Consumption

Don't Buy Random Crap for Your Loved Ones

You’ve heard of The Five Love Languages, right? If not, the basic premise is that people tend to prefer to give and receive love in one of five ways: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gifts, and quality time. Once you and your loved ones figure out your individual love languages, it can help you show love to each other more effectively. In fact, if you’re not sure what you prefer, there’s an online quiz you can take to find out!

Recently, I’ve watched my clients struggle with the gift giving love language. Specifically, they have family that lives very far away and misses them very much, and shows their love by sending them inexpensive gifts regularly. While I haven’t met the gift givers in person, it’s clear to me that these gifts are sent out of an abundance of love, with absolutely no ill intent.

However, there are serious side effects to a regular gift giving routine.

  1. Those gifts add up fast. In thinking of one client in particular, her mom likes to send her costume jewelry, cloth bags, cute glasses and dishware, and general tchotchkes. My client, like many of us here in San Francisco, lives with her boyfriend in a one bedroom apartment. It’s plenty of space for them and their cats, but there just isn’t enough storage to accommodate the constant inflow of gifts. 
  2. Those gifts cause serious guilt. My clients tell me that they don’t want to donate these gifts because they know that if the giver found out, they would be hurt. The gifts, in effect, become an emotional burden and an extension of the guilt my clients already feel over living so far away from their loved ones.
  3. Those gifts can cause relationship strife. I have a couple of clients who deal with continuous gift giving from both of their moms. They are each uncomfortable with dealing with so much stuff from their own mothers, but end up taking that frustration out on each other and the other’s mom. While this is so common for all of us as humans - we redirect anger at a person we can’t confront to the people who see us every day - it’s completely avoidable in this case.
This is what years of inexpensive gifts looks like after I've helped a client decide what's important to keep... and what's not.

This is what years of inexpensive gifts looks like after I've helped a client decide what's important to keep... and what's not.

People whose love language is gift giving (and I am one of them, so I know of what I speak!) sometimes struggle with the idea that a gift could be a bad thing, and they often don’t know how to communicate their love in other ways that feel just as effective. So, I have a few suggestions!

  1. Take a picture of the cute tchotchke, send it to your loved one, and tell them why it made you think of them. How fun is a random loving message in the middle of the day? You get all the benefits of gift giving, like reminding someone that you love them and showing that you understand what’s special about them, without any of the downside. This also gives you the opportunity to see whether or not your loved one actually wants that item! If they text back “hahaha, love that, I miss you too!” then the thought was enough. But a text that says “OMG I need this!” means you have the green light to send a gift!
  2. Give experiences rather than objects. This is something my family has wholeheartedly embraced as part of our gift giving tradition and we all absolutely love it.  You get the gift giving experience - opening something, the surprise, the feeling of being special to the giver - and then you get to extend it by talking about the upcoming event, planning for it, then doing it and reminiscing about it after the fact. My sister gave me a trip to Jackson Hole for Christmas a couple years ago and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten!
  3. Direct your gift giving energy to people who are in need. Every holiday season, my husband and I adopt a family through Compass Family Services, and take great joy in making their Christmas magical. I love giving to friends and family, but it's even more rewarding to give to people who truly need and appreciate the gifts.
  4. Save your gift giving effort (and budget) for select occasions. Often, people send many cheaper gifts because they feel that the number of gift giving occasions should be maximized but they don’t have the funds to purchase high quality gifts that often. When it comes to gifts, like many other things in life, I recommend going for quality over quantity. Two high quality, beautiful gifts per year will give your loved one all the surprise and delight you crave, and because you have the extra time and money to spend on selecting it, chances are much higher that they will use and love the gift.
  5. When in doubt, just pick up the phone and say “I love you.” Because that’s what we’re all really trying to do with gift giving, right?
This not my family's Christmas, but the gifts prepared for our adopted family this past holiday season!

This not my family's Christmas, but the gifts prepared for our adopted family this past holiday season!

I, personally, will never stop loving the process of opening a present that someone has selected just for me, and then watching them open something I know they’re going to love. But I love it even more when it’s a truly special moment and not just a regular thing.

LMW

My Instagram Captions, Decoded

Some of my followers have picked up on a small detail: in each caption of an outfit I post on Instagram, I mention how long I’ve owned each piece. In fact, If you go back to the very bottom of my feed, you’ll see that I’ve been doing this since I first started posting my terrible outfit selfies on my old iPhone 5. It was an intentional decision, for several reasons.

