I absolutely love this time of year. The food, the music, the decorations. It all makes me so happy. The only real issue that can overshadow it all is the obsession with STUFF. I love getting gifts. I love giving gifts. But I really do not enjoy the push for materialism and wish lists and consumerism that comes from this time of year. The good news is I’ve found a way to reduce the noise and enjoy the moments that matter. It is possible to simplify this season and the gift giving process. I shared a little on this last year in terms of gifting better, and as I’ve continued to simplify, the season has only gotten more joyful.
1. Love others. Spend time with family. With friends. Make new traditions with your neighbors or your kids or your core group of friends. Give the gift of time and memories that will last.
2. Focus on giving. Give to those who have big needs. And little needs. The things we don’t often see or think about. Refugees come into our cities with nothing. Homeless shelters get overcrowded when the weather turns cold. Our neighbors have needs that often go unnoticed. Go say hi. Bring joy. Bring blankets and shoes and grocery gift cards. Everyday items can be the greatest blessings.
3. Give the unexpected. Instead of heading to the mall to buy sweaters and electronics and toys, think outside the box. Give experiences. Give handmade. Give love.
In need of some simple gift ideas?
- Simplified Planner or Recipe Binder // TODAY is the last day to order for pre-Christmas delivery!
- 2017 PowerSheets // Goal setting isn’t just for New Year’s but it is a great time to start fresh and plan for a great year of intentionality and simplicity.
- Handmade Treats // Check out this post and this post for some great homemade food gifts.
- Gifts with Purpose // Check out companies that do more than just make profit, and give back in some capacity, such as Sseko or Noonday Collection.
- Buy Small // Shop in your community, from small businesses, from people who are working hard to pursue their passions. I love Taylor Custer Jewelry, coffee from local shops, and friends’ home-based businesses. Send someone a hot meal from Chasing Food ATX, pamper someone with spa items from your local Mary Kay consultant, or gift a comfy tee from LulaRoe. With so many businesses like these popping up, there’s something for everyone on your list.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links may result in a small commission used to support neatandnutritious.com.
One of the best things I did for my schedule was delete my Google calendar. I had it color coded, organized by tasks and activities, could share it with classmates and family. And I was addicted to it. I lived by what that calendar did and filled every inch of space I had with something that needed to get done. After switching to a paper planner (this one is my absolute favorite <– affiliate link), I still color coded everything, but I craved the white space that came from NOT filling in every open space. White space left room for last-minute projects, lunch with friends, a 10 minute mental break. And it forced me to single task. Online calendars let you schedule multiple items at one time. Paper gives you ONE line. Life-changing.
Ready to simplify your schedule? Start with these three tips:
- Stop multi-tasking. We live in a culture that promotes and celebrates doing as much as we can in as little time as we can. But how much are we focusing on the task at hand or completing it well? Try doing just one thing at a time and focusing on that one task until completion (or if it’s part of a longer project, until a break is needed). I promise you will not only get just as much, if not more, done, but you will also have done it better. Read more.
- Block schedule tasks. In addition to single tasking, block scheduling tasks helps ensure that your larger and most important tasks get completed. It also makes room for those little tasks that you keep putting off. Prioritize what needs to get done, write down a schedule, and follow this effective 7 minute strategy for all those small items. Read more.
- Plan breaks. It is easy to get in a zone and go go go when it comes to some projects. Set a timer, get up and stretch every hour. Take a walk around the block during lunch. Get away from the computer and phone screens for a few minutes in the middle of the day. Exercise, a change of scenery, and a little rest can go a long way to preventing the afternoon slump and keeping your day productive. Read more.
How do you simplify your daily schedule? Any tried and true tips or tricks?
Catch up on previous Simplify 2016 posts:
Simplify 2016 is a new, monthly series designed to provide practical tips for how to live joyfully and fully in a busy world. Missed the last edition? Check it out here.
Now that summer is upon us, the last thing we want to be doing is cooking in a hot kitchen, right? I know I’d rather be running, reading in my backyard, napping in the hammock, entertaining neighbors over sangria and guac, but definitely not sweating away in the kitchen. Even on a day-to-day basis, meal planning in the summer tends to disappear, as vacations happen and life gets fun, and mental capacity to do regular adulting chooses to take a break. So how can we make meal planning simple? Especially in the summer, but also year round? I tend to follow two equations for meals, one that works in Spring and Summer and another for cooler Fall and Winter schedules. Here is the easy way to eat well this season.
- Get rid of the grocery list and go to the garden. Summer is full of bright, rich, colorful produce. Get a CSA, shop a farmer’s market, or grow your own goodies in the backyard. Make this flavorful abundance the star of meals and not the stale, shipped in produce at the supermarket.
- Use fresh herbs. Why use the dried stuff when fresh is so plentiful right now? A little bit goes a long way and adds a ton of flavor with little other seasonings or sauces. Play around with combinations or stick to your favorites.
- Smoothie + Salad + Grill. Basics here. Take all the summer fruits and blend them together with a little nut butter or hemp seeds (for fat + protein), a little greens, and a splash of liquid. Make a rainbow salad for lunch with all the colors of the season (and don’t forget about mixing fruits and vegetables and fresh herbs together! Salads aren’t just for vegetables). Top with walnuts or roasted tofu and it’s a meal. And for dinner, grill up all those veggies! Make a foil pouch with veggies, garlic, herbs and spices and grill it up until its tender. Serve over rice or quinoa. Easy, bright meals for every day.
Here’s to an easy, breezy, relaxing summer menu!