12 cm will be the base of holder:
    step-6-fold-from-the-middle
  7. Add bridges. The bridges should be the width of 1-2 cm length depending upon your speaker/charging port placement at the bottom of the phone. Bridges will be used to rest the phone:
    step-7-add-bridges-for-the-back-support
  8. Cut one more mount board with same width i.e. 6 cm and glue it with the rest. The length will depend upon the angle you want for the holder. I used 6 cm for the bottom and 8 cm for the top:
    step-8-connect-with-the-rest-1step-8-connect-with-the-rest-2
  9. Put a bit of Fevicol and Feviquick around the joints to make the bond stronger:
    step-9-put-fevicol-on-the-joints-to-make-them-sturdy
  10. Here’s how it’ll look like once gluing is done:
    step-10-heres-how-itll-look
  11. I also made two, one bigger for my OnePlus 3 which is 5.5” and a smaller one for my BlackBerry z10 (if I use it ever):
    step-11-made-two
  12. Put a little more Fevicol on the sides to smooth the edges out:
    step-12-smooth-out-the-sides-by-using-fevicol
  13. Once you’re satisfied with the edges and overall finish in terms of smoothness, paint them with any wood paint color. I chose white:step-13-paint-them
  14. Here’s what it’ll look once painted well. Remember to add 1-2 layers of paint to make it look more glossy. Here’s the bigger model:
    step-14-finsihed-bigger
  15. Here’s the small one:
    step-15-finished-small
  16. Here’s the top view of my workspace now 😀
    step-16-finished-top

Hope the steps are enough to give you a gist of the process and can be helpful if you decide to make one yourself.

Tip: Use Feviquick smartly and don’t let it touch your skin, or else your hands will look like this:
zhands

Let me know if you have any thoughts/comments about this DIY smartphone holder. Happy creating! 🙂

5 design habits that can screw anyone

8_August_2013_5designhabits

I have been experimenting with design lately and have learned a lot. There are so many do’s and don’t’s for design that will break you or make you. As the famous quote from Steve Jobs goes “Deciding what not to do is more important than deciding what to do”. So, in this blog post I am pointing out 5 don’t’s for design:

  1. Do not copy design: Designers when designing, let that be website design, product design or any sort of design, tend to look for the best designs out there. Many designers or companies copy designs which tend to be the best in the market. But if you look at their stats after launching their product, most of them failed to achieve what they thought they will be. In short their whole great-copied design didn’t work for them. The reason being that designers or design companies do their research related to the product they are working on. They spend days, weeks, months or sometimes even years going back and forth on few design ideas. The research also includes their target users, demographic, and other parameters. Once they collect and analyze that data, they design accordingly.
    Take away: Great design is there to inspire, not to copy. Do some research on your product and on its other parameters and then design accordingly.
  2. Do not waste time searching for the right medium: I have come across many people who spend their valuable time searching for the best tool available in the market to help them design their product. This is not a bad thing, but it’s a myth that without the best, one can not design the best. Creative people don’t seek any medium to design, they just design in whatever medium they are comfortable with. For instance, designers use Adobe’s illustrator in industry to design logos, but I know many who do the same on Adobe’s Photoshop, and that even without compromising on quality. Here’s one great example of a cute grandpa who paints digitally on Microsoft’s MS Paint. YES! You heard me, MS PAINT. Read the whole story here.
    Take away: Learn a medium and stick to it until you are comfortable enough to make the jump. Don’t hunt for the best medium all the time.
  3. Do not bombard user with information: Ever visited Yahoo’s homepage? No doubt you must have deviated a day or two from your goal of visiting yahoo’s site. Users get lost as soon as they hit a data-traffic, i.e. where there are lots and lots of data. Data-traffics are same as any large toy or book fair. Even you know where you want to go, you will be lost because there are so many text, images or videos placed to catch your attention. Minimize the steps involved in any process, may that be buying a product from your website or extracting a information from your invitation card. Here’s a lovely website that can teach you to create your product’s visual design suck less and increase information extraction in simple steps. Learn from Visualmess.
    Take away: Design websites, visiting cards, products or anything so that it’s easy for the user to extract information without spending much of their time and energy.
  4. Do not design just for the sake of beauty: Designing means solving a problem. It must be design’s first priority. When Steve Jobs, endorsed the importance of design, the whole world thought that design is they key to success for any product. Hard truth? It’s not. Design is just one side of the cube. Don’t forget there are many others. A successful product is highly dependent on one criteria, i.e. its problem-solving approach. If your product is not based on problem-solving approach, no design can add value for the long run.
    Take away: Design to solve a problem. Not just to make it aesthetically cool.
  5. Do not design just to deliver: Are you running a design based service company? Guess what?! The market is full of opportunities and you know that. Every now and then your company or you get a call to design or re-design someone’s or some company’s product. You are being flooded with opportunities based on your design skills, that’s fine. But think before taking up any project. Look at it’s other aspects. Ask whether is there any new design challenge that I will be tackling or it’s just another fancy design project which requires only re-touching. Also taking up challenging design projects enhances your skills. So it’s better to reject some and accept one rather than taking a lot of projects and compromising on personal and professional growth.
    Take Away: Don’t take projects just to deliver. Design for impact. If it’s not a challenge, it’s not design.

These insignificantly small tips will have a great impact on your product or businesses if applied timely. Hope to see you out there producing great designs.

Stay fresh, stay creative!