Monthly Archives: January 2014

Why Rhythm Trumps Routine

Finding Your Rhythm

From this week, or maybe next, life generally returns to normal.

People are back at work, families are getting prepared for the school year ahead, dance enrolments open, swimming classes fill up, as does the calendar, and the year simply rolls on into another version of its former self.

I know many of us resist this return to Life after the holidays. It feels like a drudgery, a constant battle to remain balanced when there is simply too much to do, a reminder that the more relaxed way of life we have been enjoying was merely an interlude. A pause between hectic periods.

Which is kinda depressing, don’t you think?

Instead, we can see this new beginning as an opportunity. Not an opportunity to create an uber-routine of ultra-productivity, but to create rhythm for our homes and the people who live in it.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Routine. It’s the domain of the successful, the organised, the on-time. It’s what You Should Be Doing. Right?

But do you know what else routine is? It’s restrictive, it’s unfriendly, it’s regimented.

Rhythm, on the other hand, speaks to you. It moves you, it moves with you, it feels good.

You’re right, on the face of it there isn’t much difference between the two. Both help you get things done, both deliver guidelines on what needs to happen and when.

The differences though, are really important. And if you’re looking to create a simpler life with less stress, then…  you gotta have rhythm, baby.

Rhythm Over Routine.

After our daughter was born a few years ago, Ben and I were determined to establish a routine, get her sleeping pattern regulated, and create comfort and predictability for everyone involved.

As it turns out, babies don’t really work like that.

In fact, life doesn’t really work like that.

It took us well over 12 months to learn that routine – a strict, sequential approach to our days – was less than helpful. It made us feel we were failing if we missed a step or fell behind.

Rhythm, however, was a much friendlier notion. It spoke of order, but also flexibility and movement and fluidity. It even sounded friendlier.

Rhythm.

Rhythm moves you. You dance to it, find your groove, let go a little, enjoy the moment and see where it takes you.

Routine? Notsomuch.

You march to routine. It’s a steady metronome keeping time. And if you sway, if you linger, if you move out of order or miss a step, then you fail. You’re out of time. You’re lagging behind.

Rhythm allows change and flexibility for different seasons in life. Which is why rhythm wins out over routine every day.

Embracing Rhythm

To embrace this idea, you need to ask yourself some questions about the rhythm you want to create.

You can create a rhythm for your mornings, evenings, weeks, seasons or even holidays, and what it looks and feels like is entirely up to you.

Choose a rhythm and ask yourself:

What are my priorities? Is it exercising before breakfast, or taking the time to eat dinner as a family every night?

What do other people in my home need? Does my husband need time to study? Or perhaps my school-age kids need to pack their bags in the evening?

What feels positive? What makes me feel vital and happy and energetic? Make this a priority.

What can change from the current situation? It’s always possible to get up earlier or go to bed later. Similarly, if there are areas where a lot of time is wasted, this can be shifted elsewhere.

What can’t change – no matter how much I’d like it to? School times, bus and train timetables, meetings and appointments can’t change. Make sure these are taken into account and allow some wiggle-room for the inevitable delay.

Once you’ve answered these questions, take some time to work out your best rhythm. Literally write it down on a piece of paper, establish a sequence and then bring it in to your day.

Once it’s there, you simply let your day unfold around it.

And the best thing? There’s no need to keep up a rapid tempo if it’s the season for a slower tune. Similarly, if you feel the urge for dancing, for growth, for expansion, then up the tempo and dance for your life. Always know that it’s your rhythm and you choose the pace. You choose the moves.

 

On Zombies, Travel and Owning Up

Don't trade your authenticity for safety. Please. (via Slow Your Home)

I’ve become a little cautious lately. A little too safe. There’s too much egg-shell-walking happening, and I don’t like it.

You see, so often I go to insert an extra little piece of my life into my writing – just a glimpse or a tidbit – only to stop and overthink it.

“Hang on,” says the little voice in my head, “you’re supposed to be into simple living. You shouldn’t care what jeans you buy. You can’t go telling everyone your daughter has 13 stuffed animals on her bed. You aren’t allowed to talk about the 5:2 Diet or juicing or stand-up paddleboarding. You’re supposed to be…well…”

What?

Just what am I supposed to be if not the person who loves a clutter-free room, money in the bank, quesadillas, Indigenous art, travelling to far-off places, a gutsy shiraz and Friday Night Lights?

Should I pretend that I am disinterested in my appearance? Should I avoid laughing too heartily at old Chevy Chase movies? Should I feign indifference to good design? The Walking Dead? My Nespresso machine?

All because they don’t fit under the big umbrella that is ‘simple living’?

More and more I think the answer is no.

