Courtney Carver has built a meaningfully productive life through intentional choices and voluntary simplicity. She shares suggestions for how we can do the same.
Intentional living and voluntary simplicity
Courtney Carvey once lived a busy life as “one of those go-go-go people who wanted to do it all, have it all.” As a result, she also had “all the debt, all the clutter, . . . all the nonsense that comes with stretching ourselves too thin.” For her, that included a chronic autoimmune condition; Courtney was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006.
Courtney calls the diagnosis a “big wake-up call” that led her to restructure her life with the initial focus on eliminating stress so she could “live well with MS and be happier and healthier.” Over time she made a series of changes to her life in search of ways to eliminate stress. She recognized an underlying thread in those stress-reduction efforts: simplicity. Eventually she left behind her career in sales and marketing for a simpler, less busy life.
A “typical” day
Courtney says her days are changing frequently lately. She tries to have some constants in her life, though, no matter what else the day might bring.
One non-negotiable constant is her morning routine. It might be only 5 minutes, or it might be 2-3 hours, depending on what else is planned for the day, but she always carves out some amount of time for herself in the morning, which she spends doing “things I enjoy, things that fuel me, things that ground me.” Typically her morning routine includes things like meditation (she uses the Headspace app, which I also use), writing, yoga, walking, and reading.
Once her morning routine is completed, she gets on with her day. After breakfast and getting dressed for the day, she typically gets her work done, but where she works might vary depending on whether she’s at home or traveling or spending the day at her grown daughter’s apartment looking after her daughter’s new puppy while her daughter is at work.
Courtney tries to do her more creative and thought-intensive work in the morning instead of doing the easy stuff like email and social media. Mid-day she takes a big lunch break, maybe getting outside to take a walk. In the afternoons her work focuses on the administrative types of things she needs to get done.
This daily routine is quite different from the busy life she had when in corporate America. In the episode, we talk about how she made the transition from that life to this one, and she offers suggestions for how even those of us who work outside the home can incorporate some of her approaches. (We had an interesting discussion about creating boundaries around email and social media to help counter the destructive effect of constant online connection to our attention span and our creativity.)
We also talked about her Project 333 challenge, which started as a personal simplification challenge and has grown into an international movement. Check out her website for more information about how you can join the challenge.
Biggest productivity challenges
For Courtney, building a happy, healthy, productive life centers around challenging herself in 3 areas:
- Do less
- Say no more often (to save room in her life for the things she wants to say yes to).
- Make sure she’s on her own list.
“I can’t give of myself to the things on my calendar, on my list, in my life if I’m not on the list as well.
When the day gets away from her
Courtney says this often happens the day after a highly productive day. For her, the key to getting back on track is awareness. If you can catch yourself in it–notice when it starts–then you can pull yourself back and get some perspective. When a meltdown looms, she thinks about her meditation practices and asks herself two great questions:
- How can I under-react to this situation?
- What’s really true about what’s happening in this moment? (As opposed to what the overwhelmed inner voice is saying.)
What’s on the horizon for Courtney?
Courtney’s new book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More, releases on December 26. This is the book of her heart, and she’s excited to share it with the world. Visit your favorite bookseller to pre-order (I’ve already pre-ordered mine on Amazon!), and drop by the book’s page on her website to learn about some special bonus gifts she’s offering to those who purchase the book.
Last words for the listener looking for help in making a life that matters?
Courtney urges us to understand our why: why we’re doing the things we’re doing, and why we want the things we want. Knowing the why can make the difference as we move toward the life we want.
Courtney Carver changed her life by simplifying it after a devastating diagnosis in 2006. She’s the founder of bemorewithless.com and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333. Her new book Soulful Simplicity will be published December 26 by Penguin Random House. Courtney shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives. She lives with her family in Utah.
Connect with Courtney
- On her website Be More with Less – Simplicity is the way back to love
- On Twitter
- On Facebook
- On Pinterest
- On Instagram
Resources Courtney recommends:
- Headspace: meditation app.
- Mike Vardy: a writer, podcaster, and productivity strategist
- 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think: Book by Laura Vanderkam
- Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More — Courtney’s new book coming this month. Now available for pre-order.
- Project 333 – The minimalist fashion challenge
Announcements & Reminders
- For a FREE EXTRA MONTH of BarkBox, visit barkbox.com/productive when you subscribe to a 6- or 12-month plan. This could be a great gift for the dog lover on your holiday gift-giving list!
- If you’re looking for help with child care or home care, visit Care.com/productive to get 30% off a Care.com Premium membership and find the caregiver who’s just right for you and your family.
And thank you to Care.com and Barkbox for supporting The Productive Woman.
- If you’re looking for support, ideas, and accountability in identifying and pursuing your goals in 2018, I’d love to work with you. Visit the Work with Me page on the website to learn more about mastermind groups and personalized one-on-one productivity coaching. New mastermind groups will start in January, but I’m taking applications now. Space is limited, so apply today!
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