Day 7 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Move Every 45 Minutes

Today, via Buzzfeed, we have “Get up every 45 minutes and move around. When you sit back down you will feel greatly re-energized.”

This is from the post 23 Ingenious Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder. Not bad. I do agree that it’s a good idea to get up and move periodically if you have a desk job. I only have a desk job 1-2 days per week, but on those days I do need to remember to move in some way at least once an hour. In fact, some days at work, I get up and hula hoop for five minutes every hour. That’s fun! I’m lucky enough to work in an office in a heritage building, with wood floors, high ceilings and large classrooms in which to hoop.

Hula hoop... check!

Hula hoop… check!

I went into work today intending to get up and move every 45 minutes. But then I noticed that between coffee trips, bathroom trips, walking up to the store front to check a product, and searching for my boss to have a quick chat, I was moving far more! I got up and walked around at least every half hour. I do think it’s important to get up and move, and it does help, but this tip didn’t change anything I was already doing. Oh well. It could still be useful for someone else! Maybe try hooping at work!

Original pin is here.

And once again, the dedicated Pinterest board for this series.

Day 4 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Eliminate the Unessential

So far this experiment is going well! I am enjoying setting an intention each morning (today’s was: React out of love, not out of fear), and setting out my clothes the night before is definitely helpful. I think it saves me about two minutes (hey, every minute counts), but more importantly, it helps me to wake up less anxious and makes it easier to get out of bed (which is saying a lot!).

I love the idea of today’s task. Here is the original idea, from a post called “Five Time Management Tips That Will Change Your Life” on the blog Living Well Spending Less:

“I think for me getting rid of the things I don’t really need to be doing is probably the hardest part.  Everyone has a few time fillers they could probably eliminate from their day, whether it be baking something from scratch when it could be store-bought, spending an hour watching TV or drooling over Pinterest, or even taking on a few too many commitments.

This is where the priority list and goal setting becomes so important!  If when you look at your day, you find that much of your time is filled with things that don’t match up to your priorities or your most important goals, then something has to give.  Start small–eliminate 3-5 things in your life that are taking up time but not adding much value.  Just stop doing them.  Yes, I know it is easier said than done, but making a conscious decision paves the way for change.”
Read more here.

This is a great blog post, and one that I’ll be revisiting over the course of the 28 days.

This particular tip is difficult for me. I’m sure most of you can relate when I say that it feels like every task I do is essential – otherwise, why would I be doing it? If I’m working, I’m making money. If I’m watching TV or surfing the net, I’m enjoying leisure time. And all the household chores, and parenting tasks, well of course those are essential!

First, I looked at my To Do list. Everything on there is pretty essential. That’s why it’s there. Grocery lists, work tasks, homeschooling goals, fitness ideas – all things I want to be doing. I felt discouraged – if everything on my To Do list is crucial, what the heck am I going to cut?

My To Do list

My To Do list

But that’s the thing. It’s not those items that I need to cut. It’s the things that aren’t on the To Do list. I’ve been working on making my To Do list better – only listing the things I really need or want to do, so that I don’t get overwhelmed, and shuffling items to a later date as soon as it becomes clear that I won’t be able to get it done by its scheduled deadline. The items on the list aren’t the problem.

What else am I doing during the day? Driving. A lot. I would love to eliminate some driving. There are at least 2-3 days each week when I spend about four hours in total driving (and guess what is my least favourite activity?), and usually at least two more days when I spend at least two hours in the car. I do try to make these times somewhat productive or relaxing by riding in the passenger seat when we take the kids to their dad’s (a two-hour round trip) or by listening to the CBC while I’m in traffic. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m driving.

But how do I eliminate driving so much? I live in Calgary! It’s what we’re known for. Calgary’s downfall is that you have to drive everywhere, and not only that, but we have some of Canada’s worst drivers (seriously. They are terrible. I say “they” because I swear I’m a good driver. But we do have an absurdly high percentage of d-bag drivers here.). I can’t remedy the driving at this exact second; however, I can keep an eye on the amount of time I spend driving and work to cut down.

