Making Time for What Matters Most

I returned home recently from a very restful week at the ocean. I drove up my driveway centered, rested and peaceful; happy to be home, in fact. It didn’t take much longer than two hours–long enough to listen to the answering machine, read the mail, check my deluge of email and see the chores that had piled up–for me to feel myself speed up. In fact, I went from 10-90 mph in no time. I went to bed that night thinking that there must be some way to reduce the daily overload of things to get done, to find simplicity even at home and work, so that I can maintain the centered and peaceful feelings of vacation despite my busy life.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to r-e-a-l-l-y generate simplicity in my life. I certainly have cleared out clutter and old junk in response–if there is less stuff, there is less to clean and pick up–so that is certainly of value. In this new and current look at simplicity, I’ve actually gained some new wisdom about what it was about vacation that was so restful.

Here are my three insights about what makes me feel connected to myself on vacation, and which I am working to weave into my non-vacation life. Maybe they will apply to you, too!

The three things I wove into my life on vacation were:
1. Spending time with those I love.
2. Spending time in nature.
3. Spending time by myself to meditate (my version of this), read and think about things.

For me, if I have these three elements in my daily life, I am centered and at peace.

We all have our own lists. What are yours?

What infringements are there on your priorities?
We all have different priorities for what makes us feel relaxed, and I won’t presume to tell you what these should be for you. But unless we are wealthy enough to hire help or have a partner that does everything for us, all of us must do chores, chores, and chores. Vacation away from home is great for being away from chores. But what to do when we return to reduce the load?

Chores, Chores, Chores
How can we change the chores?
Most chores need to be done no matter if you live in a big house or a small apartment. Food has to be bought and cooked, and the dishes done. Laundry is equally ongoing, as is cleaning.

The Vacation Lesson: But dishes and laundry had to be done on vacation, too, so what is the difference? The difference in how I felt about these types of chores is that we mostly shared the chores and cooking and kept each other company in the process.

The Day-to-Day Living Chores
Dishes. I’ve gotten better at asking for help, and to work on cleaning up the kitchen together with my daughter (I am a single mom). This way we can chat while cleaning up.

Garbage. It isn’t always possible to follow the best decisions regarding food buying. Buying less, and buying food in bulk, reduces garbage, plain and simple. I’ve made the garbage experience more pleasant and organized by buying good solid bins with good tops for dividing up the recycling.

Shopping for Food. Getting organized, making shopping lists in advance in the peace and quiet of one’s home, is, I’ve concluded, the key to making food shopping less stressful for me. If I make careful lists before I shop, I make fewer trips over time, and I am also more on top of making the day’s meals. But some people like to shop for food every day. To each their own; the key is finding what works for you.

Laundry. I’ve decided to try to follow the rule that if you haven’t worn your clothes in a year they should be given to a second-hand store. Fewer clothes make for less laundry, and less to worry about putting away. I can’t convince a teenager to do this, but she can help do her own laundry.

The Household Chores
Household chores are the ones that don’t go on vacation with you. They include yard work, gardening, cleaning out closets, picking up, repairing things, and on and on.

For more about making your home a beautiful place to be every day, see:
Timeless Beauty For The Home and Everyday Life.

Yard work. I’m working toward a simpler landscape that doesn’t need as much work yet provides beauty to our lives. Beauty is the antidote to all the chores of feeding, weeding, etc. However, if gardening is something you love to do, by all means make gardening a priority.

Cleaning. There isn’t much to get around the fact that more stuff means more to take care of. With the Feng Shui adage in my mind of only keeping what you love, I am clearing out everything that just doesn’t matter, and that we never use. Gone. Getting rid of this stuff–much of it simply clutter that hasn’t been processed–makes the visual experience of my home simpler and more serene. It also makes much less to clean.

Because I have written a few books on non-toxic cleaning, I can easily simplify the ingredients I use to a few basics. I recommend you do, too. Here is a popular article of mine called The 5 Basics of Non-Toxic Cleaning.

What Interferes With Your Other Priorities?
Make a list and clear them away one by one!

By Annie B. Bond


Ida J.
Ida J.5 years ago


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.5 years ago

I'm happy not to love anybody.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.5 years ago

That depends on what matters most to you.

Melissa T.
Melissa T.5 years ago

Thank for the info

Monica D.
M D.6 years ago

And - buying less stuff is better for the environment. A simple, low maintenance lifestyle is a win-win!

Monica D.
M D.6 years ago

Thank you for this article. I am really starting to appreciate the value of a simple, low maintenance lifestyle. When people buy far more food than they need and cook complex dishes, it can create a lot of unnecessary work - the time spent dealing with the dishes, garbage, recycling and composting can seem quite extraordinary. It's amazing the difference when you buy only what you need, and keep the cooking simple.

Justh B.
Justh B.7 years ago

Great tips and suggestions! I find that cleaning out always makes me feel more organized and in control. Especially when I can throw out some items that are no longer useful and give away those that someone else may need. The cleaning out becomes a literal clearing out for mind and body!

Justh B.
Justh B.7 years ago

Great tips and suggestions! I find that cleaning out always makes me feel more organized and in control. Especially when I can throw out some items that are no longer useful and give away those that someone else may need. The cleaning out becomes a literal clearing out for mind and body!

Elaine Stratt
Elaine Stratt8 years ago

I am actually on a tea break from cleaning my house. I have such trouble with cleaning I feel so overwhelmed. After reading this I realized just how many things are around that I NEVER use. I think today I may go get some boxes from the basement and fill them with junk. My boyfriend will probably cry but hey he isn't the one cleaning everyday right? This is a great article, thanks.