Finding More Time. For Real.

Welcome to a week of winter inspiration! This post first published February 2012 when we lived in the 750 sq ft. chalet. The circumstances in our lives change, and are constantly changing, but the principles in this post are still compass points in our family living strategy.

Do you want to find more time in your day? Time to create. Time to exercise. Time to cook. Time for adventure. Time to visit. Time to nap. Time for... whatever.

Three life changing ideas that have really helped me find more time in my days.

1. Let go of perfection. Learn to live with a little mess.

I think we mothers and homemakers especially get hung up on this. Or maybe it's just  personality types like me. Learning to accept a certain amount of mess in my life allows me more time for creativity and exercise. 

I didn't used to be able to walk out of the house when it looked like this. Then I came to the realization, a few years ago, with my husband's help, that I wouldn't do anything else besides clean and pick up after kids if that's how I chose to spend my time.

It's a choice. Have a perfectly put together house or spend a couple hours a day writing. Have a clean kitchen (always) or leave the house for a day of exercise in the outdoors together. Tidy up the living room or go for an afternoon ski. Invite people over to share a meal or fret about my messy bedroom. 

This isn't just about cleaning though. It's about expectations and good enough. There is such a thing as good enough, even in a life well lived. And living with good enough can free up your time. 

The need for perfection.

Let it go. 

(PS. If you apply the next point it will only take you 30 minutes to clean your whole house and there's not much stuff to make a mess with to begin with).

2. Simplify and downsize. 

No joke. You know all those minimalists who are talking about living with 100 things or whatever their take on it is - they're onto something. 

I'm no minimalist and I recognize everyone has different priorities. But having experienced the freedom that comes from downsizing, I know a bit what I'm talking about.

A word of warning. If you go this route, really downsizing - not just moving boxes from the garage to the basement and back again - it's going to get hard, before it gets better. Call it skiing through crud if you want.

Last year was so much work for our family. Painful, expensive, tiring work. We had a vision and we worked our butts off. This year we work also, but it feels different when you're literally carrying around less weight. It feels like freedom.

Everyone has different life goals. I'm not going to tell you what yours should be. All I know is our goals are to not go big. Big house, big car. Big mortgage, big bills.

Our goal is to have big experiences. Grand experiences. Life changing experiences. Thru-hike the AT for 6 months, spend half the year in Europe type experiences. 

Our goal is to have time and resources to do what we value. 

This is the smallest house we've lived in as a family this size and this is the most freedom we've ever experienced. And time. Time to ski, time to write, time to create, time to dream. Time to make things happen.


Let it go.

3. Learn to enjoy, without owning.

I was reminded of this on Jill's recent post.

This is one of the ten inward expressions of simplicity, according to Richard Foster author of Celebration of Discipline. The classic book on Christian simplicity. 

I'm not going into the long term economics and financial investment of owning vs. renting a home. There's something to be said for owning land (really owning, not the bank owning). We dream of owning a small piece of land with a yurt.

Those community living folks (we've tried shared living, it's not easy but it's something we hope to return to someday in one form or another) are onto something.

When you share resources or choose to forgo owning and instead borrow or rent for seasons of life - it frees you from the time suck of "stuff maintenance".

I like to regularly remind myself that I am just passing through. Literally. When I die I don't take anything with me. None of us do.

I want to live a life that brings me joy in the living, not in the acquiring and owning. 

Yes, I own. Yes, I buy (lots of stuff actually). Yes, I like my "own" space.

But for each thing we own we need to ask the questions:

  • Do I own this or does this own me? (Or does the bank or credit company own this and therefore own my time?)
  • Does owning this thing bring significant enough value to my life to justify the time I spend maintaining it?
  • Is there another creative option besides owning this that would free up time for the things I really want to do?

I'm learning to enjoy and really appreciate what is not mine, but what I am privileged to use for a season (like the chalet), because honestly, none of this is ours to begin with. It's just stuff passing through our hands during our short time here. 

The need to own. Everything.

Let it go.

Finding more time in your days is not just about having a good schedule and following it. Schedules are only as effective as the values they'll built on.

If you really want more time to pursue the things you love, look at your current way of doing things. Consider the ingrained beliefs or practices in your life that might be preventing you from reaching your goals.

What can you let go of?

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  • Shelly Sangrey

    Shelly Sangrey on Feb. 6, 2014, 2:22 p.m.

    Your first point reminds me of something an older friend once told me- ”When your children are grown, are they going to remember how clean the house was OR how much you played with them?” It's stuck with me ever since. I agree with your second point, but apparently having twelve people in one house isn't conducive to minimalist- or even somewhat minimalist- living. As for your third point- we have always rented. It's comforting to know that if the roof collapses or the furnace breaks, IT'S NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY!


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