Other than driving, I would love to eliminate housework, tidying up after the kids, washing dishes and doing laundry. Obviously I can’t eliminate these things, so I plan to look into ways to cut down on each in the near future. Some of the upcoming blog posts will be about just that.

The last thing I would love to eliminate is having to go over to the other house (where I lived up until June), which Justan is holding on to for dear life because he loves it and sees it as his sanctuary, to feed the chickens and our old cat every two days. We don’t want to move the cat, Harley, because we need to have him checked out by a vet first to address his urination issue (and until then we don’t want to move him into a house with a bunch of carpet), and because we’re afraid it will be hard on him to move and we want to decide where we’ll be living in six months before moving him into this house. It’s essential for now that I keep going over to that house to keep an eye on things. Luckily, Justan will be home next week. He has been working out of town for months, only coming home for a day or two here and there, and so we have had to go over to the other house at least every other day. Once he’s back, he can start taking care of that responsibility.

All in all, I would say that I found this exercise really challenging. When you have four kids relying on you to drive them around, and feed and care for them; two houses to look after; several contract jobs; fitness goals; two partners; and a homeschooled child, finding the unessential tasks is difficult. I think the moral here is that our life is currently a lot to manage, and that teamwork is key. I do look forward to cutting back on my driving time, streamlining my household chores, and having Justan back in town so I no longer need to worry about visiting the other house several times a week.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to “Work Fast,” another set of tips from the same list that brought us “Start the Day.” After my experience with the Start the Day tips, I admit I’m skeptical. But we’ll see. Click here to see the pin.

And in case you want to check it out: the board for this series.

Day 3 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: “Start the Day”

The real name of this tip is “How to… Start the Day,” and outlines the things that different very successful people do first in their day. Pin here.

“How to Start the Day” – part of a life-hack pin by Anna Vital.

When Day 3 came around and I looked at this a little more closely, I realized that this tip is actually six different tips, two of which I will be doing on other days and one which is not applicable (no opportunity for customer service this morning!). I chose Steve Jobs’ quote: “Every morning I asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?'”

We were having a snow day, and didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to be. The plan for the day was to stay in bed until about noon and spend the morning drinking coffee while watching New Girl on Netflix. If today were the last day of my life, is that how I would want to spend my morning? Yep.

Not a real goldmine of a tip here, but given that I fulfilled my plan for the morning and it felt great, we’ll call this a win.

Tomorrow, I’ll be identifying what is unessential in my life, and eliminating it, apparently. I am not quite sure what I am going to eliminate… hopefully I can come up with something. Pin here.

Once again, the dedicated board for this series is here.

Day 2 of 28 Days to Simplify my Life a la Pinterest: Pick Out Your Clothes and Shoes the Night Before

I liked day one, and this idea for day two seemed great. Although really, do you save that much time? Either way, you have to pick out clothes. Five minutes in the morning is just being moved to nighttime, right? Oh well. Mornings are tough – maybe the point is to start the day with as little stress as possible and set a positive tone. Sounds good to me!

This is one of those suggestions that came up again and again in my Pinterest mining, but I took it from Stylecaster, where author Perrie said:

“Pick out your clothes—and shoes—the night before.

We realize that you’re not an 8-year-old girl, but laying out tomorrow’s outfit tonight, intuitively, is a huge time-saver. Be sure to iron, steam, lint-roll, or treat anything else you need to the night before as well, and hang your outfit on a hanger outside your closet, so all you have to do in the morning is reach for it. It helps to keep your shoes out, too, since digging through your footwear collection in the morning could get distracting (the “this shoe or that shoe” game can be a massive time suck, right?).”

Check out all Perrie’s tips on getting dressed more quickly in the morning here.

Pretty standard - tunic, tights, legwarmers, cardigan. Add some wool socks and sneakers and I'm out the door.

