How to Simplify Your Life

by Laura Kronen on February 7, 2013

less is the new more

Would you like to lead a simple life?  Is too much stuff holding you back. Do you find it hard to say no, to delegate, or to figure out whats really important? Although there can be no step-by-step guide to simplifying your life, I’ve compiled a list of ideas that should help anyone trying to find the simple life. Not every tip will work for you — choose the ones that appeal to you and weave them into your life.

But before we start, For the cynics who think that the list below is way too long, I can simplify the list even further:

  1. Identify what’s most important to you.
  2. Eliminate everything else.

Everyone else, keep on reading:

1. Declutter.

Most families have tons of stuff.  It’s time to simplify. Keeping surfaces clear, leaving plenty of room for the things you do own, and valuing quality over quantity simplifies your life and brings peace to your home. The less stuff you have, the less decisions you have to make, the less you have to clean, move or store them, and the more time you have to just enjoy what’s left. This comes easily for some people and is a struggle for others. Not sure how to decide what to keep and what to get rid of?

See that bookshelf that has piles of books gathering dust?  You never read any of them twice. Heck, you didn’t even read some of them once! Don’t you think you are better off distributing them to someone who could benefit from reading them? The same can be applied to your DVDs, CDs, gadgets etc. Either sell them or give them away. Simplify.

If you look around you, most of the clutter is constituted by paper in one or form or another. So going paperless not only makes your work easier and saves you time, it also significantly reduces workspace clutter.

Edit your rooms. One at a time. Edit drawers and closets. Simplify your wardrobe. Eliminate items. You will be amazed at what you can live without and what you don’t really need. Purge your stuff. Get rid of big items.The ones that take up tons of space and you never use.

2. Pay off debt.

Debt complicates life. It takes away your freedom and gives you one more responsibility, when you probably already have plenty without it. Paying off debt takes time and patience, but the end result is well worth the effort.

Once you pay off your debts, you want to remain debt free.  So how do you do it?  Well, here is thought. Debit cards, while extremely convenient, also make it easier to pretend that we have more money in our accounts than we actually do. We’re a lot more likely to spend when we’re paying with a card rather than cash, which can lead to juggling and struggling when it comes time to pay bills.

3. Eat Healthy and Exercise

The healthier you eat now, the simpler your life will be later.If you eat fatty, greasy, salty, sugary, junk foods all the time, you are sure to have higher medical needs and expenses later.  Simplify your meals.  Soup is good food.  So is cereal and a banana.  Every night doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal. While you are eating, eat slowly.  It helps you to lose weight, improves digestion and you actually enjoy the food more! Fuel your body in the best way possible.

The one thing that I strongly suggest to all of my clients is that they exercise daily.  It’s the single best thing you can do for your health, body and your mind.  Exercise helps to burn off stress and makes you feel better in the long run. You will also have more energy for everything else in your life.

4. Let go of perfectionism.

I used to hate when people would say that the key to a simple life is to let go of perfectionism. As a recovering perfectionist, I liked my perfection.

What letting go of perfection means is accepting that good enough is good enough and identifying your pressure points so that you can take care of the basics and let go of the things that don’t matter as much. Focus on the things that make the biggest difference for you, not the minutia. For example, I make my bed every morning and make sure the sink is empty. That’s what matters most to me. The carpets might need a vacuuming or the shelves might need dusting, but my house looks neat and orderly.  Thats what makes me the happiest.  The big cleaning can happen once every few weeks.  I’m not going to make myself crazy every day.

5. Simplify your cleaning routine.

Most people don’t realize that household chores, if not done productively, could easily take up a significant chunk of your time. It’s important to simplify them. Sometimes our home to-do list is just as long as our work to do list.  And we will never get all that done either.  So focus on the most important and try to find ways to eliminate the other tasks.

As parents, we spend a significant amount of time cleaning and straightening up. Even if you have older kids who help out, there’s still a lot to be done. However, there are things you can to do simplify your routines, such picking up all the toys in a nightly blitz before bed rather than continuously all day long. Use a bin to hold things as you do the rounds so you don’t have to make a lot of back and forth trips. Another great tip is to keep cleaning supplies where they’re used – especially paper towels and spray bottles of windex in the bathrooms.  It’s a lot easier to do a quickie cleanup when the supplies you need are right there.

6. Just say no.

If you find it hard to say no, you take on too much. Evaluate your committments.  Think about the ones that really give you value and the ones you love doing.

How do you spend your day?  What things do you do?  make a list and evaluate whether they are in line with your priorities.  If not, eliminate those things that arent and focus on what is.  Redesign your day.

We all have to do things we might not feel like doing that still need to be done. However, there are some things that we don’t have to do that we say “yes” to because of other people’s expectations or our desire to make everybody happy. Identify the priorities for your family so that you can focus on the things that are truly important and say no to the rest! Simplifying family life isn’t necessarily easy. It takes intentionality and effort. However, like a lot of things in life, when you do the hard work upfront, you reap the benefits for years to come with less stress and more freedom to enjoy life as a family.

7. Delegate and Get Help

No matter how organized you are — and how easily you can get things done — if your work grows, you are bound to get overwhelmed if you are doing it all alone. And that’s not just for your work, but for everything else in your life.

Delegating tasks to others who can do it better than you, collaborating with friends in various aspects of life, seeking help from someone who knows it better…all this helps to keep you sane and carry on with life without getting stressed and frustrated.

8. Overcome Information Overload & Disconnect Often

All of our means of communication cant take up a whole day if you let it.  Text, Phone email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram – limit these the best that you can.  Eliminate what you really dont need.  Don’t be consumed by the amount of information available. Although most of the information we consume every day may appear to be incredibly important at first glance, it’s actually not necessary.  Disconnect as often as you can – from the internet and from what you do every day.  Take a few hours and disconnect…be unavailable. Spend time with yourself, with something you like to do but can’t find time for, with someone you love but don’t have time for, with nature. Take time out and thank the universe for the life and the opportunities you’ve got.

9. Don’t Buy Things You Might Not Use

The reason you had that enormous collection of books or DVDs in the first place was because you bought them thinking they’d be of great help. Turns out you were wrong.

So, from now on, only buy things you are likely to use — and use often. When it comes to books and movies (unless you are a voracious reader or a movie buff) you can borrow or rent them instead of buying each new thing that comes out.

10. Figure Out What’s Really Important

Be present. Live here and now and in the moment.  Do what you love.  Spend time with people you love.  Spend time alone.

Figuring out what’s really important to you, what makes you happy and what are the goals for your life is the first step towards the simplification you aim to achieve.It’s only when you know what’s really important, you can prioritize your tasks accordingly and get things done without being stressed.

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