September was a very crazy month for me. The majority of the first half of the month, I was traveling for two different conferences. The first involved flying to Washington, D.C., and the second involved driving nine hours to Orlando, Florida. Getting back after two weeks of being gone is always a killer: work has piled up AND you are exhausted and out of your rhythm. Can you relate?
Because of the travel, the second half of September was a zoo as far as my schedule goes, so my simplicity work at our home took a backseat. Despite the craziness of the month, I did manage to find some significant ways to keep my life a little bit simpler (and saner) during the frenzy.
Here’s what I did:
I resisted the siren song of conference swag
If you have ever been to an industry conference, you have probably experienced a vendor exhibit hall. Vendor booths are typically lined up in rows in an enormous space, and conference participants have the opportunity to chat with the various exhibitors.
At the D.C. conference, I could have easily filled an entire tote bag with various junk offered by the vendors to encourage you to stop in for a chat. Many years ago, I came to the realization that 98% of the stuff I brought home from conferences would just end up in the donation box or trash can. In the heat of the moment, it seems like you simply must have that doodad emblazoned with the vendor’s logo.
After my realization, however, I developed a thick skin when it came to accumulating junk at conferences. If I’m interested in speaking with a vendor, I seek the vendor out. In the low probability scenario that the vendor I am interested in offers something truly useful as a take-away, I’ll avail myself. Most of the time, however, I pass right over the candy, key chains, pens, and other items I have no use for.
I am also careful about promotional material. It is generally awkward to refuse to take someone’s business card when it is offered, but when it comes to the myriad of flyers and booklets offered at a vendor booth, it is far easier to resist the urge. As I’m visiting vendors, I ask myself, “Is this information or free doodad something that is genuinely useful to me?” If the answer is yes, I’ll take it. Otherwise, I keep walking.
Tote bags are the hardest thing to resist, I won’t lie. I love tote bags passionately. With this round of conferences, though, I reminded myself that I had just purged a dozen – yes, a dozen – extra tote bags from my closet. It would have to be the COOLEST TOTE BAG ON THE FREAKING PLANET to make the cut this time.
I am happy to say that I returned home with zero tote bags. Win!
I took advantage of the hotel amenities
No, I don’t mean I swiped all the miniature toiletries. I stopped that addictive practice years ago! What I mean is that both hotel rooms featured a refrigerator, and the first hotel loaned me a microwave. In Washington, the tap water was fine for drinking, so I used the two free bottles I got upon checking in (a perk of the hotel loyalty program) and refilled them repeatedly. Keeping the full bottles in the refrigerator meant that the water I had to refill my insulated water bottle was always cold and ready.
In Florida, a different strategy was necessary. Inexplicably, the hotel conference center did not feature a bottle-filler station, and in general, I find the tap water in Florida to be atrocious. Therefore, I relied on the free water bottles that were provided each day in my room, as well as the water I could get from water coolers located throughout the conference center.
The Florida conference included almost all my meals, so that was nice. In D.C., however, I was on my own for food. Having access to a microwave meant I could judiciously choose a meal that would keep well in the refrigerator to be heated up for a second meal.
I didn’t participate in every activity
Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test? Some folks find they are kind of in the middle of several of the opposing traits the test identifies. Not me. I am at the far end of the scale in all four of the test areas. That includes introversion. I like to say I am a “high-functioning introvert.” What I mean by that is that I can speak to large groups without a problem, meet new people, and attend functions without melting into a puddle of goo. In other words, I am capable of being social when I need to but prefer one-on-one meetings or small groups. And I always need time to recharge. If I spend all day talking to people, I need time to be alone for a while to regain myself.
The conference in D.C. was unlike any conference I’ve ever attended. The people were crazy-social. The point of the conference was, in fact, to network with other financial media people (bloggers, podcasters, media folks, authors, etc.). To say this was out of my comfort zone is a vast understatement. Nevertheless, I took it on gamely, knowing exactly what I was in for. I spent all day meeting people, talking, and learning. But then I went to my room and crashed. I avoided all the parties and evening meet-up events. I simply could not bear to speak to another human being each evening.
Taking that time to regroup and gather my senses was a significant act of self-care for me. I knew if I didn’t sacrifice some of the social events, I would not be at my best the following days.
I was at home for 24 hours before I left for Florida. While it was inconvenient to drive to Florida versus fly (long story), I had ten glorious hours of no talking to people. That was almost enough to recharge for conference #2. I was exhausted by the time I made it to Orlando, so I was selective in my social engagements there, too.
At the end of the day, we have to know what feeds us and what drains us. It is up to us to manage ourselves to be our best, without apology.
We had a family meeting about housework
If you are a subscriber, you got the back story on our need for a house-cleaning system. Suffice it to say that in an attempt to make tasks fair and equitable among the members of my family, we determined what intervals were acceptable for what household tasks, and then I made a chart to help us be organized and streamlined.
We are now in the third week of using our chart, and so far, so good. We’ll see how things go!
That sums up my efforts in September to live a simpler, more sane life. Even when things are crazy, we can still zero in on areas that are most important to our sanity and happiness.
And remember, small things add up! Simplifying your life doesn’t have to happen in one big push. Baby steps!
What small things have you done 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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