Six Ways to Simplify Your Life

Photo by Noelle Australia on Unsplash

A health and fitness coach I follow on social media recently announced a wedding anniversary. It was a cheerful, doting post for the most part, except for a little lament about how tough marriage is and how he’d recommitted several times over their sixteen-year union, before and during their coupling. He said marriage is hard, life is hard, and you have to choose your hard.

Well, I’d like to believe that we can choose our easy too. Life being life, everything won’t be breezy, but what if we took conscious little steps to set ourselves up for a more pleasant ride?

Put it on the pandemic, an overabundance of yoga, and time to slow down and reflect – whatever.

I’ve been craving the simple life.

Not the Leave it to Beaver days or Amish ways, or anything involving a buggy or churning butter, yet I have been setting my inner compass to a less-is-more groove.

Within the chaos of the last few years, transitioning toward simpler has helped me meet overwhelm, stress, anxiety and uncertainty with grounded peace and contentment.

Although, I have no scientific proof of it, experience has shown me that it may be a sound and reasonable antidote to public health crises, ipsy-gypsy political games, emotional instability, general human selfishness and stupidity, and however else you want to label the way the world is unfolding lately.

Less is more. Less feels better. Less is lovely. Here are some life-simplifying ideas.

Stop Doing So Much. Like most people, in my younger years, I was trained to multi-task as a nod to productivity without even questioning the disorienting way it rubbed the spirit raw. What I know now is that multi-tasking is for dummies. Mindfulness combined with reducing your load is better. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m most productive and effective when I block task and work on one thing with laser-like focus in fifteen and thirty-minute bursts. Writing, work, exercise, and household tasks – it doesn’t seem to matter. So, every day, I make a list of To Do’s, prioritize them and focus-burst through the morning. By early afternoon, I’ve also erased a few things or pushed them to another day, so I can relax or have a bit of fun.

Reduce Decision Fatigue. With Project 333 and Mari Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, hordes of women switched from pregnant closets to small-wardrobe capsules.  If I didn’t have issues with boredom and minimalist closets seeming a little sad and sterile, I would join in. However, I did pair down to about five “uniforms” which I repeat with different pieces in varying colors and styles, including my work, workout, and loungewear. It took me about a year of selfies to see what I wore most frequently and what colors really looked best on me and it’s effortless to just rotate away, changing makeup, hair and jewelry when I want a slightly different flavor.

I guess I have meal “capsules” though. Having determined the two dozen meals I adore eating, I calendar them in to meal prep and batch cook on weekends, adding one or two scratch meals during the week. There’s always something to defrost, heat and gobble up in my freezer or something I can whip together in about half an hour. A huge shift for someone who often swore she needed to cook a fresh, unique meal every day and I. Love. It.

Create More Boundaries – At this point in my life, I’m saying no more than I’m saying yes. I do this firmly and lovingly (I hope), so my time doesn’t get overly hi-jacked by other people or things. If you talk to most people who know-know me, they would tell you this wasn’t a HUGE problem before, that I’m just more upfront about it now.

I even have boundaries with my cell phone, putting it in time-out for long periods on any given day. My challenge to you is to also unsubscribe from everything that distracts you from using your moments more meaningfully. Recently for me was Netflix, excessive market-update emails from my mortgage company, and any business that sent me more than one “salesy” email a week.

Streamline Health Maintenance – Google, YouTube and WebMd are not your healthcare team. Meet with your actual healthcare team once or twice a year, get all of the recommended tests and preventative maintenance checkups for your age group and health situation. Bulk order prescription medications, helpful supplements, and get your teeth and eyes checked, as well as having an annual review of your wellness protocol. Eat healthy, whole foods 95% percent of the time. Get massage when you can. Even if it’s only a foot massage. Take. Care. Of. Yourself. It will make your entire life simpler.

Move More – It doesn’t have to be the gym. Walk or dance every day and stack on one other thing you like. The Peloton app streamlines things for me. No, I didn’t buy that expensive bike. I login daily for the fitness classes which cover many of the ways I enjoy moving. From yoga to cardio to strength-training – there’s a class for it and the instructors are experienced fitness experts and motivators who make exercise fun. With the app on my phone, I can pop into a class whenever wherever and it keeps track of classes I’ve taken. Talk about having an accountability partner!

Throw away half of your things and stop shopping so much. I’m not joking. This is my first time I’m confessing to this – I did a purge to end all purges last year. And guess what? I still have plenty of clothes to wear, cookware and dishes, makeup, books, tools, towels, bedding and entertainment options! We all have too much stuff and life without so much excess makes it easier to savor what you have and spend less time caretaking possessions.

How will you simplify your life this year?

19 thoughts on “Six Ways to Simplify Your Life

  1. I hear you on all fronts. I refuse to multi-task which drives my two returnee young adults bonkers. I say “been there, done that, I’m not in a hurry.” Walking is a mind-clearing exercise and I look forward to a nice stroll.
    One area I’d like to ‘downsize’ is the closet. I haven’t added to the full closet by buying more clothes, but there’s stuff in there I haven’t worn in three or four years.

    • Love the way you called them “returnees.” LOL. But, yeah, the younguns have taken multitasking to the moon. Seems like they’re cultivating Attenition Deficit Disorder.

      I’m not in a hurry either, so I’m going to stick to one thing until I’m done.

      Hear you on downsizing the closet. That was my last and toughest frontier…until I just started giving things away one day and not missing them AT ALL. I went by categories and chucked 5 to 7 things every time I walked into my closet since these are numbers that were fairly easy for me. Taking the selfies helped. If I ever need to see the items again, I can dig up the pictures. Good luck!

  2. Good advice. That last one is recommended as something we can all do to slow the end of the world. I forgot how it works, but basically, everyone has everything they need; we have to stop buying more things.

  3. Oh yeah, I’ll definitely need to simplify my life, and I totally agree that doing more things doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re being any more productive. Thanks for this great reminder!

  4. A great list, Nailah. I downsized my load of clothes in the walk-in closet and was amazed that I never missed one thing. Every season I try to winnow out more, but most of my clothes are for garden work, since I stopped working in an office over 15 years ago. As kids, we called them ‘play clothes’ … half worn out and comfy! My problem is if I ever have to dress ‘up’… there isn’t much available. But these days, who is going anywhere anyhow? 😉

    • Nobody is going ANYWHERE Eliza! I can’t tell you the last time I dressed up! You can always find a fancy outfit when you need it. Besides, I love play clothes, especially for gardening and lounging. Most days when I telework, I wear yoga clothes and a flowy kimono. It’s going to be hard to wear anything else. Definitely looking forward to retirement and I’m glad you’re playing through it!

  5. Such great advice! im on the road to a simpler life as well! I do LOVE shopping but have really cut back the last 2 years…. my big thing right now is ‘i DONT need more bins!’ putting a lot of stuff away neatly does not make life simpler…. minimize (within reason) and THEN organize!
    Thank you so much for sharing your tips!

    • You’re on a good path. It took me years to realize that organizing was not simplifying. Now, I let the space and function tell me what belongs there. Shopping is soooo seductive and addictive, but it’s a road to nowhere and then we just wind up overrun with nonsense, so I’m glad I tamed that beast. LOL.

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