One of the main pillars of living wholistically is to simplify your life. But how should you go about doing that? Why should you do it? Only you can answer those questions, but I can share my experience with how I have simplified my life and some steps I took, and will take, to do it.
1) De-clutter. This means going through all of your possessions and deciding what to keep and what to let go of. When you have more than you need, you can become overwhelmed with trying to keep it organized. Material things also seem to weigh a person down to some extent (especially when moving). If you’re keeping something as a keepsake, but don’t really need or use it, take a picture so you can see it when you want to remember, then let it go.
2) Organize your stuff. My house used to be organized chaos. I would know where things were, but things were everywhere. That was partly because I needed to de-clutter. The last place I lived had plenty of room for all of the things we had, but it didn’t have any place to put our stuff. Where I live now has so much storage space that everything fits nicely. So get cabinets, bins, and other organizing tools so that every thing has its place and every place has its thing. I feel more motivated to do stuff when I have a clean house. Plus, I spend less time looking for something that I need. Even in organized chaos I had trouble finding things.
3) Organize your time. If you have too many activities going on in your life, either drop some of it or get someone to help you out. Having to much going on can overwhelm you and stress you out. Make sure that you have enough time for yourself. It is important to have alone time as much as it is to have friend time.
4) Make a spending plan and follow it. Having your finances in order can really take your mind of money. It also allows you to see where your money is really going. This gives you more time to do other things.
5) Get off the computer and the couch. Go read a book, take a walk, work out, cook a fantastic meal, or sit out in the sun. You wouldn’t believe the amount you can do when you don’t spend all of your time on the computer.
6) Eat healthier. Start eating good, whole foods like veggies, fish, eggs, meat, fruits, and good sources of fat instead of processed foods and grains. Grains cause inflammation in your body, as well as the malabsorption of nutrients which leads to a multitude of health problems. Staying healthy means less doctors visits, insurance dealings, and more energy to do the things you want to do.
7) Downsize. What I mean is do you have more space than you need in your house or apartment? Could you do without that second car, or without a car at all? The absolute most a couple needs is a two bedroom place (the extra bedroom is for guests or an office). Obviously if you have children, you will need more space, but carefully consider what you need. If you can swing having only one car, or no car, that’s great! One less car means less money spent on insurance, gas, and maintenance. But if you can’t, that’s fine too. Sometimes there’s no getting around it.
So how have I done these steps?
Right out of high school I had a lot of stuff, the result of living between two households. When I moved in with my husband (then my boyfriend), our stuff was combined and took up a ridiculous amount of space. We were living in a luxury one bedroom apartment and I don’t think we every fully unpacked.
Then we moved to a small, 300 square foot studio and had to get rid of nearly half our stuff. It was STILL very crowded because we kept some things that we really shouldn’t have. So when we moved again to a smallish space, we went through all our things once more to see what we didn’t need. Finally all of our stuff could easily fit into a 10′ uHaul.
We’ve moved twice since that move and have let go of things we don’t need anymore. It is a continuing process. As we are getting ready to move again (fifth move in three years!) I am going through our things, taking pictures of things I want to remember, but don’t need to hold onto anymore. At this place, every thing has its place and every place has its thing. It has taken my whole life to get to this point. I’m glad I’m finally here because I find it easier for me to do things in a clean uncluttered house.
Something else I have finally gotten the hang of is a spending plan for my husband and I. There have been so many different budgets and spending plans I have tried for us, and I finally found the one that works. It has made our life easier. We still worry about money, of course, but we at least know where our money is going.
I’ve also started eating differently. I limit the amount of grains, sugar, and dairy (I’m allergic to milk, but cheese and yoghurt don’t seem to bother me as much) I eat. My whole diet consists of vegetables, good sources of fat (avocados, olive oil, butter) meat, eggs, fruit, and the occasional dark chocolate. I feel much better, have more energy and rarely get sick anymore. My allergies are all but nonexistent.
The latest thing I’ve done is to limit the amount of time I am on the computer. You wouldn’t believe the amount of things that you can do when you don’t spend so much time in front of a screen (this includes T.V.s.). Sometimes I’ll go for a walk instead of watching something on the internet. I’ve even gotten to the point of not being on the computer for one whole day a week. It is quite liberating.
In April, my husband and I are trading our car in for bikes. We do eventually plan to buy another one, but we’re saving up for it so we don’t have to have a car lease. It might make some things a little more difficult, but we won’t have to deal with upkeep, gas or insurance. Plus we’ll have the bus system and we’ll be getting more exercise.
Simplifying your life is a process. It has taken me a while to get to where I am now. It was, and is, not easy, but I’ve taken it step by step. Like any change, it is not going to happen overnight. But little by little, you can do it.