Life can be overwhelming and stressful – no doubt about it. Most of the time, we try so hard to be the winner of the rat race. Although we know from the bottom of the heart, we can only lose the game. So why not, instead of trying to make it all (somehow) work, finding ways to simplify our lives? Doesn’t it make sense to stop, pause, and reflect on where our precious time and energy go? I think so. Here are seven thoughtful ways to simplify your life.
7 Thoughtful Ways to Simplify Your Life
- Clear the clutter.
- Reduce your choices.
- Dare to say NO.
- Focus on the right things.
- De-complicate relationships.
- Embrace routines.
- Don’t over-organize.
Clear the Clutter
Decluttering is a fairly easy yet very effective way to simplify your life. Less stuff simply means having less to worry about. Let’s take your weekly cleaning routine as an example. Wouldn’t it be much easier if you had fewer things to dust and move around when sweeping the surfaces? Since I decluttered my home thoroughly, I spend less time cleaning. I save about an hour of work every week. Fifty-two hours every year – and this is just one way to simplify your life. So, don’t waste your precious time on things you neither need nor love.
But please, don’t get me wrong. Having less to take care of because we call fewer things our own is great. I didn’t mean, though, we shouldn’t look after our possessions. I truly believe everything we choose to have deserves our attention and respect – one reason why I love writing about wardrobe maintenance, for instance.
Reduce Your Choices
There’s a nice quote that says that life per se is simple, but we insist on making it complicated. One of the reasons is that we’re not selective enough. I know, sometimes it’s hard to resist. Everything is available to us in abundance today. The question is, do we really need EVERYTHING? The less conscientious we are about what we invite into our lives, the more likely we get overwhelmed and stressed. Hence, if we aim to simplify our life, we have to reduce our choices. Take your wardrobe as an example. What do you think? Does an excessive amount of clothes, i.e., too many options, make getting dressed harder or simpler?“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius Click To Tweet
And by the way, the above also applies to everything digital – especially as there are many things available for free. Always keep in mind that they may not cost you any money but certainly take away from your attention, time, and energy.
Dare to Say No
Like Greg McKeon (essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less) said, sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. Learning to say NO and daring NOT to do something is maybe the most effective way to simplify your life. The thing is, we can’t make it all work. We can’t be everything to everyone. No is a very powerful word. It makes our world simpler and prevents us from continuously feeling stressed and overwhelmed.“Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.” – Greg McKeon Click To Tweet
Same for FOMO. Don’t be afraid to miss out on something. Relax. Just ask yourself, will it still be relevant in a month? A year?
Focus on the Right Things
Concentrating on your goals, on what moves you forward is another way to simplify your life. Whereas spinning thoughts around things you can’t change (at the moment) only add complexity and stress. It doesn’t mean ignoring problems or shying away from challenges. But there’s a huge difference between being aware of them and going through them again and again. In other words, your mindset and focus play an important role. They decide if life appears complicated and overwhelming or straightforward and simple to you.
I had the pleasure to meet many different people from various countries and very different backgrounds. I thought about why some connections were mutually rewarding and others somehow exhausting. And I found out that the best, most wonderful relationships were those that felt easy. Not complicated at all. And why have they been that way? Because they’ve been based on respect and honesty. Yes and No have been just what they are. And not false promises or weak excuses. I believe getting the drama out and de-complicating our relationships can move us a big step forward. And sometimes, on our journey to simplify our life, we just have to accept that we have to let go and move on.
Another way to simplify your life is to make repetitive tasks as easy as possible. Our daily chores should become ‘no brainers’. Following a routine helps you finish your duties quicker. Plus, it allows you to give your brain something else to do during that time. Such as listening to your favorite podcast or audiobook. But be careful. Don’t do anything parallel that interrupts your flow. It shouldn’t result in an attempt to multitask. Multitasking is not the way to simplify your life – the opposite is the case.
Many years ago, one of the first ‘Simplify Your Life’ books was published here in Germany. I absolutely loved it, and I meticulously followed the authors’ advice. But then, they came out with a newsletter, a notebook, a calendar, 10 different checklists, 8 other planning tools, and so on. You see what I mean? Of course, getting organized is key on your way to simplify your life. However, it is possible to OVER-organize. My recommendation is, keep it simple. The most effective organizational tools are those you use. So when the effort to keep up with your organization is almost higher than for the task itself, then there’s something wrong, don’t you think?
The above is especially true for digital simplifiers. Often they just make things more complicated and the endless array of notifications add stress. I go into a bit more detail in the article I linked below:
How to Get Started
The good thing is, you don’t need a big plan to simplify your life. You can start immediately and step by step implement changes. Take something easy for the beginning and work your way up. Basically, all you need to do is asking yourself this question: Is it worth it?
A very simple question. Is something worth doing or having it? If the answer is yes, open the door and invite it into your life. If the answer is no, leave it behind.
Our time and energy are precious resources. And, of course, they are limited. Thus, we have to be careful how we spend them. Simplifying helps us clear the clutter and reduce the noise that distracts us from what’s truly important. Simplicity allows us to focus on the right things. We can create a better life for ourselves – without having to try harder, work harder.
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What is your best tip to simplify life? How has it helped counter stress and overwhelm? What are the things you no longer allow into your life? Let us know!