First, I believe that in order to use core values to influence others, we must not only talk the talk but walk the walk, and show others that we’re doing so. I write all the time about carefully curating a wardrobe, choosing quality over quantity, being mindful of consumption and waste, and prioritizing relationships and experiences over stuff. That wouldn’t ring true if I were constantly posting pictures of myself in brand new clothes!

Second, let’s get real: I’m not going to build an audience by being just like everybody else. Instagram and blogs are full of fashion influencers who are given or paid to promote brand new stuff. I don’t disapprove of them, conceptually speaking - we all need sources of fashion inspiration and I definitely keep track of what’s new and trending, especially from my favorite brands. That said, there are SO many of them. That niche is full. Instead, I’m trying to create my own!

This decision also serves as a gut check for me. If I’m buying too much stuff, I find myself having to reveal that in my outfit posts, which feels quite frankly icky. That in turn reminds me that I’m styling myself not only as an expression of my personal values but also an example to the outside world (just over 1,000 strong so far!) of how a focus on quality over quantity and style over newness can be 100% compatible with a stylish life.

Plus, as my readers know by now, constant consumption is just not the way I live or want to live my life. I personally feel better, more inspired, more focused, and more connected when I’m consuming less and experiencing more. Over the past few years I have largely freed myself from what I call the Want Monster - a silly name for that constant gnawing inside that feels like it can be filled with beautiful, expensive things. My hope is that my dorky, poorly lit photos of the things I actually wear every day can help a few other people slay the Want Monster and experience the same freedom!

By the way, let me be clear: I’m fully aware that I’m very lucky to have the relative wealth and privilege to be able to afford a select collection of beautiful things, and that most people are not as fortunate. I want you to know that this is something I think about often, and I welcome feedback on ways to make my readers and followers feel like my ideas are accessible rather than off-putting!

So yes, I do tell my Instagram followers how old my stuff is for a reason! By doing so, I hope to show how a real life of style is carefully curated and built over time, rather than bought brand new for each occasion. Sometimes I may miss the mark (whether it’s an outfit that doesn’t work or a regrettable purchase), but I’m still going to take you all along for the ride because it’s important to me that you see my reality.

LMW

My Shot at "Project Pan"

I’m a quality over quantity kind of girl. Whether we’re talking about clothes/shoes/accessories or kitchen appliances, I’d rather spend a little more time and money on the right thing than go through multiple iterations of the wrong thing.

This extends to makeup and toiletries. For skin care, I trust the expert advice of my dermatologist, but when it comes to bath, body, hair, and makeup products I don’t have that one resource who will tell me exactly what I need and nothing more.

So it was that I started reading beauty product reviews online. And if you spend much time doing that at all, you inevitably start wading into the vast online beauty community, filled with jargon and acronyms and interest subgroups. That’s where I ran across the phenomenon known as “panning.”

The term comes from the fact that when you’ve used a lot of a powder makeup product, you will eventually see the bottom of the container, or pan. When you are doing a "project pan," you’re trying to use up one or more products.  That’s something I can get behind!

Just like with my closet, my goal for makeup is to have a tightly edited, high quality collection that I really enjoy using. On a daily basis, I wear very little: nothing if I’m doing organizing appointments or working from home, a basic five-step face if I’m going to meetings or a daytime event. However, I do have fun with more dramatic colors and styles for parties and dinners out!

Please excuse any yuckiness, NARS packaging is notoriously sticky and difficult to clean!

Please excuse any yuckiness, NARS packaging is notoriously sticky and difficult to clean!

In the course of identifying products that work for me, there are a few things that I used to love, but find that I’m not as excited about anymore. Because I don’t like wasting things, I decided that I would do my very own “project pan” and try harder to use up these items. They are:

  1. Dior Lip Glows in Lilac and Coral. Both skew really bright pink on me, while I would have liked to see more of an actual lilac or coral color.
  2. NARS lip glosses that are now old enough that I can’t read the labels on the bottoms of them! I like the colors, but I these days prefer a sheer lipstick formula to a sticky gloss.
  3. NARS The Multiple in Orgasm - this is a cult favorite makeup product and I used and loved it for so long that this is actually my second tube! These days, I find the glitter to be a bit much.
  4. Lancôme Tient Miracle foundation in Ivoire - the color match and formula are good, but going forward I’ll look for something even lighter weight and more moisturizing for every day.
  5. Lancôme Dual Finish powder foundation in Porcelaine I - again, good color and formula, but I’d like to transition to using a loose translucent powder for a less heavy effect.
FYI, the Dior Lip Glows go pretty fast. Powder foundation... not so much!

