What’s your love language?

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If you’re a recipient of my bi-monthly newsletter, you’ll know that I’ve been reading Jonathan Fields’ How to Live a Good Life. If you haven’t read this book, it’s a cracking good read and worth buying an actual physical copy, as there is much in the book that is worth reflecting on and returning to.

Fill your buckets with vitality, connection and contribution

Fields’ model centres on 3 ‘Good Life Buckets’ – Vitality, Connection and Contribution. Fill your buckets, says Fields, and you’ll be on track towards a more rewarding experience of life.

Know your love language

One aspect really struck me, as I completed a section of the book on ‘Connection.’

Fields draws on the research of Gary Chapman, which defined people’s preferences about the way they give and receive love and appreciation. Fields explains Chapman’s 5 ‘languages of love:’

They are:

  • Physical Touch
  • Receiving gifts
  • Words of affirmation/appreciation
  • Quality time
  • Acts of service

It won’t surprise you that, as a minimalist, I instinctively knew that ‘Receiving gifts’ would not score highly on my list, but I had a hunch that ‘Acts of service’ would come out tops.

I was right. When I took Chapman’s online test, my results were in the following order:

  1. Acts of service
  2. Words of affirmation
  3. Quality time
  4. Physical touch
  5. Receiving gifts

So, anything you do to ease a burden for me will speak volumes. It’s also possible that I might show my appreciation for you through an act of service. As Chapman’s profiler says, “Let me do that for you.” is my love language.

Know yourself and understand others

By understanding my love language, those around me will know what makes a difference. By understanding theirs, the connection becomes stronger, as I begin to ‘speak their language’ through the actions I display towards them.

Different types of love

Of course, there are many forms of love and myriad ways to express and receive it. Friendship is a form of love I value greatly. I also observe – and am deeply touched by – the type of familial love displayed my parents to our daughter, Amy.  Their deep, unconditional love towards her is the type that comes in spades from grandparents. If you have ever known this type of love (or been able to share it with grandchildren of your own) then you have been truly blessed.

What if you crave a certain type of love?

Fields suggests,”Conversation is the gateway to connection.” He describes how he overcame his natural introspection to build relationships with amazing people.

By setting an intention to be interested in others; to ask questions; to give them his undivided attention; and to truly listen took Fields’ ability to build connections to a new level.

In the process of building the conversation, Fields focuses less on himself and more on others. However, in so doing, he derives as much benefit from the conversation as the one with whom he is conversing.

How can minimalism help?

Minimalism allows us to create space and capacity in our lives for something new. That ‘something’ is unlikely to be ‘stuff’ (unless you’re an experientialist for whom a whole bunch of kit might be needed) but it could be new experiences, new places or new people. Defining what matters and discovering something (or someone) new is a natural by-product when minimalism and simple living become a key tenet of our lives.

As Courtney Carver neatly puts it: simplicity is love.

If you know what it means to embrace a simpler life, then you will know and discover love in its many and varied forms. Who knows? You may speak its different languages, too.

Further reading:

Jonathan Fields – How to live a Good Life. See also: http://www.goodlifeproject.com/

Gary Chapman: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

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Simplify your…. paper mountain

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Last weekend, there were several ‘door droppers’ in our area, each with a fistful of leaflets or pamphlets for distribution.

To our bemusement, one of these included a Labour party flyer, which was 2 days late for local elections that had already taken place the previous Thursday. Whoops!

In one of the ‘drops’, I received a ‘Look Local’ magazine (advertorial and advertisements for local services), a leaflet from a local tree surgeon (who must be making lots of money to afford to do such a lot of direct marketing) and a flyer from Domino’s Pizza…

Junk mail

Some people avoid junk mail coming through the letterbox by placing a notice on their property. I haven’t done that, but I immediately place all incoming paper in the recycling bin.

However, how do you stop more junk mail coming through the post?

The Mailing preference service (MPS) is a good place to start. Did you know that if you’re still receiving unsolicited mail for a previous occupant of your home, you can also register his/her name with the MPS? Although the MPS website looks outdated (with a 2015 date on its site), I checked in with them and they are still operating.

Royal Mail’s opt-out scheme also stops all unaddressed mail being delivered by the postman.

So far, so good.

Genuine correspondence

What about incoming paper that you have to keep or want to retain? Well, you can recycle the envelopes as soon as they arrive (no need to remove the cellophane window).

