I think we may all have these moments, but sometimes I catch myself doing something the most COMPLICATED way possible. I’ve overthought the thing. Made it WAY more complex than it was to begin with, and that’s usually because I’ve gone way out to sea with ideas and I’m drowning in the details. It’s not until you take a big step back, remove yourself from the pixels, and refocus your eyes to see the whole picture. It’s moments like these that I remember a profound old acronym…
Keep it simple, stupid!
(Okay, so maybe not that profound, but it helps!)
Giving your life a rehaul is no easy task, so we’re focusing on small, weekly actions you can take to Simplify Your Life.
The first step is…
Week 1: Identify What Matters Most to You
Simplifying starts with prioritizing. What do you value most?
This week, take the time to ask yourself, “If I had all the free time in the world, what would I want to focus on most in life?” Make a list of 5 things that matter most to you. This might be family time, creativity, a business endeavor, volunteering, education, rest and relaxation, or anything! What are you passionate about? What nourishes your soul? In a perfect world, how would you spend your days? These are not only motivations for simple living, but what you’ll actually be spending more time on once you master it!
Week 2: Assess Where You Spend Your Time Now
Getting where we want to be starts by taking account of where we are now. Think about it like taking a trip. If you want to get to Mexico, it’s probably best to know what state you’re in now. Then you can make the plan. Buy the tickets. Get the room. Pack the bags. Navigate to the airport. And so on and so on.
This week, make a list of everything you’ve got going on in life. Use categories like home, work, family, school, hobbies, relaxation, etc. to get a full view of where all of your time goes. Once you’re done, it’s time to ask the tough questions for each one:
- How important is this to me?
- How does this give my life value?
- Is it in line with my values?
- Is there a simpler way to execute it?
- What would happen if I let it go?
Take note of how many of your What Matters items (from last week) are present in what you already do. If there aren’t many, you can be sure a change is needed!
Week 3: Purge What’s No Longer Needed
If you’ve put in the work from the first 2 steps… I commend you!! You’re actively making some real change in your life! And what’s more, you’re essentially saying to yourself, “I’m choosing to prioritize my time and my values and taking actions to make my life easier.” Do you realize how huge that is? If not, stop for a moment and let it really sink in. 👏👏👏
This week, we’re essentially Marie Kondo-ing our lives and purging what’s no longer needed.
Take a little time each day this week to let go of anything that is no longer needed. If this is tough for you, start small! If material items are easier to purge from your life, start by going through your dresser, closet or garage and assessing what is no longer actively adding value to your life. Toss those items in a box and take it to a donation center!
The goal is for you to work up to taking another hard look at your list of Where I Spend My Time (from last week) and purging at least one of those tasks from your routine.
If you want to take it a step further, you might even reassess and release useless habits, negative self-talk, some online or social media time, certain attachments, or anything else that isn’t in alignment with who you’d like to be. Free up a little space in your life and create some breathing room.
At the end of the week, consider how you feel. Were you able to open up space in your life? How did you feel afterward? Was it like a weight was lifted? Did you run into any resistance?
These are all great questions to reflect on as we shake things up a little and re-organize our lives.
Week 4: Streamline Your Life By Creating Better Systems
Systems are anything in your life that happens regularly. You already adhere to systems in your life, many without even knowing it. Most of us have a regular morning routine. Shower. Brush teeth. Brush hair. Eat breakfast. You get it.
You might also have an unconscious ritual of tossing your clothes on the floor while you get ready for bed or letting your email inbox get unruly. Those are systems too!
Let’s face it… we could all make our lives a little easier with just a few tweaks to our systems.
Make it a point this week to notice your systems—how you usually go about doings things—and how you could free up some time and effort by optimizing those systems. (Be sure to take a look at your Where I Spend My Time list!)
For example, you might need to create a better system for incoming mail. Get a small paper organizer. Throw out junk mail as soon as it comes in. File to-be-paid bills in one area of the organizer, to-be-shredded in another, and to-be-filed in another. Create a filing day each week to save important documents. Optimizing this system can save you from forgetting to pay certain bills and having to file a pile of mail every few months!
Some good focus areas might also be laundry, yardwork, lunches (have you tried Buddha Bowls?), grocery shopping, etc. Get creative with your optimizations! Make them fun!
Week 5: Do More of What You Love!
If you’ve been following the past few weeks’ steps to Simplifying Your Life, you’ve achieved A LOT!
- identified what’s most important to you in life
- took a hard look at what you spend your time on
- released some things that are no longer in alignment with who you want to be
- and optimized your life with some better systems
Holy cow. That is no small feat!
Hopefully, by releasing to-dos that no longer serve you and optimizing your systems, you’ve created a little space in your life to simply be. And by assessing your values, you have a clear vision of what matters most to you.
It’s all too easy for us to fill every waking moment with empty stimuli or get completely entangled in the day-to-day. Our jobs. Responsibilities. The endless barrage of information from media and online. The expectations of others. We forget to rest or eat or tend to ourselves.
You’ve done so much work thus far to simplify your life. This week, make it a point to truly focus on what it is you love. If you need a reminder, read your What Matters Most list from the beginning of this process.
Going forward, with each potential new addition to your life, ask yourself, “Is this important to me? Does this simplify my life?” If the answer is no to both, take time to reconsider. Your time and headspace are precious and limited. Spend them wisely.
Happiness is not about searching for the purpose of your life. It’s about living purposefully everyday—an active commitment we need to renew each day.
I would love to hear how these steps helped you! Leave a comment below and let me know!