What if you chose NOT TO do a few things?

“Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.”

– Buffett & Clark as quoted in Essentialism

When I read this statement, I thought of all of the choices that come our way each day.  I thought of the ads & other junk mail that fill our mailboxes & then create our paper piles on the table.  I thought of the daily barrage of emails that ask for attention as our inbox count continues to rise. And I thought about the amount of time that we are able to allot to ALL of the tasks that we have hopes of doing each day.

Often, the time needed for the amount of tasks & activities on your list is just not there. And when you realize that is THE TRUTH, then it’s time to make a change.

This is when recognizing the power of choice in your life really becomes a game changer. When you truly embrace that YOU get to decide what to spend time on & what you can let go of, then big shifts can happen.

Here are some tips on how to begin choosing what is important & necessary vs. the things that you can decide not to do?

Start by practicing this skill in an area that feels safe (fairly risk-free) or in an area of your life that has been nagging at you to make a change. Often your gut knows what is important & what really feels like a waste of time to you.

First take a step back. Pull back from the immediacy of things & take a look at the overall picture. Make a short list of the things that are non-negotiable (you need or want to do these things). When it comes to mail, the short list might include bills, personal letters, & medical benefits papers (this list is different for everyone). Those are the things you will make sure you do.

Now look at your usual patterns with curiosity. Ask yourself if you are doing things out of habit or because you have always done it that way & haven’t considered another option. When it come to mail, you could ask yourself if you need to keep the subscription to the magazine that never gets read? Or think about how much energy you might save if you immediately recycle the ads & junk mail.

Then create a statement that becomes your “new normal.”  These are the words you can tell yourself every time you are tempted to do more than is necessary or essential. Use this statement or create one that feels true for you:

“I am choosing to spend time on things that are urgent & align with my values.”

Deciding NOT TO open all the extra ad emails, the coupon flier, and the junk mail is a choice that can open time & alleviate stress.  When you choose NOT TO spend time on these things, you can hit delete, recycle or shred without the guilt.  You have made a decision not to allow your time to be taken up in this way.  

And remember that you can choose not to do something for a temporary amount of time.  If Paper or emails are overwhelming you RIGHT NOW then your choice to limit yourself in this area could be what you need for now.  Once you feel like your inbox is more manageable or your piles have decreased, then you might CHOOSE TO spend 5 mins looking at ads on a Sunday night.

As Greg McKeown says in Essentialism, “our options may be things, but a choice – a choice is an action.  It is not just something we have, but something we do.” So grant yourself the freedom to NOT Do a few more things & instead spend that time on the stuff that really matters to you.

Let’s Connect!

Fill out the form below & tell me about the things that you DON’T DO that have changed how your day flows. Or be in touch if you are ready for a partner that can help you declutter the things that are holding you back from what you truly want to DO!

Why Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is binge-worthy

Marie Kondo is at it again! A few years ago when her little book came out there was a lot of buzz around her methods & her unique perspective. And now Netflix has given us a glimpse into this “magic art” with their new show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Both of Marie Kondo’s books, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up & Spark Joy, are on my bookshelf & my resource list because whether or not you agree with her strategies around tidying, her little books have raised our consciousness concerning how we think about our stuff.

Marie’s criteria for determining if you should keep or let go of an item is to ask yourself if it “sparks joy!” If it doesn’t, the item should be thanked & passed on. For some, this idea seems too simplistic, unrealistic, or maybe even too Woo, but whether you like her style or not, I believe that respecting & honoring the things that we surround ourselves with creates a big shift in how we live.

Ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?”

In the show, Marie & her interpreter lead clients through the steps of tidying using the methods that she outlined in her books. Each week, she visits the home to check their progress, make suggestions, and then offer the next lesson & homework.

You can decide for yourself if this is the right show for you, but I wanted to share a few of the things that I am excited to see highlighted on a show like this.

Validation– The show not only validates that there are other people living with spaces as messy as ours, but we get to see how Marie offers the client acceptance & understanding when they feel embarrassed, ashamed or are fearful of keeping up the new way of life.

