Recently I realized that once again, I’ve strayed from the path of simplicity. Let’s face it, I’m not perfect, I’m only human. Every day during the past few weeks I’ve seemed to be packing in a lot of time on the computer, doing work, or worrying about things in the future or present that I may not even have real control over. I’ve realized that the way I’m spending my time is causing me added stress and that I need to get back on the track of simplicity.
I think I’m one of those kinds of personalities that feels a little guilty just sitting around doing nothing. But it is funny how even when we are doing nothing, physically, we can be dong all kinds of things…mentally. I know this is the case for myself. Guilty as charged. When I get into this state of doing too much, my body is usually the first thing to respond with fatigue, headaches or a general “mental haze” where life seems less vibrant as it should be. When this happens, I know it is time to simplify. My body is my warning signal, my wake back “up” to simplicity alarm clock.
The search for simplicity is a personal quest that requires introspection and self-knowledge. A simple life is one that focuses on essentials. Attaining simplicity requires the elimination of emotional, spiritual and physical clutter. When your home and mind are free of clutter, you have more room to live.
Here are 7 tips that I’ve found useful for creating a simpler life:
1. Pare down your possessions. In our materialistic culture, it’s easy to accumulate an overwhelming number of possessions. The clutter that these possessions create can rob us of peace and serenity. Simplify your relationship with your possessions by spending a little time each week reducing the clutter in your living space. Then avoid the urge to acquire more than what you really need.
2. Learn how to say “no.” Your life can’t be simple when your calendar is filled with appointments. Create a simpler life by learning how to say “no” to unnecessary commitments. Free up time for meaningful work and for the people and things you love.
3. Rethink your to-do list. If you’re one of those people who maintain a to-do list, take an honest look at it. Is it filled with “busy work” or is it so long that you don’t even know where to start? Create a short list by moving the most important items to the top of the list and trying to finish at least one each day.
4. Focus on important work. Set priorities and focus on tasks that are most important for your family, home and career. Shut out distractions and unnecessary communication and focus on one thing at a time. Learn how to tell the difference between being busy and being productive.
5. Avoid procrastination drama. Letting things go until the last minute adds stress and drama to your life. It can also have a cascade effect, making you late for other deadlines. Simplify your life by planning ahead for deadlines.
6. Use the Internet as a resource, not a time waster. E-mail, online banking and other applications can boost your productivity and simplify your life, but the Internet can also be a huge time waster. Be aware of how you’re spending your time online and make it as productive as possible.
7. Take pleasure in the moment. When your life is busy there’s no time to enjoy the present moment. Your mind is always looking forward at what you have to do next and back at things you forgot to do. A simpler life will allow you to live in the present and find small moments of happiness throughout the day. Learning how to meditate is a powerful tool to help cut to the present as well.
In 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved into a small house he built on the shores of Walden Pond and began an experiment in simple living that lasted for two years, two months and two days. He later wrote a memoir about the experience where he says, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.”
Thoreau wanted to avoid coming to the end of his life
and realizing he had not really lived.
Most of us can’t move to a cabin in the forest, but we can still search for simplicity in even the most populous cities. If you spend just 30 minutes per day clearing clutter and eliminating commitments that aren’t enriching, you will be creating a simpler life. For me, the search for simplicity is always a work-in-progress. It takes time to reduce years of physical and mental clutter, but the rewards have been great when I do make the effort. Although I still have a way to go, I’ve already found making life simpler has led to more focus and greater productivity in the end.
Now it’s time to get to work and get simple…
Related Ebook: The Everyday Minimalist