“Lost time is never found again.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Writing this post is actually incredibly difficult and scary and exhilarating at the exact same time. Of everything that we hoped to gain from downsized living, time has been the greatest surprise of all. In our estimations of the time we’ve gained from all efforts to optimize our lives, we have easily gained an entire day every week. This is worth repeating.
As a result of downsizing to 536 sq ft and optimizing our lives, we save 24 hours each week!
Life in a Big House
Weekend life in the big house, plus all of the routines required to prepare for the following week at work, left little time for anything else. Weekday life at the big house was full, too: wake up around 6:30am, get showered and dressed, quick breakfast, Contigo of coffee and out the door. After work, we went out to dinner or picked up takeout, followed immediately by TV and bed, too exhausted from the hustle and bustle to do anything meaningful or productive.
Life in a Small House
Life in the small house has allowed for a different routine, one that’s a little more freeing. We’re able to sleep in a little later due to our proximity to work, yet there is still plenty of time for showers, coffee, packing lunches, side hustle work, and starting the slow cooker for dinner, all before leaving the house.
Here’s what we gave up or optimized in order to reclaim so much of our time:
—1,500 sq ft house with 1/3 of an acre of land
—the maintenance of significantly more space, grass, sidewalks
—cleaning a huge house, repairing stuff
—going out for dinner (includes time spent waiting until 6pm to “figure out what to do for dinner”)
—going out for lunch daily
I remember the very first Sunday we were living in our small house full time. We completed all of the usual errands, unpacked boxes, and filled the fridge with groceries. After cooking a week’s worth of rice-and-bean lunches Sunday morning, we found that we had nothing on our to-do list after 11am. Nothing. The few blades of grass we had didn’t need mowed. The sidewalk was swept. The driveway hadn’t been paved yet, so it didn’t need swept. And our house is brand new, so it didn’t require maintenance.
What is there to do after saving an entire day?
We went for a walk around our new hometown. Not just any walk. A three-hour walk. We never take walks this long, unless we’re on vacation—there was just never any time in the day. We walked to the river, to some antique shops to look at historical stuff, and then to some of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Real talk: If you don’t have a solid list of activities you could do if you aren’t doing the regular ole’ daily grind, downsized living could be a challenge. You have to know how to entertain yourself.
Between the big house and work and poor choices, our life was full and left little time for anything else. Sure, we could have left the laundry sit for a couple of extra days, or skipped cleaning the house for a week, but it wouldn’t have mattered—those items were still on the to-do list, still requiring hours of our time, regardless of the day in which we completed the tasks. Though we have similar tasks on our list in the small house, we optimized our lives so that these tasks take up less of our time.
Related Post: Big News at the Small House
I’ll be perfectly honest. Having free time continues to be a little scary for me. I still live with this fear that I’m missing something, that there is something else on the list I’ve forgotten about. It’s incredibly difficult to shake, and at least initially, was not the most enjoyable due to the self-imposed anxiety. Having a couple of hours free in the evening isn’t the same as having entire days or weeks of vacation!
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 1: Clutter
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 2: Time
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 3: Diet
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 4: Routine
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 5: Noises
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 6: Smells
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 7: Misconception