How I’m simplifying in 2014

Simple heart

I check my phone too much.

This fact has become abundantly clear to me in the quieter moments with my husband, family and friends — like over the holidays. Though I’ve gotten much better about leaving my iPhone tucked away in a little pocket on the other side of the room, I still get undeniably antsy when I go too long without checking my email. If I hear the noise? I. must. check it.

It’s bad. Kind of embarrassing, really. And seriously: it’s email. If it was anything important, the message would be texted by someone I personally know . . . or, if we want to get really crazy, my phone would ring. With someone actually calling me.

Email is there. Email can wait. And most of my messages? Sales alerts. WordPress notifications (“Little Mary is now following your blog!”). Newsletters I signed up for ages ago but rarely read. Pinterest telling me someone repinned 27 of my pins.

Nothing life-altering. Nothing catastrophic.

There are great messages, too, of course. Notes from friends who wander through this space, messages from old buddies, updates from family. I cherish those messages almost as I would a handwritten letter, clinging to those bits of personal connection in a cold, desolate space.

Okay, I’m totally exaggerating. The Internet isn’t desolate, and it’s rarely cold. You know what I mean, right? Because you’re here with me, seeing these words. We’re hanging in cyberspace, and it’s awesome.

But there’s so much noise on the Internet, too. And I have a confession to make: for a while, the constant chirping of my iPhone? It felt like validation. I got hooked on it. It felt like . . . people were interested, invested, contacting me because I was important and needed somewhere. Doing something! Helping someone!

Whether or not that was true (um, probably not), I feel the winds of change pushing me to move forward. All that vibrating and beeping and chirping? It’s distracting. Distracting from the time I spend with loved ones, distracting when I’m trying to work, distracting when I want to focus on something I’m doing now. I don’t need it.

That noise clutters up my mind and heart and body. Because I’m online all day, five days a week, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the digital menagerie. It’s hard to disconnect at home, because I’m so used to being wired in.

But I want to simplify. I do.

And not just through my inbox battles, either. Like so many of us, we’re trying to conserve our financial resources now and make plans for the future . . . and that means less impulse buying, more budgeting, more making-do instead of running out for replacements.

I’m totally okay with that — excited, even — but it’s a change. And like all change, it takes some getting used to.

The challenge is invigorating, though. I’m ready to tackle new things and de-clutter, both literally and metaphorically.

I’ve already started. By . . .

Unsubscribing from all that email noise. Sales alerts, newsletters, etc. I’ve changed my contact settings for things like Groupon, going to a weekly digest instead of a daily one, and have eliminated WordPress notifications for things like subscribers (though I’m super happy you’re here, trust me!). Where I once would simply delete messages I didn’t want, I’m leaving them in my inbox until I make time to get myself off their mailing lists. If all else fails, I’ll simply create a filter in Gmail to send them straight to trash.

Chocolate chai

Using — and enjoying — what I already have. There are no less than 10 varieties of tea in my desk drawer right now, crowding out all the available space for my healthy snacks and utensils and what-have-you. I don’t need ten boxes of tea. I probably need, like, two. I enjoy the options, sure, and maybe ten boxes would be fine if I didn’t keep buying more. But I do. And I don’t need more. I need to enjoy what I have, and that means a No More Tea law until I get through my stock. So, you know, until 2018-ish.

Side note: this also applies to new brands of mascara, nail polish, lotion, lip gloss. Which brings me to . . .

Cancelling subscriptions. Though I’ve loved subscribing monthly mail products Birchbox and Julep over the years, that’s $30 a month — $360 a year! — I can now put toward other things. And honestly? The samples and nail polish are fun, but that’s just more stuff I’m bringing into our space. I don’t need more stuff. I have plenty, more than I need, and I want to remember that.

Cleaning out my closets. Oh, this is a big one. Dropping four dress sizes means little in my wardrobe still works, and I need to let it go. I want to feel good in my clothes, not dig around like a madwoman trying to find something to belt and “make work.” I didn’t want to purchase new clothes only to change sizes again throughout last year (wasting money), so I justified wearing my ill-fitting stuff by saying I’d invest in new tops and pants when I hit my goal weight. I did that, so it’s time to honor my promise to myself.

Ironically, I started my get-healthy journey in part because my favorite black slacks for work no longer fit — a sign I’d hit a weight high (and low). I was tired of fighting with my closet every morning. And I’m right back there again, lamenting that I have little to wear. I’ve already started listing dresses on eBay to help finance new clothing, and I want to focus on investing in neutral, attractive pieces I can wear in a variety of ways. I’m hoping Stitch Fix can also help me with this!

Whatever isn’t sold on eBay will be donated to Goodwill, and that’s that. Gone. No arguments.

No more piles. Spencer often jokes about the piles that accumulate around our condo: piles of mail, piles of clothes, piles of shoes. I want to stop making excuses and start putting things away. It takes a little finesse, given our place is relatively small and not everything has a designated space, but I need to stop being lazy. I need to deal with junk mail as it comes in, not stash it on the bar to be dealt with later. Just deal with it.

And back to email . . . I want to get better about my response time. Too many messages stacking up in my inbox stresses me out — because if it’s there, it means an action must be taken. I want to write back quickly and efficiently, both at work and at home.

And . . . well, I guess that’s it. That should do me. No tall order or anything, right? 🙂