Feeling your neck clench, your shoulders ache, and your heart pound, you ask yourself “How will I get all of this done?” We have all been there - overfilling our to-do lists with unrealistic expectations and goals. This is normal in our fast-paced society with glamorized lives on social media, long work days, and endless spending to make ourselves feel like we are on the same wavelength as everyone else. But is it worth impressing others if you’re not happy at your core?
It’s time to return to your roots, take a deep breath, and get organized. Let’s simplify that schedule, tidy up your space, and make room to be yourself, without worrying about what everyone else is doing.
This is the minimalism movement. It’s not just about decluttering your stuff (although that’s a big part of it). Minimalism is about simple living and it all starts with the right mentality. In this post, we introduce how to simplify your life, with the hope that it takes you on a lifelong journey of finding your own inner peace.
Here are 7 tips on how to simplify your life:
Ways to Simplify Your Life
1. Start With Your Negative Thought Patterns
The fun of reducing the physical clutter in your life will come soon, but first it’s important to understand how you got where you are now. If you buy too much stuff, spend too much time on social media, and are always working, you are constantly inviting in outside influences. This can impact how you feel about yourself, how you react when problems arise, and how you spend your time.
Start paying attention to how seemingly small things impact your mood (such as a negative work email or a social media post of someone else’s tropical vacation). Do you feel sad? Do you feel jealous? Do you feel angry? These are all natural reactions, but it’s up to you to recognize what is and isn’t in your control.
Bad things happen and when they do, it’s important to work through and understand those emotions. But we also don’t need to openly invite in bad things all the time. These are the reasons to set specific times to check your work email or text messages, to limit social media use and the accounts you follow, and to only purchase things that add actual value to your life. Otherwise, you allow anything to affect you at any time.
Even after you’ve implemented all of these tasks, simple living is an ongoing process of paying attention to how you feel, and making changes to reduce unnecessary stress. This is how to simplify your life - everything starts with evaluating what you want.
2. Organize Your Finances (And Address Debt)
Are you spending more money than you actually need to? Do you spend money on things that don’t actually bring you joy? Are you avoiding paying off your debts because it’s too stressful to deal with?
Well, it’s time to deal with money. This is another not-so-fun task, but it is crucial to maintaining a simple life. Debt doesn’t go away on its own, and if you don’t work on paying your debts off, you’ll continually owe more over time, accumulating credit and reducing your chances of investing your money into things that matter.
Face your debts and come up with a plan to pay them off. This can include contacting those with whom you owe money and working together on a payment plan.
Your finances aren’t just your debts though; they’re everything you spend your money on. Pick a time every month (some prefer once a week), to go over your income and how much of that you spent, what you spent it on, and how much went into a savings account. Consider how you could save more money in the upcoming month based on what you spent in the previous month.
If you’re having trouble determining this, try to cut the expenses that you didn’t feel good about. If you love reading books, you have the income to purchase books, and you’ve read all of the books that you bought, then this may be a valuable expense to you that you would not want to cut. But if you bought groceries that ended up expiring because you bought more than you were actually likely to prepare, then your grocery bill may need a makeover.
When you save money each month, paying off your debts will be easier and you can build savings for emergencies and more meaningful experiences.
Pay attention to when you are choosing to shop impulsively. Is it because you feel bored, lonely, sad or depressed? Think twice before you click purchase and address your feelings first instead of opting for retail therapy.
3. Spend Less Time On Technology
Screens consume so much of our time, and we’re often completely unaware of it. It seems normal today to spend an hour scrolling, then an hour watching TV, another hour scrolling, and on and on. There are so many apps with so much information to take in, and we want to absorb it all. But a lot of the information you’re consuming likely makes you feel bad about yourself and isn’t actually providing any value to your life. Instead of staring at a screen, you could be spending your time doing activities that you actually love, making you feel more fulfilled and happier at the end of the day.