Then, for me, I have a single place where incoming mail is collected. At the moment, this is a small drawer in my study, but I have used a wicker basket (currently full to the brim with our daughter’s revision papers!). The temptation is to leave things sitting on the island in our kitchen, but I do my best to whisk things away, leaving that surface clear.

For bank statements, bills and other correspondence that I may decide to keep for a number of months, I do have a filing system. It’s a series of A-Z box files that span the top shelf of a single wardrobe. I keep on top of its contents using my 3 S’s of paperwork.

Greetings cards

Recycle or make gift tags out of them. Create new cards by re-using a cut-out portion of an original card.

Newspapers and Magazines

I don’t know anyone who still buys a daily newspaper; so much of our news is consumed in ways other than print media.

For magazines, online services such as Texture offer a one-stop shop, with the opportunity to share the subscription across as many as 5 devices, plus a number of features (including a search function) that you simply don’t get by having a physical magazine. Newspapers, of course, offer similar subscription schemes.

Notwithstanding the amount of advertising contained in magazines, when it comes to it, if you want some lightweight reading matter, there’s nothing quite like having an actual magazine to browse through. After all, you can’t take the iPad in the bath with you (well, you could, but understand the risks!)

Years ago, I used to have a subscription to Real Simple, a magazine that wasn’t available in the UK. I had picked up a copy at an airport whilst flying from the US back to the UK and really enjoyed it. The UK equivalent is The Simple Things magazine. Now, I don’t buy any publication regularly but it is a treat to receive a magazine as a very occasional gift.

The sharing economy in action

My late grandmother regularly received magazines from her next door neighbour. The latest issue would be left on the wall adjoining their gardens, kept secure under a small brick to keep it from blowing about.

At Warwick Parkway station, I noticed recently another lovely way of sharing reading material. A book share box at the ticket office exists where you can leave a book you’ve read and pick up another – for free. At work, we have a basket in the kitchen for the same purpose.

What else comes through your door?

Pieces of paper, envelopes, flyers, letters, leaflets, booklets and other forms of paper aren’t the only things that come through our door.

Bags

Consider the bags that are posted through your door for charity collections (these typically come in plastic packets – arrgghh!). Where we live, they come from local charities such as the Air Ambulance Service. I say use them! Go to your ‘goods out’ drawer, fill the bag and remember to put it outside on collection day. Note to self!

Carrier bags from online supermarket shopping deliveries can be returned (and you might get money back for them). We do hand back these carrier bags when we have excess, but we also use them to line the small kitchen bin whose contents go to landfill.

Gift bags, luxury paper shopping bags or simple brown paper bags should always be re-used. I keep mine folded flat in a large gift-bag whose sturdy structure is great for keeping all the smaller bags in good order. That’s a trick I learned from Marie Kondo: the best way to store a bag is inside another!

Too many ‘bags for life’? Again, use them or pass them on.

If you ever order clothes online, these will inevitably come in a lightweight plastic bag. These are more difficult to re-use but I have done so whenever I’ve gone through a phase of eBay-ing unwanted items. Do you have any useful ways to re-use such bags?

And simply don’t buy food bags such as sandwich or freezer bags.

Maintain the habit

By implementing some of these ideas, you’ll certainly help keep the clutter – and the associated stress – down. Maintaining the habit of putting things away certainly helps when you need to retrieve something in the future and setting aside time to do your ‘family admin’ supports this goal.

How do you keep on top of your paper mountain and keep the clutter at bay? Reply to this post, below, or join our lovely Community!

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Simplify your…. inbox

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‘Technostress’ is not a new term, but I only came across it recently when used by a colleague who is doing a study on it for her master’s thesis.

It’s easy to infer the meaning of the term but not so easy to know how to respond when, we are required – especially in our work – to interact constantly with new technologies. It’s likely that all of us experience technostress at some point in our working lives; I’d suggest that email has a role to play in this.

Email as tool not torment

Email can be a mixed blessing. Since 1 November 2016, I have received over 2500 work-related emails and managed many more in my personal account.

When I wrote about Minimalism and the workplace, I offered the following tip on managing email:

If you’re using MS Outlook, on managing email, sort by ‘subject’ so that all threads relating to a particular email clump together. You can quickly see the ‘reply all’ threads and just keep the ones that matter.

This is a great way to deal with the bulk of incoming mail. You’re then left with the things that are truly ‘work’ as opposed to things that might just be ‘noise’.