FYI, the Dior Lip Glows go pretty fast. Powder foundation... not so much!

The great thing with beauty products is that, unlike clothes, shoes, and accessories, they really can be used up in a reasonable amount of time - and the feeling of accomplishment is awesome! That said, sometimes the value of using something up completely is overtaken by the total drag it is to do so. I’m pretty optimistic about my progress on the lip glows, cheek stick, foundation, and powder - but I’m starting to think that those lip glosses have served me well enough and might have to hit the trash can.

When people think of professional organizers, their thoughts often tend to spaces like closets and home offices. However, I also love to organize bathrooms - there’s nothing more relaxing than getting ready in a pretty, airy space with all the things you need close at hand and nothing you don’t need cluttering everything up. If this sounds good to you, let’s talk!

LMW

Two Must Reads: Just The Facts, Please

I love to share what I'm reading with you, because my life isn't only about organizing! Today, I just have two pieces I strongly believe will bring you a lot of value. They have in common a strong grounding in objective research, as well as a subject that a lot of us stress out about. I don't know about you, but I find all the conflicting information spinning around the internet to be so overwhelming that it's functionally useless. i also get really frustrated with the fact that if you're just trying to be better at something and following what you think sounds like a good plan, you will still be told that you are doing it wrong in a zillion different ways.

So, without further ado, here are two definitive guides, based on facts and presented reasonably. Get rid of the guilt and get the real info!

Photo courtesy of grubstreet.com (Bobby Doherty)

Photo courtesy of grubstreet.com (Bobby Doherty)

The Last Conversation You'll Need To Have About Eating Right

As a friend of mine said to me the other night, "I know what I should do... I just don't always do it!" This article is even more proof that you don't need to buy fancy ingredients, follow complex instructions, or starve in order to have a healthy diet. It also helps reframe diet goals from "I need to do everything perfectly" to "I want to live a healthy, long life."

Photo courtesy of flickr.com (miltedflower)

Photo courtesy of flickr.com (miltedflower)

14 Sustainable And Ethical Fashion Myths That Need To Die

Less is still more, and quality is still better than quantity, but it turns out there's a lot of nuance that many of us overlook. Read on for seriously good reasons to become a more thoughtful consumer, practical ways to do it, and a nice side of absolution from some of the worst of the wannabe ethical shopper's guilt.

I'd love to check out any other fact and research based articles you might have come across on related topics - please share!

LMW

Thoughts On Wearing Things Out

When was the last time you had to get rid of something because it was just too worn out to continue using?

I have an example from just last month. My sister gave me a pair of super cute booties from Kate Spade for Christmas a few years ago. In soft, tumbled black leather with a flat stacked heel and a bow on the back, they were cute, comfy, and went with everything. Like, if I had drawn the Platonic ideal of a bootie, these were it. I wore them CONSTANTLY.

Sporting The Booties at Catherine's Palace outside St. Petersburg...

Sporting The Booties at Catherine's Palace outside St. Petersburg...

...and again on a normal work day at home in San Francisco.

...and again on a normal work day at home in San Francisco.

And then… I picked them up one day to put back on my shoe rack and realized that the sides of the stacked heel were starting to peel off the plastic foundation of the heel. I am all about maintaining and repairing the things I love to get maximum use out of them, and if it had been possible I would have taken them to my favorite shoe guy in Cow Hollow stat. However, this was just not fixable. It was time for them to go. 

There’s something a little sad about wearing out something you love, because that means it no longer gets to be part of your life. I have a lot of good memories in those booties: they came with on me on trips to Europe, wine tasting weekends, errand days running around SF, and even client consultations. And they worked so well for me - if they had continued to hold up, I would have kept on wearing them!

However, you can also view wearing things out with a sense of accomplishment and pride. You know on a very deep level that the thing was extremely useful to you, an excellent purchase, and a good value, because you literally used it so often that you used it right up. There was no purchase regret or gift receivers’ guilt with these booties! They were just right and I got every last cent of value (that my sister paid…) out of them.

