The term simple living tends to conjure up thoughts of simple pleasures and a break from the rush of life. But getting from full capacity to a more simple life is more pragmatic than just slowing down. Simple living is an intentional way of life where systems are established and decisions are prioritized. So below I’ve outlined some up-front steps for simplifying all areas of your life.
1) Declutter and organize your life
Do you ever just look around and say, “I need room to think!” Clutter in your living and work space adds confusion and chaos by its mere presence. By decluttering your space you can relieve stress through visual simplification. Now, where to start?
Inbox: Has your inbox become your default to-do list? I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to have emails coming so fast you couldn’t possibly respond to them all thoughtfully so they pile up. Next thing you know your inbox is a slush pile where things are getting lost or accidentally deleted. The best way to tackle this is to establish an account that’s just for personal correspondences. That way, a recipe from your sister is automatically in a separate realm from a follow-up message regarding an interview opportunity. Secondly, don’t be afraid to unsubscribe to automated emails that are no longer of interest. A couple clicks will end the maintenance of reoccurring junk mail. Last, routinely set aside time to clean up your inbox so it doesn’t get too overwhelming.
Organize your desk at home and work: You know the saying, out of sight, out of mind. That isn’t always a bad thing. Look around your desk at the loose papers, supplies and decorations. Are these things you need to access on a regular basis? What ever is under the “no” category needs to get filed, removed or recycled.
Living Space: Here’s a common scenario I’ve noticed when it comes to household clutter. The things we use often are out in the open, all over the place. And the things we never use are stored neatly in drawers and closets. If you got rid of the stuff you pretty much never use, you’ll open up space for the stuff you do use to be neatly stored. Give it a try and see your storage space gain efficiency.
2) Unplug from your electronics
In many ways electronics simplify our lives, but not when they become a bouquet of social cliffhangers. We find ourselves constantly checking email, social media and text messages for follow-ups to ongoing conversations. This obsession is not only time consuming, but stimulating to the point of causing anxiety. To create some boundaries for your electronic devices try:
Gadget Curfew: Logging off at a certain time of day, almost like a curfew for your gadgets.
Move Your Body: Engaging in a healthy activity (like tennis or yoga) that will take your mind off your Facebook newsfeed or your current obsession with The Walking Dead.
3) Control your finances
There aren’t many things we can control, but we can control our personal finances. You decide where you shop, what you buy and how much you consume. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your financial situation, here are some suggestions for simplifying:
Fiscal Fitness: Carefully look at your credit card statements to get a monthly snapshot of where your money is being spent. This is an easy way to pinpoint leaks in your financial digression, especially if you’ve consolidated to one credit card.
Consolidate: Rollover extraneous bank accounts and retirement accounts into one that you manage. When my husband and I got married, I had my own retirement account. Instead of having another account to manage we rolled it into a joint account. Same is true for accounts that are left over from former jobs. Keeping it altogether simplifies your money management.
4) Don’t take things personally
Mental clutter and harbored negative energy are another source of maintenance in your life. Seriously, it’s called brain baggage, and it takes up time and energy that you could replace with peace of mind. If you’re struggling to free your mind, here are a couple reminders that can simplify your emotional baggage:
Move On: Don’t hold grudges. No one is impervious to getting POed, but the longer you linger on things that bug you, the more they tend to magnify and impede on your otherwise healthy lifestyle.
Don’t React: When buttons are pushed, keep your reactions in check. This is a definite case for intentional living. Channel your reactions into stress relief (like breathing exercises) instead of escapism (like alcohol or substance abuse).
5) Share your talents
By sharing your talents with others you elevate your sense of purpose while also contributing to your community. And why would this bring about simplification?
Our talents bring us joy: When we are doing what we love, we’re in a comfort zone of creative bliss and happiness. By sharing what brings us joy, we spread positive energy, which can have a ripple effect of stress relief to those around us.
Sharing brings us satisfaction: There are needs all around us that can be met by sharing our talents instead of draining other means such as money. Why not put your skills to work in a way that’s exhilarating and helpful. You’ll feel in control of what you’re giving and personally satisfied.
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