• SIMPLE LIVING

    OFFICE DECLUTTER & ORGANIZATION – clean out and organize my office with me! / DECLUTTERING SERIES

    Today I’m continuing the decluttering of my house with an extreme office declutter and organization!

    So far I’ve decluttered my closet and pantry and now it’s time for the office.

    Let me know what you have been decluttering lately!

     

    OFFICE DECLUTTER & ORGANIZATION - clean out and organize my office with me! / DECLUTTERING SERIES

     

    For the last few months Jared has been sharing the office with me but he recently moved back upstairs to his own office and so it was high time I did some decluttering and organizing!

    The result is a space I feel like I can get a lot of work done in.

     

     

  • GOALS,  SIMPLE LIVING

    Thoughts and Results On Yet Another Social Media Fast

    In December I decided to take what has become my second annual month-ish long social media fast.

    There is a big part of me that wishes I wasn’t on social media at all and then there is another big part that really enjoys a lot of benefits of social media.

    Last year I had a six week social media fast and shared some of the things I learned after that.

    For this year I decided to take the entire month of December off of Facebook and Instagram.

    To be honest, I didn’t miss it at all.

     

    Thoughts on My Second Annual Social Media Fast

     

    It seemed kind of funny to take a whole month off of Instagram when I just hit 10,000 followers on my homeschool IG account (so I could finally share links in my stories). I worked hard to hit that number, not for the number sake but for the benefits of the links. I definitely had a drop in followers for the month that I was off but it didn’t drop below 10,000 again so I’m thankful for that.

    When January 1st rolled around I was actually too busy with life to even log in to Instagram and Facebook to see what I had missed and I was tempted to just give them up.

    But, Facebook is the only place I have to contact some of my extended family members and there is a local foster family group on there that has been a wealth of knowledge in the beginning of our fostering journey so I am back on there. Though I don’t check it every day, it’s more like every other day or so and I still try to limit it to just my computer, I haven’t had the app on my phone for years and that’s been really nice.

    I have decided to give up my personal Instagram account for the forseeable future. That came as a surprise to me because a year ago that would have been the only account I would have chosen to keep but things have changed a bit.

    I am currently using my homeschool Instagram account because it does direct people to my site but I have not been checking it or scrolling nearly as much as I used to.

     

    IN CONCLUSION

    All in all I would say my second annual social media fast was a success.

    I use Instagram and Facebook less now than I did before the fast and generally only go on if I have a reason to.

    I am really enjoying having an annual fast from social media and am already planning on doing it again for next December.

     

    Have you ever done a social media fast? How did it go? Anyone interested in joining me for my fast in December?

  • GOALS,  SIMPLE LIVING

    Social Media Fast – Round Two

    Last December and January I took a six week social media fast and loved it.

    The choice to go back on was harder than the choice to go off.

    I felt like I learned a lot in those six weeks and had a lot of extra time (something that feels so fleeting these days).

    As December and the Christmas season approaches I’ve made the decision to have a social media fast again, though with a few slight changes.

     

    FACEBOOK

    Starting December 1st I will be off of Facebook. This blog still publishes a link to my posts to my Facebook page and my homeschool blog does the same. That way people that like to come to my blogs via Facebook can still do so.

    My general goal is for the social media fast to last all of December but I have been so over Facebook for so long I do not know if I will go back.

    I don’t use Facebook much at all now as it is, I generally go on about every other day and then just check my notifications (also, I’m still using the free Chrome extension Newsfeed Eradicator which means when I login on my browser I don’t have a newsfeed to get sucked into, if you want to stay on FB I would recommend checking it out!).

    I haven’t had the Facebook app on my phone for years though I am logged on in my browser on my phone. I will log out of my browser on both my phone and my computer (and I don’t know my password so getting back on won’t be that easy). I also don’t use FB messenger so I don’t have that app or anything to worry about.

     

    Social Media Fast 2019 - Round Two

     

    INSTAGRAM

    Instagram has always been my preferred method of social media but I’ve really started to feel over it this year. I am taking a break for the entire month of December and as of right now I think I will probably only use my homeschool account after that (though this may change).

