Book Review, Part 1: ‘A Simplified Life’

Tori Daly Lifestyle, Organization

Life can be incredibly overwhelming with the endless list of to-do’s, running around from school, to work, to grocery store, to extracurricular activities + social engagements. Throw in making dinner + lunches, laundry + general house cleaning, it’s a wonder how there is anytime left in the day to take time + wind down. And while these are just the every day things that are probably not going away anytime soon, it is possible to make them more manageable + free up space + time in your life.

Towards the end of last year I was feeling a huge sense of overwhelm as generally comes with the holidays + busyness, but the need to simplify life as much as possible was no longer gently tugging at me…it was about to rip my arm off. The more I looked at all areas of my life, the more I felt bombarded with noise + distractions. I was having trouble managing my time + getting everything accomplished that needed to be done. I was constantly cleaning up, doing massive piles of laundry or forgetting to grab milk at the store. Life, to say the least, was chaotic. So I made it my mission to start getting rid of the clutter + begin saying “No” a lot more. Not necessarily to people but to things that didn’t serve me, my family or my purpose.

Other than the extreme level of overwhelm, the spark that ignited this movement within me was a podcast. I love Julie Solomon’s The Influencer Podcast + one episode she had Emily Ley on to talk about her new book A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living {you can find a link to the podcast at the end of the post}. Needless to say that by the end of the podcast I was completely inspired to take back control of my life + to spread the word to others. It was one of those moments when I was like…yes, these people speak my language + they are coming from a place of good + realistic expectations: I. Can. Do. This! If you listen to Emily + take a look at her website or any social media you will see that she gets it. She has 3 kids, a business to run, a husband to love + a house to take care of. She embraces the imperfections of life as they come but it doesn’t keep her from striving to fill the life of her + her family with simplicity + intention. And thankfully she has put her bits of wisdom into a beautiful book to help inspire others to take the same actions in their own life.

In her book, Emily tackles 10 areas of life to simplify. I will cover 5 chapters at a time + share with you my biggest takeaways from each chapter. This is not a substitute for reading the book which can be easily done in a night {I did it + I am the slowest reader on earth}. So without further ado, here are some of her beautiful nuggets of wisdom to enjoy:


Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest

Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest

Emily is obviously a business woman but she also fully embraces being a mom + the term homemaking. It’s not necessarily Martha Stewart kind of homemaking aspirations but Emily reminds us that the definition of homemaking is “the creation + managements of a home, especially as a pleasant place in which to live.” I think we can agree that this is something we all want for our self + family. Emily encourages us to think about our home in this manner as we go about our simplifying journey. Everything starts + ends with a well cared for home + that starts with decluttering it of things that don’t serve us + surrounding ourselves with items that bring joy.


Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest

Evaluating your lifestyle + what works best for you day in + day out will help establish a wardrobe that allows you to feel good + function properly each day. Her top 3 tips for establishing what belongs in your closet? 1. It Must Fit, 2. It Must Be of Good Quality, 3. It Must Be Your Favorite. She then extends these rules to shoes + accessories as well.

This chapter also covers beauty + establishing a basic everyday routine. Emily smartly recommends getting make up colors professionally matched to avoid spending money + time on make up that doesn’t work for us, which also leads to clutter of unused products sitting in our drawers or make-up bags. She also gives general guidelines for how long to keep certain beauty products which helps immensely in figuring out what to throw out + what you can keep for a little while longer.


Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest

Meal planning is the bane of my existence. For the life of me I cannot get a handle on it but it is a BIG goal of mine this year to finally tackle this beast + take the stress out of dinnertime. This is a great reminder that dinner doesn’t need to be made from scratch every night if there isn’t the time, but it also doesn’t have to be fast food because your short on time. Emily notes that dinnertime, as for most families with small kids or active older ones, is a time of great stress but that stress can be drastically reduced by already having a plan {+ food} in place. She reminds us to focus on the most important part of dinner which is sitting down as a family + talking. This allows us to connect, feel loved + feel supported by talking about the best + worst of our day but also showing gratitude for all we have been given.

Like anything else, meal planning is a habit that needs to be formed + cultivated. It also starts with having a simplified kitchen + having and using items that make us feel good. Don’t use paper plates; have + use matching dishware, flatware + glasses. Light some candles, put on some music. Make it an event to enjoy rather than another task to get through. Enjoy the meal + enjoy each other.


Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest

Leaving white space in our calendars is something that seems to be increasingly difficult to do. We need to get rid of the notion of FOMO + embrace down time to recharge + to value the time of others by not running late to our next appointment. Emily suggests that it is important for us to schedule 30 minutes once a week to do whatever makes us feel good + re-energizes the soul.

Emily also gives great tips for managing daily chores + getting the family on board for helping out. If you’re skeptical, her kids are roughly 5 or 6 + 2 or 3 years old and she gets her them involved, so there’s no excuse. In addition to cleaning up toys, I often task our 3 year old with taking his clothes out of the hamper + placing them in the washer. I can’t stress enough the importance of getting kids involved in taking care of the home. It is not just the responsibility of the mother. Everyone lives in the home, so it is the responsibility of everyone to help maintain it.


Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest Source: Emily Ley, Pinterest

Another one of my downfalls, but also another huge goal of mine this year, is getting solid control of our finances. Paying down debt {boo student loans!} + getting all bills on the same schedule can allow for so much more automation for paying on time but also noticing discrepancies in bills. You have a better idea of a monthly budget + can plan for things more accordingly. Emily also really encourages getting savvy on financial terms…the more you know, the more you can protect yourself + your hard-earned dollars.

I highly suggest carving out some time to listen to Emily on Julie Solomon’s podcast HERE. Perhaps it will inspire you to grab her book + start the journey of simplifying your life!

Check back next week for my big takeaways from the last five chapters. But if you can’t wait you can grab ‘A Simplified Life’ in book form HERE.

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