Learn to Do Less

Too often we mistakenly believe that doing less makes us lazy and results in a lack of productivity. Instead, doing less helps us savor what we do accomplish. We learn to do less of what is extraneous and engage in fewer self-defeating behaviors, so we craft a productive life that we truly feel good about.

– Marc Lesser, “Do Less, Accomplish More

On my nightstand are five books in progress: one is a book I’ve been dying to read for a long time; another is required reading for a class I am taking; two more are great big novels that will take me months to get through; and the last is a recent acquisition, gifted to me by the author.

On my desk are paper-clipped clusters of material: kindergarten school enrollment; Chinese school applications; upcoming fund-raisers and programs; photocopied articles to be read at some undetermined date; catalogs with Post-it notes poking out, suggesting a wish list of sorts:, magazines; and at least three to-do lists in progress.

I have a family calendar on the pantry door in the kitchen. I have a planner in book form on my desk. I have an iCalendar on my computer desktop; our family shares a Google calendar. Just yesterday I synchronized the Google calendar on my new phone.

I have four schedules to coordinate: my teenager’s school and work schedule, which is wrapped around a custody schedule; my husband’s work, teaching, and travel schedules; my preschooler’s school, extracurriculars, and playdate schedule; and I have my own freelance and volunteer schedules to squeeze into the remaining 30 minutes of each day.

I have a basement full of junk (most of it not mine, but that is beside the point) that I wish to be rid of. Most of it is old furniture we are saving for the teenager when she goes off to college or whatever; but also there are boxes of newspaper clippings from my writer days (OK, that’s mine; I just don’t have the heart to shred or torch it.) and enough paint cans to build a formidable pyramid in my back yard.

My car trunk as well as my garage are brimming with stuff that needs to go to the recycling center.

I yearn for a streamlined day, a less-cluttered space. The problem is, no matter how much I attempt to organize my time, to dole it all out in bite-sized pieces, life has a way of rigging explosives to my planner and laughing as I scramble to rescue all the airborne pieces.

You know what’s so great about vacations and travel? The simplicity of it. Your life in a bag. Details like unmade beds, dirty glasses, and hair in the tub are not really your concern. Meals are a no-brainer. Your day is set up how you wish, and luckily with stretches of time to just appreciate the blue of the sky, the chirping of the native birds, and the crackle of gravel under your soles.  How, oh, how to maintain that feeling at home?

Daily life can become a blur of details, most of which are lost, along with the car keys, that bag of groceries, and the last sliver of my inner calm.

One book on the nightstand.

One calendar to direct my days.

One goal for each day.

Time to breathe.

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15 thoughts on “simplify

  1. When I decluttered as part of moving last year, it was SO cleansing. Plus the deductions on taxes were great.

    But the pile of shoes in my closet? It’s still massive. My toes don’t do simplicity.

  2. As I was reading your post, I was feeling the anxiety of my own clutter. I would really like to get it under control. But if I’m really honest with myself, I like hanging out with my kids, seeing my friends, blogging, etc even more so those activities take priority over cleaning. When I get stressed about the mess, I remind myself of that.

  3. TeacherMommy: Where’s the tax deduction for decluttering a daily schedule?
    Molly: It’s amazing how all of it just drifts away when I am not home. Out of sight, out of mind.
    Meleah Rebeccah: Not there yet, but I’m trying.

  4. Oh man, I do WAY too many things! And have WAY too many things around. WAY. As soon as I try to simplify, something else comes my way that catches my eye or attention. I need to schedule time to breathe! : )

  5. Mama Mary: Yes, you do a lot. I cannot even imagine it. Funny thing is, as much as I want to simplify, I’m the girl who rarely says “no.”

  6. The husband walked in on me yesterday trying to de-clutter and he was all “What are you doing?” and I was all “I’m getting rid of this huge pile of crap” and he was all “You do realize that you’re just making a bunch of smaller piles of crap, right?” and I looked around me at all the new little piles and was all “Well. Shit.” And then I gave up and ate a box of girl scout cookies.

  7. Sher: I know our biggest excuse in the last few months is snow. When the snow melts we’ll do this and that and blah, blah, blah.

  8. I’m feeling less guilty for being lazy over here now. Thank you. My calendar is freakishly empty — intentionally so I can make room for the job I’m going to get….someday.

  9. So right on target with my life these days! And yet it is just me and my husband, one calendar, one job and volunteer work. And lots-o-clutter. It seems the more I clean out, the more it accumulates. Keep on going – you are doing a terrific job!

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