And here’s the thing about using something up: it provides you pretty much the only guilt-free opportunity there is in this life to go shopping. If you used something so often and so happily that you wore it out, that means that you do in fact need a replacement.

My weakness for bows is legendary.

My weakness for bows is legendary.

In my case, I mentioned the sad passing of the booties to my parents, since my birthday is coming up. Last week, a box arrived in the mail from Bally with, well… basically the grown up version of the pair I had loved so well!  In smooth, gorgeous black leather with a flat heel and laces up the front to tie in a bow, AND in wide width for my virtually square fee to boot, they are cute, comfy, and go with everything. I’m going to wear them CONSTANTLY.

This process of selecting something that perfectly fits your needs, loving and using it frequently, and then carefully choosing its replacement, is so much more fulfilling than buying a lot of things that only get used a few times. When I look at my closet, the things that bring me joy are those that I feel great in and wear all the time. The things I don’t really wear much only bring me guilt: guilt that I made a frivolous purchase, am not getting the value out of the money I paid, and took up space that could be better filled by something else.

This is the reason I continually edit my closet: because a wardrobe entirely composed of things that bring me joy is simple and satisfying on a very deep level. If this idea is resonating with you, give me a call and I'll help you edit your closet so that everything in it brings you joy!

LMW

What I'm Organizing: How to Pick a Bathtub

I've referred before to the fact that we're currently renovating our house.  And after 8 months of construction, we've started to accelerate towards the finish and I'm finding that I need to keep my eye on more moving parts than I did during earlier phases.

Last week, for example, I picked out a bathtub.  My contractor was getting antsy to have specs (can't blame him), my architect was busy with other things (can't blame him either), and I knew the best way to get this done was to do it myself.  So, I drove on down to Excel Plumbing, sat down with consultant Irene Lee, and found the perfect tub in about 10 minutes.

This one: the  Liberty freestanding bathtub  by Hydro Systems

This one: the Liberty freestanding bathtub by Hydro Systems

That might sound like I'm exaggerating, but I promise you I'm not.  Add on about 5-7 minutes waiting for Irene to finish with her previous customer and another 10 minutes to peruse sinks and toilets (since, you know, I was already there), and I was in an out in under half an hour.  How did I do it?

1) I know what I like.  Note that I don't zero in on exactly what I want, because this can lead to a wild goose chase for something that doesn't exist - there is not actually infinite choice in the home decor space!  But I'm confident in our vision of how we want our home to look, and I trust my gut.

2) I'm willing to stop the search once I find something I really like.  This one is tough in our world, since there are so many options in every category of things to consume.  But I find that I can minimize stress and save everyone time by sticking to the first thing that really catches my attention in a unique way.  There's very little to be gained through an absolutely exhaustive search.

I honestly cannot recommend Excel Plumbing, and Irene in particular, more highly.  She is a total pro: she has encyclopedic knowledge about everything she carries (which is a lot), gives great advice, and tells you about potential problems before they even come up.  They carry a wide range of products, all of them mid to high end - think Grohe faucets, Villeroy & Boch sinks, Toto washlets - and give everyone who walks in the door very competitive pricing.

We still have a couple more months to go - all I'm hoping is to have a finished downstairs by the time the holidays roll around!

LMW

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A Radical Approach to "Just In Case"

Have you ever gone to donate or trash something and then thought, “No, I should keep that just in case”?  I can tell you that I hear this All. The Time., and so do The Minimalists: a pair of best friends who discovered minimal living and are out to spread the good news through their website, podcast, books, and documentary film.  They’ve come up with a revolutionary way of approaching the concept that will likely shock you the first time you read it: Getting Rid of Just-in-Case Items: 20 Dollars, 20 Minutes.

Kind of crazy, right?

But here’s why it works.  Think of something you’re holding on to just in case, and try what I do with my clients: drill down on that.  Just in case of what?  What is the scenario in which you would need this item, and how likely is that scenario to occur in your life?  What would happen if that scenario occurred and you hadn't kept the item – how much expense and effort would it take to replace it?

This might feel aggressive and make you uncomfortable, and that’s ok.  People are often resistant to this line of questioning because it challenges a very deeply held belief for many of us: that one should always be prepared for anything.  But as The Minimalists point out, preparedness for unlikely situations carries its own costs.

