Ahhh, summer...a time to relax and kick back, right?
For most of us, the summer leads to an even busier schedule. If you have small children you’re managing their summer activities while they’re out of school. Running them here and running them there.
And as they grow they become even busier which makes you even busier. Then we have summer vacations, backyard barbecues, church activities, and yard work. And that’s in addition to your normal activities like keeping your house clean, running errands, grocery shopping, and work.
It can be enough to make your head spin.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of summer fun (hopefully it’s all fun).
But my goal is to help you simplify. Typically here at Life Well Lived that involves your nutrition, but in the spirit of the busy, chaotic lifestyles we lead, I want to help you simplify the rest of your life as well.
As we see with nutrition, success isn’t about adding more. Often we’re most successful when we go back to the basics. Focussing on the core principles rather than over complicating it through additional steps or features.
Why do we need to simplify our lives?
Simplifying our lives allow us to focus on what’s important. It allows you to remove the clutter (as we’ll see both literal and figurative) from our lives. It provides more time for the people and things we love and appreciate. Simplicity opens the door for more time and new opportunities.
As Amy Morin explains, “Here's why simplifying your life is important — everything in your life takes up space. Whether it's mental space, physical space, or calendar space, you only have so much room.”
You may pay with time or money, but everything in your life costs you something. When you have an abundance of things in your life it begins to cost you a lot.
Simplifying will give you more time, space, and energy. It provides freedom allowing you to enjoy what matters in life.
Thomas à Kempis, the German-Dutch Christian Theologian once said, “Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature.”
How to simplify your life
I appreciate how Leo Babauta explains the basic steps toward simplifying your life. It’s really just a two-step process.
Identify what’s most important to you.
Eliminate everything else.
But you need to know how you to apply these general steps into the different areas of your life. So let’s take a look at some specific ways to simplify your life.
8 Ways to simplify your life
Simplify your stuff
I’m sure we’re pretty similar – I love shopping! But whether it’s an overloaded closet or a chaotic purse, too much stuff complicates our lives more than we realize. Material possessions drain our bank account, our energy, and our attention. More things require more attention.
Whether you admit it or not, stuff consumes your time. Too much stuff can lead to wasted time looking for misplaced items or overwhelmed every time you open your closet. Owning too much stuff wastes valuable resources.
It keeps us from spending time with our family and friends, the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. If you will invest the time to remove nonessential possessions from your life, you will never regret it.
As the queen of organization, Marie Kondo once said, “The important thing in tidying is not deciding what to discard but rather what you want to keep in your life.”
A clean, organized space helps you feel more productive and energetic than when you're surrounded by mountains of clothes, stacks of papers, and piles of dishes.
When you have fewer items to worry about, you'll feel lighter. You'll also have the energy to care for the items that you keep. Start decluttering one room at a time, and see for yourself how much better you feel when you get rid of things you don't need.
Simplify your time
From sun up to sun down our time is filled with commitments: work, housekeeping, kid’s activities, community events, hobbies… the list goes on.
Your time is a valuable resource – no matter what the latest time management app might tell you, it can’t be earned.
Unfortunately, too often we waste time scrolling through social media, waiting for things to happen, or complaining about current circumstances.
Stop wasting your precious minutes on things that don’t matter. Schedule time to do the things that matter most and spend it with those who matter most.
Allow yourself to be in the moment: set down the phone, turn off the television, and go for a walk, play with your kids, or read a book. Whenever possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your values.
Simplify your goals
We have goals for ourselves, for our children, for our families. But they can get out of control and easily become just another thing. Take the time to evaluate what the point of the goal is. Eliminate goals that don’t align with your personal values. Too often we commit to goals that are for the benefit of our peers rather than ourselves.
Shorten your list of goals so that you can focus on the few that will move you forward.
Simplify your mind
If we’re not careful, our minds are bombarded with negative thought: resentment, bitterness, hate, and jealousy. Replace these thoughts with gratitude and positive self-talk.
Be willing to forgive past hurt and proactively replace toxic thinking patterns with positive ones. The next time you begin thinking of these negative thought patterns, take a deep breath and refocus on uplifting thoughts and positive inner dialogue.
Simplify your ingredients
Avoid unhealthy ingredients like fake sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, dyes, and too much sugar.
Make your food work for you rather than against you. Remember, food is medicine. It has the power to heal or destroy. Minimizing toxic ingredients will improve your energy level in the short-term and your health in the long-term.
Simplify your media consumption
Technology is great. But it can easily dominate our lives. When we live in a digital world long enough it begins to impact our mindset and outlook on life. Instead of enjoying the moment, we’re worried about capturing it for social media.
Digital technology has allowed us to be more connected than ever before. We can access large amounts of information at any time and have a conversation with a friend on the other side of the world.
But at the same time, it’s become a barrier between ourselves everyone around us.
I recently listened to a lady who had begun observing Shabat with her family. They aren’t Jewish, or even religious for that matter, but they wanted a way to remove the distraction of media and reclaim family time if not for at least a few hours each week.
Starting at 6:30 each Friday night, everyone in their family must be home, phone put away, and sitting at the dinner table. They sing together, share about their week, and catch up with each other distraction free.
Now, I’m not saying you need to adopt a day of rest, but I encourage you to find a way to eliminate some of your media consumption.
My husband and I have two simple strategies: first, we don’t allow phones at the dinner table. And secondly, we only have one TV in the house and it’s stuck in the basement. We still watch a couple of our favorite shows on a laptop, but not having a TV in the main living areas keeps us from using it as “background noise” and provides an environment for natural conversation.
Simplify your personal connections
Whether it’s the friend who is always negative or the one who brings you down with each interaction, negative people require a lot of your energy.
Several years ago I had a friend who seemed to drag me down with each interaction. This person was going through a difficult time when we met. However, after the difficult time was over and the negative outlook remained, I began to realize it wasn’t just the difficult season of life, this person just had a negative attitude.
I became frustrated with this person, emotionally drained from each interaction. It didn’t matter how much anyone poured into them, this person chose to be negative. After prayerfully considering the situation and doing everything in my power, I realized I needed to end the friendship.
You might find a similar relationship in your life. Don’t remove someone from your life because they’re going through a difficult time. But if you discover a toxic relationship in your life consider whether you should maintain it.
From the emotional energy it demands to the mental capacity required to maintain such a relationship, toxic friendships take a toll. Eliminating these types of relationships allows you to focus more time and energy on the people you cherish.
Simplify your activities
We all like to think we can multi-task to make better use of our time. But research shows that multi-tasking actually lowers our productivity and increases stress.
Rather than trying to get everything done at once, focus on one task at a time. When you’ve completed it, move on to the next task.
Start simplifying your life today
Life is busy and full of stuff. Whether you need to clean up your nutrition or eliminate toxic relationships, trying to decide where to begin simplifying can be difficult.
So, I encourage you to begin by identifying what’s most important to you. Then you can figure out where you need to begin simplifying and what you need to remove. When you simplify your life you can enjoy the people, things, and time you have been given.
About the author:
Kara Swanson is a certified nutritionist and founder of Life Well Lived. She is married to her best friend and the proud mother of three. Her passion is to make nutrition simple+easy+delicious!