When you hear the word “simple” you likely think that it should be almost effortless to achieve. However, having been working toward a simple lifestyle myself for the past 2.5 years, I can attest, there isn’t much that’s simple about it. It’s hard to reengineer your life when you have spent so much time, effort, and money constructing the life you have in the “normal” society. You’ve carefully curated all the best stuff to fill your home with but now you feel smothered by it all and just want the space in your home to provide you with peace of mind and well….space.
The first tip I have for you is probably the most important. Give yourself a ton of grace. When you think you couldn’t possibly give yourself any more grace, grant yourself even more. It’s really that important. There are so many factors at play here. You have spent money on the things in your home. You still like them. They are still useful. You have all the best intentions of using them….someday. I get it. I have been there too; and still am actually in some ways. I know what you’re thinking, no this isn’t a play to turn you into a minimalist…although working to become one could be beneficial here.
Whether you have a desire to be a minimalist or not, I can promise you that there are things in your home that are not serving you; and worse, they’re getting in your way and stressing you out. For this reason, I highly recommend (as does the Minimal Mom) having a donation bag or box available in a designated area of your home all the time. I like to use shipping boxes or paper grocery bags for this so the whole container can be filled up and then go directly to the donation center with no need to touch all the contents ever again.
You might be thinking about your home now and picturing all the spaces that seem like they need to be purged and who has the time right?! I’ve got you! Purge and remove things from your home as you go about your day. If you are able to block off a few hours to complete a room, awesome! Do that! But if you’re like me with a few young children at home and a to do list that you can’t yet see the end of, then a few hours to focus on anything just isn’t going to happen. If this is you, just make it a fluid part of your existence. As you come across something that you realize is no longer serving you or you just know it needs to get out of your way, take it to your donation box or bag right away. (Sometimes it takes me a few days to get it to the donation box ‘right away’….that’s OK!)
Got a ton of stuff running around your mind all the time and you can’t seem to focus on anything? Yep, been there. Here’s one path to follow so you can find some breathing room and space to relax while making gains toward your goals.
- BRAIN DUMP: Take an opportunity to write down everything you want to accomplish, eliminate, reduce, change, start doing, etc. A brain dump can help you to lower your frenetic energy so you can focus more on the task at hand each day. The simple act of actually writing it all down, frees your mind from all of that mental clutter!
- CHOOSE: Once you have exhausted everything you can think of, choose 3-4 of the most important projects to focus on. The rest will not be touched or even thought about until some of these have been completed….really…completed.
- SMALLEST NEXT STEP: Now, take those 3 or 4 projects and break each one down into its smallest possible tasks. For example, I once heard a story of a woman who had boxes of books cluttering up her home. One of her top projects was to get the books onto a bookshelf. She thought her smallest net step was to purchase a new bookcase. When she was handed a smartphone and instructed to make the purchase, she said she couldn’t because she needed to measure the space intended for the bookcase to be sure her purchase would fit. Yet, when asked if she could measure the space right now, she responded that she could not because she didn’t have a tape measure. So, finally her smallest next task was revealed; she needed to borrow or purchase a tape measure. Borrowing a tape measure is such a small and simple task that it would feel silly NOT to do it when it is put on your to do list. That’s the goal, break your big impossible projects down into such tiny simple tasks that it would be silly for you to not do it.
- GROUPING: As your smallest next steps or tasks are identified, you can begin to group like things together…but maybe not in any way that you’ve done it before. You’re not going to group wife tasks with wife tasks, mom tasks with mom tasks, etc. Oh no! You are going to make some real progress. Instead of that old way of grouping things together, I want you to start grouping things according to the location or circumstances under which you will be able to work on them. Do you need to be outside your home, is it something you can do on your phone when waiting in your car or another place away from home? Maybe you need to focus on it while the children are asleep (nap time or bedtime…maybe not both) or maybe you need your spouse or some other co contributor to be with you. The beauty of grouping things this way is that anytime you find you have a few minutes; you can quickly reference your task to focus on by referring to these lists.
- Stay consistent with only focusing on your top 3-4 projects (this bears repeating!) Keep plugging away on the steps you have identified and the next thing you know, you’ll be scratching your first project off of your list!
Remember to stay fluid and flexible. If you live with other humans, things may not always work out per your plan. It really is going to be OK. Just take a breath, adjust, and move on. I often get bent out of shape by my children derailing my plans as I envisioned them (why do I even make plans anymore???) but almost every time, the task still gets accomplished even if just a little more slowly than intended.
Just a few more tips to help you get started:
- Say NO to offers, events, and things that aren’t going to help you toward your goal. (Notice I say ‘help’, in times like you’re in right now, if it isn’t helping, it’s a detriment and you just don’t need it.
- Plan for tomorrow before the end of today. I like to keep a simple notebook or planner with a list of daily tasks. Often the last task I do before I turn in for the night is to create my to do list for the following day. This helps me to hit the ground running (or dragging myself depending on how well the baby slept) in a meaningful direction first thing in the morning before the coffee grounds are even in the filter.
- Accept Help! Actually, it’s so important to accept help that I want you to seek help! This may be difficult for you as it still is for me but it is so necessary. Turn the clock back decades or generations ago and people didn’t do things on their own. The community pulled together to ensure everyone had everything they needed. I believe that if we make the effort, we can begin to build community around ourselves again. Besides, isn’t weeding the garden a lot more fun with friends?
I hope you have found this helpful and I hope that we can hang out again sometime! Come along with me as I discover all the things. Afterall, doesn’t everything in life pass through the kitchen? Click here to get more right in your inbox.
Simplify meal time
Breakfast, for example, can be made more simple if you swap a traditional batch of pancakes with my Pancake Bake in Oven. No more standing over the skillet for an hour. Mix it up, and let the oven do the rest! More on meal planning to come. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out!
Do you have a desire to live more of a homesteader type of lifestyle? Check out the Homestead Anywhere ebook collaboration between 15 creators like me.
Another great ingredient to have available for all that good scratch cooking? Make Buttermilk at Home.
Interested in reducing plastics in your home? Check out my post of Reasons to Use Wooden Spoons and Other Kitchen Utensils HERE.
If you like DIY projects for things you’ll actually use, learn how to make your own wood tool butter.
Great reminders! I definitely need to work on some of the things you talked about, like simplifying meals and only working on 3-4 things instead of the entire list! Thank you so much!!!
Great post and great tips! I guess we all need to come back to this whenever life feels overwhelming <3!