The first week in August begins SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE WEEK.
No, I’m not advocating “If it doesn’t give you joy, you must throw it away.” But we should spend time thinking about what makes our life a little less stressful, and we can applaud that and cheer about items playing a role. We’ve all heard the “less is more” slogan, and yes, it is easier to find things when it’s not part of a crowd. But just “throwing away” is wasteful, and without being present in the moment as we acquire things–instead just grabbing up what does the trick when we’re in a panic over something–we’re destined to repeat our mistakes again and again.
While I write the Organized Mysteries and the Frugal Lissa Mysteries, my characters, Kate & Lissa, are the experts in their fields–I’m just the happy mentee that follows along behind them and documents their advice on decluttering and money-saving. Running a busy household can be stressful, and even before I signed my first fiction contract, I knew I needed tricks and hacks to stay on-track each day, whether we were talking about organization or budget-planning.
For both these necessities, I found colors were my heroes. From markers to folders to plastic bins for wandering possessions–whenever I need to keep track of kids’ and spouse & my activities on a calendar, or where to put permission slips to sign and return, colors made the difference. Everyone in our house has his/her own color. Even the dog has as her own color to help remind when to give her meds each month or when the dreaded vet appointments are scheduled. One glance at the family calendar easily tells me from a distance who has an appointment/activity/deadline to make in the coming days–even when I’m too far away to actually read the note in the calendar square, I can see how much is on the horizon. Everyone has a personal colored file on the kitchen desk, where items are filed that they need each week, so we don’t have to hunt through the house and every backpack to find the necessary paper to fill out or sign by the end of the week. Bills, such as those paid regularly for utilities and insurance, have their own colored folders as well, making end-of-the-year tax prep and finding data needed in an emergency easier as well. I’ve blogged about using colors in my writing business for years–giving each series it’s own color of notebooks to scribble into, hold notes I’ve found in my research, or keep safe when I pre-write or rewrite scenes when I’m brainstorming. And yes, I use series colored ink to remind me at a glance which note is for which series. Which makes it all the easier too, since if I’m looking for something relating to the Organized Mysteries, for example, I only need to focus on things tied to light blue.
Beyond this simple “color scheme,” probably my next favorite way to simplify is to primarily read on an ereader. No, I haven’t completely given up books. I’ve given a lot away in the past couple of years to my library, but I still have multiple bookshelves and even book closets in our home–way more than my husband is happy about (his issue; not mine 🙂 ) But I have to say I truly love being able to toss my Kindle Fire in my purse and know I have dozens of books available to me at any time–whether I’m on the run for errands, or taking a week or weekend away. I’m covered and my ereader is always ready to go. And if I forget I already have a title and try to buy it again, Amazon reminds me I’ve already puchased the book, then nicely asks if I’d like to read it now. I even carry a secondary power source in case my Fire’s battery charge is lower than I remember. And both of those things are key because the Fire and the extra power supply also offer the ability to “see in the dark” too. My Kindle has a bright white page that doubles as a flashlight, and my secondary power supply (about the size of the palm of my hand) actually has a flashlight as one of its features–and can shine for most of a day. I’ve used both when I’ve been away from home and needed a personal light source. So, being able to wear “more than one hat” is something extra that I value in items I use every day.
What about you? Do you have a favorite way to keep on-track and reduce the stress in your life? Are you a “I have to see everything at a glance” kind of person, or do you prefer to simply know where everything is at all times? We’d love you to share your ideas in Simplify Your Life Week.