It takes courage to admit there is the need to simplify our lives.
But I think that finding ways to live more simply is something that all of us can benefit from.
It may look different for folks.
For some, it may mean having fewer material things.
For others, it might mean spending less money.
It could be removing certain activities or relationships from your life.
However, we are creatures of habit.
Boy, do we like consistency and being comfortable.
Change is uncomfortable.
Change is what makes it so hard to simplify our lives.
But I can promise you that on the other side of being uncomfortable is freedom.
I had my first experience with this back in 2006.
I lived in New Zealand for 18 months, and I only had a suitcase and a large backpack.
I remember getting home and immediately thinking, “what is all this crap?!?”
I started tossing and selling.
But it took me living without it for over a year to realize that I didn’t even need it.
So let’s discuss some ideas that will allow you to get free and simplify.
Maybe, just maybe, we’ll even get a bit happier in the process.
Step #1: Toss, Sell, or Give and Feel Good About it
I know this is a tough one for most people.
“But what if I need it?” (I use this one too).
We have a one-year rule in our household.
If we haven’t used it in the last 12 months, it gets tossed, sold, or given.
We’ve never regretted this.
With clothes, this can get a bit tricky, so I have a trick.
At the beginning of the year, I turn all of my hangers in the opposite direction.
As I wear an item, the hanger gets turned back around.
After 12 months, I know what hasn’t been worn.
Tossed. Sold. Given.
Another recent epiphany has allowed me to part more easily with items.
Let’s say I have a loveseat.
After two years, our child is now getting bigger, and we all want to sit on the furniture together.
We need a couch.
I paid $750 for that loveseat, but I’m seeing that I can only get $500 for it in my local resale market.
Many have a hard time with this as they don’t want to ‘lose’ $250.
But I’ve begun looking at it in a different light.
I just paid $125/yr for the right to use a couch.
I could even say I ‘rented’ it for $125 a year.
I can now take that $500 and get what we need for our family.
We’ll be happier because we’ll get to sit together.
It will be a refreshing change in our home, which also provides a positive internal feeling.
But you’re not always going to lose money.
Recently, I sold an antique leather chair (I loved that chair!) for $100.
I purchased it a year before that for $30.
I loved telling my wife, “Hey honey! I got paid like $6 per month to sit in that chair!”
She wasn’t as amused as me, but my point is that it can happen.
If you’re a savvy buyer, you can profit from these flips.
Enough about money.
Let’s move to time.
Step #2: Manage Your Time Properly
Time management is one area where there is always room for improvement.
If you don’t manage your own time, other things and people will.
The most interesting part is that if you are spending your time on things that you don’t value, your stress level will go up.
But if we can focus on spending time on things (and people) that we value, then you’ll get the benefits of simplifying life.
And don’t forget, this might not mean fitting everything in better.
It might mean cutting some things out of your life.
Step #3: Cut Down Distractions
Wikipedia defines it as ‘something that prevents someone from concentrating on something else‘.
This is a simple definition, but isn’t that what we’re going for here?
Yes, good things can become a distraction if it rules over other important things.
Anything good and healthy (like reading blogs) can become unhealthy if not done in an appropriate order of importance.
I feel that we are expected to be available.
In real estate, I’ll often get called, texted, and emailed within 3 minutes.
I’ve trained for nothing to be an emergency.
Just because you can be reached doesn’t mean you have to always be available.
In fact, I miss 95% of calls that I initially receive.
Because if I’m in the middle of a project (like writing this article), then stopping to take a phone call is a distraction.
[Unless it’s my wife calling back to back — that means it’s important!].
We’ve never been more ‘available’ in history.
It’s something to think about.
Step #4: Establish Some New Routines
It’s challenging to begin doing new things – or stop doing things that you’ve been doing.
You’ve got to create new habits.
It will take time.
Let’s say you want to wake up 30 minutes earlier every day to have quiet time to focus and prepare for your day.
But you don’t like getting up early.
Wow, this is going to be hard.
Maybe the first three days you snooze (which I’d recommend not doing — just move your phone across the room).
On day four you’re up, but it’s tough.
By day 14, you’re still getting up and disliking it, but somehow you’re doing it.
But having that early morning cup of coffee in a peaceful house is magic.
There’s something almost spiritual about seeing the sun sneak through the windows before the house stirs.
And that’s the part you fall in love with.
By day 30, it’s just what you do.
Congratulations, you’ve just formed an excellent new habit.
These are some of the proven tips you can use to simplify your life.
But don’t just read this article and go about your way.
Write down three things that you can start this week.
Let me know what you’re going to try – I’d love to hear about it.
And what are your favorite rules for living a more simple life?
Brooks is an entrepreneur, sponge, father, husband, & follower of the golden rule. He’s also addicted to starting new businesses and any food that includes chocolate and peanut butter. He’s a firm believer in creating multiple streams of income and creates content on his website to help other hustlers in the areas of entrepreneurship, marketing, and personal finance.
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.