For example, I have a client who travels frequently.  She and her husband each have a complete set of rugged, top of the line luggage that they use on all their trips.  Perfect!  However, they have also kept the last couple of sets of luggage that their current set theoretically replaced.  When I asked if she was ready to donate the old suitcases (which are still in good condition), my client said the magic words: “I want to keep them just in case.”

I tried to drill down on this a bit. Her reluctance to donating her old suitcases boiled down to the fact that she had really liked her old luggage set and wasn’t as big of a fan of the new stuff.  She felt guilty that she had spent a non-insignificant amount of money on new luggage only to find she didn’t like it.  It became clear that she wasn’t ready to make this decision, and that was totally fine – I work on my client’s timeline, not mine – but my gentle probing questions got the wheels turning.

Hold on a second, you say – luggage is expensive and can’t be found just anywhere!  This doesn’t pass the 20/20 test!  I would counter that this situation does in fact pass the test because my client will never need the old luggage in the first place.  A scenario in which her new set is completely lost or destroyed is incredibly unlikely.

In the meantime, suitcases are large and take up space my client could otherwise use for other things.  In addition, their continued presence in her home means that she’s continually confronted with a decision she made that makes her uncomfortable and feels pressure to resolve this discomfort.

What are you holding on to just in case, and at what cost?

LMW

The Turning Point

If you’re wondering how it might feel to drastically reduce the number of things you own but are scared to dive in, this piece by Sean Hotchkiss takes you through the process in its entirety, with such poignancy and realism that you feel the weight of his stuff and then his eventual unburdening as if it were happening to you.  I urge you, whether you’re a chick or a dude, to read the article now: I Surrendered My Wardrobe.

Image courtesy of gq.com (Oliver Rheindorf/Platinum)

Image courtesy of gq.com (Oliver Rheindorf/Platinum)

Hotchkiss gets at so many of the core truths of organizing, concepts I see with clients time and again.  Over-acquisition doesn’t just happen out of the blue, it always comes from a place of emotional turmoil.  Once you’re on that merry-go-round of consumption, it’s really hard to get off.  And if you do succeed in changing your ways, it’s a lot harder to get rid of things than it was to buy them in the first place.

But I’ve talked about those things before.  Today, I want to call particular attention to the moment that Hotchkiss realized he had to make a change.  It was just a brief and seemingly meaningless interaction, but it led him to fundamentally alter the way he approached style, consumption, and ownership of things.

I’ve learned a lot over the past three and a bit years of my fledgling organizing career, and one thing that stands out to me is that I do my best work for people who are truly ready to make a change in their lives. 

Building an organized home is far more than rearranging all the things you already own.  If it were that easy, my job wouldn’t exist!  Instead, it requires a fundamental shift in how you approach your life.  You have to quit old habits and form new ones; get rid of many possessions and acquire a few new ones; think critically about your own attitudes and tastes; and allow a relative stranger to guide you through the entire, vulnerable process.  When done right, it’s a major and positively life-changing undertaking.

Because the organizing process requires such a tectonic shift, it won’t work for someone who hasn’t yet hit their turning point.  That point is different for everyone and can’t be predicted, but when it happens to you, you’ll know.  You’ll be exasperated, you’ll feel a bit like you’re crawling out of your skin, and you’ll pick up the phone and call me.

And the greatest reward you’ll earn from completing the organizing process isn’t the beauty of a row of pretty chalk labeled boxes.  It’s the time you’ll get back to spend with the people you love, the feeling of peace that will take over when you come home after a long day, and the quiet confidence you’ll enjoy, knowing that you’re equipped to deal with whatever mud life throws at you.

LMW

Wearable Tech That's Truly Wearable

In a city that’s constantly on the hunt for the next great technological breakthrough, I’m not an especially tech-y person.  I do like to stay current, but I’m not an early adopter, and aesthetic considerations are higher on my priority list than for many techies.  So, when wearable tech started to become A Thing a couple of years ago, I was skeptical.  Everything was clunky, intrusive, and clearly designed only to look cool on the arm of a twentysomething tech guy.

Then the Apple Watch came out, and I was intrigued.  There were stylish options (hello, Hermes leather strap!) and serious functionality.  However, once I saw Apple Watches in action, I was immediately turned off.  Instead of reducing the interaction between person and phone, the watch just creates another way to disconnect from immediate surroundings.  If you find it off putting for someone to trail off mid-conversation when their phone vibrates, it’s even weirder when they violently glance down at their watch and start tapping it!

