Simplify Your Life


{Image by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³}

Today’s post is from Debra Dane. After 8 years as a stay at home mother Deb is now combining her previous office based skills with those gained as a parent and moderator on a parenting forum. At Home Life Simplified, Deb writes “about strategies and resources that help you figure out what is the best way for you to get organised, manage your time, and improve your home and family life so that you save money, reduce stress, dump the guilt, and stop feeling overwhelmed.”


The world we currently live in never seems to stop. We carry smartphones, update Facebook statuses, tweet for business and pleasure. It rarely feels like we are “off duty.” Through all this technology we are always in reach of others, demands are constantly placed, and suggestions always being made on more things to buy and do.
For many people there is a desire to simplify their lives in some way. Even without knowing what or how to simplify, they sense something needs to change. Simplifying life will mean different things to different people as it is a very personal task to undertake. I would suggest examining various areas of your life including your home, your possessions, your schedule / routine, your relationships, your thoughts and your business/career/study.

For each of these areas examine what is going on and how it makes you feel. Really examine this closely to establish what is working for you and what is causing you stress and draining your time and energy. Sometimes we make choices based on what other people think or the voices in our head telling us what we “should” do. If that is the place you are coming from right now a preliminary step might be to first change your mindset.

1. Make choices

There is only so much of a resource available to you – stop trying to do it all, be it all, and have it all. We tell our kids they can’t have every toy in the shop and to enjoy what they do have, but we do not always put the same boundaries and restrictions on ourselves. The same ideas apply to us all – when you have too much of everything you cannot focus on what really matters and what you already enjoy.

2. Eliminate the unnecessary

A quick method for simplifying is to ask yourself whether something is a want or a need. If you are looking to simplify an area of your life this can help you make some quick decisions to weed out some truly unnecessary obligations, desires, and “shoulds”.

3. Make your decisions reflect your values

The perception today is that a busy life is a good and productive life. If slowing down and spending more time with your family is what is important to you, let go of the need to be using every minute “productively.” Family time is productive, just not in a traditional interpretation of the word. Productive is more about moving forward to meet your individual goals than it is about meeting society’s expectations.

Simplifying feeding your family can go two totally different ways based on what you are seeking. For one person it can mean home-cooked from scratch meals focusing on “simple” whole foods. For another person that would be the opposite of simple for them and their “simple” would be having 3 days each week where they eat takeaway, leftovers or popcorn so that the little time they have available is spent talking and hanging out with their family. Both are right and both are simplified for that family – neither is better than the other despite what you may have read elsewhere. Be true to yourself and find the simplicity that comes with that.

4. Build in breathing room

Whether it is clearing out the clutter in your closets, leaving a shelf empty or a day free in your schedule, allow room for new things to come into your life. If every space and every moment is accounted for, you cannot be spontaneous or flexible and your stress levels are usually higher. When your spaces are crammed full you cannot see what you already possess and feel the need to purchase yet more “things.”

5. Learn that more is not always better

For many people they buy a bigger house because it is the next assumed step when you have more money and/or more children. With a larger house comes more cleaning, maintenance, and costs. If you are happy in your 2 or 3 bedroom home you do not have to “upgrade” simply because you can afford it. In business many people feel the next step is to employ staff, add a second shop / location / truck so they can make more money and be “more.” If the extra paperwork, staff issues and quality control required will leave you exhausted, stressed out and with no free time, you may want to re-examine the financial gain and weigh it against the lifestyle costs. A promotion can be a “great” thing, but sometimes it is not the “right” thing.

I still miss the two bedroom apartment we left in order to get a house to accommodate our second child. We would have moved eventually, but I did not even stop to think that we could have stayed there for a lot longer while she was still small. We would have saved money and I would have enjoyed a longer time in my favourite place in Sydney. To achieve even a rental home we needed to move further out of the city. I was definitely better off in some ways, but the trade-off was huge.

6. Nothing in this life is permanent, including relationships

If there are negative people in your life draining your energy, lowering your self-esteem, or always taking without giving, it may be time to rethink these relationships. My husband was very surprised when I let go of some friendships after we moved interstate. I explained that it made me aware of how little time I had available to maintain old friendships along with new and I decided to let go of the ones that were not a positive part of my life. Life is too short to maintain friendships out of obligation. We all change and sometimes people who belonged in your life long ago do not fit in with where you are heading now.

What tips do you have for simplifying your life?