I’m a firm believer that the key to many aspects of life is to simplify. There’s so much freedom to be found in removing clutter (be it physical or mental) and streamlining processes.
But often the process of making things simpler can actually be quite complex — and daunting. Where do you start? How much do you have to change all at once?
So in this post, I decided to look at just a few tiny actions that can help to make your life simpler, one step at a time.
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1. Choose one (1) thing to accomplish this week, and make a plan.
We’ve all been there at some point: you set goals for the week (or month, or day), then something happens that throws you off track, and then you get overwhelmed and give up altogether.
I’ve learned over the past few years that setting too many expectations for oneself is a recipe for discouragement. Setting goals that challenge you is great, but not if they’re beyond your actual ability to accomplish.
The way to make goals simpler is twofold:
- Zero in on a shorter focus period. It’s fine to set overarching goals for the year, but also break those down into steps that can be accomplished each month or even week.
- Limit the number of goals you’re focusing on at once. There’s a reason many people recommend choosing three main goals for whatever period of time you designate. Trying to do too many things at once doesn’t make you more productive — it makes you spread yourself too thin.
Make it simpler: Don’t force yourself to overhaul your entire goal-setting process right this second. Start with this week: set one concrete goal for yourself, schedule it into your calendar, and get it done. Then go from there.
2. Say “no” to something.
If you’ve read many of my previous posts, you probably know that I’m a recovering people-pleaser. People-pleasers don’t like saying “no” to others — and we often have difficulty saying “no” even to ourselves. But I’ve learned that every “no” frees up a more enthusiastic “yes” to something else.
A simpler life is one that isn’t cluttered by commitments and busy work. It isn’t governed by a need to say “yes” to every request, invitation, or idea.
Make it simpler: Again, we’re making small changes right now, so don’t worry about assigning levels of priority to every activity in your life. Just try to say “no” to one thing that comes your way in the next day or two, and notice what that “no” allows you to say “yes” to with more enthusiasm.
3. Assign a “home” to a few of your most-used items.
If you always return an item to the same place after using it, you don’t have to hunt for it the next time you need it. Over time, returning the item to that place becomes habit, and you don’t have to actively store the information in your head anymore. And having a designated place for each item you own makes things easier to organize, and makes cleaning up go faster.
Make it simpler: If going through your entire home and assigning a place to store every one of your belongings sounds exhausting, I don’t blame you. In fact, I’m right there with you. Just choose a few items that you use on a daily basis, and focus on creating a habit of returning those few things to the same place after you finish using them. Once that habit is established, you can apply the principle to other items that you use less often.
4. Remove a few pieces of clutter from your workspace at the end of the day.
Clutter doesn’t accumulate overnight. It builds up slowly through small choices and actions not taken.
To keep clutter at bay, challenge yourself to remove just a few pieces of clutter from your workspace at the end of each day. This will help tide you over until you are able to do a deeper clean.
Make it simpler: Don’t think too hard about what constitutes as “clutter.” Start with the obvious, and once you get around to the stuff that requires more thought, you’ll already have made the action of decluttering a habit.
5. Be intentional in making time for rest.
Pause for a moment and picture yourself living a simpler life than you currently do.
Did that image involve you rushing from one thing to the next? Were you keeping yourself busy, insanely productive, and multitasking like crazy?
No, I didn’t think so. Simplicity requires space to breathe. It necessitates rest. So if you want a simpler life, you have to make time for rest. You have to slow down on a regular basis, not just when you’re too exhausted to function.
Make it simpler: Find five minutes in your day to pause and be still. Instead of multitasking, be present in those five minutes and just breathe.
Make it simple, slowly
If the key to many things is to simplify, the key to simplifying is to make the process itself as simple as possible. I wouldn’t even recommend trying to take all five of these small actions at once. Instead, pick one that you think will be most doable, and give yourself that small victory. Establish a foundation first, then build on it.
A simpler life starts now.
Need more ideas? I’ve created a whole list of 15 ways to simplify your life, along with guides and worksheets on simplifying and planning everything from routines and goals to journaling and organizing your physical space. Enter your name and email below to get started!
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