When I use the term simplify your life I don’t mean we should all quit our jobs and live off a farm (although that is very appealing to me). What I do mean is that we could all benefit from a little more simplicity, whether you prefer to live life going 200 MPH or feel you already take it at a relaxed pace.
There are many benefits to a simpler life including less stress, more appreciation for what you have, more rest, healthier, save money, more creativity, and more time to focus on what really matters. You may disagree, but I’d argue a simplified life is a higher quality of life.
“Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury – to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.”
― Albert Einstein
10 Ways to Simplify Your Mind, Home & Time
Disclaimer: I suggest all of these not because I’m mastered them, but I’ve working on them as well!
1.) Simplify your “stuff”
How many unworn clothes do we have hanging in our closets? Or gadgets we no longer use and take up space in a drawer somewhere. Sentimental items aside, we accumulate way too much junk in our homes and offices. For some people, clutter even increases stress. I’m willing to bet that if you take the time to downsize your belongings you’ll appreciate the fewer things you have left.
2.) Simplify your time.
This is probably the hardest area of our lives to simplify, and yet the most necessary. Time is a precious gift and although it may feel like you’re being a good steward of it by cramming everything as much as you can into each day, you’re really only running yourself into the ground.
To paraphrase from a book I’m currently reading, “Your mind and body were designed for camel speed and yet your life is moving at the speed of a cheetah. No wonder you’re stressed out.”
Not only stressed out, but probably exhausted, broke, and perhaps even a little cranky. Living in D.C. there is always something going on, or some event to attend. I avoid going to as many as I can (introvert!) but even then there are obligations I can’t avoid and people I want to spend time with.
My best piece of advice (for myself mainly) is to let my yes be yes and no be no. (James 5:12).
My problem is I hate saying no to people so I say “Maybeeee” too often, allowing the other person to think I’m going. This in turn ends up stressing me out because I try to work through whether or not I can make it/want to go and if I don’t end up going feel bad, if I do – I feel exhausted! I’m learning (it’s still an on-going process) to say no upfront, allowing me to remove that obligation from mind and not worry about it.
But as I said – there are plenty of things we can’t get out of (work!) or even want to go to (Weddings/corn mazes, baseball games, etc –). In these cases, we need to prioritize and say no to some activities, even if we want to go. It’s also helpful to “schedule” in recovery time if you know you’re going to be busy for a few days in a row.
3.) Simplify what you eat.
I’m not advocating you completely change your diet today and go gluten-free/paleo/vegan/organic,but I am advocating that you start making simple changes that will affect your health in a positive way.
Don’t throw out your Oreos today, but make a choice not to buy them next time. If you really want dessert, make a batch of homemade cookies instead. Never eat vegetables? This week make a goal to try just one new one. Eat more real, whole foods instead of packaged foods… at least more often.
4.) Simplify your spending & finances
Budget. It’s the only way to figure out where your money is going and here are some tips to help you get started.
Live within your means AKA don’t spend more than you make and try as hard as you can to put money into that savings account each month. Yup – that means buying fewer things and going out less. Get rid of debt as soon as possible. Stop buying what you don’t need. Use coupons. Save up for items you want instead of buying it as soon as you see it.
The good news is a simpler life costs less.
5.) Simplify your goals
Now this is an interesting one, you may think. Goals should be a positive thing. And they are. But since we’re human we’re unable to do everything on our wish list. Sometimes we have so many goals we end up not achieving any of them. By whittling our goals down to the most important, we can focus more on them and increase chances for success.
6.) Simplify your relationships
This one is tricky. I am not suggesting we limit our friendships to a certain number (although, it would be impossible to be friends with everyone.) What I am suggesting is maintain as many relationships as we can, but prioritize the people most important to us.
What about toxic relationships? Many people are quick to say you should just throw them to the curb. I say, it depends on what you mean by “toxic”. Unless a person is physically or mentally abusive, I do not advocate “getting rid of” anyone. But by “toxic” some people just mean they have an annoying friend, or one who complains too much, is dramatic, or argues with you.
If these relationships were at one point important to you, do not throw them out. Not only is it not Christ-like, but maybe this person needs you. Don’t get rid of them, but do set up boundaries. This means not letting someone guilt you into volunteering, or get mad at you because you don’t say “yes” to every activity they plan.
Prioritize people without letting them run your life.
7.) Simplify your thoughts
Often we let our thoughts run free and wreak havoc on our lives. The bible tells us to control them by bringing every thought into captivity.
A good friend of mine once explained it this way: treat every thought like a baseball someone throws at you. Examine it and ask whether it’s a thought that is pleasing to the Lord – or divisive, stressful or hurtful. Examine whether it is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). These kinds of thoughts we can keep and meditate on. Everything else, toss back!
This kind of thinking will eliminate gossip, bitterness, envy, and thoughts that tear us down instead of building up.
RELATED: 10 Simple Ways To Help Declutter Your Mind from A Welder’s Wife.
8.) Simplify your distractions
We are too connected to everything these days. Email, texts, Facebook, Twitter – we can’t put this stuff down. Maybe you enjoy all of that, but ever wonder what it does to your brain when you go to rest? Every now and then make sure you “unplug.” If possible, do it every day after work! What will you do with your time instead? How about read a book. Go for a walk without checking your phone. Make a meal. Finish (or start) that DIY project you’ve been thinking about.
9.) Simplify your stress
If you’re found a great solution – please tell me! I’m not sure I do a great job managing mine yet, but I have found a few tips that work. Fortunately, if you follow the above steps to simplify your life that should automatically decrease your stress.
Additionally, if you’re stressed out by a million things you have to do, learn to make lists!! I once read an article that stated that listing tasks decreases stress because in your mind it’s written down and you will mull over it less. That way you can also prioritize what needs to get done sooner and what can wait.
I already mentioned letting your “yes be yes” and “no be no” earlier, but I’ve found this greatly reduces my stress because once I say no to plans I can remove it from my mind, instead of debating whether I should go or not.
Experiment with what helps reduce your stress.
10.) Simplify your needs & expectations
The raise you thought you deserved. The boyfriend or girlfriend who forgets your anniversary. The rain that just had to pour down on the party you had been planning for months. It’s good to have expectations. They are what push us forward and keep us hopeful. But sometimes our expectations can be unrealistic too.
Assume that people try their best and when they do fail – forgive them. Don’t expect the worst from them, or situations, but realize life and people are not perfect and learn to shrug off the disappointments.
As for our needs, learn to decipher what’s really a need in life and what we just want. We don’t get everything we want in life (we don’t always get everything we need either!) Learn to let go more often of things you are convinced you need – like a new purse or phone – and learn to be thankful instead for when your real needs are met. I can guarantee you’ll start to see blessings in a whole new light.
For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God. (2 Corinthians 1:12)
What are some ways your simplify your life?
And check this out too!