Last night I had a little trouble sleeping. When I have trouble sleeping, I am rarely thinking about some particular thing that stresses me out. In fact, I'm often not stressed at all. My mind is just buzzing...unable to shut down.
And in the midst of that incessant buzzing last night, I envisioned a simpler life. I suddenly had this image of myself, waking slowly in the morning and enjoying a cup of coffee by the window. I saw myself walking to a local bakery, enjoying the weather. I imagined that the incessant buzzing would stop. And in wondering why I don't often enjoy that life, I realized it is because I am anchored to so many things.
In the morning, I am on my computer before my glasses are on. I spend all day balancing commitments to three classes, three professors, and all the other roles I play. In the evening, I am trying to fit the rest in...clean the apartment, visit a trillion blogs, squeeze in some reading. I have convinced myself that it is important for me to do all these things because I like them. And I do! But when life becomes too complex, everything is about multi-tasking...and there is no time to enjoy the moment.
And while I'm in no position to move to the country and live off the grid, there are definitely ways I can simplify.
So I've made myself a 4-week plan to simplify, cut down commitments, and be more present.
The 4-Week Simplified Life Plan
You are welcome to join along, or read along. Feel free to blog about it, or not. I'm sharing it here a) because I personally love reading and doing stuff like this, and b) because it will keep me accountable.
Every Friday I will post four tasks and three habits for the week. The goal is to accomplish all four tasks before the end of the week, and commit to each of the habits for the week, Sunday through Sunday. If these things become long-term habits, all the better...but there's no pressure to hang on to a habit after the week is up. It's a big experiment, and I can also imagine returning to this process again and again, in other months when I need to reset.
Whenever possible, get the people you live with to join in too! As of this morning, J is on board, so I'll also give an update on our previous week's progress every Friday.
Today I'm introducing week 1. But before I do, there is an important task that precedes all of this. If you are joining along, be sure to do this for yourself.
Write down how you envision your simplified life. What would your daily routine look like? When it's down, look at where you placed your priorities. We often commit to things because we feel like they should be important to us...but if the bakery is more important to you than scoring an A on that paper...you should probably be okay with that. And how you approach the next four weeks should reflect those priorities.
The priorities for me are all about relaxation and enjoying my surroundings. This means I have to find time to do some intentional things to make my surroundings lovely (candles, tidying), but also let some things go (my Internet habits, a perfectly clean home).
Shall we begin?
Habits for the week:
-Internet from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. only
Adjust these times as necessary for yourself. What these restrictions mean for me is that I can't get on the Internet before or after my work/schoolday.
-Make a morning list of things to accomplish at work/school
As soon as you arrive at your daily destination (or when you start working from home), make a list of the most major things you need to accomplish that day and focus on getting them done.
-Love your commute
Whenever you have to go from point A to point B, make that journey enjoyable somehow...music, books on tape, reading...and don't forget to notice the beautiful sky or funny people around you.
Tasks for the week:
-Purge your clothes and shoes
Be brutal here. Ask yourself: when is the last time I wore this? do I feel good in it? do I need it in the foreseeable future? does it fit? By the end of the week, take whatever you're getting rid of to the thrift store or consignment shop.
-Purge/organize under your sinks
These are the nether-areas that stress me out every time I have to go under there, and they are often storage places for junk. Toss the stuff you don't need, and then organize it so you can find what you do need easily.
-Close online accounts and unsubscribe to as much as possible
At the bottom of all those spam emails, there is often a little unsubscribe link. Click it. If you are not using all the scads of information that is thrown at you every day, nix it. Read fewer blogs, close that old email account you never use, maybe take a break from facebook?!
-Clean your email, then stay on top of it
Go through your inbox(es), delete or answer every email, and then make a pledge to yourself to deal with each one as soon as it comes in. For me, it's important to set aside time for email. If I have it open all day at work, things pop up, get read, and then ignored. If I keep my email closed and just open it during reserved email time, I can address all the issues in one sitting.
Let me know if you'll be playing along...I'll be starting this Sunday!