Modern life is so frantic. We have more labor-saving devices than ever before in human history but we are living life at a faster pace than ever. We are encouraged to buy this, go there, do that and the result is that many of us are living lives that just don’t measure up to what we want. Here are some ideas to help you simplify your life to make it better.
I don’t know about you but I seem to have so many calls on my time and my money. I have so much stuff in my house that I can’t find anything. There never seems to be enough time to get it all done. I’m juggling so many balls that I can’t think straight. When I realized that all these things were affecting the quality of my life, I decided that something had to give.
Taking stock of my life, I decided that the best way to make changes that would make my life better was to make everything simpler. The sheer complexity of my life was leaving me feeling overwhelmed by it all and frequently stressed out. I felt perpetually tired and had trouble sleeping and thinking clearly; in fact, the only time I did seem to think clearly was when I went to bed and tried to sleep!
But I had no idea where to start or how to go about simplifying my life until I read a magazine article about the psychological benefits of de-cluttering your workspace. It claimed that a clean workspace improved productivity and gave the illusion of being in control and on top of work tasks. Sounded good to me, so that’s where I decided to start.
Apparently there are some simple rules when it comes to de-cluttering and re-organizing your work space. You pick up a piece of paper and ask yourself these questions: Do I need to keep this? Do I need it on my work space? Can it be filed or delegated? What is the worst that will happen if I trash it?
Wow! Did this system work or what! I managed to reduce the amount of paper on my desk to a very small pile, I shredded buckets of papers and trashed even more. I even filed and delegated some work. I tell you, I felt so great after I had finished; like a huge weight was gone from my head and shoulders.
I was so inspired that I followed some more of the advice in that article. I moved the furniture around; I had left it the same as when I took over this office and had never really been comfortable. I now have a much more workable space that doesn’t look cluttered and I won’t bang my knee every time I go to the filing cabinet! There was a stain on one wall and I think I’ll look for a picture to put up there, to cover it and bring a bit of color to these dull gray walls.
Having discovered how much better my de-cluttered work space made me feel, I decided to try the same strategy at home. Here’s a tip – don’t empty your entire closet onto the bed late in the afternoon. This is what I did and the job was much bigger than I thought so, come bed time, the bed was still under a pile of clothing!
So, start small; pull out one drawer and empty the contents. Pick up each item and ask those these questions: Do I wear/want this? Will I wear/want this? Do I need it? What is the worst thing that will happen if I trash it? Have a big box ready to take the throw-away items and another for anything that is good enough to go to the local thrift store. Wipe the drawer with a damp cloth and replace only the items you have decided to keep. Be ruthless!
Don’t attempt to unclutter the whole house in one go; that is just too big a job. Aim to do one closet or one room a day/week/weekend, depending on the time you have. I guarantee you will feel so much better and you have the added bonus of being able to find the things you have.
As you de-clutter your home, consider more than simplifying your closets. What about the old refrigerator in the garage you only use when you have a party? Do you have an old TV lurking anywhere that is never watched? Do you really need to have three TVs in your house anyway? Do you have sports equipment that no one uses or camping gear left over from that one trip you took five years ago? Really simplify your life by removing any ‘stuff’ that clutters your home and your life but is not needed.
We have been programmed to get more and more stuff but does it add anything to the quality of life? We have ‘good’ stuff for special occasions; why keep them just for special occasions and then have to worry about storage? Aren’t you important enough to warrant using the ‘good’ stuff?
I further simplified my life by making some changes to my banking. We had several different accounts and it seemed I was always juggling from one to another. I kept one checking account as the working account and had my salary paid automatically into it. I arranged for the mortgage and car payments to be made directly from it and a set amount to go into a savings account. All this meant that the only financial things I needed to do was pay the monthly bills as they came in. What a difference this made to my stress levels! I found I had more spare time to spend with the family as well.
I saw a financial advisor to discuss my retirement accounts as this was another area that caused me sleepless nights. He combined several different retirement accounts into one, calculated how much I needed to be saving to have enough for a good retirement and gave me some really good investment advice. Simplifying my financial situation really did give me peace of mind.
Here are some more ideas for simplifying your life that I am considering putting into place. Find ways to slow down the pace of life; get up half an hour earlier on work days to avoid that mad panic associated with getting everyone off to work and school. After completing a task, whether at home or work, stop and collect your thoughts for five minutes before moving on to the next thing at hand. This strategy helps to clear the mind ready to focus on the next task.
Clean up after you as go; this prevents a mess forming and helps you keep on top of the cleaning and tidying. It also helps to keep your work surface clear so you can focus on the task at hand. Plan your day so you can multi-task or save time back-tracking. When you have a plan and a list, you don’t have to juggle so many thoughts in your mind.
