After my wild September, October represented a real breather. I did have a short trip to New York City in October, but other than that, I was back to my work and home routines. In keeping with my year-long series pointing out the small ways we can simplify our lives each month, here are the things I did in October to simplify my life.
I discovered, or rather, rediscovered working from home
For my day job, I travel into town to work at my office. Most of the days I am at the office, I am seeing clients the entire time. Some days, however, I just have administrative tasks to do. In October, I made it a bit more formalized that I would not see clients most Mondays so I could stay home and do my administrative work from there.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy hanging out with my office team, because I most certainly do. Having fewer distractions, however, is conducive to greater productivity. This is not universally the case: I do have days where HOME is distracting. Those tend to be my writing days, though, and not my workdays.
Clearly there is more work to be done here on overcoming distractions.
I observed work rhythms and then scheduled accordingly
This is one of those “duh” moments. You know, the things we KNOW, but we conveniently FORGET, and then when we discover them again, we feel like geniuses. At least I do. Related to the above subject, I figured out that late afternoon is a lousy, horrible, no-good time of day for me to do creative work. Therefore, I need to protect my morning hours for my most focused work and my creative work.
I can have client or staff meetings in the afternoons without problems. Engaging with other people during that lull in my afternoon energy is manageable, and I can do good work. But if I lollygag and don’t get my writing done in the morning hours? Ugh. It’s rough. It takes me two to three times longer to get something accomplished if I leave it to the afternoon hours.
The result is I’m making an effort to carve out that morning time for writing and other creative endeavors and leaving the administrative tasks and meetings until later. I need to work with my energy levels and work rhythms and not fight them.
We made time for family fun
It was rather on a whim that I responded to an advertisement for a circus coming to our town. It seemed intriguing, this Venardos Circus, and I asked Greg if he was interested. Fortunately, he was. I bought tickets for the three of us, and we decided to leave it as a surprise for Rowan.
It had been many months since we’d gone out for an event as a family, but I maintained low expectations. After all, it was a tiny “Big Top” compared to circuses I’d seen as a child. Boy was I wrong. It was a fabulous show, and we all agreed we’d attend it next year, too, and bring some friends.
We had fun as a family, AND we supported an awesome small business at the same time. A total win.
I was careful about volunteering
My daughter attends school now, after years of homeschooling. Her school is small and relies on parents volunteering to help things run smoothly. If I were inclined, I could have an obligation at the school multiple times each month. It would be easy to do, because volunteering at the school is fun and rewarding.
Instead, I have been very careful about not overcommitting. I focus on making sure our family is regularly chipping in, but in deference to the work rhythms I mentioned above, I aim to select activities that fit into my afternoons, not mornings.
We broke down and hired someone to clean our house. . . again
We had a woman who cleaned our house for years, and she did an excellent job. Her increasing work obligations required her to cut back on her side work, so she had to quit cleaning our house. At first, we figured we would just try to keep it clean ourselves. (I wrote about our efforts last month.) After all, we’re capable, hard-working people, surely we could knock that out with the old “team spirit,” right?
Wrong. Although we painstakingly created an evenly distributed workload for the three of us to stay on top of the cleaning tasks, we quickly fell behind. The weekend we spent five hours (each!!!) working on cleaning was the end of it. I could be working during those five hours, and so could Greg. It’s just not worth it to us, and clearly we were not the efficient expert cleaners we thought we’d be.
The financial trade off was totally worth it to us, so we found a new house cleaner.
There you have it, my efforts in October to live a simpler, more sane life. My big take-away for October was knowing one’s limitations. Spending some time observing my work patterns and experimenting went a long way toward improving my quality of life.
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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