1. Enjoy your New Year’s Eve!

2. Do a 5 minute pick up of every room in the house with the family. Start the Declutter Calendar.

3. Plan to get through all your filing this month, even if you file just 5 pieces of paper a day.

4. Write out all your thank you notes while watching a classic like the Sound of Music or Little Women.

5. Schedule an appointment with the dermatologist to get a full skin scan.

6. Update your address book with your holiday cards.

7. Take some time out to plan a simpler year.

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Do you want next year to be the year you finally declutter?

Join me as we create a simple plan for decluttering your life and enjoy fun support!

LIMITED SPACES – Starts Jan 7, 2008

http://www.encouragingcoach.com/programs-decluttergroup.htm


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Visit: Simple Annual Planning

Wanting to plan a simpler, saner year?

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*Note: if you have links to my blog, it is now at http://www.mysimplerlife.com

Get your Weekly Tips and the new 2008 Declutter Calendar here:

http://www.mysimplerlife.com/decluttercalendar.htm

Syd at Bipolarity has a great post on the changes she is going to make in 2008 regarding Simplicity, Creativity and Frugality.

I especially like her idea of keeping coupons in the car. I am always stopping by the grocery store when I am in the area and my coupons would be at home. And also find low cost/free activities to do around town. And the best – don’t buy anything you don’t need or love throughout the year.

For all her ideas visit:

Frugality, simplicity and creativity

Last night we tried to drive home from my in-laws, but it looked like a cyclone of snow was whirling around us. We couldn’t see anything. We had driven just a little way past the driveway and could barely find the driveway back to their house.

We were spending the night. This is where my little emergency pack comes in handy. In the glove compartment I keep a makeup type bag with things like contact case & solution, medicine, wipes and other things. A lot of women keep these things in their purses,  but that seems like a lot to carry everywhere. Going out to the car is not that big of a deal.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and safe travels!

I was just thinking of books I have read this year and the ones that were most helpful and inspiring to me in the realm of Simple Living. Here are the top 5 books I read this year on Simplicity:

 

Coming Up for Air1) Coming Up for Air: Simple Acts to Redefine Your Life by Margaret Becker

On the road too long as a Dove award winning singer, Margaret steps back and takes a month long retreat. Every time I sat down to read this book it was like taking a mini-vacation. I felt Margaret’s attempts at "being" rather than doing in her journaling. I longed to go to a beach house on the Gulf in December. And picked up ideas I can use in my home here in Michigan. This isn’t a how to book – it’s an honest reflection of thinking about what is important in life. It’s also humorous and helps you appreciate moments.  If you feel you just have to get away, this book will take you there.

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life2) 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life from Joyce Meyer

Short specific chapters give you ways to uncomplicate your life. Joyce lets you know that you will be going against the flow of how most people live their lives, but warns us that our schedules won’t change unless we change them. She goes into underlying reasons like insecurity and wanting to impress everyone for why we overcomplicate our lives. Much of the book resonated with me.

 

It's All Too Much3) It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh

Simply the best book on decluttering I have ever read – and I’ve read a lot. Peter from TV’s Clean Sweep, helps deal with psychological issues of keeping things, has a step by step plan for each room in the house and has a terrific maintenance plan. He is blunt, but funny and understanding.

Perfectly Yourself4) Perfectly Yourself by Matthew Kelly

While not necessarily a book on simplicity, this book turned my schedule upside down. Matthew writes that, "Life is not about doing and having, it’s about becoming." He creates new questions for how we make decisions. He brings thoughts to the present moment and reminded me that how I live each moment determines my future. His book The Rhythm of Life is an excellent companion to this book. The only reason it didn’t make the list is because I read it last year.

5) The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

This year was a journey for me into more local and organic food. I spent many weekends at the Farmer’s Markets. And more and more food in our house is organic. Alice Waters is the founder of Chez Panisse a local, sustainable food restaurant. Her recipes are simple yet inventive. In her book, she goes into detail on technique for the more novice cooks like me. And it’s not just a cookbook. She writes on how to find the freshest ingredients, what’s in season, and what makes high quality food. She also shows variations of the recipes so you can be sure to find recipes that your family will like. I only wish I had gotten this book sooner in the year.

