~Henry David Thoreau
Simple living. Two words but yet if I asked 100 women to tell me what is “simple living,” I probably would get about 100 different answers and all would probably include more than two words!
Simple living to me means intentionally slowing down to savor life because you have trimmed out the excess. It is keeping what I love and eliminating or cutting back on the rest. That includes the “stuff” in our lives. Whether it is physical clutter in our homes like too many clothes, toys, or gadgets, clutter on the calendar with busy schedules and activities, or clutter that causes stress such as credit card debt- all of this stuff keeps us in bondage from our priorities and from accomplishing our goals.
When we look at our goals and list priorities, we find what we love and is important to us. Everything else is the clutter and to live with simplicity, it needs to go!
Living a simple life is not something that can be done in a day and you are finished forever. It is a life-long, conscious process.
Here is a list of 12 ideas that can help you simplify. By simplifying and cutting back in one area, you will be gain in others. Some of these will apply ideas will apply to you, others might not. Simplifying is not about guilting you into throwing away your stuff or never buying another piece of clothing! Choose what works for you and aligns with your priorities and goals.
- Learn to say “no” to be able to give your best “yes.” If you struggle with not wanting to ruffle feathers or letting others down, this can be hard to do. However, when we can’t say no we can overwhelm ourselves. It isn’t best for anyone when we agree to serve on every committee, help with every organization, and volunteer for every charity event that comes up. Taking on project after project, hoping to get ahead can also cause you to be overwhelmed. When you are asked to serve on a new committee or take on a new project, take some time to evaluate each one and choose the best for you! By doing so, you will give your best and not just what is left over.
- Less Clutter=More Time. Do you spend hours doing laundry each week? Have you ever thought about eliminating all of the clothes in your closet that you never wear? Do your kids have more toys than they could possibly ever play with? Do you have make-up sitting in your drawer that you used once and will never use it again? Why is it still in the drawer and not in the trash? Wouldn’t life be simpler if you kept the make-up you use every day and get rid of everything else? What else could you get rid of that would save you time? The advantage of getting rid of the clutter is that by doing so, you will have more time to focus on what you love instead of wasting it on what you don’t.
- Less Multi-Tasking=More Focus. This applies to work and home tasks. I always thought that by doing multiple tasks at a time, I would get done faster and be more efficient. Yet, it seemed like I never got to the important things on my list like spending more time with my husband and friends. Our job list is never ending! If you focus on the most important to-do project, you will do it well. Then you can move on to the next item on the list.
- Less Worrying=More Happiness. By eliminating debt, time constraints, and excess clutter you can spend more time on what makes you happy. How would it feel to have a simplified home where you were comfortable inviting others over, didn’t worry about how your home looked, and could enjoy the company?
- Less Eating Out=Healthier Meals. Women are busy. In order to avoid eating out we need some tools to help us live a healthier lifestyle. One tool is to spend 15-20 minutes a week and create a meal plan. Take a look at your calendar and see what events are occurring this week. Can you plan ahead and use your slow cooker on a night where you don’t have much time to cook? How about making a double batch while you cook dinner tonight and freeze the second batch for a meal later on? Can you think of 5 meals that you can make under 30 minutes? All of these will help you on those busy days. A fun way to not have to cook each meal is trade a night with a friend or have a potluck with a group of friends once a week. When you simplify your other commitments, you will have time to do fun things like that!
- Less Activity=More Margin & Flexibility. When you cut out extra commitments you will have more time to do what you want. This time can be spent with the important things on your priorities list. Does an hour reading in the hammock sound good to anyone else?
- Less Comparing=More Contentment. Comparison is one ugly monster. Whether we are comparing what we have or don’t have, our weight to someone else’s weight, or how well-behaved one child is to another, it creates ugliness inside of us. Comparison needs to stop! It makes us miserable. It makes us unhappy. We will only be content when we are happy with ourselves and our surroundings.
- Less Debt/More Saving. If you want to have the freedom to live how you want, retire when you want, travel when you want, and to do what you want, you must be free of debt. By simplifying our lives, we let go of the stuff. We also quit buying stuff that isn’t on our priority lists and cluttering up our lives and draining our bank accounts.
- Speak less, listen more. How many times have you had a conversation with someone to look back later and not remember what you were talking about? By becoming a better listener, we are a better spouse, friend and parent. Relationships will grow! This costs nothing but focusing on the other person. I’m sure you would agree they are worth it!
- Less Greed/More Giving. About 3 years ago, we decided to sponsor a child from Compassion International. It costs $38 a month to sponsor our little boy, Luis. Luis is from Honduras and is just a bit older than our twins. He has 5 brothers and sisters. His favorite food is chicken. Our family has been richly blessed by this little boy that we will probably never meet, but that we are privileged to help out. I was very excited to get a letter from his momma telling me that the birthday money we sent him bought him a back pack and some necessities for the family. Giving rocks! One of my 5 year goals is to sponsor 5 children (the same amount of children we are blessed with) which would be $190 a month. I’ve told myself that if this blog ever gets large enough to sustain itself that I’d like to put the extra money into this goal. For some of you, $190 a month is attainable now. For others, the $38 isn’t in the budget. By cutting back on the excess, we are more freely able to give.
- Less Chaos/More Routines. If you are tired of feeling out of control when it comes to getting laundry done, getting kids in bed on time, or just balancing it all, I’d highly encourage implementing routines. (You can see 8 Smart Mom Tips To Save Your Sanity In The Morning here!)
- Less technology/more relationships. Between tablets, smart phones, and computers families are not interacting with each other, face to face as they have in the past. Family meals are interrupted by text messages and Facebook notifications. When I look around restaurants, it never fails that there is a couple both paying more attention to their phones, than they are to one another. When you meet your friend for lunch, is she talking to you or is she busy texting someone back on her phone? I’ve been guilty of doing some of these things, too. However, to have strong, healthy relationships there has to be some boundaries. Family relationships are suffering. When a wife feels like she isn’t important to her husband because he’s surfing the internet while they’re on a date, the relationship suffers. When a child can’t get mom’s attention because she’s busy on Facebook, relationships are suffering. By setting boundaries you will be able to have more meaningful conversations which strengthen relationships.
How do you define simple living?
Have you enjoyed what you read here today? Do you have friends or other women you know that could benefit from this resource? If so, please do me a favor! I have included the links below to share with other intentional women! They’ll be glad you did!