Make Space to Simplify

We’re continuing the “Make Space Monday” series by focusing on Making Space for simplification. Many of us would agree that there’s a certain appeal to the concept of living more simply. I’ve always been a huge Little House on the Prairie fan. There’s just something about that time, though far from easy (survival was a daily goal!), that was more simple. Consume what you grow, work hard, support each other, without the distractions that scream for our attention on a daily basis.

The benefits of a simpler life go hand in hand with the benefits of decluttering and organizing. They include having more:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Freedom
  • Flexibility
  • Peace of mind

If you hear “simple living” and think of an existence of scarcity and lack that’s devoid of fun, think again. It’s not about deprivation, but enrichment. And peeling back extraneous clutter that can build up over time can reveal the simple pleasures in life. It’s about getting rid of what doesn’t belong – on your schedule, in your home, and in your thoughts. 

This isn’t all or nothing. I do not live in a cabin in the woods, foraging for sustenance, without any modern day conveniences or personal possessions. Though there’s nothing wrong with these things, that doesn’t need to be the goal. I’m simply offering some thoughts on bringing more intentionality around living more simply – even in just one area. I’m confident you will notice a positive difference.

The world is full of choices, which can be overwhelming. Simplification could involve having or entertaining fewer choices. It could involve paring down your grocery list.  There are so many possibilities. Here are 5 categories to consider, each with a practical action step you can do TODAY to simplify your life.

1. Possessions

This is the obvious one, but for good reason. Owning fewer things is easier. Less to buy, maintain, store, fix, clean, replace. Rotating your kids’ toys is a great option, too, as it helps to reduce their decision fatigue/overwhelm. They can rediscover things they’ve likely forgotten about and actually focus on something for an extended period of time. I have several posts about decluttering. Check them out here and here. *Challenge: Find 5 things in your house today that you can part with.

2. Schedules

This isn’t necessarily about getting more done, but instead, having less to do. This will seem more achievable when #1 (slimming down possessions) is done. See? There’s a method to the madness! *Challenge: Find one thing on your calendar/to-do list and remove it. One trick I use to prevent myself from immediately replacing the task with something else “productive” is to take that time and schedule in something like “rest” or “knit” – some kind of bucket filling, soul restoring activity that brings joy.

3. Holidays

Holidays can sure get crazy! Here are some suggestions to simplify:

  • Give experiences instead of things – If you celebrate a gift giving tradition consider giving the lasting gift of an experience. Yes, online shopping is simpler than standing in lines, but experiences are simpler yet – and more meaningful. Consider subscriptions to a museum, lessons, a mini vaca, something you can do together as a family. Another toy will likely be forgotten, but the memories from an experience will not.
  • Set a budget – Advertisers will tell us that we, and our kids, need all the things. This is simply not true. Set a reasonable budget that works for you and stick to it.
  • Plan ahead – Make a list of everyone you want to give a card or gift to this season. Teachers, mail workers, house cleaners, other service workers. Plan ahead and stock up on little gifts that you see when you’re out and about. Or keep it simple with gift cards, homemade or purchased greeting cards, or a handwritten note of what you appreciate about someone.
holiday photo
  • Simplify holiday meals – One of the favorite family traditions my kids have of Christmas morning is making store bought cinnamon and orange rolls. Super simple, yet memorable.
  • Be on calendar alert – Holiday get togethers, school parties, and other holiday specific to-do’s can threaten to add stress and steal the true meaning of the holiday season. Be vigilant about managing your schedule and say no to whatever feels like too much.
  • *Challenge: Write a list today of everyone you want to reach out to this holiday season.

4. Media Consumption

Though I’m all about a no guilt binge watch of your favorite series, there is still opportunity to simplify in this area. Between all the social media channels and the accessibility of information, everything is right at our fingertips. But that does not mean we need to consume it all. Or at least not at this very second. *Challenges: 1. Establish a tech free time (no phones after 7pm for example) and/or zone (no phones at the table is a good one). 2. Delete any apps that you do not use.

5. Food

Just because the store is more than happy to offer 9 million types of chips, this does not mean we have to buy in to excess. Jen Hatmaker wrote a book titled Seven in which her family identified 7 areas of excess in their life (food, clothing etc), focusing on how to simplify 1 of them each month. They simplified each category down to 7 items. This wasn’t meant to be a way to live long-term but an experiment to bring more mindfulness to what they were consuming and how they were spending their time and money. I took the food challenge for fun, only eating 7 types of food for a month. Though this is extreme, it did bring more mindfulness to consumption, and had the added benefit of decreasing the grocery bill! 

*Challenge: Pick a meal prep day (Sunday works well) and prep some dinners and all school lunches for the week.

Enjoy your simpler life!