A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: Simplified Space

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

A Simplified Space.  That’s no easy task.

I’m a relatively organized person, and the thought of simplifying my entire home overwhelms me.  But the first chapter of this book clearly lays out not only the HOW of starting the process, but also they WHY it’s necessary.

WHY start with a Simplified Space:

  1. Clutter is the enemy of simplicity
  2. Simplifying you space means giving your home potential to inspire and soothe (pg. 2)
  3. It’s one of the most immediate and satisfying transformations you can make

On board?  Great!  Let’s get started.  But first, remember these things as you start.

Keys to Simplifying Your Home:

  • Buy NOTHING.  Keep track of what you think you might need as you go through the process and reassess that “need” once you’ve completed it.
  • Use the definition of Homemaking: The creation and management of a home, especially as a pleasant place in which to live.  That’s your goal.  Create that.
  • Instead of thinking of decluttering as getting rid of stuff, view it as “giving your home the potential to inspire and soothe” (Pg. 2)

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Personal Inventory & Defining Your Space – Ask yourself — AND ANSWER — these questions from pages 4-5 & 9

  1. Which parts of my life feels less than simple right now?
  2. What do I wish my home communicated to my family?
  3. Which elements of a home’s design, aesthetic, or ambience are most attractive to me?
  4. Why is it important to invest my heart and effort in this process?
  5. How do I want my home to feel?
  6. What do I want to see when I walk in the door at night or into the kitchen first thing in the morning?
  7. What are my biggest goals for my home?

Answering these questions gives you a goal to work toward.  My former boss used to say “If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail.”  I’m not great at answering the above questions, but I know that it is helpful.  Especially with a big task like simplifying your space.  Give yourself a defined goal to work toward.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Now that we’ve got a destination, let’s figure out the route!  Make a plan.  List every space in your home (Don’t bail yet.  Writing everything down may be overwhelming, but it is how your start).  Remember that this is a marathon.  Slow and steady in this process is just fine.  In fact, it’s probably better than fine because there’s a high probability that you do it better if you take a little extra time.

Emily Ley suggests starting with the most overwhelming space because, upon accomplishing it, you have a sense of immediate gratification and confidence that comes from completing it.  I’ve always suggested that people start in a small area and let that small area be the training wheels on the bike of decluttering.  Either way, pick a defined space and stick with it until you’ve finished it.  Then move on to the next.

I love her suggestion to designate a “Get out of here space”.  This is the place where all of the items that you have decided to donate will go until you have them picked up or drop them off.  I use a few shelves and a corner of our garage for these things.  That way, they’re out of our living space and I don’t have to see them multiple times a day, but they’re not so far out of sight that I forget that I need to do something with them.

We’ve got a destination, we’ve got a route.  It’s Road Trip time, baby!  Grab those garbage bags and get to simplifying!!!

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Questions to ask yourself as you do the dirty work (Pg. 13)

  1. Are you iffy about it?  Get rid of it.  (Seems harsh, but trust the process)
  2. Do you love or absolutely need this item?
  3. Do you have multiples?
  4. Have you used it in the last six months? (If that seems a little harsh, use one year instead)
  5. Does it have deep sentimental value? (Remembering that we cannot possibly keep every item that has ever felt special)

Key Ideas:

  1. Embrace emptiness and bareness as breathing room for your home and mind (Pg. 15)
  2. Avoid the pitfalls of organization – Don’t set yourself up to fail (Pg. 20)
  3. Sort and store in ways that work for your family – not because it’s looks good on Instagram (Pg. 20)
  4. Celebrate Progress! (Pg. 20)

Quick Tips:

  1. Store similar items together (Pg. 16)  See my example of this here.
  2. Use Heirloom boxes for momentos (Pg. 16-17)  Here’s the system we use.
  3. Don’t set things down where they don’t belong (Pg. 22) Mail is often the worst culprit for this.

My goal is to have this process of going through each space in my home done by the end of the summer.  It won’t be easy, but I have a lot more downtime in the summer than I do during the school year, so now is the best time to do this.

If you don’t follow Emily Ley on Instagram, DO IT!!!  Check out her Declutter highlight to see how she does it.  Or, if you’re more of the written word person, read a post she wrote on her blog last year.

Simplicity Challenge

At the end of each chapter, Emily Ley has a ‘Simplicity Challenge’, which are 5 steps that you can do right now that make big strides toward achieving your goal.

Comment on each blog post with the number of simplicity challenges you completed that week.  I will track each person’s progress (this is a total honor system thing) and the person with the most challenges completed at the end of the book will get some swag.  Like good, helpful swag.   No clutter-y stuff.

Don’t forget to take photos of the process AND the progress and use #simplifiedsummer so we can all celebrate together!

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A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: Intro

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

“What if we traded perfect pantries with matching bins and pretty labels for easy routines we can actually keep, routines that connect our families?”

That quote was one of the first things I saw when I opened up my copy of A Simplified Life and immediately thought that Emily Ley and I should be BFF’s.  I actually shouted “Yes!” after reading it – which garnered strange looks from my family members playing in the sandbox 20 feet away.  When I’ve told people about this book, I’ve used this quote to summarize it.

