Earlier this month, I attended a professional development program in Hong Kong, and part of the experience was that I lived in a student dorm at a Hong Kong university for 6 days. The last time I lived in a dorm, Ethernet was fairly new, there was no Wifi, no smartphones, and definitely no Instagram! (Admitting this probably ages me dreadfully, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice, for the sake of this blog post)
You may be wondering, what’s the big deal? But I realized about halfway into the experience, it really gave me some insights about my current lifestyle and living environment.
During the 6 days, I lived in a double room (no roommate) with shared communal facilities, such as bathroom, shower, and kitchen.
As you can see,the room was quite spartan, with a pair of single beds, closets, desk and chairs. I did like having the balcony, which let in a lot of natural light. I imagine it would be quite lovely to sit out there and read when the weather cools down a bit.
Obviously, there are some inconveniences involved in communal living…I thank my lucky stars my best friend from childhood Natalie, reminded me via email just before I left for the airport: Don’t forget a robe and shower shoes!!!! Of course, I had forgotten, but it turns out it was worth it to repack my suitcase to fit them in. Because this is what the shower looked like:
So, really no (comfortable) space to get undressed/dressed… and probably a bit iffy to go barefooted inside the shower. I also thanked my lucky stars once again that my robe had pockets…. because where else could I stash your room key while I was showering? I had to do some clever maneuvering to avoid getting my towel/ robe wet while the water was on, but I got the hang of it by the second day.
However, despite these minor asides, I realized that there were some merits to dormitory style living. The coordinator of the professional workshop mentioned: We’ve tried to make life as easy as possible by removing a lot of daily distractions. All you have to worry about is learning, the rest is all taken care of. This strategy worked really well for me. I got a LOT of work done this week. In addition to attending (most) of the workshops, I also managed to finish a few smallish projects that have been hanging over my head at work. I think it boils down to the reality that all I had was this desk. And this desk, only had work-related items on it. I did some of my most productive thinking and work at this desk this week.
I used the other desk in the room as kind of a self-care station. I had my (limited) toiletries and cosmetics laid out for the day. Having everything nearly laid out helped speed up both my morning and night routines. Plus it was kind of therapeutic to line everything back up at the end of the day.
I also brought a fairly restrained wardrobe (dark pants and light tops) and this made getting dressed (and doing laundry) pretty easy. One load for darks, one load for whites. Simple.
In the 6 days I was here, the most significant lesson that I learned is, I need to streamline my routine. I always thought one of the perks of being an financially independent adult is that I could incorporate as much variety as I want into my life . E.g. why chose between one pen, when I can buy 10? Or, I really do need 3 different eye creams… they all serve different purposes! In reality, it gives me a lot of decision fatigue and visual clutter.
Simplifying and streamlining is definitely a work in progress for me, and I’ve made some improvements along the way. But this week, I realized that there are a few more things that I can do to make my life easier…. and there’s no time like the present to do them.