Book Love

Book Love: Lightly

“My goal is no longer to get more done, but have less to do.” - Francine Jay

I recently read Lightly by Francine Jay and loved its practical tips and inspiring message for lightening up your life. It not only covers the physical stuff that burdens us, but dives into our schedule, our commitments, how we impact the planet, the food we eat and so many other areas. I appreciate that you can open up to any page of this book and are presented with tips to utilize right away. The process is not overwhelming and you are able to make a small change from where you are right now. One of my favorite takeaways from the book is incorporating the mantra “lightly” throughout my day. When I am about to make an impulse purchase or say yes to yet another commitment, I repeat the word “lightly” to myself. I am reminding myself that I want to live a more simplified life with less physical and emotional burdens.

Here are some of my favorite tips from the book:

  1. When sorting and decluttering, round up all items that are in a similar category to get a true understanding of how much you have of a particular item. Take out all of your shoes from your closet, the garage, the hall closet (and anywhere else they may be stored) and assess whether you really need all of them. This can be a very eye opening process since we normally don’t view all of these belongings in one place. How many pairs of boots do you actually wear or need? What about sandals or sneakers? Once you get the hang of this in the first category, do it with your t-shirts and sweaters. Move into the kitchen and find how many duplicates live there.

  2. Set up an Out Box in a central location of your home (the hall closet is a great spot). Anytime someone wants to donate something, they can put it in the Out Box. This is a great tool for staying on top of clutter. When you know something no longer fits or works in your home, put it in the Out Box. Then when the box is full, take it to a donation center. This helps avoid spending an entire day decluttering, because you are doing the job in small amounts each day. This works really well when your whole family participates.

  3. Reign over your house. This is simple, but so very important. Put things back where they belong. Keep counter tops and tables clear of clutter. Ways to help you with this daily task include buying less stuff, monitoring the items coming in (gifts and freebies), and practicing gift free holidays.

  4. Practice restraint when it comes to shopping and exposure to advertising. We are surrounded by messages telling us to buy and consume more. We are constantly told through advertising and marketing that what we have isn’t good enough, what we are isn’t good enough. Limit your exposure to advertising as much as possible. These messages are sneaky and you may not even realize that they are influencing you. Only shop when you need something. Make do with what you have and only shop for necessities. Before making a purchase, consider how this item may weigh you down.

  5. Choose a disposable item that you use daily and replace it with a reusable item. Some ideas include water bottles, napkins and sandwich bags.

  6. Keep a list of all items you purchase for the next month. Review at the end of the month and determine where you could lighten up your consumption. I’m currently doing this right now. Just knowing I have to write down the purchase makes me think twice.

  7. Lightly decline. Practice how you will say no to a common request. Example: “Thank you for thinking of me, but I don’t have the time in my schedule right now.”

“Make sure your things tell the story of the life you want to live.” -Francine Jay

Book Love: Do Less

“The whole purpose of doing less is to have the experience of having more. Not more stuff, but more meaning in our lives.” -Kate Northrup

There are so many wonderful things I have to say about Do Less by Kate Northrup. I think it should be a required read for any woman out there. I have a type A personality and I have been raised to believe that I need to constantly be busy doing things and accomplishing more to prove my worth. I’m working to change this belief, but it is a belief that runs deep. My life is full of obligations and I have very high expectations of myself. Reading this book was a wonderful reminder that I don’t need to do it all.

“Do Less” is set up in two parts. Part one explains the research that we are more productive when we don’t work so much. When we actually focus on our top priorities, we stop spinning our wheels and get something accomplished. Plus we don’t burn ourselves out, so our health gets a boost. Part two is a series of 14 experiments that you can try in your life. You can do them in any order and at your own pace.

Here are a few experiments I want to try this summer:

Experiment 2: Discover What Really Matters to You

This experiment involves looking at your top priorities in comparison with how you are spending your time. When we don’t ask ourselves what matters to us, we spend our lives doing the things that matter to other people (like parents) or the things that our culture sees as important. When we spend our time in alignment with what matters most to us, we feel much more fulfilled.

