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Realistic Ways to Simplify Your Life

Simplify Your Life

After my parents passed away, my siblings and I had to empty the four-bedroom home they’d lived in for over 30 years. It was an exhausting and emotional process.

I swore I would never make my children go through the difficult task of removing years of belongings from my home. So what did I do then? I moved things from my parent’s home to my house! What was I thinking? Grief can do that to a person.

Not long after, I married a wonderful man with his own houseful of things. So, for the past 9 years I’ve been telling myself to purge and simplify my life…with limited success. We have a total of 12 children and soon-to-be 21 grandchildren between the two of us, so our life is far from simple.

It seems every week we say “we’re too busy” and “we have too much stuff!”

It has gotten so bad, that I hate going down to our basement. Seeing all that stuff is overwhelming. We agreed we have to get rid of things (including distractions) and we’ve made attempts, but have a long way to go.

Mary's basement

The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week and you’re no doubt thinking I’m the wrong person to write this post, but if good intentions count, I am. This is important to me.

I really do want to make my life simpler.

Maybe I’m finally ready to give it all I’ve got.

What does it mean to simplify your life?

Do you have to become a minimalist? (Right now that’s rather appealing!) Must you get rid of everything? Not necessarily.

But simplifying your life is more than just getting rid of things. So much more.

We all face demands on our lives. Family, friends, work, and volunteer opportunities beckon daily. They take up space and time in our lives, physically and mentally. The more stuff you have, the more it needs to be cleaned, organized, etc., and the more commitments you have, the more stressed you get.

Stress support supplements are some of our biggest sellers. No surprise. People’s lives are far more stressful than they used to be. There must be a better way.


How do you simplify all that?

Simplifying your life is as much about clearing your head as it is the clutter in your home. How we think about things – the fears, attitudes, emotions, and ideas attached to them – requires just as much attention as the physical “stuff” that takes over our lives.

So my purpose isn’t to give you snappy ways to de-clutter and organize your life; there are plenty of resources for that and I’ve linked to a few below. My purpose is to provide a little motivation to help you get started. Rather, to help myself get started and hopefully give you a little incentive, too.

Digital clutter

Is technology overwhelming your life? Things designed to make life more efficient seem to suck up our time and attention. Who would have thought we’d be dealing with digital and cyber clutter? I used to whine about managing my inbox (still an issue, I might add!) and now I have to deal with Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn®, and others I probably don’t even know about. Do you struggle, too?

Yes, I’ve been a digital hoarder – I think I should save everything. Not anymore.

Are your computer files a mess? Do you feel compelled to save documents? Will you ever look at it again? Will you remember where you filed it? If the answer is no, then don’t save it.

What about the gadgets?

Cell phones, iPads®, Kindle®, iPods and more, fill our lives (and our brains) with more clutter and distractions.

Do you really need to take so many pictures?

Our camera is full of pictures we never get developed and now we have smart phones. It seems I take pictures of everything now. Surely people are dying to see the chicken we befriended on our trip to Door County!

Before you snap another picture, ask yourself :

  • Is someone else taking the same picture? Can you get it from them if you need it?
  • How many of the same picture do you need to take?
  • Will you actually do something with the picture? If not, let it be.

Have you ever wondered, “What if the grid goes down and I can’t access all that information on the web? Or heaven forbid, what if you can’t access or Pinterest anymore? Whatever will you make for dinner?!

Truth be known, if a solar flare hits and the grid goes down, I’ll have a lot more on my mind than a tuna casserole recipe!

Do your kids really need all those toys?

If you’re a parent, you know the quandary. Kids are barraged with materialistic messages. TV ads and cereal boxes, fast food meals and of course, the electronics, all scream “buy me – you need me!”

Most recently in our family it was Disney Frozen mania – my granddaughters were smitten with all things Frozen. Fortunately, they have creative and thrifty parents who improvised and didn’t succumb to purchasing too many things.

Is it hard for you to say no to your kids? Do you think you’re depriving them if you do? Here’s a helpful post from Becoming Minimalist that may help: Why Fewer Toys Will Actually Benefit Your Kids.

A friend of mine made her children get rid of something every time they got something new. Good idea!

Toys can pose a problem for grandparents, too! My husband helps me resist the urge to buy things for our grand kids (even at rummage sales). They come up with all sorts of creative ideas at our house.

It’s good to challenge children’s creativity!

I hereby commit to simplify my life. To de-clutter, purge and let go!

Examine your motives

If you can step back and observe the choices you make, you may find there’s an emotional connection or some insecurity behind it. It may also involve your motives.

Whenever I’d ask my mother for advice, she would wisely say, “Examine your motives.” So when making a decision about something, I try to ask myself these questions:

  •  Do I really need this (fill in the blank) or am I holding on because of an emotional attachment? (That’s okay sometimes, when you’re ready, you’ll let go.)
  • If I say no to someone, am I afraid I’ll disappoint them or let them down? If they’re really a friend, they’ll understand.
  • Am I just doing this to please someone? Wanting to make someone happy is great, but if you’re the codependent type, this can be a problem.
  • Will this be good for all involved? Sometimes saying no is the simplest and best thing to do. When you say no to a request, you may force someone to assume responsibility for themselves (translation: Don’t be an enabler!) You may also open a door for someone else to step in and meet the need.

It’s best not to get in God’s way.

Why do you buy?

If you’re out shopping, ask yourself:

  • Is this a want or a need?
  • Am I buying it to fill an emotional need?
  • Can I really afford it?
  • How often will I use it?
  • Can I borrow one from someone?

What should you get rid of?

It’s easy to think you’re going to need something you haven’t used in ages, for those “just in case” or “what if” moments.

  • Have I used this item in the last year or six months?
  • Will I miss it?

(Cue the song “Let It Go!” from Frozen.)

Remember all the things I brought home from my parents house? As my grief subsided, I kept what meant the most, and let go of the rest. Be gentle with yourself – if you need to hold on a little longer, do it. This isn’t a test!

Take baby steps.

I’m going to start working on my basement tomorrow.

I hereby commit to simplify my life. To de-clutter, purge and let go!

Ready? Set… Go!

If you’ve been successful making your life simpler – please share how you did it in the comments section below. Someone I know will be very grateful.

Resources and References:

How to Escape Being Too busy to Get Anything Done

10 Tiny Tasks to Declutter Your Home

31 Days to Decluttered

Clear cyber clutter from your life

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One Response to Realistic Ways to Simplify Your Life

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