By doing this, you’re filtering to what’s essential, which makes things simpler to start with. Email then becomes a useful and efficient communication tool rather than a stressor.

To sort or not to sort? That is the question

Once I’m down to the essentials, I organise incoming emails using the ‘Categories’ feature in Outlook . It’s much easier to pick out messages of a particular type if you have colour-coded them.

Categories

I am also a committed user of folders. In Outlook, I find it’s a lot easier to retrieve a message if I’m able to narrow down what I’m looking for by topic. Gmail, which I also use, seems able to retrieve anything you search for; I find Outlook less helpful in this regard.

Both categorising and using folders take time, but I find both of these really useful.

One could argue that it’s simpler just to leave emails unsorted but if your email volumes are anything like mine, you need a system that is consistent, memorable and straightforward. That’s where we go back to the meaning of the word ‘simplification’ from my last post: the process of making something simpler or easier to do or understand. I’d argue that the approaches described above do make the management of one’s inbox much easier.

Inbox zero?

I don’t aim for ‘inbox zero’ but, most days, I leave my work with (on average) around 20-30 emails remaining in my inbox. These are my ‘work in progress’.

I review incoming email first thing in the morning, then return to it as the ‘sand’ in my day, only when the ‘rocks’ (the important things) have been dealt with.

The typing pool

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If your work setting is office-based, you may sometimes wonder if you’ve gone back in time and joined a typing pool, as everyone spends significant amounts of time intensely working away at the keyboard.

Vary this routine by picking up the phone to communicate with someone else or go and have a face-to-face conversation. It’s good for you. You can have a stretch, move your body and engage with people in a way that you can’t when you are typing at your desk.

Remember, just because you can (email) doesn’t mean you have to. In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington describes organisations that instigate ‘no email’ days. Could you suggest this?

Annual leave as borrowed time

I have often thought of annual leave as ‘borrowed time’ because you have to work twice as fast when you return to catch up because the emails keep on coming whilst you’re away.

What about the idea of writing the following message in your automatic reply when you are on vacation? Dare you? How would that be received within your organisation or by those with whom you work?

Thank you for your message. I will be on annual leave from X to Y dates and will have no access to email during this time. If your email remains important to you after Y date, please do resend it.

A word on apps

Apps designed to support productivity can help move work out of your inbox and into a project management tool.

There are lots of apps from which to choose and more being developed all the time. According to Statista, there were 2.8 million apps available via Google Play in March 2017 and a further 2.2 million in the Apple app store. So, how do we discern what’s useful?

I have about a dozen apps that I use regularly but I am judicious in my choices (and have previously written my essentialist approach to the social media apps I use).

A small number of websites with related apps really do help me manage work tasks and maintain my sanity. This means I can file related emails away, as I can manage tasks through the tools I use.

Some are more sophisticated than others, but I’ve settled on Producteev as my tool of choice. Although aimed at teams, it’s also ideal for individuals. I can list any number of tasks (each with sub-tasks) and am able to categorise these and set date reminders. Once scheduled, the technology does the work of remembering so I don’t have to. I also love Evernote and use Dropbox for long-term document storage.

Carve out time

If you use email in your workplace, it’s a fallacy to suggest that it isn’t ‘real work’ and that, somehow, your actual work lies outside your inbox. However, if you have sufficient autonomy over how you manage your day, carve out space for ‘time out’ to provide a counter-balance to email if you can. When you do return to it, you’ll be more likely to resume your work with a little more energy.

So, how do you manage your inbox? Have you developed any top tips that you’d like to share? Please do comment below!

Next time

In the next post, we’ll move away from discussing virtual paper to talking about real paper, as we look at simplifying our approach to the management of ‘goods in‘ of the paper variety.

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Simplify your….?

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Now that the beautiful month of May is upon us (May the Fourth be with you!), I’m going to start a short series on simplification.

Since minimalism and simple living go hand-in-hand, I’ll explore some aspects of our day-to-day life that could all benefit from a bit of simplification.

simplification
ˌsɪmplɪfɪˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/
noun
the process of making something simpler or easier to do or understand
What do you wish was simpler in your day-to-day life? Is there something that you wish was easier to do, simpler to understand or more straightforward?

TechnoStress

This compound word is new to me, but I’ll bet you don’t need me to explain it!
Let’s explore strategies for simplifying in the area of technology. How can we make tools such as email work for us, not the other way around?

