Editor’s Note: Please Welcome Amanda Tradwick to the pages of Beautiful Summer Morning. Your feedback on this article is appreciated. Just go to the end of the article and click on the comments button and let us know what you think about the article. Did it help you simplify your life? Nick
8 Steps to a Simpler Life
by Amanda Tradwick
No matter how hard we wish, there will never be a magic button that simplifies our lives. No potion will slow down time. No wand will wave to de-clutter our closets. No enchanted word will rid us of junk mail. It’s up to us to simplify our lives.
The task seems impossible given how busy we already are. But take a breath and remember: baby steps. While these steps may not be easy in execution, they are quintessential in simplifying our everyday routine.
- Use your calendar. Or smartphone. Or chalkboard. Whatever it is that contains your to-dos and weekly reminders. Your calendar is the helm by which you steer your life. Make a space on your nightstand and time to write or type in it before bed. Come morning, you know exactly what you have to do today. No missed appointments, no being late for picking up the kids, no late assignments.
- Learn to say “no.” One of the easiest ways to clear up more time for the family, for exercise, or for work is to say “no” to all the things we already want to say “no” to, like co-workers’ dinner parties or shopping with the mother-in-law. It’s difficult to disappoint people, but think of it this way: every time we say “yes” to something or someone less important, we’re saying “no” to something or someone more important. Our calendars will also help to keep our priorities straight.
- De-clutter. Make a day this week that’s free of all out-of-the-house obligations. Go to a single room of your house with a trash bag. Pull out all the things you haven’t used or worn in a year from every cabinet, drawer, and closet. Put them into the bag. Seal the bag so you can’t change your mind. Drive to the nearest thrift store or Goodwill and drop off the bag. Don’t turn back.
Take one day the next week and repeat the process with one other room. Going room by room of the house will take weeks, but it’s better than having the entire house turned upside down for a month.
- A place for everything, and everything in its place. Now that we have fewer things, we have more space to put things where they belong. Create a place for your keys—put a hook in the door, a bowl on a table, a tray by the shoes. Repeat the process for other things that tend to go missing, like phones, checkbooks, and remote controls.
The hardest part of this is keeping it up—over time, we tend to revert to old habits and throwing phones into pockets and coats onto floors and phones into—oh, no—washing machines. We must make orderliness a habit through repetition.
- Have a cleaning day every week. Every Sunday morning after breakfast, enroll the whole family into cleaning. This way, clothes stay in closets and not in piles on the floor. Keys and phones stay in their trays by the shoes. Our purses and bags aren’t full of grocery receipts from last month. The dog’s bed doesn’t smell like a barn. Making organization a ritual that we feel bad for skipping is the tough love approach to making orderliness a habit. If the kids get tired of being stuck with the same job every week, rotate chores.
- Stop junk mail. We now have fewer things and things are where they should be. Keep unwanted things out of the house, like junkmail, but signing up for a program like www.41pounds.org. It stops 90% of junk mail from invading your mail box within 90 days. This means less temptation and smaller recycling piles.
- Save money by going green. Pay less on energy bills by replacing all incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). They use up to 75% less energy! Get into other green habits like turning off unused lights, unplugging unused electronics (and eliminating ghost energy), and turning off the water when brushing teeth.
- Separate work and play. If we work from home, we need to demarcate work time and play time. One of the simplest ways of doing this is creating separate profiles on our computers—one that has all our work files and Internet favorites, and the other for Facebook, blogging, and browsing. Making work time more productive leaves us with more time for play.
About the author:
Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for CollegeGrants.org. She has a Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Delaware, and has recently finished research on grants for black women and rhode island education grants.
- Do You Want A Simpler Life? (kevinwmccarthy.com)
- 40 Little Lessons to Simplify Life (inspiredeverymoment.wordpress.com)
- Four Simple Ways to Start Creating New Habits + Routines (creativeorganizing.typepad.com)
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