Achieving a simpler, more peaceful lifestyle may seem like a pipe dream for many over-scheduled, over-connected Americans. But the truth is that simplifying your life is easier than you might think. By focusing on a few key areas of your routine, you can reduce your stress and achieve a more balanced lifestyle. Below are five easy ways to simplify your life.
1) Create a peaceful living space
The path to a simpler life begins with a tranquil home environment. You can create a peaceful living space by removing unnecessary clutter from your home. By removing unwanted items, you will expend less energy and effort trying to organize your belongings and cleaning your home. Here are some steps for decluttering your home:
- Allocate 15-30 minutes per day to the decluttering process
- Focus on one room at a time, starting with the room that contains the least amount of clutter
- Set aside any items that you no longer need or have not used in years
- Consider donating any of those items that are in good condition to a charitable organization
- Recycle or throw away any broken or non-functional items in your home
2) Simplify your calendar
This step is often the most challenging for busy Americans. In fact, the tendency to overbook our calendars is so pervasive that one in three Americans does not get sufficient sleep. The National Sleep Foundation’s Dr. Joseph Ojile notes that “People from children to adults are consistently overscheduled,” highlighting the role that our calendars play in our lack of balance in our lives.
Fortunately, you can regain control of your schedule by taking some time to make some small changes to your schedule. Here are some tips to help you simplify your calendar and restore balance to your life:
- Review your calendar and remove any activities that do not bring value or enjoyment to your life
- If you have children place reasonable limits on the number of activities they participate in
- Make your “To Do” list the night before instead of the following morning
- Consider “unplugging” or turning off electronic devices for a specified amount of time each day
- Set aside 30 minutes per day to relax or focus on spiritual pursuits
3) Learn how to say no
“Saying No is one of the most important ingredients in a life filled with peace of mind and contentment. This is not a No rooted in cynicism or emotional withdrawal; with the ability to say No comes balance and healthy boundaries.”
– Paul Huljich, Mind Wellness Awareness
There are only 24 hours in each day. If you stop to think about all the hours you have spent staying late at work, taking on a volunteer project, or help a friend, you would probably lose count. No matter how much you want to agree to help your boss, co-workers, friends, or family, you need to learn how to politely decline some of their requests. By mastering the art of saying no gracefully, you will find that you have more time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the simpler things in life.
But learning how to say no is not always easy – especially if you have always been the type of person who never turns down a request for your time or help. The path to saying no begins by remembering that it is impossible to remain true to yourself if you always put everyone else’s needs and demands first. Here are some key ways to get into the habit of saying no gracefully:
- Do not feel compelled to give a detailed reason for saying no. Try simply saying, “Thank you for asking, but I’m not able to help out today.”
- Offer an alternative if it works for you. For instance, you could say, “I will have some free time Thursday if that will work for you.”
- Do not succumb to pressure from children and other loved ones. This can be difficult, but will get easier with time.
- Try not to feel guilty. You are simply saying no to a single request – not refusing to help forever.
4) Establish simple daily routines
We would all love for our homes to run perfectly without any effort. But every household needs attention to operate efficiently. By setting up some simple daily routines, you can transform your home from a disorganized mess to a well-oiled machine. Below are some steps to follow to help you establish some routines that will make home life a breeze:
- Make a list of your top five chores and set aside days and times to do them
- Once you establish routines, resolve to stick to them
- Multi-task when performing routines when possible. For example, you can fold clean clothes while waiting for water to boil
- Make your routines pleasant by listening to your favorite music or audio book
- Encourage your family members to join you in setting productive routines
5) Minimize your Negative Self Talk
Negative self talk can bring you down faster than a deflating balloon. But we have a tendency to be harder on ourselves than anyone else. Resisting the urge to criticize yourself is not easy, but the rewards are priceless. When you limit your negative self talk, you will be free to experience all of the positive events going on around you. Here are some tips to help you put an end to negative self talk:
- Start by making a list of every incident of negative self talk you engage in. Friends and family members can help you with this task.
- Note any trends in your negative self talk. For instance, do you tend to be especially critical of your appearance?
- Surround yourself with positive people who can help you find the silver lining in daily challenges and hurdles.
- Review your list periodically and transform each item into a positive statement. For example, if you stated that you are a “terrible writer”, you could state, “My writing is really going to improve when I begin my writing workshop this summer.”
The Bottom Line
Simplifying your life is the key to achieving a more peaceful, enjoyable existence. By decluttering your home, avoiding negative self talk, and establishing daily routines, you can master the art of simplicity and breathe easier each day. Most importantly, you will find that you have more time each day to relax and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.