Oh sweet September, my favourite month. I love the crisp air, the colour in the trees, and that old back-to-school feeling of a fresh start and new year. It's a lovely month. But it's also a busy month for many, with work jumping back to high gear after summer holidays, kids off to school, and lunches to be made once again. It's easy to get overwhelmed and distracted from enjoying the beauty of September.
So let's stop that right now, slow down a little, and be mindful throughout this month. Let's smile when we feel the wind on our cheeks. Let's scoop up perfectly beautiful red and orange maple leaves we come across on the sidewalk. Let's put our face up to greet the sunshine and blue skies. Here are a few ways we can simplify the distractions and busyness of September so we can slow down and do all of those wonderful things.
1. Enjoy the weekends.
Take a day each weekend in September to just play. You remember how right? The kind of day we enjoyed as kids that was unstructured, without any goals and without any timelines. Go to the beach or a hiking trail. Wander around a neighborhood window shopping and sipping fancy coffee. Go to a museum. Or just read a really good book on the deck. Play is an important part of life balance that must be taken just as seriously as work, home and health. I wrote more about life balance here.
2. Declutter your phone.
Make a commitment for this month to remove the apps and notifications that distract you from life.
- Take the Facebook and Instagram apps off your phone and only use them on your computer for a limited time each day.
- Set the sleep setting on your phone to DO NOT DISTURB between 7pm and 7am. You won't receive any calls or text rings during that time, except those you designate as important (ie. family).
- Go to settings and block all pop-up notifications from email, apps, etc.
- While you're there turn off all sound notifications. You don't need to know the second an email comes in.
- Add the Moment app, which tracks how many times you pick up your phone each day and the total amount of time you spend on your phone. Track it during September and I'll bet you'll start changing your phone habits and gain back precious real life time.
3. Set up one dedicated charging zone for your phones - OUTSIDE of the bedroom.
Getting a good sleep is so important to our health and to the ability to live a more mindful and calm day-day. And one of the biggest disrupters of sleep, whether you realize it or not, are our screens. The blue light emitted from phones, tablets and TV's interfere with our melatonin response that helps us sleep. And subconsciously, having our phones beside us when we sleep creates anxiety about everything that we still have to do on our never-ending to-do list.
So get your phone and tablet out of your bedroom, and into a charging station elsewhere in the house. I've got three ideas for a charging station for you here.
4. Organize a family command centre.
A dedicated area in your home where you have a calendar, keep important notes, perhaps where you post a menu for the week, and where everyone in the family can see what's happening will simplify your home and your month. You may want to make your command centre digital if that's the best way to keep your family on the same page, or have something tidy out in the open, or even something behind a cabinet door in the kitchen. Take a look at the options and ideas I wrote about here.
5. Plan what to wear the night before.
Install a hook somewhere in the bedroom - either on the back of a closet door or on the wall - and use it to hang your outfit for the next day. Get in the habit of taking 2 minutes each night to decide what to wear, and pull out every clothing piece you need to pull the outfit together. This simple habit will shave off much more time in the morning, not to mention frustration and indecision when you're still half awake. It will set the tone and help you simplify your whole day from dawn to dusk.
6. Choose three recipes.
Pick your favourite three healthy recipes - it could be a main dinner dish, a salad or a muffin recipe. Write them out somewhere visible to you on a daily basis - I use both a chalkboard in the pantry and a clip board with my favourites written on index cards. Make sure to stock up on the ingredients you need for these and put them into rotation often during the month of September. It will help you feel more in control because you have three easy go-to's that are simple to make and delicious.
My three for September:
Enjoy this wonderful month by simplifying your everyday just a little bit. Slow down, be more mindful, and have a wonderful September friends.