3 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life
Do you ever have those weeks where everything seems to happen at once?
Work is crazy busy, your kid has a school party where you have to bring supplies, your spouse has after-work obligations, and something at home decides to break or leak. I swear it always comes at you all at the same time.
I had one of those weeks recently. I knew the schedule was going to be overloaded in terms of obligations, and then I just anticipated that something else might get added to my plate because that’s how things usually go.
I don’t know about you, but during those times when life feels out of control and exhausting, I start to look around at what needs to change.
That probably sounds like a luxury. Having the time to look around and take stock of your life? You’re just trying to get to where you need to be, make sure everyone is taken care of, and get a little sleep if you’re lucky. How do you find time for anything else?
Whether you do it in the midst of the craziness, or whether you do it after the storm has passed, those crazy busy times are the perfect times to look at your life and experiment. Almost like a post-mortem meeting after a project has completed. You want to learn what you could have done better.
And in times of busyness and craziness, doing things better often means DOING LESS.
What could you have done less of?
Where could you have slowed down?
What could you have gotten rid of?
Where could you have eliminated decisions?
Those are all questions I ask myself on a regular basis when I’m in a phase of wanting to further simplify life. And with a third baby on the way in just a few months, I am asking those questions more and more.
The answers are often not big, earth-shattering ones. They’re very small tweaks to what I already do well. They’re changes that when added to my life as the new routine or the new normal, make such a small impact that I wonder if it’s worth it.
But if I make 1 or 2 small changes like that every time I have a crazy busy week, which is more frequent than I would like to admit, it starts to add up to something significant.
If you’re struggling for ideas on how you could possibly simplify your life, try thinking about these 3 questions/prompts, especially after a busy stretch.
1. What Takes Too Much Time?
This is a big one because the impact can be quite significant. We’re talking about finding ways to give you back more time! It’s what we all long for.
If you think about your day, where are you losing time? Where are you running late and what were you doing right before then?
Does getting ready in the morning take too much time because you hem and haw over what to wear? Or your make-up/hair routine is a bit too much for this phase of life?
Does eating or packing breakfast, lunch or dinner take too much time? Maybe you need to think about a meal routine - your go-to meals - or batch cooking on the weekends to give you more time during the week.
Or does picking up the house at night before bed take WAY too long? Why is that? Does everything not have a place? Are you not setting a timer and forcing yourself to move quickly?
Really challenge yourself to think through your day (I’m a big proponent of time-tracking) and pick one area where you might be able to do something different or do less to speed things up.
2. What Feels Cluttered?
Clutter is the go-to for most when I talk about simplifying life. And yes, clutter is a big piece of doing less and having less. But I want you to remember that it doesn’t have to be just the “things” in your home that create clutter. It can also be your digital stuff AND the thoughts in your mind.
So when you’re looking around and thinking about clutter, I’m sure you have lots of ideas of where you could pare down. I recently listened to a podcast where the home organizer recommended starting with your sock drawer and I LOVED that. It’s small, so it only takes 15-20 minutes and it helped me flex that muscle to think hard about how much I really use and how much I hold onto “just in case”.
I’ve also recently decluttered my phone by organizing and deleting apps and syncing and deleting photos. Thinking about the amount of technology, accounts, email addresses, etc. that we have, it’s a huge area of life that deserves as much attention as the physical stuff in your home.
Action: Start by jotting down a quick list of any area that feels cluttered in the sense that it prevents you from getting where you need to go on time, enjoying life, or being productive. Prioritize it and then set a timer for 15-minute increments and do what you can in that time. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just start.
3. What Is Exasperating?
When you’ve just had a busy week or day, you could probably think of a hundred little moments where you felt exasperated. Many of them directly related to the people and relationships in your life (home and work), but some of them were probably a reaction to how you do life.
These moments that easily frustrate you, that make you sigh and throw up your hands, are important to note. They’re things that you could do better or not do at all and I would argue, outside of buying you more time, can have quite the impact on how you feel each day.
I’ll give you an example of a LITTLE thing that I’ve done recently after I caught myself feeling exasperated again and again.
I got a glass tabletop for my dining room table where my family eats EVERY meal. My pre-kid dining set was getting completely ruined by spills and sticky fingers and I was tired of scrubbing it each night after a day’s worth of meals, not to mention the grooves between each of the boards that give it “character” that I was constantly sweeping crumbs out of. I hated wiping the table each night. So I said enough, and had a piece of glass made. Now I don’t care what gets spilled or stuck to the table because glass is so easy to clean up. It requires less maintenance than a tablecloth or placemat and it stays in place. While it only saves me a few minutes each night, I’m so much happier to clean that than I ever was before.
Action: What is on your list of exasperating moments? What have you been putting up with for too long that you are going to take care of this week?
The process of simplifying your life is not some huge overhaul. It’s also not something that I have a clear-cut recipe for or a silver bullet that will instantly make your life more simple. It’s about a thousand small things that you do as you notice them and as you feel motivated to make changes.
And the only way you will notice and appreciate the more simple life that you are creating is by remembering and being mindful of all that you are doing in this process and how you feel each time you make a small tweak to your daily life.
It’s work, and it’s a process, but it’s one well worth it. And I am proud to be right there alongside you simplifying my life one cluttered space and one exasperated moment at a time.