Simplify your life to make it better by using some of these ideas. Letting go of ‘stuff’ is so refreshing and freeing, you will notice the difference almost immediately. Remember, being is so much more important in life than having.
So, if you reflect on your life, can you make it simpler?
I recently quit one of my jobs and made it much simpler. Now I can focus on my other endeavors and not feel so stretched thin.
Sounds great. I am finally just doing one job at work which is a good thing. I was getting pretty worn out before when doing two.
As Thoreau drove home so vividly in Walden and elsewhere, Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!!! Agreed, if you spend a lot of time in your work space, begin there. Anyone who says that a messy work space is ok and that they know where everything is is kidding themselves. Human brains simply do not work that way. Science bears this out. Then the healthy addiction to decluttering will lead to other areas of life. Marvy post, Miss T!!!
Thanks CJ. Decluttering doesn’t just mean getting rid of actual stuff. It can mean making your schedule simpler and smoother. For us we are trying to limit the to dos and have more quality of life and down time. It seems to really be helping with our attitude and mental health.
I really need to go through my closet again. I do it once a year, and it’s been two years this time (because of pregnancy), so there are some clothes that really, really need to go.
I have gone through all three of the kids’ wardrobes this spring, culled what doesn’t fit (donating some and storing the rest), and brought out the next size up. (I buy ahead to save money.) But I haven’t done mine….
We are planning on going through each room this summer. I am also organizing a clothing swap with friends which should be really fun.
I am so with you! I feel so much better after decluttering – we reorganized our garage a few weeks ago. It’s great. Everything is clean and grouped together now and I can find things!!
We did our garage in the fall and we felt the same way- great. We are hoping to get through the rest of the house this summer.
I love how simple my life is right now. I have all my stuff fit into one suitcase, and the rest I buy when I need. My important papers are scanned and I don’t need much more than that. Stuff takes physical space and space in your head too, it can become overwhelming and make you unproductive.
That is awesome. I don’t know if everything would fit in a suitcase that I have but the closest to that would be great. We are going to try to majorly downsize this summer.
Gosh! Of course, I can make it simpler and have been trying for sometime now. Winning during the last three weeks or so. Comletely identify with ‘can’t find thing because there is so much’. John just today found two brand new t-shirts that were bought six years ago and got lost in the pile of stuff. We are decluttering big time. However, were I to ask myself these questionnss I’ll get nowhere. I followed AverageJpe and set limits first (e.g. allowed seven running t-shirts) and the rest had to go – still hard but…
Joe’s rule is a good rule. I like it. We are decluttering this year again. I really would like the process to end at some point and just maintain status quo.
Great point about decluttering the physical to get started on the psychological. Very thought-provoking.
Thanks Mike. We aren’t one dimensional beings. If we want to improve our lives we have to address all parts of our life.
I am slowly working at clearing out stuff here…. I try, not always successfully to do a little every day. Not always easy as I’m dealing with a sick hubby and some days survival is the name of that game. But I figure if I can send one bag(even if it’s a small one) to the Thrift store, and one bag in the garbage every week I’m getting there. I work on filling the bin we have for our pickup, normally we have one bag in there from the weeks garbage and they say it will hold two regular garbage bags. It does pretty much. My son is looking to work on the basement and his father’s tools as he can,usually when his father is not there to tell him what he can and can’t get rid of. I have read variations of what you read and clearly it does work…. I tend to work with to-do lists… it’s so satisfying to look at a list of crossed off jobs!!!!The lists tend to get made in the wee small hours when I can’t sleep thinking about all the stuff I have to do the next day… I write it down and can go back to sleep then….. works for me…..
Sounds like you are headed in the right direction. I like lists too. I find checking things off very satisfying and keeps me motivated. Sorry to hear your hubby is sick. Keep up the hard work. It will pay off.
I definitely want to simplify a bit. Decluttering is something I need to do, mostly in terms of actual things as opposed to activities in life. There is something to being organized and simplified in terms of a physical space that helps keep one focused.
I agree. I try to keep my workspace uncluttered and I find it eases stress and saves energy for my actual tasks at hand.
I came across this link the day after OK tornados. Looking at the coverage of parents finding their children it dawns on me how much time and energy I waste culitvating STUFF vs. relationships. Will keep this in mind over the holiday weekend and take some time to make a plan to simplify my house/life.
Great to see that everyone who posted is growing in knowledge and skills! I’m in my 50’s and haved learned much over the years. It’s a discipline that is fun to improve on. I helped my mom downsize by saying, “If you were going on the Oregon Trail and could only use a covered wagon, would this go in?” Little tricks like that help!
“Being is so much more important in life than having.” wow! Such a powerful statement. I want to send this to all my clients and some of my prospects.