“One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.”

Monthly review: keeping busy at bay

“One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.” Henry David Thoreau

As a resident of Melbourne, my life has been run at a very different pace for most of this year. Being under COVID-19 restrictions for such a long time and being confined to your home with the exception of four basic reasons did mean the calendar was much less packed than it usually would have been.

In no way do I wish to go back into lockdown, but I am seriously guarding my calendar at the moment to keep busy at bay. I don’t want to fall into the trap of simply adding everything back to the calendar just because restrictions have eased.

I have actually enjoyed having plenty of white space in my calendar and not rushing from one thing to the next. I have liked being in the car driving around less. I have liked that I have been shopping and buying less.

So much of the busyness of our life can come from doing things out of habit, not intention. I am loving that I can see family and friends more now and we can go out to places, but I am trying to do this intentionally. When organising things or accepting invitations I am asking myself a few basic questions:

  • If I had to it this week would I still want to do it? There can be a tendency to schedule things out in advance if we are not overly keen on it but don’t want to say no. Sometimes the date needs to be in advance, so by asking myself if I would be prepared to do it in the next week if I had to gives me a good feel for whether or not I should do it.
  • Does it have to be in this format? I loved having walking catch ups with friends and family during lockdown as it was really the only way to be able to do it. I am not totally against cafes and going out to dinner, but this doesn’t have to be the default format for catch ups just because we can do them now.
  • By adding it to the calendar, how much white space is left? Just because a space is free on the calendar doesn’t mean it needs to be filled. I am avoiding back to back events and multiple nights out in a row. I know many people who love this type of socialising but I am not one of them. I feel better when I feel like I have time free and unscheduled across my week.

I know most states in Australia are well ahead of where Melbourne is at the moment and I would love to hear how you avoided falling back into the busy trap once restrictions were removed.

October monthly review

HabitConnection to goal - Simplify daily life to spend more time with family and friendsQuote - “A simple lifestyle is good for us, helping us to better share with those in need.” ~ Pope FrancisOctober Review
Simplify our evening meals (make one meal a week meat free)With five kids, two being older teenagers and one being an adult I need to cook a lot of food. These three also have who casual or part time jobs, so having family meals with everyone eating at the same time is becoming increasingly more difficult.

The types of meals I cook now need to cater more for different sittings of meal times and also larger volumes so they can eat left overs for other meals as needed. This can be time consuming and I want it to take up the minimal amount of time, giving me the greatest chance of eating a family meal with as many kids as possible.

I need to simplify some of the meals I make to make this happen and I also want to reduce meat intake in the house, so want one meal a week to be meat free as well.
"If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." ~ Mother Teresa
You can read the changes I have made to this habit in this post here
Simplify our home cleaning routineWe have the kids involved in doing work around the house across the week, but it isn't as streamlined and as simple as I would like it to be. We also have a different system of contributing to the housework once kids leave school, so I need to work on simplifying how we all contribute to keeping the house clean and tidy. "The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment." ~ Marie KondoOctober was a good month for everyone chipping and doing their bit to keep the house organised and tidy. One massive bonus of having Phil work from home is that he has taken it upon himself to be the laundry man. He is doing 90% of the washing and folding. This actually makes a huge difference not only in terms of my time but it is one less thing I spend mental energy on as I know he has it covered.
Simplify my exercise routineRunning will be my focus for 2020 but I would still like to keep up strength training and do some yoga. I need to work out a way to fit this into my life without taking up too much time or feeling like I have too much to do.

Both the strength training and the yoga help my running, so I need to find a way to simplify how I can blend them into a routine.
“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." ~ Henry David Thoreau
I sometimes wish that I could apply the same rigour to other routines as I do my exercise routine. Business admin I am looking at you! I guess the key differences are I love running and I always feel better after I do it, even on the days that I don't feel like doing it. Business admin never makes me feel that way.

I started a new running plan in late October and the training has some very different sessions to what I am used to doing, so it will be interesting to see how I like it.
Declutter one item a day (can be averaged over a week / fortnight)There are cupboards that are too full, bedrooms that look a little messy because they have too much stuff in them. I find I am spending too much time on managing the stuff of the house.

I want to work slowly over the year to really pare back the belongings we have in the house. I feel much calmer with clear surfaces and minimal mess.
“Three Rules of Work:
Out of clutter find simplicity.
From discord find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein
My aim was to declutter my bathroom and the kitchen cupboards in October which I did. I was also going to swap over my winter wardrobe for my summer wardrobe but Melbourne has been too cool to do that, so I will work on that in November.
Spend an hour outside each dayBeing outside is so good for me in so many ways and good for the kids too. I find the pace of things slows down when I am outdoors.

With my running I do spend time outside everyday, but often in winter this is when it is still dark. I want to spend time outside in daylight hours and also use this time to be with the kids where I can too - who also benefit from more outdoor time.
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~Lao TzuIt is amazing how much time you can spend outside the house when you make the most of small opportunities to get outside.

I am intentionally taking work breaks outside and walking barefoot on the grass. I find this process is very calming and recharging. It might only be for 5 - 10 minutes but it makes me feel so much better than just staying inside the house.

So with mini breaks like this, sitting and eating my lunch outside and running most days I am having lots of time outside and am feeling the benefits of it.