What books have made an impact on your life this year?

1. Listen to soft, soothing music before bed to help you fall asleep faster.

2. Plug some vacation days and days off into your 2008 calendar.

3. You get to choose how busy you are this holiday season.

4. Take a destressing walk after dinner.

5. Have a list of things to do if you or the kids are on vacation this week.

6. If you are going out of town, pack less than usual.

7. Enjoy a spiritual evening.

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Do you want next year to be the year you finally declutter?

Join me as we create a simple plan for decluttering your life and enjoy fun support!

LIMITED SPACES – Starts Jan 7, 2008

http://www.encouragingcoach.com/programs-decluttergroup.htm


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Visit: Simple Annual Planning

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*Note: if you have links to my blog, it is now at http://www.mysimplerlife.com

Get your Weekly Tips and the new 2008 Declutter Calendar here:

http://www.mysimplerlife.com/decluttercalendar.htm

December is not all work and busyness.

Some moments I have enjoyed recently:

~ hot cocoa with a friend

~ reminiscing as we put Christmas ornaments on the tree

~ seeing my daughter’s eyes light up as she worked on her homemade presents

~ wrapping presents with my kids and laughing with some of the wrapping they chose

~ spending one on one time with my daughter as we looked for a Christmas outfit for her

~ enjoying the lights on my drives

~ getting clothes and electronics together for charity and talking with the kids about giving

~ singing Christmas carols in the car while waiting for my kids from school

~ tasting windmill cookies and candy canes

~ melting snow on my fingers

~ my son’s laughter at a silly Christmas song

 

My daughter can’t wait until Christmas and I bask in her enthusiasm for my energy.

I have to admit – I love information. I devour books, magazines, blog posts, web sites, podcasts. But once in awhile I realize I have the information, but I’m not doing anything with it. All that unused information starts to suffocate and guilt me.

I know how to do things better, but I don’t implement any changes. I don’t try the suggestions out. The information has become Brain Clutter.

To prevent Brain Clutter, you need to control how much and what kind of information you bring into your life. And you need to have a process for using the information you get.

Here are some ideas I use to control the flow of information:

  • Don’t buy any more books if you have a stack of over 10 books to read – I put books I want to read on my Amazon Wish List.
  • Use an RSS feed reader like Google Reader if you read many blogs. Use the list view to see the headlines, swoop through them reading only the posts that look interesting and mark all as read when done. (Google reader is stopping in June, so may want to try these alternatives.)
  • Delete a feed every time you get a new feed.
  • Limit your time reading feeds to either 15 minutes or 10 articles.
  • Tear out magazine articles and put them in binders or file folders by topic. When you need something on that topic, the information is there. Throw out magazines over two months old.
  • Unsubscribe to magazines which you don’t read, use or make you feel guilty.
  • Get off mailing lists: http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/GetOffMailingLists.htm
  • Limit your time web surfing to 15-30 minutes at a time.
  • Sign up at one or two news sites to have the news delivered by email or RSS feed once a day. Watching the news is a time hog.
  • Read 2-3 books, 5 websites and 5 blogs on the same topic to get deeper into the material. Reading a lot about one subject can make more of a difference to you than a flurry of random facts or ideas.
  • Decide your goals and what you want to learn about – then decide what to read, watch and intake. Blockade as much useless information as possible.

