Last year at this time, I was nervous about sharing some of my goals publicly. That turned out okay, so I thought, what the heck, let’s do it again! This week I’ll review how things went on my 2019 simplicity goals, and then next week I’ll lay out my new goals for this new year.
Without further ado, here are the simplicity goals I set for 2019 and how they turned out.
Declutter the garage
My experience with this goal, well, it reminds me of a boomerang. Rowan and I had a goal to get our small section of the garage cleared out to get access to our pottery wheel. I also wanted to be able to easily access the storage cabinets where I keep seldom-used kitchen items. Lastly, we hoped to set up a table for Rowan to work on some of her messier crafts when the weather is warm enough to hang out in the garage.
We experienced some early success on this one. Rowan and I tackled the project with vigor, and we crossed our fingers that our efforts would inspire Greg to declutter the remainder of the garage, which is . . . his domain. We got our section cleared, we had an easy path to the cabinets, Rowan did some pottery for a few months, and we moved some of her craft bins out there.
Greg did pick up on the declutter vibe and started working earnestly on his 90% of the garage. He was making excellent, visible progress for several months. However, during the fourth quarter of 2019, things got out of control.
Perhaps we can blame it on the holidays, or maybe it was the cold weather that prevented any of us from wanting to take care of things in the garage. All I know is that there is an accumulation of boxes (we were saving in case we needed them for the holidays – we did, but maybe 10% of what we’d accumulated), donation stuff, and a new accumulation of crap that wasn’t there last year at this time.
It’s like we have to do the entire project over again. As I said, it reminds me of a boomerang. I’m not deterred. We will not be defeated by the garage gremlins! I have a new plan!
Reduce or eliminate the aspirational closet bins
I see now that I wisely included a hedge clause right in my goal statement: eliminate OR reduce. Perhaps my subconscious knew that I was incapable of entirely eliminating what is in those bins. During last year and the prior year, I made some decisions to finally purge some of my aspirational clothes (you know, like the triathlon gear I’ll never use again). That all worked well, and I’ve not looked back.
But the closet, which is pretty large and convenient, took on the role of indoor way station for our stuff. Any time we were tidying up and didn’t have an immediate home for an item, into the closet it went. I lost track of the number of times I cleaned out the closet, only to have it filled back up again within weeks.
All this is to say that I made some decent progress to reduce those bins of partly sentimental, partly aspirational items, but I didn’t get close to eliminating them. The fact that they routinely got blocked by other crap that we hastily stashed in the closet didn’t help.
Continue to simplify my financial life
Finally, one I can report good results on!
This has been a multi-year process, and I’m happy with our progress here. In 2019, I continued to build out systems to take the guesswork out of what needs to be done, and when to do it. I did have a few mishaps, however, which I reported on in my newsletter.
These oversights occurred due to my over-reliance on automation. I’m a huge fan of automation, but when you have a handful of bills that you don’t pay automatically, you still have to pay attention. I have doubled down on my efforts to be consistent in sitting down to work on my finances, and it is paying off.
I’m pretty satisfied with the simplicity of this area of my life, but I will always be looking for ways to make things even more streamlined.
Tweak my processes
Oh my, did I! I spent a good deal of the year experimenting with different routines and processes, and that was a lot of fun for a productivity geek like me. I tried out a handful of planners and planning systems, and I settled on Bullet Journaling. BuJo, as it is affectionately referred to, is right up my alley. It allows me to set up my journal and track things as I see fit.
The problem I have with most planner systems is that they are often about 80% useful to me. There are always aspects of the page layout that aren’t perfect for my needs, and the extra pages that are meant to help people set goals are not the way I like to do it. I suppose I’ll continue to peruse new planners as I find them, ever hopeful that I’ll come across one that is EXACTLY what I need. In the meantime, I’ll use the more DIY technique of Bullet Journaling.
One thing I can’t seem to shake off is a monthly calendar. With the Bullet Journal system, I no longer need to use the weekly part of most calendar/planners. However, I do love to be able to see a whole month at a glance, and I like to be able to flip forward to future months with ease. So far, I have been reluctant to draw entire monthly calendar spreads into my BuJo. My solution was that I found a reasonably small month-at-a-glance calendar that easily fits in my purse and lays flat on my desk.
Increase white space
White space is one of my favorite simplicity concepts. The idea is to leave breathing room in your life in all areas. Stress comes from being too tightly scheduled, having too much stuff to maneuver in your house, and having no cushion in your financial life. It’s a priority for me to make space in all these areas of my life.
I was already pretty adept at this mission heading into 2019. But I wanted to ratchet up my game to have more time to wander, putter, read, and rest. The result was mixed. I am a tough case when it comes to shifting down the speed of life – I love to be busy. I found that I did create more time for the “do nothing” white space in my days, but I often filled it with mindless internet research and social media scrolling.
The last two weeks of December, however, I revamped entirely how I deal with the internet. I was unhappy that I would essentially start my day going through a routine of checking news and social media. Before I knew it, an hour had elapsed, and that made me unhappy. Now I’m starting each day drinking tea and reading a book. Then I’ll give some thought about priorities for the day and get down to business. It also helps enormously to simply tell myself, “the world will wait” when I’m tempted to open my computer to check in.
I call this early morning time my “get my head on straight” time, and it has really improved my mood.
So, there you have it: a mixed bag, to be sure. I’m not unhappy with how the year went at all, but clearly there is room for improvement. At the end of the day, if I ask myself the question, “Dawn, is your life simpler now than it was a year ago?” my answer would be mostly “yes.” There always seem to be new things that crop us that add layers of complexity to our lives, but overall, I feel like I’m doing a good job of reining in the cray-cray and keeping the clutter at bay.
Here’s to another year of simplifying my life, and I hope you’ll come along for the journey!
Do you have simplicity goals for 2020? If so, what are they? 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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*Photo credit: Greg Starks – picture of Piper Starks