The battle at the front door

Writer and friend, Rae Ritchie, suggested we consider ways to deal with all that stuff that still comes into the house: magazines, paper, post and random carrier bags. It’s what Rae calls ‘the battle at the front door’. We’ll dive into the seemingly never-ending war on ‘goods-in’ clutter.

Household chores

Whether or not you work outside the home, you’ll recognise the benefits of having straightforward systems in place for laundry, meal-planning or cleaning.

We’ll take a look at ways to minimise the impact of – and time devoted to – these necessary tasks.

What do you wish could be achieved more simply? Do comment below or get in touch!

Let’s simplify!

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#FrugalFebruary – What we can all learn from The Overspent American

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If you haven’t read The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need by Juliet Schor, then I would encourage you to add it to your ‘must read’ list.

Written towards the end of the 1990’s, Schor’s message is as true today as it was in the days before the global financial crisis. If you’re looking to simplify your life, the messages from this important book may resonate with you (as they did with me). I just wish I’d read it before.

In today’s post, I share some of the key tenets of Schor’s persuasive manifesto in the hope that they will help you on your journey towards a more meaningful life with less. In particular, I’d suggest that these are messages we’ll want to teach our kids so let me know if they resonated with you.

Beware ‘prosperous referents’

We’re all aware of the idea of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. In the case of our kids, for Joneses read ‘Kardashian’ (and consider the title of that celebrity family’s television show) and ‘Made in Chelsea’. Schor takes this notion further, describing the impact of widespread ‘upscale competitive consumption’ on individuals and society as a whole.

Schor suggests that we are now exposed to a much broader range of ‘referents’ (points of social and cultural comparison) than ever before. It’s hard not to compare ourselves to those we see on social media, on the television, at the office or in our neighbourhood.

We see others remodelling their kitchens and want to do it, too. We observe colleagues with the latest gadgets or we look on enviously as siblings book foreign holidays.

Yet, the truth is this: everyone’s finances are unique. If we aspire to buy what others have, we may find ourselves enmeshed in what Schor calls ‘a cycle of work-and-spend’.

Upscaling has undermined saving

There’s absolutely nothing wrong in striving to achieve [and save for] what we want in life, but remember this:

upscaling has undermined saving

When the urge to own what others becomes overwhelming, we find ourselves stretching budgets (or taking on debt) to pay for things that we don’t actually need.

We all need an emergency fund for when the washing machine breaks down or the fence blows over. Do we all have one?

Consider Schor’s manifesto

Here’s my 2017 take on Schor’s plan, which is aimed at both individuals and society. What do you make of these action points? Can you apply any of them to your own life? What would you advise your kids, especially teens for whom independence and adulthood is not so far away?

Control desire

Unsubscribe from email marketing. We can all do this individually or use a service such as Unroll.me. Recycle catalogues that land on your doormat.

If you do purchase something, buy the best quality you can afford so that it lasts. When own something lovely that adds value to your life, you stop looking.

Make exclusivity uncool

Consider what a difference it would make if conspicuous consumption were frowned upon, exposing competitive spending for what it really is.

So, be prepared to stand out from the crowd. Set spending limits.

This can be particularly helpful when it comes to dealing with children. By deciding to hold just a modest birthday party, for example, other parents may thank you for taking the pressure off.

For teenagers, try establishing a monthly allowance. When it’s gone, it’s gone. There’s no borrowing from next month. This approach helps teens enormously; it helps them see that exclusivity is uncool when a single purchase can blow their budget and prevent them from using their allowance to enjoy experiences.

Embrace the sharing economy

Educate yourself about the brands you love. Consider the provenance of their products (about which there may not be a great deal of information). To what extent do the values of your favourite brands truly align with yours? Do you really need to buy a product with a label (when you will, in effect, become a walking advertisement)?

To build on this theme, become ‘ad-aware’ and more alert to the possibility that we are surrounded by subliminal messages encouraging us to buy.

Even better, find ways to share, rather than to own. Tool libraries are now emerging, but I’d wager there are many more things we could share in our communities.

For example, I think a ‘Spice Sharing Collective’ would be a fabulous way to have access to a range of unusual herbs and spices that you’d otherwise hesitate buying. Local friends, don’t go out and buy Fenugreek; come and get a teaspoon from me!

