I was looking for a simple list, but I found anything but that. When I typed “How to Simplify Your Life” into Google, I found a list of 72 ways to declutter! Ha! When our lives are complicated and busy, the last thing we need is a list with 72 tasks!
Who knew simplicity was that complicated?
But, a lack of simplicity creates a lot of complication! So, today, instead of 72 ways to declutter, I’m going to give you four. Think you can handle four? Actually, I know you can!
Many of us are tangled in the web of mental, physical and emotional clutter. A cluttered life keeps us from really living abundant life.
Is that you?
Think through the following questions to determine if you need some simplifying in your life:
1. Do you add commitments or things to your life without subtracting commitments or things to make room?
2. If everything has a cost (time, energy, money)–can you afford it?
3. Do the choices you make add complexity or simplicity to your life?
4. Do you have a place in your home, calendar, or heart for what you are adding? (Who or what will you have to neglect to add?)
5. Do you feel like you have little control over your schedule, home, or life in general?
If you could use some simplicity, I’ll be honest. It does take a little effort. Simplifying will seem a little complicated in the beginning, but believe me, the mental and spiritual effort required in simplifying is easy compared to the complicated life that results without it.
Here are four simple steps to simplify your life:
Step 1: Consider what is important to you.
Write down what matters most to you. For example: spending time with family, growing in your faith, giving to your community, learning, recreation, peacefulness, etc.
You can’t do everything. Cut out or do not accept opportunities or activities that aren’t consistent with the core values you wrote down. This is the first step, and it’s philosophical in nature, but it’s vital to simplifying.
Step 2: Choose goals you’d like to achieve.
These goals should support what matters most to you. Focus on making your goals consistent with the core values you wrote down in step one. Make them realistic and doable. It’s encouraging to do a few things really well, rather than to do a lot of things in a mediocre way. You can’t add hours to your day, but you can cut down on activities that aren’t a part of achieving your set goal.
Step 3: Create plans and policies.
Most of us say yes to too many things because we feel uncomfortable saying no. No is a really hard word to say, isn’t it?
(By the way, “no” is one of the easiest words to type; you should try it over and over…no, no, no, no, no! See?) It is easier to say no when you already have plans or policies that support your values and goals. For example: “Our family already has a planned budget,” or “Our policy is to only participate in one extracurricular activity a semester.”
Having plans and policies allows them to be the “nay-sayers” while you smile and thank the one who gave the invitation.
Step 4: De-clutter your physical surroundings.
A messy outer world can create or reflect a messy inner world. So spiff up the outside where you can!
Fix what is broken or replace it. If it doesn’t fit, sell it or give it away. If you haven’t used it for the past year, bless someone else’s life with it! If you grasp tightly to things and hate to get rid of your stuff, box them and write an “expiration date” on the box. When the expiration date arrives, if you haven’t used the contents, don’t even open it… get rid of the unopened box!
The truth is cluttered lives are tough to control! Simplicity is easier to manage. Do what it takes. Consider what matters to you, create plans and policies to support those core values, clean out and cut out what you can, consolidate what is left, and celebrate the simplicity that you will inherit!
You don’t need a checklist of 100 items to take a step toward simplicity. Start small, and each step you take is one step closer to a decluttered life!
Question: What suggestions do you have for decluttering your life?