Do you ever have a feeling of overwhelm from doing too much, having demands, distractions and notifications? Simplifying your life is about letting go of things that drain you to have time for the things that make you more content. If you’re feeling like slowing down is a luxury you just don’t have time for, try one or two of these habits.
These are the things that have made the biggest difference in simplifying my life. You don’t have to do them all at once, try one for a while until it becomes part of your routine and then try another one. Give yourself time to make mistakes and figure it out. It took me two years to make these all part of my everyday routine. Creating new habits can feel like extra work, but the payoff is so worth it.
Start your day by putting yourself first
With two kids to get ready for school, weekday mornings are hectic at my house. I stay present and avoid stress by making time for myself first. For me, this means planning my day in my diary, exercise and making a delicious lunch. Think about one thing that will feed your soul and make it a non-negotiable part of your morning routine. By doing it first thing, you guarantee that it happens. As the day goes on it’s so easy to put off self-care for another day. Make it your priority.
Only own clothes you love
Think about your all-time favourite piece of clothing – how it fits, how it looks, how it makes you feel. Now imagine if all your clothes felt this way. No more standing in front of the closet trying to find an outfit you like. It saves you time and makes shopping easier too. When you know what you love you won’t waste money on passing trends and you’re true to your own sense of style.
Know what’s most important to you
“If you don’t answer this question [what does freedom mean to me?] then there is a corporation, company or product that is happy to answer it for you” Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt
When we know what really matters, we can let go of the things that don’t. Write a list of what your ideal day looks like, from the moment you wake up to when you lay your head on the pillow at night. How many of those things happen in your current routine? It’s easy to go for days and weeks in the daily grind without checking in on yourself, getting lost in the demands of others, scrolling through social media and putting off the things you need. Spending time alone, without your phone or your to-do list is essential for figuring out what you need. Make sure you take the time to check in with yourself.
Break your phone addiction
Smartphones are designed to be addictive. They come with us everywhere we go, fragmenting our day with notifications. It takes 20 minutes to regain broken concentration so turning off all notifications helps you work better and be more present. If your phone is interrupting you all day, it might be time to break your phone addiction.
Use a password manager
You’ve been there. You want to buy a book online, it’ll just take a minute but you’ve forgotten your password. You have to reset it and ‘just a minute’ turns into half an hour. The time I have allocated to do work on my computer is just a few hours a day, I can’t afford to lose time resetting forgotten passwords. I use a password manager and it’s one of the best time-saving hacks I have. Try Dashlane or Last Pass.
The benefits of tidying up are endless. You’ll have fewer things but you’ll like them more. You’ll also have more money, spend less time cleaning and your focus will shift to having experiences that actually make your life richer. Do this now!
Eat from one bowl
The Zen art of Ōryōkiis is known as ‘one bowl’ eating. Practised in the temples of Zen Buddhist monks, meal times were an opportunity to practice mindfulness. They’d reflect on where the food came from with gratitude and be present for every bite. Try it yourself with your own bowl that you love, taking time to savour every mouthful and appreciate where you are right now.
We all have perceived obligations but rarely question whether these things are truly obligatory. Saying no isn’t selfish, unaccommodating or rude. It’s about reserving energy for the people and endeavours that truly matter in our lives. Having a strong set of values and priorities means we can say no without a guilty conscience too because our ‘no’ is validated by the bigger picture.
“To know when you have enough is to be rich beyond measure” – Lao Tzu
It’s so easy to focus on the negative and the things we don’t have – not enough money, not enough stuff, not enough time. Think instead about what you do have. One of the most significant ways to shift mindset is to practice gratitude. We’ve all got struggles that we can ruminate on but we also have so many things to be thankful for. Focus your attention on these things. Start and end each day by writing down one thing you’re thankful for. It’ll change your life one thought at a time.
Time slips away when you’re not present. No matter how banal your current routine may seem, remind yourself that nothing lasts forever. It’s easy to savour things when they’re short term, like a holiday overseas, or the last few days with our kids before they leave home, but we must try and apply this mindset to everyday life. Bringing mindful awareness to the moment is like turning up the amplifier on life. You’ll hear and notice the world in more depth, instead of being on auto-pilot. Life expands, becoming richer and more fulfilling the more attention you give to it.