Start with a social media detox. Delete your social media apps for a day (preferably an entire weekend if you can). This is also a great time for a tech detox, turning off the TV and putting away the video games. You may end up amazed at how much longer and enjoyable the day feels.
Of course in today’s world, completely ridding ourselves from social media and tech isn’t realistic (although possible if you don’t need it for your lifestyle). But once you’ve spent some time away from tech, you can reevaluate how much time you actually want to dedicate to social media, texting, emails, and TV. Develop a plan and follow through.
4. Evaluate Your Relationships
Spending time with others takes a significant amount of time and can easily impact your mood. And while you can’t control every single interaction, you can control how much time and energy you give to certain relationships. Who brings joy to your life and who leaves you feeling drained?
It’s important here to not judge other people, their choices, their personality, their appearance, etc. This will only make you feel more negative. Be compassionate and understand that everyone is on their own journey. But just because you’re being compassionate doesn’t mean that you need to give everyone all of your time.
If there’s tension in a relationship, be open to talking about it with the individual. Just keep in mind that this invites them to talk to you about how they are feeling as well, and you may not like everything they have to say. See how the conversation goes and if they are willing to talk with you and hear your side of the story. If not, this is likely not a relationship you should be devoting a lot of time to.
5. Gain Control Over Your Time Commitments
We spend so much time saying “yes” to everything and feeling burned out at the end of the day. Just because there is an opportunity, an offer, a product, etc. doesn’t mean you have to add it into your life. If you experience fear of missing out (FOMO), keep in mind that every time you say “yes” you are also saying “no”. Every “yes” takes time out of your day, which means that you’re saying “no” to another, potentially more valuable, way to spend your time.
This doesn’t mean you need to say “no” to everything either. Write down a short list of what matters to you, a simple goal you’re working toward, and how you’d like to spend your time. Say “yes” when an opportunity arises that aligns with these three things. If it doesn’t, it’ll likely end up serving as a distraction from the things you actually want to be doing, making you feel out of control of your life. And remember, not everything has to be an achievement. If you want to spend more time in meditation or relaxing with your family, those are your values and you should make the time for them.
6. Declutter Your Stuff
Once you’ve worked through all of the mental and scheduling clutter that was consuming all of your time, you can start making your environment reflect this new, simpler, more peaceful you. This is the most popular part of the minimalist lifestyle and for good reason! All of your possessions represent your values. So when you have a cluttered home filled with items you don’t truly love that you have to constantly spend time cleaning up and maintaining, your home doesn’t represent who you actually are.
Everything around you should have a purpose in your life, and if it doesn’t, then it’s time to let it go. Approach one room at a time and pick up every single item. How do you feel as you hold it? Does it make you happy? Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is an excellent resource for how to cultivate a more joy-filled, cleanly home.
Make sure as you organize and declutter your items that everything is sorted in appropriate boxes - recycling, donation, selling, etc. While it feels great to declutter many of your items, it’s best not to be wasteful from disposing them improperly.
7. Organize Everything Else
The list of ways to simplify your life is endless. There are so many aspects of life that can be better managed for simple living. Other ways you can simplify your life include:
- Meal Planning
- Creating a Housework Calendar
- Developing Routines for Morning & Night
You can create systems and routines for your work, hobbies, mail, etc. Don’t stop simplifying and keep getting creative. But also don’t become too obsessed with the planning process. The idea is after all to make more time for the things that matter to you.
As you reduce the clutter in your life, you may also realize that you need to rethink how you shop, especially when it comes to your wardrobe. If you research capsule wardrobes or minimalist closets, you’ll see most minimalists don’t have that much clothes! Having only pieces that you love, that all match each other, makes it easy to get dressed in the morning and feel good about how you look throughout the day.
Let’s be real though - some of us can get bored wearing the same pieces all of the time.
But when you shop eleven44, you get beautiful, versatile pieces that help you keep your wardrobe small without sacrificing your creativity.Check out our blog post on capsule wardrobes for tips on building your minimalist clothing collection.