Modern*Simplicity

Creating a Life Free From Chaos

7 Steps to Create a Simple Lifestyle

Summer is here, and with kids home from school, many parents are feeling the crunch of crazy-busy, trying to keep the kiddos occupied while also managing their normal jobs, bills, housekeeping, and of course, the daily “what’s for dinner” debacle. Maybe there’s even a bit more money stress than usual, between extra childcare costs while you’re working, or that amazing summer vacation you want to take with your family.

Even if you don’t have kids, you might be feeling that summer longing of “wanna chill but got too much to do.” Plus the stress of higher summer gas prices (and a/c costs!), and the realization that you  forgot to do the spring cleaning. (I know I did. Oops.)

Maybe it’s time to take a look at how you can redesign your life a bit to alleviate the time crunch, the hurricane o’stuff, and that overwhelming feeling that comes with too much month at the end of the money. Here are 7 steps you can start taking today towards creating the simple life you’re craving.

What’s Your Why?

Why do you want to simplify? Is your home a chaotic mess? Do you feel like you need to reduce waste and put a stop to overconsumption? Is your calendar shrieking under the pressure of too many commitments you don’t even care about? Are you longing for a more intentional life that puts the focus on what matters most? Write down your why, and refer to it often. It’ll serve as a reminder of why you’re putting in the effort to simplify and make it easier to focus on your goal.

Decide What Simplicity Looks Like to You.

There’s a misconception that the simple life is somehow less. It’s not — simplicity is about cutting out what doesn’t matter to make the space for what does matter. It’s not a competition to see who can have less stuff. Find ways to make simplicity work for you, and don’t compare your simple to someone else’s simple. My husband’s idea of simple is to cut out commitments so he can spend more time with the Boy Scouts — hanging out with our sons and being out in nature. It also involves more camping gear and additional “stuff” than I prefer, but it’s what makes them happy, so it’s all good. I have a chronic illness, so my ideal simple life involves minimizing tasks that aren’t necessary and keeping a decluttered, organized home so I can spend my limited energy on the things that really matter to me. Each person’s simple is going to be different, and that’s perfectly OK!

Start a Snowball Effect

No matter how big your goals are, you’ve got to start small. Drop one commitment off your calendar. Clear out one closet. Pick one new organic veggie to try. Spend 15 minutes doing some yoga. Recycle a box of paper. Spend 10 minutes reviewing your calendar and to-do list each evening. Create a snowball effect of small actions leading to bigger changes.

Create Joy

If you’ve read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” you know all about the concept of keeping what sparks joy. You can apply this to your stuff, but you can also apply this your time commitments, to-do list, and spending habits. No, paying bills may not “spark joy,” but not bouncing checks and having enough in the bank to fill the car with gas goes a long way to making me happy. Think of ways you can create joy in your life, whether it’s removing or delegating a task from your to-do list that you’ve been dreading, getting rid of that shirt that just doesn’t quite fit right, or adding in a coffee date with a good friend.

Make a Distinction Between “Want” and “Need”

You need less than you think. I learned this the hard way after a house fire in January. As you’re decluttering your home, or whenever you’re out shopping, ask yourself, “can I live without this?” Chances are good the answer is yes. Needs are needed — they’re the necessities. Wants are discretionary. You can pick and choose what brings you joy now, what you can use, what you don’t need anymore, and what can wait until another time. Learn not to confuse a want with a need.

Be Intentional with Your Schedule

A simple life is about more than just how much stuff you have. Creating your ideal life also involves being intentional with your schedule, and cutting as much fluff as you can. Are there tasks or commitments you need to let go of? Unnecessary meetings that can be canceled? Getting rid of the excess in your schedule can make your days much more peaceful. It’s not just about deleting though. Would a standing date with your significant other bring you joy? Schedule it. Has it been too long since you’ve seen your BFF? Set up a lunch date. I work from home, and I was getting into the habit of working all the time. I recently starting blocking off Sundays for family time — few chores, no work, just rest and fun stuff with my husband and kids. Do you need to block off time for yourself too?

Create a Culture of Gratitude

Less stuff, more time, the freedom to do what matters most to you — creating your ideal simple life can be amazing! But what truly makes it wonderful is cultivating an authentic sense of gratitude, from being thankful for good health and great friends, to appreciating a well-made item that earns its spot in your home and having the margin to volunteer for a cause close to your heart. When letting go of things you no longer need, spend a moment in gratitude that you had those things in your life, and then let them go. Then look with a grateful heart toward what you’re building next.

Have you read my free ebook, 101 Ways to Simplify Your Life? Get it here!

11 Replies

  1. great post, the last section is what I need to work on – gratitude. I’m grateful for your blog (see that? It’s already working….)

    Blessings,
    Phil

  2. I love the “create joy” tip. I often forget that those annoying, painful tasks tend to sap joy until they’ve received attention (or, better yet, are finished). Thank you!

    1. They may seem joyless, but you do feel much better when they’re done!

  3. Hi Sandy,
    Right now I’m on a break from cleaning out a little corner in my house and I just had to go through a few of these but especially determining need and want. I don’t need two sets of dishes that have never been used; but I wanted to keep one 🙂
    Thanks for sharing

  4. Sandy, I’m sorry to hear about your house fire! Wow. Your words about making the distinction between want and need come with a sense of gravity and grace. Thank you.

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  7. I love the idea of applying Marie Kondo’s idea of keeping whatever “sparks joy” to our schedules! This is such a great help. Thank you.

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