    Instagram doesn’t drive much traffic to my sites at all so it’s really more for personal use. Even with the number of followers I have on my homeschool account (and decent engagement on most posts) I really don’t get that many blog views from Instagram so taking at least a month off won’t be a big deal.

    In January I will see how I am feeling about IG but at this point I am thinking I may just continue using my homeschool account and not use my personal one at all. I have used Hootsuite for years to schedule most of my Instagram posts and may just use that and then my browser for reading and responding to comments. We’ll see how I’m feeling after a month off.

    For December I plan on uninstalling IG from my phone and logging out in my browser. This is actually a big step because when I did this last year I had major issues logging back into one of my accounts. So the possibility does exist that they won’t let me back in once I log out.

     

    OTHER FORMS OF SOCIAL MEDIA

    There are other forms of social media, the only two others that I use are Pinterest and YouTube which I will continue to use.

    Pinterest is the main traffic driver for both of my blogs and it is something I also use a separate scheduler for so I don’t actually spend much time scrolling Pinterest.

    YouTube I enjoy but it is not something I mindlessly watch. I have to be in the right mood and setting to watch videos so I’m okay with continuing at that rate.

     

    Social Media Fast 2019 - Round Two

     

    MY GOALS FOR THE MONTH

    Here are a few things I hope to happen in December:

    + more time to work on other things I want to do instead of mindlessly scrolling

    + more time to cherish the moments of the season with my family

    + in that same vein, creating some new Christmas traditions

    + less comparison in this season

     

    I am looking forward to getting started with another social media fast! Have you ever done one? I would like to hear what your experience has been!

  • GOALS,  SIMPLE LIVING

    Eight Lessons from a Six Week Social Media Fast & Changes I’m Making for the Future

    One of my goals for this year was to take a one month social media fast, in December I decided January would be the month. But then the week before Christmas I thought, why not start early?

    So, my one month social media fast ended up being six weeks.

    I decided to stay off of both Instagram and Facebook for the fast.

    Instagram is where I was spending most of my time and found myself scrolling mindlessly or checking to see if people had commented on what I had posted. If we are going to toss around the word “addiction” then Instagram would have been my social media addiction.

    Facebook was different. Facebook I have not enjoyed for years and generally only checked it every few days but for a few reasons I continue to have a Facebook account, so an excuse to not check it for a month sounded great to me.

     

    Eight Lessons I Learning During a Six Week Social Media Fast and changes and rules I am making for myself for the future

     

    WHY I JOINED

    My reasons for joining Facebook and Instagram were both different. I was an early adopter to both and joined Facebook at the beginning of 2007 and Instagram at the beginning of 2011. I joined Facebook to stay in touch with a friend who lived in a different province and I joined Instagram for the pictures, both sharing them and being inspired by others. For me Facebook was all about the people I knew in person and Instagram was about following people I didn’t know.

     

    WHERE IT WENT WRONG

    Eventually both just got to be too much. I actually quit Facebook for over a year a few years ago and decided to come back for a few reasons, now that I have it again I hardly use it but one thing I love is that I don’t have a news feed, so when I do use it I don’t get sucked into that black hole.

    (Curious about the no news feed? I use a Chrome extension called News Feed Eradicator.)

    Instagram became motivation for me to pick up my camera or phone more to ensure I took pictures, I loved that. I loved the push to be more creative it gave me but eventually it became too much of a comparison game and jealousy definitely set in.

    But where they both actually went wrong was I started over thinking the posts I was sharing. Because I make my income online social media is part of that and I started becoming nearly obsessive over trying to figure out the algorithm (newsflash: it’s always changing and impossible to figure out).

    So, it was time for a break.

     

    Eight Lessons I Learning During a Six Week Social Media Fast and changes and rules I am making for myself for the future

     

    LESSONS LEARNED

    My break actually surprised me. I thought I would miss social media way more than I did. I didn’t really miss it at all and when February 1st rolled around I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to log back in (though, I did).

