5 essential ways to simplify your life
Making everything simpler is easier than it might seem, writes Megan Dalla-Camina.
Do you dream of living a simpler life? Perhaps, you’re happy with your life in general, but you long for less chaos and drama, and more space and ease. You’re not alone. Many of us are seeking this kind of quiet change. If the Marie Kondo magical tidying movement has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a certain sense of calm that comes from simplicity.
But how do you simplify your life among your work, kids, family and everything else on your to-do list? Here are five ways to start:
Many of us think that having a routine will be too hard, or that it will cramp our style. It can actually be the opposite. Putting structure around key elements of your day, and creating routines, can take a huge amount of chaos out of your life.
Think about the time you wake up and the morning routine that follows. How can you make it more routine, giving you less variables to worry about? What about meal preparation, meal times, after-school routine for the kids, evening routine and bed times.
Simplifying what happens and when, and putting some structure around it, can remove hundreds of tiny decisions every day that are unnecessary and waste time and mental energy.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that clearing the clutter is high on the list of pathways to happiness. Clutter makes our life complex. Piles of messiness, books, papers, boxes, clothes, washing, ironing, knick-knacks, kids’ stuff, things that you will never use again, all make our life anything but simple.
But Marie Kondoing your life can seem overwhelming (even the thought of putting all of my clothes on the bed leaves me in a cold sweat!). Start small. One drawer. Then another. A kitchen cupboard. Then another. One part of your closet, and then another. Before you know it, you will have calmly cleared the clutter without giving yourself a panic attack. Clear space is like breathing mountain air. And it’s a great way to bring more simplicity into your life.
Do you know where your money goes? How much cash do you spend on irrelevant items, things you don’t need, magazines you won’t read, food you won’t eat, clothes you won’t wear, because you’re in the habit of doing it or you are distracting yourself from something you don’t want to deal with? Start simplifying your life by pausing all discretionary spending for two weeks.
Think of how fewer decisions you will need to make. Prepare your lunch at home. Take your coffee in a flask. Cook dinner instead of getting takeaway. Do your food shopping once a week. Before spending, pause, breathe and check in: do you need it, will you really use it, do you already have something like it, where else would this money be better spent or saved? It will change your mindset, save your cash and simplify your life.
Strive for less
When was the last time you actually strived for less? We’re socialised to always want more. But what if more wasn’t better? Searching for simple could be as easy as learning to be content with what you have right now.
If you could let go of the expectation that more is better, and instead practise gratitude for all you have, you free up space for magic to happen. You create more ease. You let go of the striving that can consume your energy in a negative way. It’s a simple practice that brings simplicity and grace into your life.
See where you can leave gaps in your schedule instead of packing your to-do list with more. As long as you’re meeting your commitments — to your family, your work, your kids, yourself — then you can afford to leave some space for idle time. It may seem like a luxury, but it’s a core way to bring more simplicity into your days. Leave space.
Use that time for something that brings joy into your day, like gardening, painting, making nourishing food, going for a walk. Or meditate, take a nap, stare out the window and just daydream. Be idle. It’s amazing how spacious and simple you will feel by doing absolutely nothing, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
An interesting thing happens when you create space. When you simplify. When you go back to basics. We find more ease and more peace in our lives. Each day is another opportunity to remove something, strip something back, give something away, move more slowly, connect more deeply, breathe more freely. And to just learn to be, not become. To simply live.
Megan Dalla-Camina is the author of Simple Soulful Sacred: A Woman’s Guide to Clarity, Comfort and Coming Home to Herself.