Honestly, there are many things I avoid, simply because they bring nothing positive to my life:

  • gossip magazines
  • reality TV
  • aimless channel surfing
  • more than occasional junk food
  • Nutella
  • fashion magazines
  • junk news
  • mean-spirited or bigoted humour
  • soft drink

And there are many other things I want to improve on. (My patience, aerobic fitness, and not reading emails in bed.)

But failing to mention any interesting parts of my life, any challenges, any shortcomings or obstacles, simply to avoid the appearance of ‘doing it wrong’? Well, that’s just ridiculous. If not fitting in a box is ‘doing it wrong’, then we’re all in trouble, don’t you think?

We don’t fit a mold. We can’t squish into a box. We are unique and interesting. So let’s embrace the quirks and the bumps and the bruises. Let’s be who we are, and be open to who others are.

And maybe, just maybe, the energy we gain when we stop pretending will be enough to help us improve what we want to improve. That’s one of the ultimate goals in simplifying life, if you ask me.

Create a Simpler Home in 2014

Letting Go and Holding On (via Slow Your Home)

What do you dream of for 2014?

  • Less stress?
  • Less debt?
  • Less anxiety?
  • More time?
  • More space?
  • More contentment?

I asked myself the same question two years ago and decided I wanted to create a simpler home.

I wanted a clutter-free home that was easy to live in, easy to keep clean and easy to keep organised. I wanted a home that worked for us, rather than a home we worked constantly to keep up with.

Over the past two years I have worked through our home, decluttering, simplifying, paring back and figuring out what matters. And now I’m starting to feel the benefits. We feel content, less inclined to compare ourselves to others, and we’re having more siestas.

This year, I have put together a free, downloadable guidebook to help you do exactly the same thing.

After creating the  2012 in 2012 Declutter Challenge and seeing just how effective it could be to challenge myself, I created a much bigger Decluttering Challenge last year. And as 2013 drew to a close, I had many emails from people asking about 2014. I knew I wanted to continue the challenge, after seeing such huge changes in so many people’s lives, but I wanted to do something a little different.

So this year I have created a free month-by-month guidebook to take you through the challenge of decluttering 2014 items in 2014. Each chapter outlines the tasks for the coming month, as well as tips and advice on how best to tackle the tasks. You will also find links to additional resources on many of the topics, in case you need additional inspiration!

You can download your free copy of the guidebook right here

EMBARRASSED NOTE: Due to some, ah, technical difficulties, this current version of the guidebook only goes up to the end of June. I will be updating it with the full version over the next few days, but in the meantime, feel free to grab a copy of Part One and get going on the Challenge.

As I mentioned last week, the other change I’ve made is the creation of a Facebook group for those of us participating in the Challenge. It’s open to anyone, and you can simply click here to request membership. (It may take a few hours if I happen to be sleeping!)

The aim of the group is both support and encouragement, as well as public accountability. I know I was far more inclined to push myself when I knew I had to report my totals at the end of every month, and I invite anyone who would like to share their progress on the page to do just that.

If you’re not comfortable with that level of sharing (totally understandable!) please pop in and say hello anyway. There’s nearly 150 of us there discussing the current tasks and challenges we’re facing as we work towards creating a simpler home and we’d love to meet you.

 

Alone, we can make huge improvements to our lives, the lives of those around us and those we don’t even know. Together, I think we can change the world.

 

2014 in 2014 – A New Declutter Challenge

2014 in 2014 Declutter Challenge

 

Last year, hundreds of you tackled the 2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge with me. And the results were astounding. There were readers who decluttered tens of thousands of items from their homes, while others found the numbers less important than the positive impact the process of simplifying had on their life.

At the beginning of 2013, I installed some forums here, with the aim of keeping track of each other’s progress. But it turns out I have limited time available and (who knew?) running a forum was quite time-intensive. Lots of spammers, you see.

I know lots of people are keen to get going with this year’s challenge, as I’ve received a heap of emails over the past few weeks asking about it. I’m almost ready to release the free 2014 in 2014 Decluttering Guidebook, but first wanted to do two things.

Join the Facebook group and get inspired

I still like the idea of a meeting place for all of those participating in the challenge. I think it’s really important to keep track of our progress, get help and find motivation when it’s needed, as well as simply take a moment to get to know each other. So I’ve created a Facebook group, open to anyone who is interested in participating.

Feel free to join here, and take a minute to say hello and introduce yourself. I’ll be popping in and out to say hi and help with any questions you may have.

 

Take the 2014 in 2014 Challenge survey

I also want to help you work out where your strengths, weaknesses and trouble spots are before we begin. So I’ve put together a brief survey for you to print out and complete over the next few days.

You can download a copy here.

These questions are designed to give you a realistic overview of your current clutter situation. There are no right or wrong answers and no good or bad places to begin. It’s simply important to understand your strengths and weaknesses before starting the 2014 Challenge. Otherwise you may wonder why a particular task is proving difficult for you, only to discover that it’s playing to a weakness of yours.

