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2017: A New Year for EL

December 27, 2016

One of the reasons why I love making planners is because I love (and often crave) the feeling a fresh start brings. With the Simplified Planner, you “visually” get one every day. A simple, clean place to start anew. I often think of this verse from Lamentations: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Though times and circumstances change, God’s love never ever wavers. He makes all things new and gives us that fresh start every morning.

I found myself, in mid-2016, desperate for a fresh start. In the middle of the beautiful craziness that comes with having two toddlers and a kindergartener, and newly diagnosed with a thyroid disease and autoimmune condition (Hashimotos and hyperthyroidism – an odd pair for any of you who understand this stuff) that were likely exacerbated with stress, I couldn’t find my footing. Life just felt indiscribably chaotic. No amount of organizing brought me peace. And trust me, I’m a pro… I tried everything. My heart clearly told me that it wasn’t my lack of organization that was the problem – it was my over abundance of STUFF. Stuff on my calendar. Stuff in my house. Stuff on my “yes” list. Stuff in my head and stuff in my heart. My family had grown. My business had grown. My responsibilities had grown. In Shauna Neiquest’s book Present Over Perfect, she talks about how a very large church had intentionally grown that way by “putting out the chairs.” Even though they talked about the growth like it just *happened* to them, it  actually happened because they just kept putting out the chairs.

Familiar.

I cried the night I read that. A lot. More than I have in years, actually. And it was a weird cry because nothing was broken or wrong or sick. But something wasn’t right and God was calling me down an unfamiliar and uncomfortable path. I felt His tug years ago, but I’d resisted and resisted. For the next few weeks, I prayed my heart out. I took a lot of time to read, relax, sleep, and write. I talked to a handful of close mentors, my team, and my husband. And finally made an enormous decision.

It sounds great to be able to say my line “is carried in almost 800 stores around the world.” Right? Hooray! In fact, it’s been a hallmark line in my professional bio for a few years now, as the number climbed. But in 2016, I found myself on 48 airplanes. In 18 cities. In a countless hotels. Life suddenly just looked a lot different than I’d planned or hoped it would. It wasn’t just the travel that made 2016 a tough year, it was also the way our business changed. You may have noticed I don’t personally write on this blog much anymore. My “coffee break” emails have stopped. I found myself in an entirely new role with a wholesale program so large. We began to design and plan for retailers more than we designed and planned for you, our customers. And that created an empty space, a disconnect, that was as wide and deep as it was deafeningly loud. I knew, as I sopped up the tears, what had to happen. Slowly, we made a plan, late this year, and redefined what success looks like to us. We knew, in our hearts, that just because we could do things, didn’t mean we should. Our new definition of success says it all:

Success, for our brand, means connecting women with JOY in their lives – as students, teachers, professionals, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, volunteers, encouragers, and friends. Success for us means serving our communities with our time, our resources, and our actual products – being inclusive and being blessings as often as possible. Success means serving our team of seven women and creating jobs that are rich with flexibility, ownership, and creativity. Success means inspiring our community of women to embrace stillness and simplicity so that we can be our best selves and live our best lives. 

For myself, success means unabashedly sharing my heart, my faith, and my words. It means wholeheartedly investing myself in the four other people who share my name. It means pulling back without fear because God’s calling me into a new season that is rooted inside the walls of my home. Success means taking care of myself, my health, and my heart – filling my well so that I can richly pour out on others. Success means doing the work God’s called me to do with -you- in mind – you, who I may not know in person, but whom I will call my sister. You who uses our products, reads our content, and hears these words. I let go of my chase for perfection years ago, and now, I will unhook myself from the grips of BUSY, overwhelmed, and overfull. 

As of January 1, 2017, we will be closing the wholesale side of our company and focusing on selling our products directly to our customers. While we will continue to sell our products through our top key accounts (Swoozies, Anthropologie, Joseph Beth Booksellers, Monkees, and Chapters Indigo), we will be stepping back into a fully retail business model. Yes, this means less revenue. But it also means our team of seven (staying intact) will get back to what we’re best at – encouraging joy and simplicity with our content and products and genuinely connecting with our sisters who, like us, are just trying to do life well.

We let all our retailers and our incredible reps know about our plan in mid November. I’m teary to tell you that their response to our change in direction was overwhelmingly supportive. Thank you, to all of you, for supporting us in this. We are unendingly grateful for the ways you have stewarded our brand and helped us spread our message. The emails I received from so many of you – small business owners as well – supporting our step back and our commitment to remaining small and mighty, brought me to tears. I am forever grateful.

