Since moving to Colorado a couple of months ago, A & I have been on a journey of simplifying – simplifying our schedules and our commitments in an effort to live a slower and more intentional life. Not one that is full of unnecessary busyness and stress, but one full of joy and contentment, adventures and rest.
Through this process, I created a list of 7 things I don’t do (and encourage you to do the same!) as a way of upfront saying these are things I won’t give in to. I have found that if we are able to clearly define our boundaries and put them in place ahead of time, it is much easier to say “no” in the moment as opposed to being tempted to give in, overcommit, or feel guilty for not doing something enough.
On the other side of the coin, I have created a list of seven things that I commit to doing regularly. These are small things that give me life, encouragement, or recenter me throughout the day. They are daily or weekly “big blocks” that I put in my schedule before anything else to ensure that they happen – because they matter. No one else is going to guard your time for you, no one else is going to protect your schedule or make sure you participate in life-giving things.
It’s incredible how freeing having these lists have been in approaching my weekly schedule, to do lists, and priorities.
And I do, truly, encourage you to at least think through the two lenses:
- What in my life currently is draining me? Are these things I actually have to do or things I’ve guilted myself into do, feeling like I “should” be doing them? Are there other ways to accomplish the same task that aren’t as draining? What can I begin to say no to today to build margin in my life?
- What do I love to do but rarely make time for? In a perfect day, what are three things I would do? How can I take slow and intentional steps to make more room for those life-giving and energizing things?
Below are my seven things that I will do regularly – but they are for me. Some of the things below may actually belong on your “Things I Don’t Do” list and that is totally and completely okay!
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1 | Cook dinner
I love to cook. I love to be in the kitchen, chopping, sautéing, whisking, measuring, baking. Because so much of my day is made up of reading, writing, and on the computer, there is something so freeing and forgiving about walking into my kitchen after a long day, getting my hands a little dirty, and doing something that is very physical and tangible. Some of my favorite cookbooks recently are Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations, The Pioneer Woman: Dinnertime, The Pioneer Woman: A Year of Holidays.
2 | Take a bath
Baths, to me, are one of the most relaxing things to do at the end of a long day. I love the slow act of filling up the bath tub, choosing some essentials oils (peppermint and lavendar are two of my favorites), adding some bath salts (I make my own epsom salt + oatmeal blend and store it in a jar similar to this one on our bathroom counter), and then sinking into the tub. You don’t need to soak long – even just ten minutes of soaking in epsom salts has proven to soothe sore muscles, aid in digestion issues, and soften your skin (source).
3 | Have weekly date nights
Now, I recognize that we don’t have kids so the concept of “date night” is much simpler for us than for many of you. We have few qualifiers for a good night – something different, something away from our phones, and something together. This often means we eat dinner at the kitchen table, facing one another and talking deeply about our days our thoughts. We place our phones on the kitchen counter, out of reach so we aren’t tempted to keep checking social media or something. And we do something different than what we do every other night – this may mean seeing a movie at our local $1 theater, going out for ice cream after dinner, or making homemade popcorn and watching a movie at home. Our main desire is to just be intentionally together, not distracted by homework, text messages, or Pinterest.
4 | Read theSkimm
I came across theSkimm about 6 months ago when a friend recommended I subscribe to it. It’s basically a Monday through Friday email that gets sent to your inbox with quick updates on what is happening in the news. I had been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of news outlets out there and finding the time to keep up with everything – Facebook certainly wasn’t always a reliable source, we don’t receive a daily paper newspaper, and often times watching the nightly news was just too much for me.
theSkimm is great because it streamlines a lot of the major headlines, summarizes them in a fun (and sometimes slightly snarky) way, and then provides links to other articles if you want more information. This has been a great way for me to spend 20 minutes or so each morning getting caught up on the news and then I can choose if I want to read more about a certain topic or just move on. Seriously, a game changer.
5 | Practice gratitude
Honestly, being thankful is a struggle for me. I’ve been trying to practice gratitude more intentionally – writing notes or sending texts to friends, being more appreciative of cashiers and waiters in restaurants, making a list of all the things I’m thankful for when I’m feeling down or anxious. It seems so simple and yet it really does make a profound difference on how I view my day. Taking a deep breath, noticing the gorgeous mountains or crisp golden leaves around me, texting a friend that I’m thinking about her, letting someone know how grateful I am for them. These are small things that often don’t take much time in my day but make the world of a difference.
6 | Spend daily time reading scripture
Just about every morning I get up, fix a cup of tea, and curl up in my chair with a blanket, my Bible, and my journal. At the beginning of this year, I decided I wanted to do a big reading plan and stick to it – for the whole year! Guys, I’m so excited to report that, though I’m a couple weeks behind (#lifehappens), I have actually stuck to it. I spent a good chunk of the first nine months of the year reading through the Old Testament chronologically and am now making my way through the Gospels. I haven’t decided what I’m going to focus on in the new year – I’m thinking through the idea of spending an extended amount of time in either the Gospel of Luke, Acts, or Romans – but it has been such a refreshing time each morning. I’m so thankful for the rich promises of God- no matter how crummy we are feeling, His promises remain.
7 | Take weekends off
This may feel like the broken record around here. Sabbath, rest, Sabbath, rest. But seriously, it has made a ridiculous difference in our lives. With our new life here in Colorado and currently not volunteering (or working) on Sundays like we were in California, we are still trying to figure out our new weekend rhythm. And we will do household stuff on the weekends – run errands, go grocery shopping, do some laundry. But for the most part, we rest. We play. We take pictures and cook yummy food. We call our family and Skype our nieces. And, I promise you this, it makes Monday through Friday so much better when we are able to work from rest as opposed to struggling and treading water and trying to rest from overwork.
// Your turn – what gives you life? What energizes you? What things are on your “Things I Do Regularly” list?
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