Ah, July. Scorching hot, but plenty restful. I got a ton of writing done in July, which is great. When I look back at my calendar, however, there is quite a bit of pencil on there. Despite being off work, there were still too many things going on. Not awesome!
One thing I have become good at, however, is recognizing cray-cray when I see it and doing something about it. To that end, here are the things I did in July to slow down and simplify my life.
I said “No”
As I mentioned, my calendar was pretty busy, despite being on sabbatical and purposefully trying not to be busy. The only way it wasn’t even more crazy was that I did say “no” to quite a number of possible activities.
Saying no really takes practice. In general, I have been a people-pleaser. I like to help. I like to be busy and productive. I like to say yes to people’s requests. It has taken many years to get to the place where I can just say no without feeling guilty or feeling like I have to explain myself.
I do sometimes still explain myself a little bit, but it has a different purpose now. Instead of trying to make the other person know how terribly busy I am, and while I would most certainly do this thing that they asked if only my calendar was free (but it isn’t), I now strive for honesty. In situations where I want to say more than “no, but thanks!” I aim for honesty. “That sounds fun, and we appreciate the invitation, but that is our free day at home.”
Slowed my roll
It’s embarrassing to describe how I function most days: the frenetic pace, the hyper-focus, and jam-packed calendar are really not healthy. July was all about purposefully making short To Do lists. I succeeded on this in grand fashion! Having three to five items to check off versus the usual ten or more (of which only three get done) was marvelous.
Note to self: This is a habit I must continue.
Blocked out time to read
I read a lot. Every day, I read. This summer, however, I probably have watched more television than I watched in the prior ten years combined. (And that is no exaggeration! We are not a television/video family!) Because this was my last summer of homeschooling and having THIS life before Rowan heads to school (for the first time ever) next week, we got going on a television series, The Adventures of Merlin. Every evening for weeks we watched at least two episodes of this five-season series. We enjoyed every minute of it, but it definitely cut into my evening reading time. And by cutting into, I mean utterly replaced it.
When Merlin was over, we started on another series, Once Upon a Time. That one, I’m sorry to say, has twenty-two episodes per season and seven seasons. Ugh. Seriously, I hear my brain cells jumping to their deaths every night!
Because of this newfound television addiction, I had to carve chunks of time out during the day to read. July was perfect for this. It sounds silly, but I put “reading” on my list each day to remember to sit down in the middle of the afternoon and pick up a book.
Decluttered under the kitchen sink
My only decluttering project in July was the kitchen sink cabinet. It might be true that in fits of speed-tidying, I have been known to collect things from the counter and just stick them under the sink. Every time I needed something under there, it required pulling out a few other items to reach my intended target.
Rowan helped with this project. She pulled everything out of the cabinet and wiped the cabinet clean. We then sorted items and moved “non-kitchen-sink-necessary” items to their proper homes. In some cases, that meant the trash. What remained was a surprisingly small number of things. These were arranged under the sink and voila, we were done!
It all adds up
I did better in July about not going overboard with projects during this summer sabbatical. And still, I felt that I made progress on my journey to a simpler life. That kitchen sink project has been on my To Do list for ages. And blocking time for reading smack in the middle of the day was like a dream come true.
The most important thing for me, however, was making my To Do list as short as possible each day. How this will get worked into my life once I return to work is a big question mark.
These are small things, I know! But small changes add up over time. Sticking with the process is what counts. I am committed to continuing to shape my life into a slower, simpler rhythm.
What small steps have you taken recently to simplify your life? Share below! Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts!
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