You hear a morning alarm on your phone. It makes you angry. You press a snooze button a few times. Finally, you get up and rush to get ready for work. You get annoyed that yet again ‘you don’t have what to wear’ even though there is no free space in your wardrobe left. Sometimes you have time for a bowl of sugary cereal but usually you just grab a coffee on a go. And then you arrive to work. You are busy. Busy with your work, busy checking social media pop-ups on your phone screen, busy being social with your co-workers. All at once. Time for a quick lunch you bought on a way to work. Eating on your desk, of course, because you are super busy. And don’t forget a strong coffee and something sweet in the afternoon to keep you going until it’s time to go home. Finally, you’re on a train. Standing in an overcrowded carriage with no fresh air, and sweating. Does it count as exercising at least? You get a ready-meal at your local supermarket for a dinner. Eating it in front of TV and scrolling through social media at the same time. You cannot wait for a weekend to relax and sleep as much as you can, and watch more TV. Oh, but you’ll have to do all the home chores on a weekend as well. Life isn’t fun and you constantly feel exhausted.
Okay, it doesn’t apply to everyone, but I do believe that many people can relate to this, more or less. But life can be simpler. And by simpler I don’t mean more boring. Simple life is meaningful and interesting, and happy, and productive (not busy!). To be honest, I think that’s what we all crave deep down inside – simplicity.
Think what things are important to you and bring you joy or serve a purpose. You don’t need 6 jeans or 40 tops to look good. Be honest with yourself – you are not wearing most of them. We all have our favourite clothes in which we feel comfortable. Identify them and donate or sell the rest. It will be much easier for you to decide what to wear in the morning because all your clothes will be the ones you feel good in – just grab any!
Finished to read a book? Pass it to a friend or donate. Let someone else to get value from it. Don’t hold on things you are not going to use again. Check your junk draw – why do you need all those wires you don’t even know what they are for? Why you need 2 bottle openers? Do you ever have 20 guests at once? No? So why do you have 20 mugs then?
When we are surrounded by many stuff, it weights us down. It requires our time and attention – think laundry, organising, tidying up, maintaining, replacing – that time we could spend for activities that make us really happy.
And think about electronic clutter as well – social media feed you don’t care about but still scrolling day after day, or commercial emails you’re sorting out so you can find important things in your inbox.
To declutter doesn’t mean to deprive yourself. It is about detachment. As The Minimalists say at the end of each of their podcast episode, “Love people and use things. Because the opposite never works”.
STOP BEING BUSY
Being busy and being productive is not the same. You can watch Netflix whole day and be busy. Or you can do things that help you grow as a person – reading, gaining new experience, working on a side project, having a conversation with an inspiring person, watching documentary or a talk – that’s productive. Set your priorities right. Do things that make you happy. Hang out with positive and uplifting people. Avoid drama and toxic friends. No matter how long you know this person, by being willing to let go of a toxic relationship or friendship, you are allowing a new and healthy one to take a place in your life.
Reduce your goals to one at the time, so you can put all your energy into it and finish it earlier with better results. Having a list of goals usually means you will fail to achieve at least a few of them. That increases your stress and reduces your confidence.
Track your time for a couple of days. Identify what do you spend it on mostly and write it down. Now, make another list of things that matters to you most in life and makes you happiest. Do those two lists match?
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’, is like saying, ‘I don’t want to’. /Lao Tzu
Routines might sound boring but they can be very helpful to keep your life simpler and healthier. If you tidy up 10 minutes every day, you won’t have to spend couple hours on a weekend cleaning. If you make it a habit to exercise every day even if it’s just a stretching for few minutes, your body will start craving physical activity after a while.
Your morning routine can start just half an hour earlier than you normally wake up or a few hours before your day job starts and include writing, reading, meditating, doing a hobby, walking to work, exercising, having time for a healthy breakfast, or even a tidying up so you come home after work into a clean space. Most people can become a morning person pretty easily – the key is to do it gradually. If you usually get up at 8 am and you’ll try to get up at 6 am tomorrow morning, you definitely will feel tired and uninspired. Try to get up 10-15 minutes earlier for a few days or a week, and when your body adjusts, take off another 10-15 minutes, and so on. Oh, and a very important thing – go to sleep earlier too! You still need those 7-9 hours of sleep to regain energy. It’s so nice and quiet early in the morning! Give it a try.
Evening routine can be all about relaxing – listening to some music, cooking, reading, bathing, spending time with your partner, doing any crafts or playing an instrument.
All routines are very individual. And if someone gets up at 5 am and does 10 different things, it doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. Maybe for you it’s just having a slow morning with a coffee watching the sunrise, that gives you positivity and fills you up with energy for the day. Or maybe you thrive in the evening and enjoy a quiet time after midnight. It’s all up to you.
It is important to cook your food rather than buy ready-meals which are usually packed with sugars and preservatives. You don’t have to be a chef or spend two hours in a kitchen to have a home cooked dinner. Just steam some veggies, heat up some beans with a tin of chopped tomatoes, boil some brown rice or a whole grain pasta and mix everything together. And your dinner is ready! Stir-fry is even quicker and easier – just throw ingredients in a pan and a meal is ready in a few minutes.
If you don’t enjoy spending much time in a kitchen, try a meal prep. You can chop your veggies for the next 2-3 days and store in a fridge. Your veggies are ready to use so there is no excuse not to! Also, every time you cook make a larger portion so you can freeze leftovers.
We need a good nutritious food to have energy and feel satisfied. When we have energy, our willpower is stronger as well, and so is our confidence level. If we eat low nutrient-dense foods – like junk or processed foods – we most likely feel sluggish or even depressed. And to be honest, we can never truly live our life to the fullest if we feel this way.
I can write a twenty more pages about this topic. But the idea behind a simple living is easy: prioritise a few things that really matter to you, and reduce or eliminate everything else. However, it seems that a lot of people don’t really know what matters to them. And as we grow and learn, the important things and priorities change too. So it is kind of on-going life project – keep checking with yourself what truly matters to you.
Lastly, you have to be willing to let go of what you are used to in order to have a simple and happy life.
I’m still on my journey to a simpler life. Who’s with me?