How can we, twenty-first century folk, who are super connected and crazy busy, create a life that’s simple, but yet is full of what we want—the good things of life?
How do we disconnect from all the crazy voices that surround us, and instead focus on the voice of God?
It’s not easy.
So I’m going to write an (occasional) series on how we can create simplicity in our lives, that gives us space and margin, but also is practical and do-able.
( Before we start:
I’m single. Yes. I know that makes my life easier in many ways. I’m only responsible for myself, all the food in the house is what I want to eat, I don’t have to clean up after anyone or put anyone to bed or take anyone to school.
At the same time, though, I also don’t have any help. No one else can go to the store or cook dinner for me. Everything I do, is done by me.
So I don’t want an argument in the comments section about how I’m single and I don’t know what I’m talking about, or how easy married people have it.
There are pros and cons to everything. The end. )
One of my favorite things to do is make a list. I’m a huge list maker. So I’d suggest beginning that way here as well, by taking a “reset day.”
Essentially, you clear the decks, both physically (as in, your physical space) and mentally.
The Art of Manliness suggests taking a day off to do this. Now, again, I can do this whenever I want, because I have no boss. If you are like most everyone else, then you might want to approach this differently. Break each step down into days, i.e., one “hour” per day. (The things don’t all take an hour. at least not in my experience.) Break it up so you can do it at a pace that is doable to you. The post suggests that taking a day off might motivate you to stick to the routine you establish, because you’re giving up a vacation day to do it, and thus you won’t want to do it again. I think that has some sense to it. But if you can’t do that, then no sweat.
If you have children, I still think you can do this. The first step is to “clean the house”, but it’s really, do what you can in an hour. Put things away, do the dishes, take out the trash, make the beds—the “low lying fruit” so to speak. This isn’t the time to deep clean. It’s the time to deal with the surface clutter that nevertheless causes issues and creates frustration.
The second step, “Brain dump”, can be done anywhere, really. You can do it during your lunch break, at a coffee shop, after the kids go to bed, when they’re napping—really, whenever. You can do it right before you go to bed.
The third, “Take care of as many to-dos as you can”, is also pretty practical. Remember that, if you’re following the layout here, you’re limiting everything to an hour. You’re not doing to-dos all day, and the timed nature of it is what makes it helpful in my opinion. You can only do so many errands or to-dos in one hour, but anything you get done is better than nothing!
Steps four-eight, I’ll leave you to discover by following the link. But remember that it’s just an hour, and if you have to break this up over eight days, you can. Tweak it so it works for you.
By doing a reset day, you’re giving yourself a clean slate and eliminating little naggy things. You’re giving yourself margin.
Leila Lawler has a great post about how washing your hair and cleaning the floors can remove the sense of Futility About Your Life, and it’s true. Those little naggy things can make you feel awful—they take up so much brain space! By doing just a few small things, you can feel like a new person!
(For me, it’s vacuuming. When I have clean hair and I’ve vacuumed, I feel very content with myself and my life.)
And, also as Leila says, when you’ve gotten rid of this mental and physical clutter, you can free up your mind for other things (like prayer! And creativity!). (And I can’t find the post now and I’m going nuts, but trust me, it’s there somewhere!)
(Now, if a list-making totally overwhelms you…..then don’t make one, but I generally find the opposite happens. It makes me feel better about myself because it’s all there on paper!)
I think in order to start any talk about simplicity, we have to get things into at least a modicum of order.
So to this, I’d add a few other things:
Do you have a first aid kit?
Do you have wiper fluid and jumper cables and such in your car? (Because winter is coming!)
Do you know where all your important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.) are?
If you want to simplify your life, get a reset day on the schedule.
I also suggest this post, from Auntie Leila: 10 Ways to Rescue A Bad Day
Of course there are lots of other things to talk about, and we’ll try to cover them—basic tidying stuff (because I am a work in progress here, aren’t we all?), cleaning, meal planning, finances, all that stuff. I’m not writing these because I Know All. I’m writing them because I have learned some things and in some areas I need more help, but you know, let’s get together and share our thoughts and help each other out!)