[Update: Books offered at bottom of post are no longer available]A friend said the other day, “I don’t know how you do all that you do, Ann.””The only way I do all that I do,” I replied, “is by not doing it all.”What I meant was—and I expanded on this with her—is that I cannot do it all. I don’t do it all. I have limits and make choices accordingly.But writing and speaking are on my list of things I do. Given my limited capacity, I have to choose not to do other things. Here are some examples of things I don’t do, or at least limit:
- Shopping. I rarely shop (except for Goodwill). One time I had to buy a specific piece of clothing for an event and couldn’t believe how much time it took to go from store to store in search of what I needed.
- Hobbies. Writing is my main hobby as well as my ministry. Many activities interest me, like scrapbooking and handwork, but I’ve decided to zero in on just a few things, with writing as my main focus.
- TV. We watch very little television, which frees up a lot of time.
- Exercise. I keep exercise as simple as possible and jog. I like jogging for lots of reasons, one of which is that I can just head out the door and do it. This wouldn’t work for a very social friend of mine who needs people and a class to motivate her, but it works for me. I’m out and back for the duration of the workout without transit time or chit-chat. After a few crunches on an exercise ball and some stretches, I shower and move on.
That list reflects some intentional choices. There is another category of not doing things; it’s called neglect.Yes, I also neglect things; in particular, the house.Now you know.Fortunately, the Belgian Wonder has a pretty high tolerance for clutter and mess. Six of us live under one roof. When I’m not paying attention because I’m editing up a storm, rooms can get out of control faster than you can say “comma splice.”When my deadline passes and I’m back to reclaiming our space, I find myself making resolutions.Scrubbing away at grimy, neglected areas of the bathroom, I resolve to declutter and simplify. It’s almost always top of the list of things that bug me about my life.Clear out the clutter!Toss the junk!Send off stuff!I crave organization and order, but neither of those traits comes naturally.I’ve read almost every book on organization and decluttering out there. You’d think the principles would sink in so deeply that I’d automatically practice them, but I don’t. The house is still cluttered. And I’m still longing for a simpler space to complement my slower pace.A couple of years ago, when I was starting to work on Not So Fast, my editor wrote me a note that she was decluttering all weekend. She said, “I think slowing down and living simply go together. Don’t you?”I do.I do think that living more slowly and living simply are very complementary. When we simplify, I think it’s easier to slow down our pace. And when we slow down our pace, I think we start to see the beauty of simplicity in our schedule, relationships, activities, and space.The most pressing area I need to work on is simplicity of space.So when school is out, my summer goal is to achieve some of my decluttering and organizational goals.Will you hold me to it?Remind me?Hold my hand?Set up and manage an eBay account for me?Pay shipping for boxes of books that I pluck from the shelves to release to the world?Actually, my life is slow enough at the moment, I think I’ll grab a few books right now. Does anyone want:
- Scarlet Feather
- The Mind of Christ
- Chosen by a Horse
- The Book of Guys (hardcover, and a different cover than the Amazon link)
- A Painted House (hardcover)?
If you cover shipping, they’re yours.First come (let me know in comments with an e-mail to contact for arrangements), first served.
Monica- Paper Bridges says
no thanks on the books, I’m trying to declutter and use the library more.
question: how did you get the flowers to grow out of those books? amazing!
I pared down my priorities in a way similar to yours; however, I’m feeling convicted about the fleeting time I have with my kids and how much I still need to teach them about life.
This summer I am trying to put those family moments at the top of my list, in bold, with a yellow highlighter and a few exclamation points for good measure.
Good job with uncluttering. It does make everything easier.
Monica: Oh, rats. I thought a book-lover like you might grab one for summer reading–or that you’d take the top one for its unique characteristic of not only being a free paperback but also being capable of sprouting a daffodil.
Meredith: Good stuff, Meredith! Sounds like a fun summer for you and your kids–my lucky ducks will be jumping in the car to haul stuff to Goodwill. Good family moments for them to look forward to, eh? I’m kidding! We’ll have lots of afternoons at the park, pool, and just hanging out in the back yard enjoying cookouts and tree-climbing. I’ll watch for your fun summertime posts!
A secret dream of mine is to rent a giant dumpster, place it in the front yard and fling things out the window into it. I’d like to imagine that I wouldn’t even look at the stuff, I’d just toss it. Because looking at it is what tricks me into keeping it. So, while I’d love to help by keeping you accountable this summer, I suspect I’d be more of an enabler rather than an enforcer. (I do have similar goals this summer though.)
L.L. Barkat says
I like that about not doing stuff. I guess that’s how I do all the stuff I do too. : ) Not doing at my house…
-as much cleaning and cooking as I used to
-as much gardening as I used to
-as much blogging as I used to
And I generally only shop for clothes before a conference (hey, are you going to Calvin? We might just have to shop next spring!)