Today’s post is all about unpacking the specifics of what it means to simplify your life.
You’ve probably heard words like decluttering, simplifying, simple living, etc. tossed around plenty of times. But maybe you’re wondering, what does it actually mean to simplify your life?
One of the reasons a term like “simplify your life” can be a bit ambiguous, is because it can mean different things to different people.
Maybe you consider decluttering your home simplifying your life. But someone else might think simplifying your life is more about being intentional with how you spend your time.
And here’s the tricky part. Neither one is wrong! Those are both ways to simplify your life.
Simplifying your life can involve many different aspects and actions. And it’s one of those terms that can really mean whatever you want it to mean. Whatever definition helps you decide what’s important in your life, and what’s just adding clutter and distractions.
In today’s post, I’m sharing what I include when I think about simplifying your life. I hope it will inspire you to start thinking about ways you can simplify your own life. And help you feel confident continuing to work towards creating your version of a simpler life that works for you!
Simplify your life: what does it mean?
When I think of simplifying your life, I think of it as any actions or changes you’re making to remove distractions from your home and your life.
Basically, removing the clutter from your life.
But not just the physical items adding clutter to your home. Also, the things adding mental clutter, emotional clutter and clutter to your schedule.
And the reason removing these distractions is so important, is because it allows you to focus more on the things you value and that matter most to you. Including physical things you own, your relationships with people you love, how much time you have to devote to activities you love and more.
Simplifying your life is about removing the distractions to create time and space in your home and your life to focus on what matters most to you.
Two parts of simplifying your life
And to remove the distractions, I like to think of simplifying in two parts.
And the second part is removing the clutter from your time and your schedule. The unnecessary busyness that’s draining you, but not adding enough value back into your life, not serving you well or maybe even actually causing you harm.
Focusing on what matters most to you
Simplifying your life is about peeling back the layers of clutter, excess, distractions and busyness so you can clearly see what matters most to you.
And then making sure how you use your time, space and energy aligns with what matters most to you and what you value most.
There’s a lovely quote from Annie Dillard that sums this up perfectly. She says, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
It’s how you live on a daily basis that creates the sum of how you live your life. And who wants to look back on their life and realize they spent their days managing clutter, distracted by unnecessary busyness and stressed out??
Are you stuck in a cycle of busyness?
When you’re bogged down by clutter, distractions and busyness, it’s easy to miss what is most important to you. Or at the very least, find yourself distracted from it because you’re busy trying to keep up with the grind of daily life.
It’s almost like you get so stuck in the cycle of doing, doing, doing, that it’s easy to forget what you’re doing it all for!
Your days become a cycle of rushing to keep up, pick up, clean up, get here, get there, etc. And you end up robbing yourself of the opportunities to connect with the people you love, enjoy your home rather than just trying to keep up with it, and living a life that makes you feel good instead of slowing draining the life from you.
Simplifying your life to get out of a cycle of busyness & distractions
But the good news is, there is a way out of that kind of cycle. And that’s where simplifying your life comes in!
When you simplify your life, you intentionally take steps to remove the clutter, the excess, the busyness and the unnecessary distractions from your life.
And in the process, allow yourself the time, space and energy you need to focus on your priorities, your values and what matters most to you.
Simplify your life: start with the physical clutter
When you’re taking steps to simplify your life, it’s often easier to start by removing the physical clutter and distractions from your home.
Removing physical clutter means taking action with tangible items that you can see, pick up and make decisions about.
Decluttering your home does require some mindset work. Such as shifting your habits and patterns. Working to let go of attachments you may hold. And learning to appreciate the space you’re creating.
But in many ways clearing the physical clutter from your home can be more straightforward than clearing the clutter from your schedule, mental clutter you’ve been carrying for years, or old habits and limiting beliefs that feel ingrained in your life.
Clearing the physical clutter teaches you skills you can build on
And a wonderful side effect of clearing the physical clutter from your home first is that the more clutter you remove, the less time and energy your home takes to maintain. Giving you more time and energy to work on removing sources of mental clutter.
It also gives you visible, immediate results that show you the benefits of simplifying. When you clear the clutter, your home goes from overwhelming and chaotic, to simpler and more peaceful. And it shows you first hand the power of simplifying.
Decluttering your home of physical clutter is also a great chance to practice and get better at identifying and letting go of the things adding clutter to your life and not offering enough value in return.
Then you can use those skills and experiences of identifying and letting go of what’s not serving you well to start clearing intangible clutter and distractions filling your mind and your time next.
Simplify your life: your time, schedule and life
Once you have a little practice and have started experiencing the benefits of clearing the clutter from your home, it’s time to shift your focus to simplifying other areas of your life as well.
Start looking for the intangible places where clutter and distractions can hide.
Places like your schedule with too much to do and not enough time to do it all and keep your sanity intact. Or the never-ending mental to-do list that you’re always carrying around. Or even the areas of your life where you always feel two steps behind and never quite feel in control.
Start by pinpointing areas of stress
The best way to identify this intangible clutter is by asking yourself what’s adding the most stress to your life right now?
Is it meal planning? Too many obligations leaving you feeling drained? Keeping up with household chores? Wishing you had more time to spend with your kids, etc.?
You can’t fix it if you don’t know what needs fixing. So, start by identifying what’s not working in your life right now.
Also, notice what is working while you’re at it. What’s making you happy, filling your cup, helping you feel in control of your time and days, etc.?
Look for common themes or actions you’ve taken that make these aspects of your life work for you. This is a great way to inspire changes you need to make in other areas of your life.
Think of it as a life audit. Identifying what’s working, what’s not working, what do you need more of in your life, what do you need less of, etc.?
Then take action
Once you know what is and what’s not working, the next step is starting to take action to change what isn’t working.
This process is not always easy or fast. In fact, it’s most often a slow process of trial and error, trying different things to see what works best in your life.
Look at what’s currently filling your time and your schedule. Are you able to change, adjust or remove any commitments, activities or obligations that are adding more stress to your life than value?
Are there any new habits, routines or rhythms you can try to help your days run smoother?
What other ways might you be able to reduce the things causing stress, distraction and mental clutter in your life?
Remember, this can include big sources of stress and distraction, like a job that’s too stressful.
Or smaller sources of distraction, like things that take up your time when it could be spent in better ways aligning more with your values. For example, looking at the amount of time spent on social media or your phone, when you wish you had more time to spend with your family.
Simplify your life: what’s the point?
In the end, the goal of simplifying your life is what matters most.
The goal is to give yourself more time, space, freedom and peace so you can live a life that aligns with your values and allows you to focus on what you value most.
When you have fewer things adding clutter and distractions to your life, you have more time for what you value and for your priorities.
Adding space to your home and your schedule allows you to be more intentional about what fills your home and your days.
Simplifying and removing the clutter and distractions gives you the freedom to create a life you want to live, on your own terms. Putting you in control of what fills your time, space and schedule. Getting you out of the cycle of just surviving and giving you the opportunity to start thriving.
And finally, when you feel less frazzled, less stressed, have more time and feel more in control over where your time goes, you have the opportunity to live more peacefully. Intentionally choosing what fills your home and your days to make it work for you, rather than slowly sucking the life from you.
You no longer have to hustle to keep up. When you live in a way that aligns with your values and priorities, you have the opportunity to create a life you love.
And at the end of the day, that’s what simplifying your life means. Removing the clutter and distractions from your life to give yourself the time, space and freedom to create and live a life you love!