You will need approximately 15-20 minutes to complete this survey. Not only will it help you identify sore points, strengths and weaknesses, but it also gives you a baseline to measure your progress against. We will revisit the questionnaire later in the year, and finish up with a final survey to see just how far you’ve come in 12 months.

I know January is nearly half over (I’m a slow-starter, what can I say?) but now that you’ve settled back into the year is actually a perfect time to start thinking about what 2014 will bring for you and your family.

  • Less stress?
  • Less debt?
  • Less anxiety?
  • More time?
  • More space?
  • More contentment?

Let me know if you plan on taking the challenge this year.

In all honesty, I won’t be following the list strictly, as I finally feel like we’ve arrived at the point where it’s no longer necessary. But that is after 3 years of solid work to simplify our home and two years of working through the challenge. My mission is to is to create a challenge where, come January 2015, you will be in the same position.

So get going on the survey, join the Facebook group, and watch out for the free 2014 in 2014 Challenge Guidebook hitting the blog later in the week.

 

Best Year Yet Ebook Sale

Bundle of the Week #47: The Best Year Yet

In late 2012, I wrote and published Destination: Simple – Rituals and Rhythms for a Simpler Daily Life. Since then it has been read by over 8,000 people looking to create an easier day-to-day rhythm in their life and home. 

To kick off an amazing 2014, I’m really excited to tell you that for the next week only, Destination: Simple will be available for 75% off the regular price, as part of the exclusive Best Year Yet ebook bundle.

This collection of ebooks is designed to encourage and equip you to live life intentionally. The books contain tips and advice on how to get organised and create a greener home, as well as guidance to help you simplify, unplug and slow down this year.

This week only (until January 13), you can get all 5 books for $7.40. (That’s over 75% off.)

The five books included in the bundle are:

100 Days of a New Year {2014} by Jennifer Tankersley

The 100 Days of a New Year 2014 eBook will inspire and motivate you daily to set goals in all areas of your life: family, finances, home, community, and more. With a daily dose of inspiration for navigating a new year, Jennifer leads you through 100 days to a more-focused you. As a bonus, you get 75 lists and worksheets from ListPlanIt.com to guide and motivate you to set goals, better manage your health and finances, and clean and organize your home.

The 2014 Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner Plus Supplement Pack by Susan Heid

The 2014 Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner breaks down household tasks into manageable daily and weekly bite size pieces, utilizing smaller increments of time to keep the tasks from becoming too large and overwhelming. This year’s planner includes the option to digitally customize your pages. Choose between a “blank” version to set the tasks that fit your household or the “suggested tasks” version with pre-filled daily tasks and then customize it further to make it work for you. Plus, you’ll get the supplemental pack with a dozen customizable sheets to help you stay organized!

The Unwired Mom by Sarah Mae

In The Unwired Mom, Sarah Mae shares her story of Internet addiction. But she doesn’t stop there. She also shares encouragement and inspiration to engage in and enjoy your life, practical ideas and strategies to be aware of and control your online time, and ideas to help your children have healthy boundaries with the internet. In addition, you’l find a two-week challenge designed to help you create healthy online habits (includes daily challenges, “engage your life” ideas, and a journaling exercises). If you want to live free in an internet-addicted world, this ebook is for you!

Destination: Simple by Brooke McAlary

Destination: Simple isn’t a decluttering book. It won’t help you organize your pantry or simplify your wardrobe. Instead, this book is about harnessing the power of rituals and rhythms to simplify your daily life. It’s about being intentional with your daily actions and using them to create the life you want – a simpler, happier life. You’ll discover why rhythm is better than routine, how to find peaceful moments in your busiest days, where you can find time to unplug from the digital world, how to empty your mind and sleep better, how to prioritise your daily tasks and avoid feeling overwhelmed, and the power of practicing gratitude.

Accidentally Green by Hilary Kimes Bernstein

Why in the world would one “normal” family decide to go green? And how did they do it? In Accidentally Green, Hilary shares the nitty gritty details about how and why her family began making healthy changes. Divided into six different chapters, this ebook chronicles six distinct phases in Hilary’s green journey with specific details that worked for her family plus questions and resources to help readers examine their own lives. Although Hilary’s journey is rooted in her Christian faith, this ebook offers practical resources for every family.

You can head over to Bundle of the Week for more information, and to grab your books today.

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2014 in 2014 Declutter Challenge - coming soon.

On another note, I have received so many emails from readers asking about the 2014 in 2014 Declutter Challenge. I love how enthusiastic everyone is to get the Challenge underway! Rest assured, I’m working on it and will have more information (and an awesome free guidebook) coming later in the week.

If you’re looking specifically to declutter your home in 2014, you’re in the right place. Give me another couple of days and we can all dive in together!