Living Simply

Simple Living & Intentional Monthly Planning

Part of keeping things simple for me is keeping routines and rhythms in place so that I can keep my mind clutter free of all those repeating tasks that I like to do periodically. Today, I’m sharing what my current monthly planning session looks like.

One thing I like to do is get our family calendar ready to go. It’s mostly for my son to have IMG_6046a visual of our month and also to practice understanding days, weeks, months, seasons, etc. We have a desk calendar from Target (I’m pretty sure it was $10) and it hangs below our bulletin board right outside my son’s room and right next to our kitchen. Theres’ something super awesome about a blank calendar. Each month, we get a brand new start, moving on from what could have been a hard month (March was for us!) or using it to move forward with the momentum of a good month. So rip off that old month page like a band-aid, and breath in the peace that comes with wide open blank space! To make this calendar, I IMG_6047used the Rhonna Designs App to make some graphics that were square in size (I just used the “instagram” setting and then air dropped them to my computer.  (If you don’t have a mac, you can just email the pictures to yourself, too!) I opened a new Pages word document and added the pictures in. I made them all 2 inches by 2 inches and then added a small lined border around each picture. After I cut them out, I put them through my Xyron sticker maker and and then added them to our family calendar!

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I also go through the Powersheets each month at the beginning to plan out the next IMG_6066month and at the end to wrap up the month well. If you want more information on what Power Sheets are, check out Lara Casey’s site Cultivate What Matters. Basically, what I have is the dated, year long set of power sheets. At the beginning of the year, the book took me through a whole process of setting goals and breaking them down into doable chunks. Each season, you refresh your goals (which I love, because who can actually plan out life a year ahead of time?) and each month you get a tending list that breaks your goals down into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks. This is a picture of my April tending list. Just like anything else, people get super creative and cute with these- I was inspired by one Lara’s co-workers to just use highlighters (some people use water colors and hand lettering- it’s awesome, but I can’t do that free hand-stuff!)

As far as actual planning for the month, for the most part that kind of happens organically as stuff comes up. I keep a pretty simple planner that has a monthly layout in it followed by each week on 2 pages with just big rectangles for each day. I do go back over the last month and see if there’s anything I need to schedule for this month (for instance, giving my dogs their monthly heart-worm medicine). I also then look at my husband’s calendar (he shares it with me on google) and add anything that pertains to me. The big thing is that if it doesn’t get written down on my monthly calendar, it doesn’t happen. I’ve also had to let go of it being pretty; I can’t do pretty and functional at the same time in my planner. It just doesn’t work for my brain.

Once the month actually begins, I would like to be better prepared for celebrations and holidays. Usually, I procrastinate these things and then am throwing something together last minutes. While I’m looking at the month as a whole, I note who’s birthdays are coming up and make a list of gifts/cards, and then look at holidays and celebrations we have coming up and decide if and how we’ll celebrate.

At the end of the month, I have a few things I like to do: I like to clear off my desktop of all those pesky icons that build up, and clean out my “downloads” folder. I also move my Project Life files from Dropbox to Shutterfly and move my pictures from my iPhoto to dropbox for safe keeping. This also keeps me from getting that annoying “you’ve got no more room on your phone” message. I make adjustments to our budget for the next month, wrap up and finalize spending from the last month, and plan out the next month of school.

Living Simply

Living Simply

simple livingBack in 2010, I wrote a post on my old blog all about this new quote I had found that I wanted to make more of a motto for the stuff we keep in our home.

“Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” -William Morris

I still use this quote as a measuring stick for what we’ll keep and what we won’t. Now that we’ve moved 6 times since that post, it’s more true in some ways and not in others. When I first started simplifying my life, I was pretty rigid about it. We either used it or it left. We’ve also added a child into the mix, and that made things a little more complicated because we tried to save things for the possibility of baby #2 coming along at some point.

I love exactly what Sarah Bessey said here are The Art of Simple blog:

Over the years, I’ve embraced a simpler way of life. We have done our share of purging, particularly a few years ago when we lived in a small urban space. I love a tidy and clean home, clutter drives me bonkers (with four tinies, this is a losing battle). I devoured The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up along with the rest of the world and I liked it (well, I didn’t quite get into thanking my t-shirts every time I hung them up, but you know what I mean).

As a Christian, I’ve been led to pursue a simpler life because I believe that consumerism is stealing our money, our time, our resources, and even our identities. I practice simple living, and I do my level best to be intentional and thoughtful about justice issues, even in everyday purchases like clothing and food and furniture. I believe in living within our means and in being unreasonably generous. I believe there is room in our homes – and in our lives – for more than just the useful or functional; there is room for the lovely, the memory-filled, the beautiful, the sacred, the just-because-I-love-it-still stuff.

Simple and minimal living looks different for everyone, and can even change for a person as seasons and life change. We never had baby #2 and have moved six times and will definitely be moving at least one more time. Our priorities and activities have changed a lot and so our life fits that, and I’m always going back through things and evaluating something’s function or beauty in my home. I’m also more careful about what actually makes the “cut” to come into our home because at best, it will be awesome, but usually I end up trying to find some way to dispose or sell it.