Nine ways to feel less busy in 2019

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Imagine you could repeat 2018 – carry the same responsibilities, meet the same commitments, achieve just as much (maybe more), but feel less busy. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Plenty of doing, but no more feeling rushed or overwhelmed. No more feeling like a little mouse on a wheel, legs frantically moving but not getting anywhere. Well, I think you can. In fact, I know you can, because I’ve done it.

Roll back the clock four years and my life was a frantic mess. On the outside, I was the poster-girl for work-life balance – superstar in the office for three days a week and supermum at home with a toddler for the rest. On the inside, I felt like I was being chased across a tight-rope. Eventually, I fell off.

Following the fall, I scaled my life right back. I got myself into a pretty good place. With time, I found the courage to give things a go again. Fiercely protective of my newfound peace and calm, but equally determined to make a bigger contribution to the world, I went about adding things back into my life.

In 2018, I ramped things up. I tripled my working hours, throwing myself into challenging projects. While exciting, it was also terrifying – amplified by the fact I was back working at the scene of the fall, around the same people and on the same projects.

But this time, it was different. In the intervening years, I developed a set of strategies to help me feel less busy and, under pressure, they held up well. They got me through and I’m looking forward to doing it all again this year. Here are nine strategies to make you feel less busy too.

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Enough – my word of the year for 2019

Enough - my guiding word for 2019

One thing I’ve learnt from letting myself slow down is that it’s easier when you have boundaries that force you to prioritise. With this in mind, I’ve chosen “enough” as my guiding word of the year.

I’ll ask myself, “What is enough?” to help me frame what’s in and what’s out in all areas of my life.

Last year, I started using enough lists to simplify tasks and projects. I find them to be a tangible and practical tool for intentional living. I want to apply the same principle to all aspects of my life.

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For me, right now: December 2018

What I've been doing, reading, listening to, making and thinking about in December #slowliving
December – such a contradiction – hectic pre-Christmas and then super chilled out post-Christmas. This is all clearly post-Christmas! Pictures are mostly in and around my parents property.

Looking back, 2018 turned out a lot differently than I expected. This time last year, I had just completed my first freelance project. From there, the work snowballed and I’ve had as much work as I’ve wanted. Sometimes more.

It’s been a great test for my slow-not-lazy approach. I went from working 10 hours per week to 30 and the wheels didn’t fall off. All year, I was nervous about taking on too much, scared I’d end up back on the hamster wheel – endless rushing, getting nowhere. There were occasional blips of busyness, but, for the most part, I remained calm and had time to enjoy life.

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For me, right now: November 2018

For new, right now: November 2018 - What I've been doing, reading, listening to, making and thinking about
It’s the season for everything to happen at once – even rainbows

Wow, we’ve reached the end of November. I can’t say this is my favourite time of the year. As we move into December, everything happens at once, plus I do a lot more shopping than usual.

A year or two ago, we simplified our household finances. We now have two joint bank accounts – one for day-to-day transactions and one for savings. We have debit cards hooked up to the transaction account. It works well, but theee’s one downside to this simple set-up that comes into focus at this time of year – it’s hard to buy a present and keep it a surprise, especially if you buy online!

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Three steps to simplify any activity

Three steps to simplify any activity

My not-so-little-any-more boy recently turned six. We had a party to celebrate. He wanted a big party, if he’d had his way he’d have invited every kid he knows. We compromised on 22.

I’m not going to lie, the prospect of hosting 22 three- to eight-year-olds was daunting! Plus, the timing was fairly awful. Both my husband and I were going to be away (separately) in the lead up to the party and I had a massive work deadline the day before. It could have been a perfect storm of my own making. The kind of thing you avoid if your goal is to banish busyness from your life .

What was I thinking?

I was thinking, “I’ve got this”. Because I knew I did. Over the years of adopting a slow not lazy approach to life , I’ve learnt tips and tricks that help me to cut through the chaos and avoid feeling overwhelmed. I marshalled them all into action to enjoy the birthday party.

Essentially, it comes down to an easy, three step process that you can use to simplify any activity.

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Three easy ways to kick-start your decluttering

3 easy ways to kickstart your decluttering

Have you got too much stuff? Do you want to free up some much-needed space and create a sense of calm, but have trouble getting started?

You’re not alone. The thought of sorting through all your junk can be pretty overwhelming. It’s hard to decide where to begin and it’s easy to put it off.

To help get you started, here are three easy ways to overcome common barriers to decluttering.

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For me, right now: September 2018

Summer is on the way. I can tell because I want to scratch my eyes out from all the pollen around at the moment. I’m pretty excited that the days are getting longer and I’m looking forward to getting back into regular evening walks.

For me, right now: September 2018. A round-up of what I've been doing, reading, listening to, making and thinking about this month.
Climbing up to get a first glimpse of your birthday cake

September marks one year since my son started school. The time’s flown by, well apart from the first day. That first day seemed like the longest day of my life. Waiting and waiting to pick him up and find out how it went. I climbed up a bank so I could sneak a peek through his classroom window. I still love it when I arrive early for pick up and get to watch him doing his thing when he doesn’t know I’m there.

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For me, right now: August 2018

I am a bit bleary-eyed as I write this as I’ve just returned from Chicago. I took a short, impromtu trip to help out a family member. While the trip focused on practical matters, we also had plenty of fun.

For me, right now: August 2018 What I've been doing, reading, listening to, making and thinking about.
Can you tell I like pickles? Mustard application needs improvement

I’ve visited Chicago before, so this trip was more about hanging out and appreciating everyday local gems than seeing the sights. I discovered Jeni’s ice cream  and Dovetail brewery. I tried horchata and root beer for the first time. I ate at Chicago Diner  and could do so every day and be very happy. But, the highlight was going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, a smashing introduction to baseball … plus hotdogs!

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For me, right now: July 2018

For me, right now: July 2008 | Our kitchen and the joy sparking stools
Our kitchen and the joy sparking stools

“Does it spark joy?” For devotees of the KonMari method this is THE defining question as to what you should keep in your home and what you should ditch. I’m not a KonMari devotee – some aspects of her method appeal to me, others, not so much.

What I like about the whole sparking joy thing is the acknowledgement that our attachment to stuff isn’t purely rational. What I don’t like is some of the practices I’ve seen it lead to – what I categorise as rampant updatism. Like getting rid of all your towels, which, until yesterday, were perfectly functional, but now no longer spark joy and must be immediately updated to something more joy sparking.

Well, this month I did some updating of my own and it sparked a ridiculous amount of joy. We have new bar stools and every time I glimpse them I smile. I’m now considering updating something else. Is this the beginning of the end?

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