Avoid retail therapy

Spending, which can be addictive, may be a substitute for other activities or needs. The idea of shopping as therapy can make a situation worse, as debt and guilt add to the feelings that ‘retail therapy’ was designed to eliminate.

De-commercialise the rituals

See if you can avoid every holiday, festival or celebration becoming a shopping spree. Instead, discover the histories of the holidays you celebrate. If a particular ritual involves gifting, consider making something yourself.

Make Time

If you outsource, you buy time but have to earn to pay for it. That doesn’t really make sense. Consider how much ‘life energy‘ you’d have to expend just to pay someone else for a particular service.

Doing something the slow way is definitely cheaper and may be more eco-friendly, even if it takes more time. It may also bring you closer to those in your community, which is good for them and for you.

Break the work-and-spend cycle

Here’s where Schor addresses society as a whole, including those who can legislate for change.

If we tax larger vehicles, as we do in the UK, that may nudge us towards a different choice.
Likewise, the larger the home, the higher the domestic property tax.

Maybe these types of governmental controls will cause us, consumers, to consider if what we already have may actually be enough thus breaking the ‘work-and-spend’ cycle of consumption.

Mitigate the factors that lead to competitive spending

Here’s another one for government. What would happen if advertisements were no longer subsidised? Is more always better?

If, as consumers, we stopped believing the marketers who persuade us that buying a particular product could fill a heart void/help us look younger/slimmer, make us happier, we may be able to break the pattern of competitive spending. Keeping up with the Joneses would become a thing of the past.

Beyond a certain point, more stuff doesn’t equal more happiness

I think we all know this deep down, but a reminder now and again is no bad thing.

More stuff doesn’t make us happier. In fact, we know that more stuff equals more misery, more stress, more distraction, more debt.

A turning tide?

Schor concludes with a desire for balance, proposing ‘a decently functioning economy coexisting with a decent cultural and daily life experience’.

Almost 20 years on from the first publication of this influential book, I’d like to think that the tide is turning. I’d like to believe that this balance is achievable. A growing interest in minimalism and simple living makes me hope that it is.

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#FrugalFebruary – Slow your home

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In her little book, The Simple Life, Rhonda Hetzel describes how becoming a homemaker helped her to see that it’s possible to live well in either of two ways:

  1. Increase your earning potential by earning as much as you possibly can
  2. Value becoming a skilled homemaker and change your definition of success

Certainly, by adopting the ‘slow’ approach to your home life, it’s possible not only to develop and enjoy new skills but – dare I say it – increase your happiness.

Hetzel argues that, by adopting a frugal mindset, we will naturally slow our spending thus adding value to the family ‘bottom line’ in ways that don’t involve work outside the home.

In today’s post, I’m going to explore some ways in which we can embrace the ethos of Hetzel’s ‘slow home’ philosophy.

‘In-source’ not ‘out-source’

What can you do yourself, rather than outsource it?

For a period of time last year, we employed a cleaner. The reality was that whilst this got the basics done, the cleaning was never as thorough as it would have been if we had done it ourselves. Stopping the cleaning enabled us to make a decent cost saving and – with a minimalist home – it’s not difficult to do the job ourselves.

When I was 21, I lived for a year in Switzerland as a ‘jeune-fille au-pair’.  The families for whom I worked set the bar high in terms of outsourcing; they bought in a lot of help. To balance this, they worked long hours in demanding jobs. By contrast, our little family  endeavours to ensure a work-life balance in terms of how we choose to live, but we do our all of our own ironing, gardening, car washing and so on. You get the picture.

Guard your hard-earned cash closely

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Don’t go to ‘shiny spending places’ because shopping is addictive. Instead of going to the mall, think how much time you’ll have to enjoy a walk in the fresh air, time to read, time to play, time to be with others.

If you need to buy something, ask yourself how much ‘life energy‘ you expended in order to be able to buy it. That is, if you think about your hourly rate of pay, how many hours did you have to work to be able to buy the item in question.

I’ve written before about how slow shopping is a minimalist thing. If you are going to shop, consider buying locally-produced consumables from the market. Slow down. Enjoy being out and about. It’s the frugal way.

Make do and mend

Consider how our grandparents would have lived. It’s about going back to basics to a place that is homely and comfortable. As Hetzel says, it’s about “warm oats soaked overnight and cooked slowly rather than cornflakes; it’s home-baked bread instead of sliced white in plastic wrap.”

