We’re almost a quarter through 2019 (which is entirely hard to believe), and I thought I’d take the time to update you on the progress I’m making on my word for this year. In case you missed it, that word is LESS.
In a world and culture where is seems that MORE is often desirable, I find my heart yearning for quite the opposite. To appreciate the small moments. To free up my time and money. To rid my house and space of useless clutter. To stop wasting precious energy on worrying about everything. And for Pete’s sake, to put down the phone already.
It turns out that LESS was exactly the word I needed to focus on this year. It’s been more difficult than I thought it would be to choose less over more and truthfully, I’ve fallen short on more than one occasion. As I write this post, my office desk is cluttered with papers and candy wrappers (don’t judge!) and my kitchen is overflowing with dirty dishes. While I had decluttered a good portion of the house, I haven’t completed the work. I’m still struggling to make wiser choices with my food, particularly as my running has increased this year and I find myself constantly wanting to eat! In spite of all this, I’m going to choose on the positive today and share some areas of progress that I’m making. So good, bad, ugly, here goes….
Most obviously, I’ve given away and gotten rid of a lot of stuff so far this year. We’ve donated bags and bags of clothes (from every member of my family), a bazillion odds and ends from the kitchen, and I caused the paper shredder to overheat several times going through mountains of old financial records. You can read more about my decluttering efforts, if you’re curious about the nuts and bolts of that process.
Here’s how my house looked last month… (and how I hope it will look again in an hour or so after a good scrubbing!)
But I’ve also parted with a few things that might surprise you. For example, I decided that try as I might, I’m just not going to find time or energy to learn to sew. So, I passed my sewing machine along to my daughter. She actually took a few sewing classes last month and has taken to it like a fish to water. Probably even more surprising, I’ve decided to part with my canning supplies. As I write this, I feel like on some level, I’m disappointing a segment of my readers here. A few years ago, I shared how I’d taught myself how to can all kinds of things. Deep down, I just don’t have much interest for this activity anymore and I’d rather have the storage space for other things. And so I passed my canning supplies along to a new owner in my local Buy Nothing Group. The jars I’d collected went to a local high school where they will be used to make centerpieces for an auction.
While I’m very happy my items found new homes, I was surprised by the level of guilt I felt in passing them along… Guilt that I’d failed, let people down, wasted money. I haven’t fully unpacked all these emotions, but I think I underestimated at the beginning of the year some of the difficult things I may have to process through in my quest of “less.” I know there are still other objects like these that I will need to part ways with, and I hope I can find good homes for them and make peace with that process.
Less Time Commitments
Going into this year, I knew that I had to cut back on some of my time commitments, too. It’s so easy, particularly as a mom, to find your schedule spoken for or filled up before you know it. Not so easy to take a step back and go “woah, wait – do I really need to be doing all this stuff?” Last year, I got my USATF Coaching certification so I could be more helpful to my kids’ track and cross country club. I absolutely adore volunteering my time here. But, it’s a big commitment and I began to see that being fully invested there may mean cutting back my commitments in other areas, even ones that I enjoy.
So I’ve taken steps to say no to a particular commitment this year that’s taken considerable time in the past. I know it’s the right thing to do, but it’s been tough. I struggle feeling guilty about it. Even though I’m 40 years old and you’d think I’d have this all together, some part of me deep down also worries about what people will think of me. Will they think I’m a quitter? Or letting them down?
Again, as I’m writing this out, I’m very much in the trenches of working this stuff out. While I stand by the choices I’m making, I can’t say that they’ve been entirely easy or empowering. Maybe this year is more than just letting go of things that are cluttering my time and space – maybe it’s about identifying my own insecurities and figuring out how to deal with them.
Less Screen Time
So there is one area that I can say I’m feeling 100% positive about and no guilt – and that’s my concerted effort to limit my screen time. Each Sunday, my iPhone does this handy dandy thing where it sends me a “Weekly Screen Time Report.” Maybe you get these too? Man oh MAN have those reports been eye opening. I knew I needed to do something to reduce the time, but winging it wasn’t having any major impact.
But then: I found an app.
This app is called Forest and – full disclaimer – it’s not free. It cost $1.99 and there are in-app purchases (I haven’t made any of those). The way it works is simple. You grow trees or bushes by being OFF your phone. For instance, say you really need to focus on your work. You could designate “60 minutes” in the Forest app and a timer will appear. As that 60 minutes ticks down, a tree will grow. Make it the full way and bam! You’ve got a tree! I know it sounds a bit juvenile, but the thing really has done wonders for me. The screenshot above is the forest I’ve grown so far. (You can unlock different plants for your forest by earning coins. Earn coins when you grow trees and hit certain achievements.) One cool feature is if you earn enough coins, you can get actual trees planted in the world. Um, wow!
I love the positive reinforcement this app provides versus just setting a time limit on my phone. If you struggle in this area, I recommend it. For me, it’s been $1.99 well spent.
I’m making definite progress on my word of LESS. However, there have been some emotional costs that I didn’t anticipate. I see this as all good stuff – growing stuff. If you’ve got a beefy resolution or two for 2019, I hope you’ll take the time to focus on the progress you’re making and worry less about perfection.
I’d LOVE to hear about what you’re doing in 2019. Do you have a goal or word focus? What successes have you made, or challenges have you uncovered?