Here is how I go from consuming information like chocolate to doing something with the information:

  • Take notes on books, blog posts,  magazines and web sites in notebooks. I have an index at the beginning of my notebook so I can find what I want.
  • If I know I am going to keep the book or article I highlight, underline, question and mark up my pages.
  • Asterik action items.
  • Keep a file folder with articles, etc. you are thinking about using. I call mine ‘Implement.’
  • Glance through your folder weekly during your weekly planning to see if there is anything you want to try this week. Look especially for ideas that are helpful to your current goals or situations.
  • Write down the actions in your calendar or put them into your daily routine.
  • My friend Marcia reads one ebook a week to glean and action the information.
  • Keep a computer folder for things to read (ebooks, newsletters, articles you found online) and a folder for things to listen to (teleclasses, Mp3 downloads, etc.).
  • Set aside time weekly or monthly to go through one of the folders. If it’s useful information you can move it to an implement computer folder with actions highlighted in some way. You can look at the implement folder every couple of weeks for things to put in your planner.
  • If this to read folder is huge – quick buying and downloading for a bit.
  • Re-read your notebooks – see if you can find any information you want to try.
  • I like to look at what I was reading a year ago to see if anything is different in the way I live now.
  • Play with an idea to see if it works for you. If not, go ahead and dump the idea. No need to hang onto it.
  • If you like the idea and it is working for you, practice it until it becomes a habit. (You can use my habit checklist in my free New Habits course.)
  • I know some people who see an idea, grab it, and do it right away.  I like to mull things over more, but I love to watch these action oriented people.
  • If you are more action oriented, when you read or listen to information feel free to take action immediately or write the action in your planner rather than do any of the intermediate steps.

I can see from my information overwhelm this week, that I need to stop much of the glut of information I deliberately consume. It’s time to slow down, re-read, digest and do something new, instead of reading something new.

1. What are you celebrating?

2. Spend time petting an animal, knitting or something else soothing.

3. Who or what are you trying to control?

4. Set limits on presents – how many and how much you want to spend.

5. When your kids or someone speaks to you, stop what you are doing and listen.

6. Don’t be in such a hurry that you are glaring at people in front of you.

7. Get lost in the music of a Christmas concert.

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Feeling overwhelmed with all the paper, email and files in your office?

7 easy steps to organise your office will help you sort out all your problem areas once and for all.

I have personally reviewed it and 7 Easy Steps is a clear cut plan of tackling your overwhelming office. Marcia breaks things down into simple steps and helps you decide what to do with everything in your office. She tackles everything from tidying your desk to email processing. My own office life is becoming simpler as I use her systems.

And best of all, Marcia’s given all my readers a 20% discount. Use code Beth to see the discount at checkout. The discount is only valid until 14th December do hurry!


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Visit: Simple Annual Planning

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*Note: if you have links to my blog, it is now at http://www.mysimplerlife.com

Get your Weekly Tips and the new 2008 Declutter Calendar here:

http://www.mysimplerlife.com/decluttercalendar.htm

I read a tip in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s newest book Moving On, about an interesting way to declutter.

She suggests photographing your hot spots of clutter. Then looking at one of the clutter pictures and figure out what the clutter is trying to tell you about yourself and your home.

What aren’t you acknowledging? What is unfulfilled? How are you feeling about yourself? Why do you keep buying certain things? What do they represent to you?

Then for a full week, look at the clutter picture before you go to bed. But, no decluttering.

By the end of the week, all that thinking about why you have the clutter will make you want to plow through the hot spot. Sarah says it’s "because your subconscious mind has been sifting and sorting all week long."

Waiting for a week, keeps you from just shifting your clutter around as you might do if you started right away.

She suggests doing one hot spot a week.

I love gift certificates for Christmas. They are clutter free and have to do with experiences more than stuff. You can have gift certificates for staying up one hour later, one on one activity day, going to the zoo, getting out of chores for the day, a class they wanted to take.

I found some printable gift certificates online this year while hunting around:

Ivy Joy’s Gift Certifcate Maker lets you choose gift certificates for kids, kids to parents, parents to parents and has some great ideas.

Beautiful gift certificates you can customize and print

Angel, Wreath, or Gingerbread blank certificates to add your own

Pointsetta blank certificates and many other fun printables

Kiva.org gift certicates – loans that change lives

Gift certificates for online learning.

Blank certificates from Kids Zone