Have you ever thought you’d like to simplify your life? I think most people have now and then. I’m also sure that it means something different to every person. Maybe one person has a super busy schedule and they’d just like to slow it down a bit. Someone else might feel their house is too cluttered and would like to get rid of some of the junk. Another might want to keep all their stuff but need to get it organized better. There are many, many ways to simplify.
This post is not meant to be everything for everybody but some of the things I have done to simplify my life and others that I’d like to do. I hope some of my ideas will be useful to you in your quest to simplify your life.
One of the first things people think of when it comes to simplifying is decluttering. If you feel like you have too much ‘stuff’ then you might want to try this. You should work on it a little at a time so it isn’t overwhelming.
There are different ways to break it up but the two most common ways seem to be room-by-room or pick-a-category (i.e. clothes, books, toys, etc.). Whichever way you go remember to take it slow. If one room is too much then pick just a part of the room such as a closet or bookshelf to start with. You can break any category up into sub-categories.
What to do with all the excess ‘stuff’? For starters, throw out anything that is not in good condition. What’s left can be sold at a yard sale or online, or you could donate it to a thrift shop. Many thrift shops help out a specific cause so find one you like and feel good about your donation. You will also feel good about having a tidier home.
Be Less Busy
This can be a really hard one to simplify since we usually want to do all the things we’ve committed to. Anything that doesn’t bring you joy or make you proud to be a part of can be the first to go. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Your time is yours and what you do with it is your choice. Say ‘No’ and don’t feel guilty. Time for yourself and your family is more important than any committee or volunteer position
Remember that when you say ‘No’ to one thing you are saying ‘yes’ to something else like a meal at home with your family, getting a full night’s sleep, or taking time for self-care. We don’t want to say no to anything but try to think of what you are gaining by not making that commitment.
You can also make yourself less busy but stopping the multi-tasking. We think we’re getting a lot done but our mind is divided having to switch back and forth from one task to another and this can quickly leave us feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Slow things down, focus on the task at hand, simplify and prioritize. There might be lots of tasks you can just cross off your list.
Speaking of priorities you need to figure out what yours are. This can really help you simplify your life. Decide what really matters – family, home life, relationships, and your own happiness. You’ll probably find that you’re spending too much time doing things that you don’t care about because you feel a sense of obligation, or you worry about what other people think.
Ask yourself if it will still be important to you in 5 or even 10 years. Your relationships will be, your health will be but whether the neighbors like your new lawn decor or your car won’t be a thought in your mind.
Always remember to include yourself in your priorities too. Proper self-care and taking time for your needs will help you be the best person, spouse, parent, friend, etc. that you can be and that is very important to all those around you.
This is another practical thing you can do to save yourself time. We all have inboxes that get filed with newsletters and promotional emails that we don’t even read. What I’ve been doing lately is unsubscribing from two email lists each day.
While I’m checking my email instead of deleting these unwanted emails right away I open one, scroll to the bottom, and hit ‘unsubscribe’. It only takes a couple of seconds and then I never have to deal with those emails again. Two of those a day and I’m seeing a big difference in my inbox already.
If there are some that you want to keep but only review them now and then you can set up a rule in your email to send them to a folder as soon as they come in. That way they are sorted and not cluttering up your inbox but you can still access them when you want to. There are lots of ways to simplify and optimize your emails depending on your preferences.
We all get a ton of papers from many different directions. If you don’t have a filing system in place already it would be a good idea to start one. For years mine was just a desk-top frame for hanging files, something small just for my household. I filed important papers and got rid of the rest.
Today most companies offer paperless billing. This can cut down tremendously on the paper clutter in your home. Another easy way to reduce the papers in your home is to call your post office and ask for ‘no junk mail. No more sale flyers, promotional ads, or those annoying envelopes addressed to ‘Occupant’. You’ll simplify by saving time dealing with it and you’ll be saving the trees as well.
This is an area that will really feel great to simplify. We all have our ways of cleaning the house, some very efficient and others not so much. First, you can reduce the number of cleaning products you use by learning all the ways that simple white vinegar can be used. It is great on windows/glass and makes a good fabric softener. It can be used to clean almost every surface in your home. Baking soda is also a good cleaner anywhere you need a slightly abrasive cleaner.
Make yourself a routine for your chores and stick to it. By doing different areas on each day of the week you can easily spread the workout and get your whole house cleaned without wearing yourself out all in one day. Theflylady.net has some great resources for simplifying housework.
Health and fitness
Sticking to a healthy diet and creating a meal plan will simplify mealtime. For years I planned my meals using three basic categories – some sort of meat or fish, a starch/staple (such as potato, rice, or pasta), and vegetables. These can be combined in all sorts of ways from soups and casseroles to Chinese food or Italian. Most important is to choose a method that will work for your family.
As for fitness just keep it simple. You don’t don’t have to go to a gym to stay fit. A daily walk, morning stretches, playing a sport, or even playing with your kids can be enough. 20 minutes of exercise three times a week is the usual recommendation. It doesn’t have to be an exercise class but if that’s what works for you that’s ok too.
Life will always throw us some twists and turns and that can make it feel sort of messy and busy for a while. When the situation has passed or been handled get back to your priorities, simplify, sit quietly and focus, and remember how great a simple life feels.