Now, I can hear you say, “Well, I have a full-time job, kids, a dog, a house and… and…and.”

I know. I understand. I’m with you.

Find what works for you. Minimalism isn’t a rigid construct. It’s about identifying what adds value to your life. What works for you may not work for me. For example, I don’t compromise on food (I cook virtually everything from scratch) but I have no inclination to grow my own veggies because I know that wouldn’t fit with our family way of life. Our garden, full of woody shrubs, would also need a major overhaul to enable us to grow our own.

Take inspiration from others such as Jen Gale whose Make Do and Mend Year (of buying nothing new) turned into My Make Do and Mend Life.

Alternatively, listen to the Slow Home Podcast with Brooke McAlary.

Cheryl Magyar, writing on her blog, reminds us that’s it’s possible to combine traditional practices in contemporary life, especially when we can make the most of the teachings, insights and content available at our fingertips through the internet. Harnessing the power of the web enables us to have a ready source of instruction, guidance, advice, support and knowledge. Thus, we combine new technology with enduring traditions in a positive way.

As Hetzel points out, today’s work-and-spend cycle potentially takes away the ability to do things for ourselves, disconnecting us from a sense of personal pride in what we make and what we can do.

Consider different approaches towards a ‘slow home’ that works for you.

Spend out

Use what you have, before you buy more. Not keen on that particular brand of shampoo? Use it up! Don’t buy more until you have actually run out. You’ll save money if you take this approach.

Change your definition of success

Hetzel says, “I used to measure success by the amount of money I made and spent.” Her book reveals the joy in the small successes that can be achieved from the time spent at home.

Success can take many forms. It can be as simple as the satisfaction of a dish that turns out beautifully; a small DIY job around the house that you achieve yourself; time freed up to enjoy an activity you really love; or just feeling less rushed, less scheduled, less obligated.

So,what does success look like for you? Have you made attempts to slow your home? What were the outcomes? What worked well for you? What didn’t go so well? I’d love to know !

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A week without schedule

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Today is the middle day of February half-term.

For those outside the UK, half-term is literally a mid-term break for school-children whose school terms normally span (roughly) a 12 week period.

This short winter vacation allows kids and their teachers to catch their breath, as the Christmas holidays seem some time ago and Easter is not yet round the corner.

A spring-like vacation

The weather is so mild, one could be mistaken for thinking spring had already arrived. I remember freezing cold half-term breaks in years gone by. This week we can already enjoy crocuses, snowdrops and narcissi all around us. What’s the weather like with you?

A week at home

This week, I decided to join our 15-year-old in taking some time off, so I booked 5 days’ annual leave. Instead of sitting at my desk at 16:30 on a Wednesday, I am enjoying a cup of tea at my breakfast bar. They say a change is as good as a rest; I’d suggest it’s even better than that.

Days unscheduled

For me, I was looking forward to week involving few plans. In actual fact, when I reflect on it, it’s not that my days have been unplanned or full of drift. On the contrary. What I realise is that this time has unfolded as a ‘week unscheduled’.

What a joy! 

As a list-maker, I had previously noted down a few things that needed to get done (tick), but had made a mental note of lovely experiences to enjoy when the domestic jobs were done.

A natural pattern

So, my days have fallen into a natural pattern.

Get up just a little later than usual (carpe diem wins out!). Walk dog. Do something productive. Eat lunch. Indulge in a time-intensive activity such as reading, writing or yoga. Enter the evening feeling a little less rushed than normal; a little more chilled out. Relax.

A case in point

Today has included a walk into Kenilworth to run a few errands (double brownie points here; Ollie-the-cockapoo also got his morning walk). Then, I returned to complete some decorating I have been doing for the past few weeks: I had a radiator to gloss and a pine bench to rub down for painting. Lunch – a baked potato – cooked itself, as I got on with my DIY tasks.

Mummy and daughter time

This afternoon, my daughter and I had time for a cuddle on the sofa (tricky when I’m a ‘non-squishy’ mama, says she!) and a nail-painting session. It’s these little moments that we can enjoy and treasure when we’re not rushing around or dashing from one appointment to the next.

Many of us have work lives that are incredibly structured and arguably over-scheduled. A week without schedule is one to be cherished. I heartily recommend it to you.

Can you schedule one in sometime ;-)?

Coming up next: The penultimate post in the #FrugalFebruary series – Slow your home

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