Here we are again, ’tis springtime! The flowers are blooming, the weather is warm, and yes, the pollen is out in force, but no matter, it’s finally nice out there! It was a long cold and strange weather winter and now that warm air and color are back in beautiful Eastern North Carolina the days beckon me outside to sit and read. Every year around this time I get the itch to clean things up. Of course this generally means in the usual sense. A good scrub down of my living quarters from top to bottom. It do enjoy the task, honestly. I download a fresh batch of podcasts and snap on my big yellow gloves and have at cupboards, floors and refrigerators. I love the smell of the cleaning products and I gain a great satisfaction in knowing that everything has a good scouring. I’m getting rid of all that has sunk in over the long winter indoors and setting up my space for time that can be spent away. Cleaned once, maintained every so often.
This year is no different. I’m making a big list of what needs to be done, I’m making sure all of my cleaning products are available and I’m downloading podcasts like a madwoman. This year, however, I’ve been thinking about going a step further. In the last few years we’ve moved several times and about a year and a half ago we moved across the state border. Along the way we’ve expanded and contracted our belongings according to how large or small our space was. In this time we’ve accumulated a lot of just… “stuff”. Stuff we don’t need and don’t really have a place for. I’ve also noticed that I’ve not taken a good look at my routines in awhile. Of course there have been changes that I spoke of in my New Years Goals List, but I’ve not really looked at my routines for some time. I want to take some of this time of ‘Spring Cleaning’ and also clean up the other parts of my life that need a bit of refining.
I’ve read a few posts about this idea of simplifying ones life recently and I’m really feeling inspired to take on the challenge of looking through my things and going over everything to really just par down to the essentials. I think doing this will be an excellent exercise in refining my tastes as well as a great way to lighten my own environmental footprint. I’m excited to take some time to analyze what I’m doing and comparing that to what I’d like to do and I’m inordinately excited to get rid of a bunch of the crap that’s accumulated around me for no real purpose. Here are a few areas I’m going to try to tackle in this little life project:
- Product Usage : I ran across a few articles that spoke about this subject that were really inspiring and sparked a challenge in me. Over at Young House Love, Sherry spoke about paring down personal beauty products as well as consolidating cleaning products. The part I love about her thoughts is that not only did she seek to limit her products but she also chose to make sure those products were good for her family and good for the environment. I believe this is an excellent idea and a great way to reduce my little duos footprint as well as save a good bit of money in the process. My goal for this aspect is to find just a few products that P and I can share that are good for us and also more universal in their application, from personal hygiene to cleaning products for the apartment.
- Makeup : I’ve been really trying to par down my makeup to a basic routine that is both simple and fast and also just a beautiful everyday routine that highlights and covers just right. I recently read this post by Elise of A Beautiful Mess, she explains her everyday makeup routine and also speaks about how she went through and got rid of the excess makeup she had accumulated over time, keeping just what she wants and making sure it was just enough to fit into a pouch. I love this idea! I was also reading about personal space and small space advice from Erin over at Reading My Tea Leaves and she also keeps everything in a small pouch she can grab and use wherever. P and I are sharing a bathroom again and I do hate that my stuff is everywhere and he’s relegated to a small sliver of counter space. My goal with this is to par down makeup I don’t use and to solidify a makeup routine that is quick, lovely and minimal.
- Fashion : This one is one that I think will be quite tough for me to do, but in reality will actually be quite easy. I have a personal uniform that I tend to wear more often than not and I’d like to par down my wardrobe to just a few pieces that are great quality, beautiful and fit into my personal style. I want these pieces to be beautiful, comfortable and versatile, I also want them to be classic pieces that fit both my style and can have just a few things aded in each season that are more on trend. My inspiration for this comes from a great book I finished a few months ago called Lessons From Madame Chic by Jennifer Scott. My goal here is to par down to a true ’10 Item Wardrobe’ (as she identifies it in the book) and identify just what I like and don’t like. Also to get rid of the excess clothing that I’ve got squirreled away under the bed and in the closet by donating them to our local shelter. I hate the idea of having so much excess in this area, I also hate that I’ll purchase pieces to wear only once, of poor quality that I don’t plan on keeping. I’d like to minimize my footprint on this front and to nail down my own personal style and preferences. This book has made a very deep impact on this subject in my mind. Here is an excerpt, I HIGHLY recommend it.
- Reading Material / Information Intake : This one is a BIG project. I’ve got a ton of books around me, which is great, but there are some that I don’t like and still have. I’d like to get rid of those and also go through the magazines that have accumulated in our apartment. If we move again I don’t want to move with so much really heavy crap around. I’ve got too many magazines that I’ve held onto for no reason. My goal is to get rid of the unessential and make some more room on my shelves for my happily long reading list to come. Also in this arena I’d like to par down the information I take in. I was reading this article from Inc. Magazine about one of my favorite productivity experts Tim Ferriss and in the article there is a little pullout titled ‘Stop Doing That’, in it Ferriss recommends “Power Reading” or simply reading headlines and skipping long articles that tend to be 98% fluff and 2% actual information. As a writer I tend to subscribe to a lot of news blogs and I’m constantly clicking on something and just haphazardly clicking my Pocket bookmarklet and adding it right into my queue. Well, as of right now, there are something like 2500 articles in my queue, that’s not including my Safari Reading List. I’d like to get this queue under control and unsubscribe to stuff that I don’t need to read. I have writer FOMO and it needs to stop. Also, my recent Lenten blog hiatus has inspired me to cut back on my blog consumption as well. My goal is to par down what I subscribe too and also be more discerning in what I take precious time to read. Which leads to my next aspect…
- Email : TOO. MANY. EMAILS. Srsly. Way, WAY, W-A-Y, to many emails. Emails that get in the way of actual email I need and want. Most of it is from various shopping websites. My goal here is to par down what I get and really make an effort to be less materialistic. These emails really feed our national spending habits and I’m not immune. I’d like to limit these to just the shops I love the most and make a point to be more conscious of the marketing I’m taking in. This will help me maintain a less materialistic mindset and also to help me maintain this life of simplicity.
- Food : I’d like to identify what I really like and start really concentrating on making more meals at home. There are a TON of great cookbooks and websites out there that are geared toward good, healthy food made with simple ingredients. I’d also like to clean out our fridge and cabinets and make sure we have the spices and equipment we need to make this stuff. My goal is to identify favorite tastes and foods for P and I and to start really making a push to cook at home 95% of the time. A more simplistic view of my food and diet will help me keep up my training and really cleanse my diet properly.
- Routines : I’d like to take a good, hard look at my daily routines and really refine them into a more productive and efficient set. I’d like to refine my hygiene routines and make sure I’m using the best products (that are also good for me and great multitaskers, also good for the environment) and also to make sure to insert more healthy activities into those routines. I’d like to spend more time exercising with weights (not just running for my marathon training), spend more time outside (reading, walking etc) and also spend more time reading instead of wasting time online and such. My goal is to refine my routines to simplify them and to identify and use the best possible products (healthy and green). I also want to spend more time relaxing with activities that are enjoyable and also good for me.
All-in-all, I’d like to really just get rid of the excess and make sure that what I’m doing is best for me and also best for the other aspects of my life (financial, emotional, health, relational). I want to be more present, more healthful and more focused. I’m excited to get started and I’m also excited to share the progress as it happens. Do you have any tips? Anything that you’ve found that helps keep things simple? I’d love to hear your thoughts!