For me, the entire point of a wearable device is to enable myself to stay present wherever I am without missing anything important.  So, I was excited to discover Ringly’s first product, the smart ring.  It seemed to have everything I wanted and nothing I didn’t.  The only thing stopping me from placing an order was the fact that I knew I wouldn’t wear a large cocktail ring daily. 

Ringly’s next product launch, on the other hand, made perfect sense for me. I already wear bangle bracelets and/or a watch almost daily, so I got on the waiting list for the smart bracelet immediately.  After a couple of setbacks – original delivery was scheduled for September 2016, but hey, even Space X has to push back new products – my bracelet arrived last month.

The package opened...

...and unboxed.

Setup was quick and easy.  You download the Ringly app, charge the bracelet in its little charging box, connect via Bluetooth, and off you go.  The organizer in me was a little annoyed that the product comes packaged with a logo reusable bag – don’t we all have a million of those at this point?  But from a branding perspective, I can see why they included this particular piece of marketing collateral!

This cute box is also the charger, with a cord that plugs into any USB port.

The bracelet works exactly as advertised: it tracks steps (one click link to your iOS Health app if you are so inclined) and buzzes and/or flashes light to notify you of something that needs your attention.  The best part is that something is entirely up to you.  I have mine set up to alert me for just three things: phone calls, texts, and calendar appointments (with a special additional light flash if it’s my husband!).  I might have been tempted to add other apps, but read online reviews that after about four different kinds of taps on your wrist it becomes difficult to keep everything straight.

Bangle bracelet and breton stripes, can't go wrong.

And seriously, don’t discount how pretty and well made this thing is.  I’ve gotten several compliments on my Ringly bracelet as a piece of jewelry, and people are stunned to discover that it’s actually a piece of wearable tech.

As you can see if you scroll through my archives, I rarely recommend products – I try to practice what I preach in terms of thoughtful consumption!  But if you’re looking for a piece of wearable tech that will give you a little extra help with style, you should check out Ringly’s line of rings and bracelets.  I’m a fan, and this is not a sponsored post!

LMW

 

Stopping Clutter Before It Starts

Clutter doesn’t just magically appear.  Each object that combined with others to create a feeling of clutter came from somewhere, sometime, for some purpose.  This is why decluttering is only half the battle.  In order to maintain an organized environment, you have to be able to control the inflow of stuff as well as get rid of it when the time comes.

Image courtesy of nytimes.com (Carl Richards)

Image courtesy of nytimes.com (Carl Richards)

But we live in a culture that reveres consumption (although the tides may be gradually, slowly, infinitesimally shifting on that point) and shopping habits are hard to change.  This is why I loved Carl Richards’ opinion piece for the New York Times last summer: New Rule: All Purchases Subject to a 7-Day Mental Quarantine. He has come up with a creative intermediate step between his family’s current shopping habits and the eventual goal of acquiring less.

It seems like such a simple idea, but there’s a lot going on here.  First, he recognizes that his shopping decisions aren’t always well thought out.  Admitting you have a behavior you want to change is always the first step, and it’s a hard thing to do!  I have clients who I’ve worked with for months before they can start to see that their consumption habits are directly tied to their continued disorganization.

Second, he’s putting his household on the same team.  His wife, instead of being the policeman who tells him what not to do, is his “fellow customs officer.” I would say a majority of my clients are women who long for an organized home and have a spouse who either doesn’t see a problem or likes the idea of an organized home but doesn’t want to participate in the process.  I can do good work for these clients, but I can tell you definitively that I do my best work when both halves of a couple (and ideally their kids, if they have them) are involved every step of the way.

Third, he’s not giving himself harsh rules he can’t live by.  There’s nothing about the mental quarantine that says he can’t buy things – it just sets up a framework that buys him more time to think about it and encourages him to consume less.  When people feel deprived, they want to act out, whether it’s from a diet or from strict rules.

In a sense, the lighthearted metaphor of mental quarantine is standing in for the overall concept of mindfulness in consumption.  By slowing down and extending the process, Richards is allowing himself to be mindful about each and every purchase decision without getting caught up in the quick dopamine rush of acquiring something new.

Imagine a world in which you give yourself the time and space to carefully consider purchases.  They might be fewer and farther between, but they’ll likely be more useful and meaningful to you!

LMW