It’s so easy to get carried away with the business of life. When you’re not at work or rushing from one appointment to another, you may be ferrying the kids to and from school, then after school activities, and maybe have a gym (or wine) session somewhere in between. It’s often hard to find time for yourself or your home. Simple living is something you’ve heard of the fairy tale lives of others.
If that all sounds very familiar to you, it’s time to take stock, slow down and simplify your life.
Of course, it’s not always easy to change down a few gears on command. When you’re living life at a billion miles an hour the very idea of leading a more simple life – while tempting – just seems so unattainable.
Here we share a few pointers to help you on your way to a more relaxed pace of living.
Stop and enjoy some down time
One morning, once you’ve done all the usual errands, just stop. Leave the mess, forget work, take a load off and breathe. Give yourself at least 15 minutes to sit still and relax. Your mind will race with all the jobs you think you should be doing instead, but these 15 minutes are the beginnings of an easier life. Enjoy the down time.
Channel your inner Marie Kondo and go minimal
Decluttering can feel immensely cathartic, just ask Marie Kondo of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo fame. When you’re suitably relaxed and have a clear head, take a look around your home and have a think about what you’d like to tackle first. Channel Ms Kondo and work through your belongings systematically.
If it all seems too overwhelming to begin with, make a list. Draw up a list for each room if you have to, and don’t feel like you have to declutter the entire house in one go.
Get a few big empty boxes and label one for keepsakes, one for keeping and one for recycling. No, two for recycling. Be ruthless. It feels good to purge things that crowd your home and your life.
If you’re a hoarder, decluttering will be like facing your worst nightmare. However, if you really want to simplify your life, start small; just get rid of the obvious clutter first. Get used to less for a little while then tackle it again.
Buy less stuff
Start shopping according to what you need rather than what you want. It’s something you’ve been hearing since your mother preach to you as a teenager: “Do you really need that?” Of course there will be times when that’s an absolute yes.
Then there are times when questioning yourself works and you decide that, no, you don’t need yet another scented candle or bamboo bowl.
Once again, turn to Marie Kondo and ask if whatever your tempted to buy will bring you joy. If the answer is an emphatic yes then you’ve got deal. Otherwise, you probably don’t need anything new to add clutter to your home.
Embrace secondhand shopping
It’s amazing what you’ll pick up at the local second hand shop these days. There are some seriously good threads to be had in many an op shop across the country. It helps that wearing vintage is all the rage.
The rule with maintaining a simple life and buying new clothes is to take a bag of clothes or shoes every time to make a trip to the op shop. That way you reduce the chance of refilling your recently decluttered wardrobe.
Streamline your finances
Do you really need four or five credit cards? Unless you pay off the full balance every month, it’s easy to get into debt when you’ve got more cards than you need. Have a think on which ones you could do without. Cut them up and ditch them. Trust me, you’ll feel like a weight has lifted off your shoulders when you do (speaking from experience, here).
Revamp your utilities. Take a look at all of your statements and then shop around to see if you can find a better deal. You need to look at each company in turn — electricity, gas, broadband, and see if there are any deals where you can snowball your utilities, getting one company that will service all, or at least a few.
Start meal planning
For people who shun routine, planning your meals for the week sounds far too restrictive, but being this organised can help simplify your life in a number of ways. You can even plan around your social life if it sounds to hard to go all in at first.
Pick a few staple meals that are easy to prepare and decide what nights you’re going to cook them. Buy only what you need for the week, which in turn will help you save a bit of money. It’s a win-win situation.
Have a digital detox
Do yourself a favour and have a self-imposed digital detox every now and then. Go get some exercise, go for a walk, read a book; do anything other than watch TV or browse online in the evenings.
Yes, the FOMO (fear of missing out) factor can be strong, and it’s oh-so-easy to keep in touch with friends and family, BUT remember how blissful it was to be uncontactable before smartphones infiltrated our lives? Remember how much time you had?
Create some space for yourself and grab a good book, sit back and enjoy the silence.
Reduce :: Reuse :: Recycle
Repeating the tried and tested triple R mantra never gets old. Following these three words might be key to simple living enlightenment.
Reduce what you consume, reuse where possible and recycle as much as you can. Simplifying your life is as simple and as difficult as that.
What about you? Have you got any recommendations for simple living you’d like to share?
Lead image: by Alisha Hieb
A version of this article first appeared in Our Planet Travel.