About 6 years ago, I donated 15-20% of my belongings to charity. It was a very freeing and cleansing experience. I still have my fair share of belongings, but try and be more thoughtful about what I add to my belongings. I also live on the principle of for everything you get, you give something away. If you have not worn it for a year, if it is not beautiful, if it does not have a special memory and meaning, or it does not serve a purpose, let it go. This is just one example of ways that we can simplify our lives and focus on what matters, but what are others?
- Work down-time into your day. No matter how many things are on you’re to do list, or how many directions you are being pulled in, always schedule extra “me time” into each day. You are a priority, yet we are usually last on our list and priorities. Whether it is waking up before everyone, or having quiet time to ourselves at the end of the day, we have created a daily reminder that we matter as much as anything else.
- Create a budget for 1-2 years ahead. While we will never be able to plan for all contingencies, there is a calmness and peace to knowing what is coming in and what is going out. To being able to look ahead and knowing how much you have, and that you will be ok. This also allows you to know when it is ok to splurge, and when you should be thoughtful with your finances. The time that it takes to set up a spreadsheet, is well worth the overall time it will create to simplify your life.
- Unclutter your physical and online mail. Unsubscribe to junk e-mails, change to paperless billing, call junk mail and ask to be taken off their list. Be thoughtful about what you do and do not sign up for updates about. Some will send you a deal that you appreciate from time to time, while others will bombard you every day. Think about simplifying what you receive physically and electronically, and make wise choices. In the end you will be grateful for it.
- While it may not seem worth it at the time, there is more truth than can be told in the old adage, you get what you pay for. Whether it is a piece of clothing, to an appliance for your house, always go for quality over cost savings. What you save now, you will surely pay for later. When you pay less, things last shorter periods of time, and you just end up replacing them sooner, costing you more in the big picture. While it may seem like you are getting a deal on the front end, you will be grateful when you have quality items that take care of themselves, and make your life simpler.
- Learn to be at peace doing nothing. I have more people who struggle with the idea of allowing themselves a day, much less an hour each day to themselves to do nothing necessary, needed, or required of them. Learning to be at peace with quiet, calm, and no agenda can be a struggle for some, but is worthwhile once you have mastered it. The joy of saying, “I am going to stay in my pajamas all day and catch up on my DVR” without a tinge of guilt is a beautiful thing. We spend so much time moving, being productive, meeting deadlines, haven’t we earned this simple joy?
- Develop organizational systems for as many areas of your life as possible. While coming up with them, and setting them up may take some time on the front end, it will save you enormous time on the back end. It will also simplify your life in more ways than I could name. Once you have these systems and physical solutions in place, maintaining them will be a breeze, and will open up time for you to get things done, or simply to have created that much needed time to enjoy yourself.
- Simplify your goals. Many people get overwhelmed and do not know where to start when it comes to setting, and working towards goals. I tell people to simplify, make them small and manageable. Envision a ladder with the ultimate goal being at the top. Now make each rung of the ladder be a step toward that goal. It can be something small you can do each day, week, or month that brings you one step closer to your goals. Once people are able to look at their goals like this, they seem more achievable, more possible, and simpler.
While I could go on and on about ways to simply your life and make it easier, more organized, and enjoyable, I think you will find that these 7 changes are an excellent start. They will make many areas of your life easier, and will open up time to focus on what matters. We spend so much of our life running from task to task, it is almost impossible to believe that we have within each of us the ability to simply, and focus on what matters most to us.