2019 - A Simple Living Plan

In so many ways 2018 has been a great year - I’ve written a book, had several pieces featured in magazines, taught more photography workshops and grown this blog into something I hope helps people live a simpler, slower lifestyle. But these past twelve months have also been extremely hard for us as a family - we have lost three loved ones, the last only a few short weeks ago. Grief is a very complicated thing to get your head around and Christmas has been far from easy this year. Clearing out a house that had been lived in for over sixty years was challenging emotionally and I am so glad that we have been decluttering and simplifying over the years as I never want to have my son deal with all the unnecessary stuff that gets left behind.

2018 is also a year that has been exhausting mentally - Brexit, world politics and climate change concerns have made me anxious, angry, stressed and trying to cling to the hope that things will get better. My only way to cope with all the ups and downs is to focus on what I can do, whether it be in my home, my life or for my family and by living each day according to my values. I wrote about this subject at the beginning of 2018 and you can check out that post here if you want to dig a little deeper into why I choose to do this. With 2019 fast approaching, I wanted to start writing down what simple changes I want to make throughout the year, working slowly month by month to get things done. My simple living plan is essentially about approaching each day with intention and being grateful for what I do have.

I know many of you are also looking to live more simply and slowly, so I’ve included a free PDF (pictured above) that you can print out and pop on your fridge door or above a desk to help you set tasks or goals for the year ahead. I haven’t included a time period on this print out, I like to do a plan once a month but you could use it weekly or even fortnightly. I start with setting the intention for each task - asking what is the purpose and how does this work alongside my values? Is it a long term goal or a quick fix that will help to simplify my day? Then I write how I want to work towards that purpose for the month. It may be something as basic as clearing out my purse as part of a decluttering goal but the intention will be to get more organised. Under money, it may be to start spending less on groceries but the intention will be to start saving more to help our future plans. Yours will probably look very different as we all have our own problems we want to solve or goals that we are working towards.

Before you start using the planner, I suggest you spend some time considering your values. If you have a partner or a family, bring them into the conversation too (if they are open to it!). The three of us regularly sit down and talk about our values and what our long term goals are and I’ve found this has made us a much stronger family unit.

These are the areas of simple living that I want to work on over the course of 2019 - decluttering, money, home, sustainable changes, eating and wellbeing. You may have slightly different ones, so feel free to make your own planner. Alternatively, you can download my Simple Living printable PDF file here. I recommend writing down what your intention is every time you start a new planner as it will help you to stay focused.

Here’s how my planner works with some questions to help you get started:

Decluttering - start with your intention. Is it to get more organised, have less clutter, move or sell your house, preparation for renovations?

Money - start with your intention. Is it to save up for a holiday or home repairs? Is it to pay off debt or make over payments on your mortgage? Maybe it’s simply to budget better for groceries. I’m using a great app called Spending Tracker. It’s free but you can upgrade to include monthly regular payments which help show you exactly where and when your money goes. I like that it takes all the direct debits out (not literally, it doesn’t have access to your bank account!) at the start of the month so you can see straight away how much money you have left for the month. You can then enter purchases or withdrawals as you make them.

Home - start with your intention. How do you want your home to work better for you? Do you want or need to move? What needs to be done - painting, repairs or larger renovations? Do you need to buy a piece of furniture?

Sustainable changes - start with your intention. Why do you want to make these changes? What is the biggest problem in your home from an environmental point of view?

Eating - start with your intention. What is the biggest issue for food for you? Is it meal planning, reducing food waste or lack of time to cook?

Wellbeing - start with your intention. Do you need to take more exercise or just want to feel better? Do you worry that you drink too much or need to make changes to your diet? Do you want to be able to play more with your kids?

It’s important not to feel like you’ve failed if you don’t get everything done on your plan, instead focus on what you have achieved. Life gets in the way sometimes even with the best intentions. I’ll be sharing my Simple Life plan over the next few months on here and if you are joining in, I’d love to know.

And I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered my book, shared it on Instagram or written about it elsewhere - I’m hugely grateful. It’s out in a few days and I’m equally nervous and excited. I also want to thank each and every one of you for continuing to read this blog. I do hope you find some of my posts helpful.

Happy 2019. Let’s make it simple.

Jen xx