I see the power of this all the time in my work in homes. Great things can happen when we open up & allow someone outside of our situation to confirm that we are not alone in our struggle. It brings a great sense of relief & then hope.

Intention– Marie models & then asks the homeowners to bring intention into each step of the process. She begins each new project with her own ritual of introduction to the space, she teaches ways to respect the things you have, even as you discard, and she asks questions that encourage the homeowner to claim the life they want moving forward.

The things that we surround ourselves with affect how we feel, our attitudes, & our energy, which is why it is so important to tune in & be intentional about this work. When we make choices with intention, the shift can be profound. Our relationship to the items in our home is heightened & positivity is increased.

Relationship– Marie walks couples, families, & a recent widow through this process & while each situation is different, we get to see that dealing with (or not dealing with our stuff) impacts our relationships.

What we choose to surround ourselves with is a personal, individual decision, but often the management of that stuff impacts those around us. Instead of spending time in fear, anger, shame or guilt, we learn to focus on gratitude & choose to find joy in our things. This naturally carries over into our relationships. It becomes easier to notice our gratitude & enjoyment of the people around us & clarity around how we want to spend our time together.

Peace– With each lesson, we see more space open up & the home take on a sense of order & peace.

When we pare down to what is essential & meaningful and create dedicated spaces for those items to live, then the stress around the management of this stuff decreases dramatically. We can rest easier knowing that there is a plan for all of the stuff in our life. And when the space gets out of order, we have the tools to get back to a place of ease.

I became interested in this profession years ago after watching Peter Walsh’s show Clean Sweep & I continue to be inspired by make-over shows. But I am not naive to the fact that what we see on TV is the glossy, edited version of the actual events. The timeframe to tackle each project is short, the piles are mountainous, & the amount of decisions require an abundance of energy & dedication, so I know that the show is leaving out a lot. And yet, I think it’s valuable to see how letting go of extras & honoring what you keep creates amazing changes in your life.

So, take it for what it is & maybe bringing just one of Marie’s methods into your home will allow you to spark more joy in your daily life!

Your Turn…

Shows like this are really inspiring and can lead to people digging in & then losing steam when decision fatigue kicks in & other obligations take time away from the project. Instead of entering that pattern of frustration, schedule a session with someone like ME. Check out NAPO-MN for a list of professionals in your area or fill out the form below & it will go directly to my inbox. The time will be set, the overwhelm will be decreased, and the change you are hoping for will be realized.

Reading NOW – Soulful Simplicity

I just finished reading Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less can Lead to So Much More by Courtney Carver & knew I had to share it with you.  I will now add this book to my small stack of resources that I share at classes & talks.  And I’m sure I will find myself going back to reread sections again when I need inspiration or motivation.

I have been following Courtney Carver’s Be More withLess blog for a few years now & even tried my own version of her Project 333, so when this book came out I already had an idea of her story & journey.  But, I have really enjoyed reading her loving perspective, her gentle guidance & her permission to enter into living with less in the way that works for you.

Here are a few of her suggestions that I was sure to highlight –

I loved her nudge to schedule a Simplicity Summit with the people who are on this journey with you (in Courtney’s case it was her husband).  This was a dedicated time to sit down & share hopes, dreams, and the actions that they would take to move ahead with the desire to live with less.

I also appreciated her stories about sentimental items.  She offered permission to process this letting go in your own time & your own way.  I loved the idea of taking these items out for a “Victory Lap.”  You could do this by wearing or using the item one last time to thank or honor it & then let it go.

And here are some thoughts I will continue to ponder –

“Instead of working so hard to make ends meet, work on having fewer ends.”
“Am I shiny & admired, or real & loved?  Am I more show or soul?”

Happy reading!








How to Shift out of Robot Mode and Engage with Life

Some days can feel like a blur.  Work, emails, appointments, kid activities, meal prep, exercise – the list goes on and the clock ticks as I continue to push through one item after another.  These are the days when I can easily slip into “robot mode.”