Experiment 7: Simplify

We can all find ways to simplify our lives. We live in a fast paced world with so many options for everything. This tends to leave us with homes that are overstuffed and calendars that are filled to the brim. I plan to focus on freeing up time in my schedule. I really benefit when I have time to practice yoga, go for a walk, read a book, and just hang out with my family. When my schedule gets too full, I feel a lot of pressure and anxiety physically in my body. A few ideas listed in the book for ways to simplify include grocery delivery, capsule wardrobe, diaper delivery service, cutting down on holiday gifts, and donating old items instead of going through the hassle of selling.

Experiment 11: Streamline Your To-Do List

Kate’s take on a to-do list is so refreshing! She suggests writing a weekly to-do list that includes your 3 most important tasks. I am guilty of writing 20+ things down on my list and feeling defeated because I only accomplished 2 things on the list. I tend to try to get the small things out of the way before I start my big projects. This generally leads to me pushing off my big projects. When you only have 3 things on your list, you can guarantee they are going to be your biggest items for the week. You don’t waste your time on the unnecessary details that can eat up so much time.

I am excited to give these experiments a try this summer. I highly recommend getting a copy of this book for yourself and seeing which experiments you feel drawn to in your life. We could all benefit from spinning our wheels less and gaining some more meaning in our lives.

Book Love: Destination Simple

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I recently stumbled across Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary on Freading (an app where you can download E-Books for free through your local library). I am in love with this little book <3. We all need some reminders to slow down. We are burdened by stress and anxiety from our daily lives. We try to do more than is humanly possible in a single day, then beat ourselves up for not completing our impossible to do lists. I definitely fall into this category, but I am working on slowing down and enjoying this life of mine more. I ask myself daily if my to do list tasks are really necessary. A few less tasks each day means more quality time with my family or more time to relax with a book.

I started putting some of Brooke’s rituals to work recently and here is what I’m learning:

  • Single-Tasking: I am a multi-tasker and I used to wear this like a badge of honor, until I realized it is really not a good thing. When we multi-task, we do not give our full attention to anything. We waste time switching our brain back and forth between tasks. We make more mistakes and stress ourselves out. In the book Brooke recommends choosing 1 task that takes 1-5 minutes and start there. I chose to wash dishes with no distractions and it felt good to just focus on my task at hand. The key is to focus on the details of the moment, so for me it was feeling the warm water on my hands and the mist of the sprayer as I rinsed the dishes.

  • Unplugging: I struggle with unplugging from technology. My favorite place to go on vacation is at a beautiful old resort called Naniboujou in northern Minnesota. There is no Wifi, cell reception, television, or phones in the rooms. They have a landline phone in the lobby for guests to use if needed. It feels so good to go there and escape. Each time I return home, I have grand intentions of unplugging from technology, but then life happens and I’m thrown into my daily routine with my phone, iPad, computer, and television. The exercise in this book recommends unplugging just 15-30 minutes a day with an extra challenge to unplug again before bed. I feel like this is doable for me, especially first thing in the morning. My favorite morning routine includes yoga and meditation when I first wake up. I could definitely benefit at different intervals throughout my day by unplugging and resetting.

  • Emptying your Mind + 3 Things: I loved this concept! Each day either in the morning or evening, sit down with a piece of paper and do a brain dump. Write down all of the details that are floating around in your head. This includes your to-dos, worries, upcoming events - anything that is on your mind. Once your head is empty and on the paper, determine your top 3 priorities to complete next and circle them on your page. I did this exercise this morning and it was awesome! I have dedicated a journal for this daily exercise and plan to do it each night before I go to bed. This way when I wake up the next morning, my mind is clear and I know my top 3 priorities for the day.

  • Morning and Evening Rhythms: I have an on and off again morning ritual. It includes waking up early to read a daily devotion and practicing yoga. When I do this, I feel so GOOD! I start my day clear and I feel like I can take on anything. I can usually keep this going for a month or two, then something will happen and I fall out of the habit. I start sleeping in, which feels good in the moment, but does not feel as good going into my day. Brooke has a great exercise in the book for creating a morning and evening rhythm that works for you and makes you feel good. I did the exercises and was happy with the rhythm I came up with for myself. I plan to try it out tomorrow morning.

I highly recommend this little book. It’s a fast read and the exercises are fun and insightful. Let’s work on slowing down and enjoying these precious lives we have been given.

How are you working on slowing down in your life?