Pretty standard – tunic, tights, legwarmers, cardigan. Add some wool socks and sneakers and I’m out the door.

The verdict? I think I’ll try to do this on a regular basis. It did save me a couple of minutes in the morning, and I actually got out of bed more quickly because deciding what to wear was one less thing to dread and feel anxious about. I really did used to do this when I was eight, and reinstating this habit doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all. We have another winner!

Tomorrow, I’ll be trying this slightly more complicated set of suggestions for how to “Start My Day.” Pin here.

And of course, the dedicated board for this series is here.

Day 1 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Each Morning, Set an Intention

Here is the task that I chose for the first day (from Headed Somewhere’s blog post, 10 Ways to Be Happier in Your Own Home):

“Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day.

In The Art of Happiness, the Dali Lama says ‘Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.’ Wow. What a wise man. I tend to wake up with a strong visceral reaction that says, ‘Attention human beings: Be afraid of me before coffee. Be very afraid!’ Setting a daily intent makes a huge difference. Your daily intent could be something like ‘be productive’ or ‘enjoy today’s delicious moments’ or it could be something more specific like ‘say thank you to my loved ones today.’ But it should not be another ‘to do’ item on your list.”


Image from “Headed Somewhere” blog (click image to view original post).

Well, I did this on day one. I woke up feeling pretty darn good, took a bit of time to gather my thoughts and let my brain and body wake up more, and then I set my intention for the day. It was, “Find your centre.” To me this meant that if things got harried or I started to feel anxious or stressed, I should try to remember to find my centre, that calm place I can go to, to remember who I am at my core and stay focused on what’s important.

This ended up working really well. There were a few minor wrenches thrown into my plans throughout the day – locked out of the house when I needed my swimsuit to get in a workout; late picking up the kids from school. Andi, my girlfriend, also received a couple of pieces of bad news. A good friend unloaded on me (as she is welcome to, and I was happy to be there for her), and the other drivers on the road were being real jerks. Each time something threw me off, I remembered to find my centre again, and over the course of the day, things went more smoothly because of this and I felt better overall.

Then Andi and I went on a date to a concert, in a bar, and the main act didn’t go on until 12:15 am. We were up until 2 am or so when all was said and done, and ended up with a total of about four hours of sleep. So when I woke up this morning, I could not for the life of me think of any other intention for my day than, “Nap.” My brain would not even function at 7 am when I was still trying to drag my butt out of bed. I tried to think of something meaningful, something that would actually help me throughout the day. Nothing came to me. Even mantras I often use for meditation didn’t seem to hold any real meaning.

While I lay there, our kitten (she’s over a year old now, but she’s still our kitten) climbed up beside me and started to hardcore snuggle me. She showered me with love and purrs, and I felt great. Suddenly I thought to myself, “What if my intention for the day somehow related back to this? What could I say that would remind me of this moment?”

We have strange kitties, who like to be all covered up in blankets.

We have strange kitties, who like to be all covered up in blankets.

And what did my poor, exhausted brain come up with? “Find the kittens.” It’s pathetic. That’s all my poor little mind could muster. What it meant to me was either, “Find the bits of your day that are as precious as this kitten,” or “Literally look for kittens.” I wasn’t sure but the minutes were ticking by and I needed to get myself and the kids ready to walk out the door.

The really funny thing is, my day was filled with kittens. My colleagues at work shared photos and stories of their cats, I enjoyed some kitties on Instagram, there were plenty of kitten cuddles throughout the day, and cats seemed to show up everywhere. I also had a few moments of random beauty that made me think “Is that a kitten?” Like, are the mountains a kitten moment? What about a Chinook arch? A hot cup of tea? Sure, why not?

In the end, my really dumb intention still worked. I mean, probably because it was about kittens, so it couldn’t really miss. But I’d say that so far this strategy is working. I look forward to continue using it.

Tomorrow, I’ll be checking out how different it is to start my day with my outfit already chosen. Pin hereblog post here.

And of course, the dedicated board for this series is here.