When robot mode gets turned on then my day revolves around production.  I become very efficient and very determined.  I find myself driven by the voice in my head that thrives on “Look how much you are getting DONE!”  A mechanical human with eyes focused on the next thing & a heart guarded to keep emotion at bay – no time for that!! 

And robot mode feels very stiff.  I am unable to flex with life’s curveballs.  The clock & the to-do list are constantly on my mind & when something unplanned gets introduced, I get resentful & cranky.  “How dare you mess with my timeline!” I scream inside.

It has taken years of falling into this pattern to realize that a robotic life is not the life for me.  It may be efficient, productive and keep the machine of my family & work running, but it doesn’t account for joy, creativity & the wholehearted love that I need & crave.

I know that in order to live a fulfilling life I need to take my time on things and be open to embrace moments of spontaneity.  I long to enjoy beauty and feel the wonder & awe in everything that surroundings me.  I want to be engaged and ready to connect with the people in front of me. And I am happiest when I sing and laugh each day.

But the stiff armor is always waiting for opportunities to trap me into it’s more, more, more mentality, so I work to stay watchful and be proactive.  Here are a few simple strategies that keep me from getting stuck in robot mode or pull me out when I am head down & my to-do list is running on overdrive.

Create A Daily “Enough” List 

Each day I write down the three things that I really want to accomplish for the day.  These are the items that feel the most essential to complete given all of the moving pieces of the day.  Keeping a smaller daily list of tasks allows for a sense of completion and the freedom to invite spontaneity.

When I catch myself trying to add more items to my daily list, then I stop, turn the page & instead write them on a separate list that captures ideas for the whole week.  This practice eases the urgency.  I haven’t forgotten about these ideas/projects, but can give myself a break about getting to them right now

Shift the Focus

When my head is spinning & I can’t stop watching the clock, I use a simple trick that I learned years ago on a yoga retreat.  I shift my focus to something far off, like the sunset or the top of a tree and allow my gaze to blur – zoom out.  After a few minutes, I turn my eyes toward something close by & focus on one tiny aspect of that thing – zoom in.  This shift from grand to tiny is a simple practice that brings me back to the present & keeps the big picture in mind.

Take A Daily Dose of Nature

Each day I make time for a few moments outside.  I might spend it walking my dog, eating lunch in the sunshine, or stepping out to watch the trees in the breeze.  The amount of time varies, but this time in nature offers the expansion that keeps my focus from becoming narrow & rigid. 

Make Eye Contact

If I have stopped making eye contact with the people around me, then I know that I am in robot mode.  I stop & look into eyes of the person right in front of me and there is an immediate shift that breaks down my armor.  I am no longer running on auto-pilot, I am open to whatever emotion is present in front of me. 

Be Moved by Music

I find that I switch right out of robot mode when I turn on some good music.  I can’t help but engage with the words & feel a lightness in my body when songs that I love are playing.  I love to listen & sing along while I cook & find that music makes me feel flexible & light- no robot allowed unless I choose it as a dance move! 

End the Day in Gratitude 

I keep a small dated journal by my bed & each night I write 3-5 simple things that bring a sense of gratitude, contentment, or joy.  This simple ritual doesn’t take long and has become a peaceful way to re-center & take stock at the end of the day.

On the days when robot mode is in full gear, it requires a little searching to find gratitude.  But those are the days when I remind myself of immediate things like my warm bed or the ability to breathe in and out.  This practice is simple, consistent & has become a habit that allows me to tune in to my heart each day.

It is easy to get stuck going through the motions, but my life is so much more enjoyable when I am engaged, flexible, open & present to the people & things around me.  I know I wasn’t meant to be a robot.

Can you relate?  What helps when you find yourself stuck going through the motions?



My Recipe Clutter was Causing Stress in the Kitchen!