I’m embarking on 2017 feeling refreshed, renewed, and confident. I’m grateful to my team, my husband, and my family, for supporting me through these growing pains. And I’m so grateful for the God given peace that I prayed He’d give me when we made the right move. It is here and I am proud of where we’re going. My goals for next year include a lot more writing (here and with Book 2 coming next Fall), much more breathing room to be creative for our community, and a whole lot stillness. I’ve learned, this year, that I can’t hear God when I’m too busy executing my own plans. But when I stop, get still, and make space for Him, He speaks loud and clear. Our Simplifying 2017 blog series starts tomorrow – a series of four blog posts (and giveaways!) about tactically simplifying, organizing, and pairing back for a fresh start in 2017.

xo,

Emily

 

PS: If you’re looking for some holiday reading, Grace, Not Perfection is on sale on Amazon for under $10 (e-book is just $3.99!) And if you haven’t gotten a Simplified Planner yet, you can get free shipping until January 2 with orders over $100 here.

7 Tips For Keeping a Tidy Workspace

September 28, 2016

For many of us, we spend a huge portion of every week in our workspace. Whether it’s a home office, a cubicle in a ten story building, or just a small corner of your kitchen counter, keeping that space clean and organized is crucial. Remember: physical clutter is mental clutter! When our work areas are clean and clutter free, it encourages creativity and productivity— both of which are essential for a successful day in the office. Getting bombarded with mail, important documents, and new tasks daily can make it difficult to keep our workspaces organized, so today we’re sharing seven fool-proof ways to help keep your workspace clean. Write them down. Make them a priority. Be intentional about keeping your workspace free from clutter, and you won’t have to blame an unproductive day on an unorganized office ever again.

  1. Keep things in close proximity. Do you use it everyday? Keep it out on your desk, or in the drawer right next to you. Put that label printer that you only use once a month away in the closet where you don’t see it everyday. Make your workspace work for you.
  2. Create a place for everything. Nothing should be in your workspace without a home! Assign a specific place for everything, and make sure you put it back there whenever you’re not using it. Not only does this help with clutter, but it also helps keep you from losing important items.
  3. Never set trash down. Setting trash down on your desk gives it a temporary home there. Don’t let that happen! As soon as trash comes in, throw it away. Keep a trash can by your desk to make this even easier.
  4. Get rid of unnecessary clutter. Don’t allow things to pile up. Little trinkets and cute desk accessories are fun, but if they’re just taking up space (i.e.: not functional and not bringing you joy), don’t hesitate to get rid of them!
  5. Give discard dates to important documents. Most papers don’t need to be kept forever. Assign dates to each paper with when you can throw them away. Once that date passes, toss it!
  6. Invest in some storage boxes. Sometimes there are random objects and loose papers that we can’t get rid of, but they aren’t pretty to look at and don’t fit inside our desk drawers. Having a few storage boxes handy gets these things out of the way and keeps your office looking fresh + clean.
  7. Restart daily. At the end of each day, make sure all the trash is taken out and everything is in it’s place. Coming into work the next day to a clean office will help jumpstart your productivity before the day has even started!

It’s Simplified Planner Start Day!

August 01, 2016

HOORAY! It’s a big day over here! Not only are we launching EL Playbook today, but it’s also Simplified Planner Start Day! We are over the moon excited that SO MANY women will be able to use their Simplified Planner for the very first time today and are so, so grateful for all of the women who are starting their 2nd (and 3rd) Simplified Planner today! Seriously. We have the best customers in the world and we couldn’t be more grateful.

As you get started using your planner today, we hope that you see it as a tool to help give you a clean slate and simplify your life, but nothing more than that. Remember: it isn’t magic. It won’t fix all of your problems or make you the best cook on this side of the Mississippi. But when you use it right, you’ll find time that you didn’t know you had because you were too caught up in things of little significance. You’ll prioritize your time better and create more memories with your loved ones as a result. It will do you absolutely no good sitting on a shelf. Be sure to keep it in a place where you can use it daily. Get comfortable with leaving white space in it, because white space is the time that you have to spend on the things that matter most— the things that fill your tank and make you feel alive + and full. And most of all, give yourself grace. Don’t hold yourself to an impossible standard and fill up your calendar with meaningless tasks in an attempt to live up to it. Allow yourself to live in imperfect joy, embrace the things that are truly important, and let everything else fall to the bottom of your to-do list. Our hope is that by using your Simplified Planner as a tool to help you cultivate joy + simplicity, you’ll be able to look back on this next year and feel full. Not because of all the activities and to-do’s you packed into each day, but because you lived simply and used your time well.

 

copyright 2018 emily ley