As we begin to read this book together, the question that I keep coming back to is this:

WHY is the Simple Life appealing to you?

On page 8 of the intro, Emily Ley lists her “whys” and I encourage each one of us to do the same.  It doesn’t have to be as eloquently written as hers.  Mine won’t be.  But it should be written down.  Just get the gist.

In the interest of full disclosure, my why is:

I want a more Simplified Life so that I can be “all there” when I’m spending time with people.  I want to have availability to help others whenever I see a need.  And I want to fall asleep not feeling overwhelmed by what’s to come the next day.

As I read through the Intro and she lays out her intentions for the book, I appreciate the balance that she works to strike between intentionality and doing the hard work, but not becoming enslaved to it.

It’s a delicate balance.  That is one hard tight rope to walk.

“What has to get done gets done”, she writes on page 9 of intro.  The trick, for me, is redefining what constitutes “what has to get done.”

Do you feel like you’re running around with your hair on fire?  Are the joyous sounds around you being drown out by your brain reciting your to-do list?  Are you debilitated by how much there is to dig out from in order to have any sense of order to your days?

Then let’s keep reading…….

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Currently……

Currently :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I Am Currently…..

Wearing

This sleep shirt.  (For pajamas, not as actual clothes.)

I found a white version on a clearance rack during a recent shopping trip and was intrigued by the lightness of the fabric.  I get super warm when I sleep, but I like having something covering my shoulders, so I thought this shirt would be a way to do that without sweating the whole night.  And I was right.

It is super comfortable and keeps me cool.  I love it.

Reading

A Simplified Life by Emily Ley.

Guys, this book is life-changing.

My husband got it for me for Mother’s Day, and I cruised through the first half that afternoon.  The chapters are Simple Space, Style, Meals, Schedule, Finances, Hospitality, Technology, Self, Motherhood & Faith.  She breaks down each of these areas of our lives and gives practical tips for how to simplify each of them.

It’s a quick, easy read, but the good stuff comes from doing the workbook-type tasks that are part of each chapter.  It is thought-provoking, encouraging and convicting all the at the same time.  I could write an entire post about it.  There’s an idea….

Eating

Pistachios.

Where have these been all my life?  I can’t stop eating them.

Do yourself a favor and buy the biggest bag you can find.  You can thank me later.

Watching

Nothing.

It finally got warm here, so I spend every minute that I can outdoors, which leaves no time for TV.  I will turn The West Wing or Hawaii Five-O on Netflix while I’m folding laundry, but that’s about it.

My husband watched The Carter Effect, a documentary, last weekend while I was away on a Girls Weekend and said it was excellent.

Loving

Bumble & Bumble Dryspun Finish texture spray.

Of course, I learned about it from The Small Things Blog, but didn’t want to pull the trigger on ANOTHER hair product.

I pulled the trigger and it is PERFECT.  I can’t explain why it works, but I know that when I spray it on my curls before combing through them, my hairs stays fuller & curlier longer.

Thinking

That this might be the year that I can grow herbs.  I’ve tried the last four years and killed them every single time.

Last year, after killing all of them that I planted, my husband put his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said “You need to admit that there are certain things that you cannot do and growing plants is one of them.”

I promised him that after four fails, I was done trying.  But I just love fresh basil sooooo much.  Maybe five is my lucky number.

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Spring Capsule Wardrobe – Try #2

Spring Capsule Wardrobe for the Stay At Home Mom :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Three weeks into my Spring Capsule Wardrobe and I had to start over.

I made the same mistake that I made with my first capsule wardrobe which was that I chose clothes that I thought I should wear and not clothes that I wanted to wear.

What I mean by that is about 70% of the time, I want to be super casual.  The kind of casual where my outfit could also double as pajamas.  My problem was that only 30% of my spring capsule wardrobe was made up of those kinds of clothes.  And even though I didn’t love all of my choices, I was feeling like I had too many choices, so I wanted to pare down even more.

By this time it was the middle of April, which meant only six more weeks until I switched to summer clothes.  I decided this would be a great time to try a “real” capsule wardrobe.

By “real”, I mean that is while there are no hard and fast rules, most people say that a capsule wardrobe should be 30-35 pieces and it should be made up of coordinating colors.

I never followed either of those “rules”.

When I started, I felt like, in order to make a capsule wardrobe work for me, I needed more than 35 pieces so that I didn’t get sick of it.  But this time, I was only going to be wearing these clothes for six weeks, so maybe I didn’t need as much variety.  And I got a new pair of shoes that replaced two in my original spring capsule.  That made this the perfect time to really downsize and see how it felt.

I went from 50 pieces to 33.  Let me do the math for you.  That’s a 33% cut.  That’s significant.  But I don’t look at my closet and feel overwhelmed.  Now I look at my closet and feel like I have the perfect amount of options.