    Here are a few things I learned over my six week break:

     

    #1 I DON’T NEED TO SHARE EVERYTHING WITH EVERYONE

    There were a few times where I took a cool picture or saw a funny joke and then I wished for a brief moment that I was on social media but instead I just decided to send these types of things to friends or family directly and that was actually a lot more rewarding.

     

    #2 IT GAVE ME MORE TIME FOR READING

    It’s amazing how much the social media time can really add up. This gave me more time to do other things I enjoy, like reading! One of my goals for this year was actually to read less, but when I made that goal I didn’t factor in that I would be having extra time and so far I didn’t read any less in January.

     

    #3 THERE ARE OTHER THINGS I ENJOY

    The break also gave me time to explore other things that I enjoy, and while it is another form of social media in a way, during this time I realized how much I like YouTube. I came across some great content creators and I realized what made YouTube different than Facebook and Instagram (in a broad sense) is how much time and effort people put into creating videos and opposed to just sharing photos or articles on IG and FB.

     

    Eight Lessons I Learning During a Six Week Social Media Fast and changes and rules I am making for myself for the future

     

    #4 I WROTE MORE

    I also took this extra time to write a lot more, one of my favorite things to do!

     

    #5 I DOCUMENTED MY DAYS DIFFERENTLY

    I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and I still did take a number throughout the six weeks but I also started documenting more with video, totally inspired by the 1 Second Everyday app, and I managed to take a short video each day in January! I am continuing to document daily moments using video though I’m not sure if I will continue using the app for the rest of the year. It’s a cool idea but I want to make each video a big longer.

     

    #6 MY TRAFFIC DIDN’T GO DOWN

    One of the reasons I’ve convinced myself that I am on social media is to promote my websites but to be honest, my traffic didn’t actually go down as a result of not being present on social media. Both this blog and my homeschool one automatically post to Facebook when a new post is up so that didn’t change and Instagram doesn’t bring in much traffic anyway so that also didn’t change.

     

    #7 I MADE MORE CONNECTIONS

    Here’s a really big difference: I made a lot more connections in the last six weeks, both online and offline.

    I used some of my extra time online to write regular email newsletters and I really enjoyed that.

    In my personal life I enjoyed not worrying about if I missed a post a friend had shared, I could just tell them I’m not on social media at the moment and I could hear about their news in person instead of feeling bad something didn’t show up in my feed.

     

    #8 I FELT LESS JEALOUS

    A big part of this has to do with the time of year. January (well, winter), is a big struggle for me living in such a cold place. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing and seeing other people’s photos of warmer climates or trips during this season can make things a lot worse. Not being on social media helped to reduce the feelings of jealousy.

     

    Eight Lessons I Learning During a Six Week Social Media Fast and changes and rules I am making for myself for the future

     

    HOW I PLAN ON CHANGING THINGS GOING FORWARD

    For the moment I am not going to completely jump the social media ship but I do want to change things up a bit:

     

    #1 I’m not installing the Facebook app

    I actually haven’t had the Facebook app on my phone for a few years, so this is just going to continue.

     

    #2 I’m going to continue to use the Facebook Feed Eradicator

    This is another one that is not a real change, just a continuation.

     

    #3 I only plan on checking Facebook every few days

    Once again, not huge changes but something I hope to continue.

     

    I started with Facebook, so these are easy ones for me since I don’t really enjoy the site, let’s get onto the harder ones . . .

     

    Eight Lessons I Learning During a Six Week Social Media Fast and changes and rules I am making for myself for the future

     

    #4 I’m only going to post to Instagram when I feel like I have something I want to share

    Part of my problem was that I felt a certain (self-imposed) pressure to post every day or nearly every day and then only at certain times of the day (it seemed like when I posted in the evenings more people saw my stuff). No more of that. Now I am going to post when I feel like I have a picture or words I want to share, no matter what time of day. And if I don’t have anything to share I won’t.

     

    #5 I won’t obsessively check to see if people liked or commented on my photos

    This may be the biggest adjustment, and it goes along with this next change:

     

    #6 I can only be in Instagram for 10 minutes a day

    I have an app on my phone that tells me how much time I’m on each app. I can set it so my phone will block me out after 10 minutes and I’ve already got that set up.

