One of my focus word for 2014 is SIMPLIFY. The other is UNSELFISHNESS.
Today I want to share one way that I have already simplified my life.
There was a time many years ago that I got online once a day. Once. And that was in the morning, after I had completed my Bible study, exercise (I actually ran only 2 miles a day at this time), and I was all dressed and ready for my children to wake up----this was also back when I had only three children, and the youngest was 3.
As I began homeschooling I discovered the wonders of websites dedicated to homeschooling, homemaking, and parenting. I also began emailing online friends that I met in various yahoo groups (either homemaking, homeschooling, or parenting related). I joined a homeschool unit study co op, and we communicated and shared lesson plans with one another via email.
But once a day for about 30 minutes pretty much covered it all. I did have a three year old, five year old, and seven year old, and once they were awake, I stayed busy without much down time until they went to bed. And then I went to bed too! So I didn't spend that much time online.
Fast forward 12 years. I now have 5 children, and my youngest is 8. I still get up at the crack of dawn each day, but my exercise takes much longer than running 2 miles, and I am serious about beginning our homeschool day with our group Bible study at 8:00 AM sharp. I no longer limit my online time to 30 minutes, once a day, and I can't get all my online work done in the early morning.
I have a laptop on my kitchen counter, and I use that thing all day long--looking up recipes (mostly my own recipes that I have typed and saved in a document), printing out Bible lessons from our church, reading email, printing out Bible verses, typing papers for Leah, reading email, blogging, reading email, looking up addresses for cards to send, reading email, paying bills, reading email, etc.
Email. Too much email. And hardly any of it personal. I also have my smart phone at my side most of the time so I can respond quickly if my husband or daughter who is at college contacts me. I pretty much ignore all other phone calls and texts until our lunch break or until all of our schoolwork is done. But, that little red number on the mail icon distracts me--WARNING! YOU HAVE UNREAD EMAIL! I do not like that little red number. So I was scanning and deleting. Scanning and saving. Scanning and deleting. All throughout the day.
Not any more.
About a month ago, when I had the flu, I did not feel like looking at my emails one little bit. That red number kept getting higher and higher, and I did not even care. I felt too badly. However I did notice something that served as a wake-up call. I was getting well over 100 emails a day--closer to 150 I think, and about 95% of them were things I did not even read. Scan and delete. That's all I did, and it was eating into my time. It was time to simplify. I wanted to simplify my email. That may not sound like a big deal, but having done it, it has made me so happy!
Here is what I did.
One by one, as I got an email from someone that I know longer wished to get emails from, like all of those stores and websites that I have shopped from over the years, before I automatically deleted it, I scrolled way down to the bottom of the email. And near the bottom, in microscopic font, I would find the words "unsubscribe". Sometimes it would say "remove me from this email list", but whatever it was called, I clicked on it. Then it led me to a website. This took a couple of minutes for me per email because we have slow internet, but once I connected to the site it was either one or two clicks to unsubscribe. Done.
It took me about a week to unsubscribe from all of those lists, but the time spent was well worth it. Initially I hesitated to unsubscribe from my favorite online shopping sites, because I still wanted to receive the great coupons, but I decided that I could probably find the same coupons on the website itself. Plus I have two really close friends that will forward me any "must have" coupons!
Now I receive less than 20 emails a day, and for the most part they are things that I really want to read. Of course, I still get bill notifications, but that is only once a month per bill.
And the red number on my phone is always a single digit!
So there you have it. A simple thing I did to simplify my life.