Confession: I’ve said the “B” word a lot lately…
Busy is our automated response to the question, “How are you?” Busy is the cultural norm of our society—along with being exhausted, stressed-out, and overwhelmed. Busy is addictive and, sometimes, self-imposed.
But I don’t want to just be busy; I want to breathe. I want to read stories with my kids curled up in my lap, take time to notice the warm sun on my face, and slow this crazy-train down long enough to hear the gentle whispers of our Creator. I want margin and white-space and a little extra room for un-busy living.
For peace. For joy. For seeing God in the small things.
So here are 14 practical tips that are currently helping me slow down and simplify. (And remember, I am always preachin’ to myself first)…
- Deal with it. Decisions are part of everyday life, but many of us (me! me!) can be painfully indecisive—typically over nothing important. With never-ending options in our world, it’s tough to buckle down make a choice already. But here’s one simple trick I’ve learned: Write out all of the decisions that need to be made for the day or week and—wait for it—MAKE THEM.
- Condense the cooking. Maybe you’re a natural chef like The Pioneer Woman. Maybe you are The Pioneer Woman (Hey Ree!). But if you’re anything like me, you just want quick and tasty and healthy meals for your crew. Listen: There’s nothing wrong with simple goodness. So pick a handful or two of wholesome favorites… and rotate. Keep the ingredients on hand, double the recipe for no cooking the following night (or for freezing), and call it a day. The important thing is gathering your people around a table—not perfection (see #9).
- Dry shampoo. Can I get an AMEN, ladies? Also worth noting: dry shampoo’s much older, much lazier sister—the hat.
- Just say no. We’ve heard it a thousand times, but how often do we put this little word into practice? Yes, I want to meet you for dinner. Yes, I want to come to your child’s birthday party. Yes, I want to attend your fundraiser for a fabulous cause. Yes, I want to come to your Scentsy/Arbonne/Rodan+Fields/Pampered Chef/Mary Kay gathering this Saturday morning. But you know what? We can’t do all the things. We must give ourselves permission to not be at every last thing, every time.
- Just say yes. Sorry to be a walking contradiction, but HEY, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. 🙂 Actually, there’s a time and a season for everything. So in place of one of the unessentials you edited off your list, be sure to add “invest in my family” back on there. Date your mate! Date your kids! If you’re not married, use that time to cultivate an important relationship—a friend, a parent, a mentor. Make time for what (and who) matters most.
- Kick the TV out of your bedroom. This has always been a “rule” at our house, and I think it’s a good one for many, many reasons.
- Online grocery shopping. Of all modern conveniences, I definitely don’t hate this one. We were out of toilet paper and laundry detergent and bananas and peanut butter—the essentials. So I placed a Sam’s order and picked it up the next morning while it was raining, without getting wet or unbuckling my precious children out of their car seats. GLORY.
- Maximize down-time. Keep a book with you. Call a friend while you’re driving. Ten minutes here and ten minutes there—in the carpool line or a waiting room—can add up fast. Also: audiobooks in the car, podcasts at the gym, and the listening feature on the totally FREE and awesome Bible App.
- Kiss ‘perfect’ goodbye. Because it’s simply not a thing. (Except Jesus.) The end.
- Take five. When you’re overwhelmed because the house is a mess, take five. Five minutes (set the timer) for everyone to make their beds or pick-up toys/clothes/clutter off the floor. When you’re feeling defeated or deflated, take five. Five minutes to open up the living and breathing word of God. Five minutes to drink a cup of coffee. Five minutes to pray. Five minutes to remind yourself that HE IS GOOD.
- Have yourself a digital detox. Close your computer, set down your phone, and walk outside. I mean it. Take a deep breath, feel the breeze on your face, and remember this life is short and it’s a gift. Make eye contact during conversations, plant a garden, twirl your kids around the yard, and get out of the box you’ve put yourself in. The world wide web is fascinating (and endless), but the real stuff is even better. Don’t forget to show up for your one actual life.
- Baskets are your friend. Baskets for toys. Baskets for books. Baskets for electronics. Baskets for blankets. Baskets for baskets.
- Rest. “Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.’” (Mark 2:27) This isn’t new, guys. Our bodies and minds need a day off—it’s how we were made. Just like our smartphones, everything works better when recharged (and yes, I did just compare us to our smartphones). Rest is good. Modern research continues to validate what the Bible has said all along.
- Grace, grace, and more grace. Instead of taking and giving it by the teaspoonful, we should be using giant buckets to pour out grace—lavishly! Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Let go of what you can’t control. Show up. Be grateful. Do your best. Keep going. God is crazy about you, so take the grace. He’s forgiven you, so take the grace. He is with you and for you and walking beside you. So take the grace, and have a double shot while you’re at it.
In what ways do you simplify your busy life?