     

    #7 I need to comment on every fifth photo (or less)

    I don’t want to mindless scroll so I will need to comment on every fifth photo (or less), it will help me engage and be involved in the Instagram community and show people that I care about their photos and lives more than just giving it a double tap.

     

    Have you ever done a social media fast? What did you enjoy about it? Did you make any changes? I would love for you to leave me a comment below and let me know!

     

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    P.S. I got these lovely photos from this post to use for free from Unsplash, it’s really making me want to get out of this complete winter wonderland and take some beautiful photos.

  • SIMPLE LIVING

    Is Minimalism Right For Your Family?

    Let’s start with getting something out in the open: I bounce back and forth between calling myself a minimalist and not.

    It depends what definition you are following.

    If the definition you are thinking of involves a room with white walls with just one chair and a table with a white vase and a single tulip, that’s not the kind of minimalism I’m talking about. (Well, I do have white walls, but that’s where the similarities end.)

    My minimalism definition is:

    Only owning what I am going to use or benefit from and getting rid of the excess.

    This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I’ve admitted multiple times that books are an addiction for me. Thankfully 50% of my household are avid readers and plow through a number of books a month (our own books and ones we borrow from the library).

    I love this William Morris quote:

    Is Minimalism Right For Your Family? - William Morris Quote

     

    Now that we’ve covered my idea of minimalism, I wanted to share this post in case you were wondering if minimalism is right for your family.

     

    Is Minimalist Right For Your Family? - Your family will benefit from simple living if . . .

    YOUR FAMILY WILL BENEFIT FROM MINIMALISM IF . . .

     

    YOU WANT TO SPEND LESS TIME CLEANING

    Does anyone truly like cleaning? I know I sure don’t! Ever since we reduced what we own cleaning has been soooo much easier.

    I used to feel the blood drain from my face when I heard the doorbell ring with unexpected company. There were always a pile of dishes on the counter and a variety of projects on the go that were spilled all over the table and any other free space available.

    With less stuff there is much less to clean, it doesn’t even take long for the kids to clean their toys since we’ve eliminated so many of them! (The toys, not the kids.)

     

    SOMEONE IN YOUR FAMILY HAS A HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSONALITY

    My daughter and I both have highly sensitive personalities and it can be hard to function when there is too much visual stimulus going on.

    Only having what we are going to use has gotten rid of a bunch of visual clutter.

     

    YOU WANT TO PROMOTE CREATIVITY IN YOUR CHILDREN (AND YOURSELF)

    If you always have what you need at your disposal there is no need to get creative. Just this morning I went to the “doctor” (my daughter) and since she didn’t have anything for a sling for my arm she used a piece of one of her brother’s costumes. A few years ago I remember her using a pair of suspenders and a sock as an IV for her brother. She has an excellent imagination because she has few toys and the ones we do have are mostly open ended, perfect for developing creativity.

     

    YOU WANT TO REDUCE THE OVERWHELM (AND YOUR STRESS LEVELS)

    This goes hand-in-hand with the highly sensitive personality but even people who are not highly sensitive can benefit from minimalism.

    Having less means you have less things to keep track of and worry about.

     

    YOU WANT TO SPEND LESS MONEY (AND SAVE MORE!)

    This one seems like a no-brainer but is so often overlooked! Since you don’t want your home to be cluttered you will stop buying stuff for it, and when you stop buying stuff you save yourself money.

     

    YOU CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

    For those who are environmentally cautious, minimalism reduces your carbon footprint since you are not buying more than you will use.

     

    YOU WANT TO HAVE MORE ADVENTURES

    With all the money you will save by not buying things, and the time you will save by not having to clean, shop for and maintain your stuff you will have more time and money for adventures!

     

    YOU WANT TO BE MORE PRESENT IN YOUR DAILY LIFE

    And last, but certainly not least, minimalism helps you to be more present in your daily life. You will have less vying for your attention and you can focus on the one precious life you have been given.

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