I function best when my surroundings aren’t overwhelming and when my mind isn’t overwhelmed, either. That’s one of the reasons why in my personal and online life I try to keep things simple. Everything from how I understand and explain things, to how I design and do things. If you’re curious how you can live a little simpler, too, here’s how to simplify your life and live minimally.
About 6 years ago I unexpectedly embarked on a very spiritual journey that completely altered my life, my beliefs, the path I was on, and ultimately, who I am today – right here, right now.
One of the first changes that occurred in my life was a realization that I didn’t needall kinds of the material things that were surrounding me. I recall clearly scanning my dorm room at college thinking out loud: I don’t need any of these things. It was a pivotal moment in my life because in a few short moments I went from being a highly materialistic teenage girl, to the most minimalistic person I’d ever met – and I didn’t even know minimalism was a thing.
Ever since that day, the concept of simplicity and living minimally has been a very big component of my life. Every single day, the importance of keeping things simple is forefront in my life: from evaluating what I do and don’t need to keeping my living space tidy, making lists, and always keeping track of what needs to be done.
HOW TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE & LIVE MINIMALLY
Organize & De-Clutter
Reducing clutter feels absolutely amazing. Something that I always keep in mind when it comes to our belongings is to only surround ourselves with what we use, what we need, and what we love. Really, what else should there be? Do a personal inventory scan and ditch what isn’t useful, valuable, or meaningful. It makes a huge difference.
Sorting is another task that makes an enormous difference in how we live and how we feel. Consider utilizing some boxes or bins with labels for your papers and other documents; recipes, seasonal decor, craft supplies and things of the like. Turn on your favourite playlist and make an afternoon out of it, it can be fun!
Refurbish & Reuse
- Refurbish: One of my hobbies is refurbishing old furniture. I absolutely love it! It’s one of the best ways to reuse and save money, too. Instead of throwing out items or furniture that are in an otherwise good condition, consider giving it a fresh coat of paint, replacing the old knobs, or re-staining the wood.
- Re-use: There are countless ways we can re-use everyday stuff. Re-use old fabrics or hold on to that mason jar for storage. I’ve got all kinds of jars around my house that are used to hold my makeup brushes, as flower vases, and to store my herbs, teas, and spices. Google and Pinterest are excellent tools for inspiration.
- Thrift: I love thrift stores. They’re probably one of my favourite places on the planet and definitely where you’d find me on a Saturday afternoon. There are endless unique items that can be especially great for refurbishing, and the best part next to re-using? It’s incredibly inexpensive!
TIP: See something in a store that you really want? Ask yourself if you really need it and resist the impulse for a moment. Walk away for a while or wait a day or two and if it’s still on your mind, go get it! However, often after less than an hour of walking away, the item isn’t even on my mind anymore.
Lists are a life saver for me and something I naturally gravitate towards on a daily basis. I am constantly writing lists for ideas I have, tasks I need to complete, or things that I need to buy. Lists help keep my brain organized and an organized brain = organized surroundings = an organized life.
There are all kinds of ways to get creative with list-making. My favourite method is the old-fashioned writing-things-on-a-pad-of-paper, but you can also consider:
- investing in a day planner or agenda
- typing up spreadsheets for specific tasks
- purchasing a cork board or white board to hang up in your kitchen, office or bedroom
- making use of the Notes app on your phone or tablet
- formulating a weekly meal planner
Do as you Go
Basically, if and when possible, deal with things as you go. A bill arrives? Pay it. You need to make a phone call? Do it. You need to respond to an e-mail? Respond. Although there are times when it’s important for us to focus on things like quality time with friends and family instead of scrubbing the baseboards, nothing feels better than a completed task (especially when it’s very easy or only takes a short time).
I was reading a Q&A article in a magazine recently with happiness expert Gretchen Rubin and one suggestion that stuck out in my mind was her one-minute rule:
It’s the idea that if you can do something in less than one minute; you should do it without delay.
These include hanging up your jacket, making your bed, putting a dish in the dishwasher, or feeding the fish. I try to put this into practice as often as I can and I definitely find it makes me feel more at ease with what’s around me. The little things are what can make a big difference in our state of mind.
Design Your Living Space
Another way I like to simplify is in the way that I design my living space. I personally find pleasure in a single candle, plant, or photograph on a desk; or a vase of flowers or bowl of navel oranges on my kitchen table. It’s nice not having too many things in one place. Interior style is personal and subjective, so play around with what you have and see what looks and feels great for you.
Know When to Say Yes/No
It can be hard to say no sometimes to certain commitments, invitations or events out of feeling a little guilty, but it’s important for us to learn when we need to say no because we’re already busy or overwhelmed with our schedule.
I’m a big fan of saying yes and taking opportunities (even when they’re out of our comfort zone) but let’s face it: sometimes we already have enough on our plate. It’s very easy to get so caught up with tasks that we forget about slowing down. At times hard or impossible to avoid, there’s nothing more simplifying for our body and mind than maintaining a balanced schedule and making time for ourselves.
We live in a complicated, complex world. Simplifying our life should be enjoyable and make us feel good, not the other way around. Although it would be very nice for us to keep a consistently tidy kitchen, flawlessly made bed and perfectly organized storage bins, life is life and we can only do what we can realistically do. Don’t forget to relax, postpone the floor mopping until tomorrow, and treat yourself sometimes, too!
How do you like to simplify? Is there anything you do regularly? Share your tips in the comments!
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