Today I want to give you 5 tips how to simplify your life. If you are looking for ways to declutter, whether this concerns physical items or your mind, you can start by implementing one of these tips after the other. Some of them require some thinking and soul searching and cannot be executed immediately. But if you start tackling one at a time you will be on the right track to a simpler, happier life.
Last weeks post covered the basics of what simple living means to me. I discussed it’s four foundation pillars minimalism, sustainability, DIY / homemaking and living space. You can read the full blog post here.
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5 Simple Living Tips
#1 Examine your Schedule
Write down your schedule for a typical week, including sleeping, working and eating hours, everything.
Now have a close look at every activity and determine whether it is something you enjoy or not. I recommend marking each activity with either a happy, neutral or unhappy smiley. If you are done, what do you see? Mainly happy smileys? Mainly sad smileys? A mix?
Of course there are some activities in everyone’s calendar that are essential, like sleeping and eating. Things like cooking, cleaning your house and shopping for food might be difficult to avoid doing altogether as well. But those mandatory activities should at least have a neutral face next to them. If those are things you truly dislike, you will have to work on your mindset to improve your attitude towards these tasks. More on the topic of altering your mindset will be covered in the next post.
Overall, there will be a lot of activities on your list that seem like they are non-negotiable like working or commuting. However, if you have marked those tasks with an unhappy face, remind yourself that you don’t have to keep working a job you dislike. You can find another one that is a better fit for you. The same applies if you have a long commute that you hate. This is your one and only life and it is way too precious to spend it being unhappy for the majority of the day.
Now let’s have a look at the happy smileys. Since those are the activities in your schedule you truly enjoy, try to find a way to increase the hours you spend on them weekly.
When I did this exercise myself several years ago it really helped me to see my week written out on paper along with the smileys. I discovered that I highly valued the time spent outside walking my daughter to kindergarten instead of driving. Therefore I decided to omit occasionally taking the car to save time and actively looking forward to each walk.
I have learned this exercise from a blog called Raptitude. It is a very inspirational blog on mindfulness and contains a wealth of information. I can highly recommend it, in case this is a topic that interests you.
#2 Declutter and Pay Attention to Duplicates
Whenever you make a purchase and add an item to your household, you also add the liability to keep up with the products maintenance. Therefore it doesn’t make sense to keep items around that you don’t use. This is especially true for duplicates.
For example: you need clothing, of course. But do you really need more than one pair of boots? If you own, let’s say, five pairs instead. You will need more place to store them. You needed more money to buy them. And you need more time to put together an outfit because you have more options to choose from. This doesn’t only apply to apparel though. It is also true for cars, mobile devices, hobby equipment, kitchen utensils and basically everything.
If you are ready to go through your belongings and part with the things you don’t need and enjoy, I can recommend Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever”. It provides guidance on how to tackle decluttering all of your belongings by grouping items together. It also suggests a specific order to go through everything.
#3 Insource Instead of Outsource
Doing something yourself and seeing the final result is a very special feeling. Taking pride in one’s accomplishments is an emotion we should seek more often. In today’s world we are often told that we are not sufficient in order to market a myriad of different products to us. While it is true that the end result might not look as perfect when you do something yourself compared to the work of a professional, it is also true that you will appreciate the fruits of your own labor a lot more. And, in all honesty, is it really necessary for everything to be perfect?
Let me give you a couple of examples of things we do ourselves and greatly enjoy. Maybe you find just one thing you can start doing yourself as well.
- cooking & baking (including sourdough bread, jam, granola, fermenting cabbage to make sauerkraut)
- growing vegetables, fruits & herbs in the garden (cocktail tomatoes, mini peppers, herbs and dwarf varieties of fruit trees and berries can be grown easily, even on a small balcony)
- painting walls and furniture
- sewing / knitting / crocheting clothes and home décor items
- making natural candles (read my blog post on how to make candles here)
- making deodorant (read my blog post on how to make deodorant here)
- making cold process soap
- cutting each other’s hair
#4 Look for Alternative Ways of Transportation and Spend More Time Outside
How often do you use your car to cover short distances simply out of habit? There are so many benefits in walking or biking instead of driving. Every time you have the opportunity to be in the fresh air instead of sitting in a car, you should seize it. Use your muscles, get to know your surrounding area, meet your neighbors. You can’t experience all of these things if you sit in a car all by yourself. And if these aren’t already enough benefits, you will also be able to save money and help preserve the environment by driving less.
#5 Allow Time for Rest
As a society, we have come to a point where we think that we have to pack our schedules completely full with activities. We want to be occupied all the time and people even take pride in telling everyone how busy and stressed they are and what they are able to “accomplish”. And, worst of all, this also applies to our children. Leisure time fosters creativity and sparks ideas, both in children and adults. Kids learn how to get creative and come up with their own ideas for games to play. They don’t need to have an extracurricular activity every day of the week that leaves them no time to meet with their friends or spend time with their family.
In short, we don’t need more obligations, we need more free time at our disposal. Have another look at your schedule. Is there any activity that you don’t enjoy and that isn’t mandatory which you could refrain from altogether?
Side Note: Since this post was written at the beginning of 2021, a lot of people have experienced a more open schedule in the last couple of months due to the pandemic and the connected lockdown. If you are one of them, ask yourself if you can a draw a lesson from this experience. Did you value some of this sudden leisure time? Did you enjoy having more time with your children? If so, can you keep some of these changes for the future when the world will be back to normal again?
I hope you found some inspiration and food for thought in these 5 simple living tips. I am going to share some more tips very soon. In the meantime, let me know what your simple living tips are. Come share in the comments!