This time last year, I felt as though there were too little time and too much to do. I was always frazzled, never mindful of the present moment, subsisting on takeout because I didn't have enough time to cook, fretting about having enough time to work out or plan the wedding. Fast forward to 2016 though, and I couldn't feel more different.
These days I do less but accomplish more. In the past few weeks time has been a wonderful, expansive thing. Not only have I been able to prep delicious meals for lunch and dinner and fit in regular workouts, I've also gone salsa dancing, hung out with friends, read books, binge-watched BBC series on Netflix with the boy, and done a ton of wedding planning. Throughout it all, I've felt the most amazing sense of calmness and contentment.
Here are 10 things I've done to claw back my time and purposefully foster that calm and contented feeling, in no particular order. Some of these may seem small, but they've had a big ripple effect in my everyday life.
1. I simplified my wardrobe. The KonMari method helped a lot with this. Asking myself whether something sparked joy prompted me to get rid of clothes I was hanging onto merely for the sake of having variety for outfit posts, things that didn't fit my changing body or shifting style as well as they used to.
After KonMari, I found myself streamlining my style even further with this question: "If I have 5 minutes to get dressed, would I reach for this?" The truth is, most days that's about all the time I spend getting dressed; I'm too lazy to experiment with layers, find the specific bra that goes under a funny cut top, remember that I can only wear this top with that skirt, try on three dresses that don't fit quite right before settling on the same one I wore the last time.
What emerged from the purges was a casual-chic wardrobe rich in denim and knits and chambray and stripes, button-down shirts and tees, some skirts, a few flattering dresses and rompers for the days when I crave the ultimate ease of one-piece dressing, essential jackets and the scarves I reach for time and again. Paring back helped me better focus on my true style signatures.
2. I stopped blogging outfits. Isn't it funny how not blogging outfits anymore made me more aware of my personal style? It also clawed back loads of time from something that, to be honest, the boy and I came to resent because it just wasn't fun anymore. Doing hair and makeup and getting dressed, then trying to find a location and taking dozens of photos for a few that work, all the while racing against time to take advantage of precious daylight hours on the weekend. Some days it worked out beautifully, other times it could be kind of stressful. Nowadays we spend that time having brunch and taking long walks instead.
3. I streamlined my hair and makeup routines. Okay, this one is kind of cheating because I've always done this. After all, you don't have a recurring beauty feature called Lazy Girl Approved if you're super high maintenance everyday!
Find your version of the 5-minute face and perfect it. Get a haircut that makes the most of your hair texture so you're not fighting against nature every morning. Master a few go-to hairstyles—the fancy ponytail, the messy topknot, the French braid—for those days when you can't be bothered with heat styling tools but want to look polished.
4. I said "no" more often. Adding more items to your to-do list and more appointments to your day planner doesn't necessarily mean you're accomplishing more. Sometimes it just means you're busier. To allow myself time for other things and to just be, I've been declining invitations to events that don't align with my blog's verticals and committing to fewer projects, all of which have given me the space and breathing room to allow calm and creativity to reign.
5. I started doing meal prep. This is a recent thing and admittedly I skipped this week because I was sick on the weekend. On Sundays, I'll marinate and roast a protein in bulk, like teriyaki chicken; boil eggs; rinse beans; cook a grain or a carb; roast yam or squash; and wash, slice, and prep veggies. This gives us the mix-and-match ingredients to pull together entree salads for lunches and complete meals for dinner. The boy and I have weeknight schedules that rarely line up. (Him: kickboxing, night school. Me: Bar Method classes, blog stuff.) Being able to pull together a quick meal from the contents of our fridge, or dump a bunch of pre-cut veggies into a pan for a fast stir-fry, helps us resist the siren call of takeout.
6. I started going to bed earlier. We've all heard the virtues of getting enough sleep, so much so it's common sense now even if it's not common practice. A good night's sleep helps me focus better at work, get more done, and gives me the energy and discipline to work out instead of skipping a sweat session.
7. I started getting up before noon on weekends. The early risers among you are laughing at this, I'm sure, but I love sleeping in on weekends and have always done it, and only recently realized that (surprise!) I was sleeping away half of my cherished time off. On the days when I get up before noon and photograph some products for my blog and knock a couple chores and errands off my list before brunch, I feel like such a rock star.
8. Fewer possessions = less to dust, clean, and maintain. Fewer clothes to drop off and pick up from the drycleaner, fewer pairs of shoes to bring to the cobbler for repair, fewer knickknacks cluttering up surfaces and bookcase shelves and collecting dust and begging to be cleaned constantly. This is probably the biggest and most positive difference I've noticed one year after doing the KonMari cleanout.
9. I made more time for regular in-person dates with friends. Hearing someone's voice, looking them in the eye, making them laugh, taking an hour or two to connect over coffee or a meal is so much more nourishing for the soul than email or text.
10. I underscheduled myself. This goes hand-in-hand with saying no more often. Instead of stacking my days with an endless merry-go-round of stuff to do, I make sure I have a couple of empty evenings or afternoons in a week where I can do whatever I feel like doing in the moment.
What do you do to make yourself rich in time?