Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Best Ways I've Simplified My Life

I want 2017 to be the year of simplicity for people; the year of cutting clutter out of their lives.  I feel like it's something a lot of people are telling me they want to do this year.  My mom, John's mom, John's cousin, 2 of my nearby friends, all have expressed a desire for me to come over and help them declutter their hot spots.  I've seen it floating around the internet too, on various blog posts and Instagram pictures.  Now whether that means more people on the whole are wanting simplicity and minimalism in their lives or whether it's just a confirmation basis because I attract such an audience online and off, I will never know.  I think the fact that that minimalism documentary hit Netflix and has been watched a ton is definitely pushing more people in that direction.

But regardless, simplicity works so well for me that it makes me want to encourage it to as many people as possible.  Because the lifestyle it's the exact opposite of?  Stress and busyness.  Probably a lot of people are thinking right now 'you have 10,000 goals lists, how can your life be simple?' but that's the beauty of it.  I have and accomplish a lot of my goals because I've simplified so many other areas of my life that I freed up time to check things off my various 'this matters to me' lists.  It's been a journey to get to the point I'm at now, as minimalist as I am, but there's been a few big things that I've simplified that I think have been really key.

I'm still constantly simplifying everything I can, so this list isn't yet complete.  But for now, here's the best ways I've simplified my life.  Maybe they can work for you this year, if that's your goal.

My wardrobe, plain and simple

You want to see results, start in your closet.  It sounds too easy to make a real difference but I promise you it does.  And I don't think you need to get to my particular level of capsule wardrobe to experience the benefits for yourself.  Since downsizing (even before the significant decrease to the level I'm at now), not only is my closet cleaner and more organized, it's helped simplify my life in other ways too.  It takes less time to get dressed for any occasion.  I can find everything.  I spend less money on random shopping, and shopping is faster because I know exactly what needs replacing.  It's faster to do laundry, and it gets done more often because I don't have a bunch of backup clothes hanging out in my closet, so gone are the days of spending an entire Sunday doing 12 loads of laundry.  It's also personally easier because I got rid of anything fussy.  If it can't go in the wash on a regular cycle and then into the dryer (or hung, I hang dresses to dry), it has no place in my closet.  I feel better about what I'm wearing all the time, because everything fits and nothing is itchy or uncomfortable.  Downsizing the wardrobe has freed up time and mental space on so many levels so I think if you're craving real results, fast, start there.  It's not always easy - you have to take out everything and assess each piece, and be honest with yourself about what you actually need at this time in your life - but it's worth it and if you do it right, you only need to do it once.

Let go of hobbies I didn't actually like

Scrapbooking comes to mind!  I don't even know why I ever thought scrapbooking was a good hobby for me.  Even before I started on a mission to ban all clutter (which scrapbooking supplies are, an overwhelming pile of paper and sticker clutter), I never liked crafting and I've always been too much of a perfectionist to make things I'd ever want to display or look at again.  It wasn't a hobby; it became an expensive waste of time, because it just stressed me out and I never liked the end product.  It was a good day when I got rid of all of those related supplies, and dumped the half worked on books I never enjoyed looking at.  If you have a hobby you used to love but don't anymore, be it scrapbooking, baking, tennis, etc. just donate the supplies and be done with it.  You'll feel lighter.

Let go of collections, and the idea that I even needed 'stuff' like that

I had a bunch of shot glasses and I don't know why - I hate shots.  Most didn't even have a sentimental attachment other than the fact that I swiped it from a local bar in college.  So I gave them all away.  I also consider 'collections' to be all of the DVDs I had, which I got rid of almost all of in one go as well.  Other people enjoyed the fact that I had all the seasons of Gilmore Girls and Dawson's Creek and Laguna Beach on DVD, but did I?  Not really.  I had massive amounts of movies and TV shows that I would absolutely never watch again.  And the ones I was interested in, I knew I could easily find if I really felt the need to see them in that moment.  I haven't once missed anything in these 'collections' that I had been toting around for years.  Are you like Sookie?  Did you once mention you liked frogs and suddenly your whole world became frog figurines and frog jewelry?  Let it all go.  Feel free to keep one or two favorites, if you love the reminder, but in my experience, it's better to take a photo and free the actual physical items to a new, loving home.  Open space and surfaces look so nice and really help your home feel cleaner.  And not caring for a collection frees up more time than you think, just in not having to clean it alone!

Stopped the social media madness

It is, it's madness.  I can declutter and organize physical things all day long, but it's only one component to simplifying life.  An even bigger component than your decluttered surroundings?  Your mental status.  For as much as I love my minimalist home, the single greatest thing I've ever done to simplify my life was to quit Facebook.  Yes, the single greatest thing.  Facebook is drama.  And a huge time suck.  It always has been.  It's political drama, family drama, relationship drama, friend drama, dear lord - it's all stuff that I didn't care about and that absolutely doesn't matter.  People still ask why I don't have Facebook.  You want to know why, really?  Because I'm an adult.  I'm not spending my time worrying about what other people are doing, and I'm not spending time wishing people I haven't talked to since high school a happy birthday.  This does not just apply to Facebook - I dropped Snapchat when it got to be a pain, and I don't plan on checking Twitter much at all this year.  I still enjoy Instagram and Pinterest, but the moment they becoming anything but fun, I won't hesitate to drop them too.  I encourage everyone to quit Facebook but if not, drop any one social media and see your time free up.  Better yet, for one day, track how much time you spend on social media.  Down to the minute.  You'll be appalled.  If the time you get back isn't enough to convince you, try a weekend without checking whichever outlet currently stresses you the most and watch your mood improve.

Not everyone needs as much simplicity in their lives as I do; I happen to function better when my surroundings are clean and minimal, but some people prefer pretty artwork or lots of gadgets in the kitchen for their coffee. There's no right or wrong way, it's about finding the best balance for you. But I'm guessing that you're reading this because something is overwhelming you at the moment and you want a simpler 2017, in which case, I hope you'll try out something from this list. Tell me in the comments what has worked for you in the past and what you're looking forward to trying this year!

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