As far as the coordinating colors part, when I first started, I wasn’t starting my wardrobes from scratch (by going out and buying an all-new wardrobe), which meant I was working with the colors that I already had, and there was no dominant color palette in those items.  If you look at my original spring capsule wardrobe, there was very much a dominant color palette – and pattern for that matter – which was not at all intentional.

Let’s play the capsule wardrobe version of Where’s Waldo and see if you can find the super redundant pattern

Spring Capsule Wardrobe for the Stay At Home Mom :: maximizingdaysblog.com

LOTS of navy and white stripes, and some navy and white solids too.  This meant that I didn’t have to choose a color palette, but rather adhere to a pre-determined one.

As I weeded through to pare down, I thought a lot – for the first time – about each piece being able to be worn with multiple other pieces.  This hadn’t been part of my decision-making process in previous capsule wardrobes.  To do this well and consistently through future capsule wardrobes, it is best if this consideration is taken when purchasing clothes.  Lesson learned.

The biggest takeaway in all of this is to remember why I started doing capsule wardrobes.  I wanted to be excited about wearing all of my options, I wanted to feel good in everything that I wore and I wanted it to be minimalistic.  Three weeks after creating my original spring capsule wardrobe, I realized that I was only achieving one of those three goals.  So, back to the drawing board.

It’s like I always say, Progress Over Perfection.

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Currently……

The Never-Ending Winter :: maximizingdaysblog.comThis photo is titled ‘Never-Ending Winter’.
Is this not the most depressing picture?  It’s our backyard.
April 12th and not a sign of green ANYWHERE.
But don’t worry, because it will all be white again this weekend. (I’m not kidding….)

Full Disclosure: I am completely aware of my inability to stop complaining about the weather.  In the words of Squints Paladoris,  “I can’t take this any more!”

I Am Currently…..

Wearing

I started my Spring Capsule Wardrobe last week, so this should be filled with all of the fun, warm weather items that have been stored under my bed for the last six months.  But, alas, winter just won’t leave us alone.

So I will dream of actually wearing spring clothes sometime before July.  Until then…..

I bought these pants and sweatshirt during Athleta’s sale this past week, and am anxiously awaiting their arrival.  It’s still pants and long sleeves, but they’re more lightweight, so I’m hoping that will make it feel more spring-y.

Reading

Obama An Intimate Portrait.

I found this last week on a return cart at our public library and grabbed it as fast as my nerd hands could.  It is a collection of photos taken by Pete Souza, the official White House photographer for Barack Obama during his entire eight years in office.

It.is.fascinating.

With each photo is a short caption giving some context to what you see.  Beautiful photography aside (there’s a reason this guy was hired by The White House), flipping through the pages of this book gives an insight into what the job entails, the human side of the office, and behind the scenes parts of the job and cause us political science majors heart palpitations.

We don’t have a coffee table, but if we did, this book would be on it.

Eating

Dried apricots.

During Holy Week, our church does a Maundy Thursday ‘Experience’.  We eat a meal together inspired by the passover meal, sing hymns, read scripture and take communion.  It’s one of my favorite events of the year.

One of the items served for supper was an assortment of dried fruit, including dried apricots.  One of my children didn’t eat hers, so I helped her out.  Oh.my.goodness.  Where have these been my whole life?

That was two weeks ago today.  I’ve since purchased four bags of dried apricots.  I cannot get enough of them.

Watching

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I am an Aaron Sorkin nerd.  Before I knew what a screenwriter did, let alone any of their names, A Few Good Men & The American President were my two favorite movies (they were both written by Aaron Sorkin).  I started watching The West Wing when the pilot aired the fall of my senior year in high school, and faithfully watched every single episode of it’s seven year run.

Molly’s Game was Sorkin’s directorial debut, and my husband and I saw it in the theater.  It came out on Tuesday, and I created a Redbox account to rent it that day and watch it for a second time.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about the movie, but I, obviously, thought it was fantastic.  It’s a LOT of words, and they come pretty quickly.  But it’s a riveting story of a woman who tried to do what’s right while breaking the law.  Rent it.

And then google ‘Aaron Sorkin’ and watch anything else he’s ever written.

Loving

As I mentioned earlier, I did some online shopping this week at Athleta.  My husband bought me a swimsuit from there that I’ve been drooling over for the last six months, and since that purchase, I’m addicted.

I want everything they sell.  It’s a problem.

This conversation actually occurred in our kitchen this morning:
Me: The next time we go to the Cities (Minneapolis), I need to go into Athleta and ignore the price tags and just try on everything.
Husband: Whyyyyyyy?
Me: So I can learn what styles fit well so that when they go on sale online, I know what to buy without having to worry about it not fitting.
Husband: This sounds like a plan that can’t go wrong.

Thinking

That I’m going to buy this Simplified planner.  I’ve seen it around the blogosphere world and heard people talk about it, but I have my trusty Daily To Do List printable, so didn’t think much about it.

But now, I’m starting to change my tune.  They are currently sold out of planners, but are releasing new versions on May 2nd, and I’m leaning toward making the switch.  I will keep you posted.

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