Are your recipes and cookbooks an overwhelming mess?  Do you google or use your phone to save recipes rather than pull out recipe cards?  Are you always ripping recipes from magazines and losing them in piles?  Are your cookbooks gathering dust on a top shelf?

I wouldn’t be surprised if you answered yes to every one of these questions because I was right there with you on all of the above!

My recipes had gotten out of control.  And the desire to make some sense of this project was continually nagging at me every time I sat down to put together meal ideas for the week or find something to make for dinner.

It all started years ago with a subscription to Cooking Light.  It was a great magazine & each month I took time to thumb through &  pull out the recipes that looked tasty & fairly simple.  I then slipped them into sleeves in 2 white binders – one for main meal ideas and one for sides, desserts, salads & soups.  (This must have started pre-kids or at least when life felt a little less chaotic!)

Eventually the binders got full & a file folder was used to corral the overflow.  Fast-forward through gluten-free diet experimenting, Whole30 eating, detox recipes and years of changing taste buds.  The small cabinet over the stove was overflowing with an abundance of paper recipes, plus cookbooks & 2 more binders of hand-written recipes that were rarely consulted.

All of this recipe clutter was causing trouble for me and anyone else in our house that wanted to spend some time cooking or baking.  It was time for a change!

Here are the steps that I took to decrease the clutter & create some ease around getting meals made in our house.

First, I started with some goals
  • Decrease the quantity by 1/2.  I had two 3- ring binders, a file folder, 2 recipe card binders & multiple cookbooks.  No way did I need or want all of this.  I like to experiment in the kitchen but not enough to support that much stuff!
  • Be realistic!  That meant “getting real” about the recipes that we truly like to eat and that I like to make vs. the ones that I either thought I wanted to try or that have been out of rotation for a long time.
  • Find an easy solution that saves time.  I wanted to create an easy storage solution for NOW -how our life works right now & the time I want to spend on this project.  I went into this project knowing that this would not be the last iteration with recipes.

After I had the goals in mind, I got down to the SORT.  I needed to spread out & be willing to make a mess!

I labeled sticky notes with the words:  YES, MAYBE, and RECYCLE and started with the loose paper recipes.

I wanted the first sort to go quickly so I gave myself a little wiggle room.  If the recipe still looked yummy & I wanted to look at it a second time then I put it in the MAYBE pile.  This allowed the work to go fast & kept the decisions pretty easy.  I followed the same process with the recipe cards.

After the first sort, I cleared the recycling (actually I did this a few times!)  And then it was time to get REALISTIC!

I noticed I was saving a lot of recipes (especially the ones on the recipe cards) because they were sentimental.  And this was taking up space.  I had to get clear on the recipes that I wanted access to & which one I could let go of or save in another way.

I also had tons of printed out papers that were in bad shaped – wrinkled from spills and just plain hard to read.

I decided that the easiest solution for the way our life works NOW was to continue using a binder, but keep all the loose paper contained to just one.  A 2″ binder was as big as I was willing to go, so that decision set the parameters for how much to keep.

Then it was time to get the categories pulled together.  I sorted the recipes, made new copies of the pages that were wrinkled or worn out, as well as many of the recipe cards.  I saved space by copying multiple cards on a single sheet.  Finally, I added some blank divider pages & labeled those pages with tabs

And now I am ready to cook again!  It feels like such a relief to open that cabinet & be able to find the recipe I am looking for.

This project is STEP ONE of a bigger goal to decrease paper recipes & this is a good solution FOR NOW.  And that is the whole point of decluttering – getting to a solution that makes sense for how life works right now.  In the future, I probably want to store my recipes in Evernote & utilize my iPad instead of a binder, but for now, this will work.  It’s the step in the right direction that I needed to add some ease around feeding our family!

Your Turn…

The holidays are almost here and for many people that means spending more time in the kitchen.  If your cluttered recipes, drawers, cabinets, or pantry are keeping you from enjoying that time, then reach out.  Together we can make sense of what you truly need, clear out what you don’t, & bring back a sense of ease to your kitchen!