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6 steps to simplify your life in 2011

Jan 13th, 2011 | Category: Skills

by Claire Davis

Simplifying your life really means to add more enjoyment. From enjoying the outdoors and growing something, or to volunteering for an organization and having more social time with those you care about, there is plenty of potential for a better life in 2011. PHOTO by CLAIRE DAVIS

Simplify. Its definition is “to make less complex or complicated.” A lot of people are feeling the need to do this these days, to simplify, but it seems some people just don’t know where to start. Some people are using applications via their phones and computers to try and “simplify” – such as applications to get rid of the clutter in their closet or have their life’s calendar at the touch of a button. But to be plain and honest, simplify means to enjoy life more. To simplify means to some degree (however much you would like) to opt out of the complex, fast-paced world and examine what is most important to you. To simplify means to live better, in all ways of the word. You don’t need a high tech application to help sort it out for you, just take a look at your life and examine what you’d like to change. What can be better? What should be better? What has to stay? What should go?
Here are six ideas to help get you started. Ideas that are not so much “ideas” rather ideals and ways of life, each bringing you closer to simpler living.

Eat healthy, eat together

It may just be a meal to some people, but eating together, and eating healthy, is one of the best changes you can make towards simpler living. The reason is this: it’s perhaps the most important hour of the day.

Having a healthy, home-cooked meal together at the family table requires you to work together, to cook together, to be together. Family mealtime is a time for you to connect, sitting down with delicious, nutritious food.

For those who live alone, connect as much as you can at social events such as potlucks and community nights. It is important to have time with others over meals and value each person’s time and efforts.
Live within your means

Too often people go beyond their budgets, or don’t even bother to budget. To simplify, one must live within their means. Be honest about how much money is coming in and out of your household, and how much of it is being spent properly. A good idea for anyone is to keep track of your monthly expenses, down to the penny of what you purchased. At the end of the month, total it out with details of where that money was spent and what you received in return. Outline your living expenses and look at the remaining money. What is most important to you in these expenses? What items could you live without? Were there any expenses that you had that were absolutely not necessary and caused you stress? Omit those. At the end of the year, take that money that would have been spent and instead spend it on something enjoyable. What do you enjoy?

Grow, make or raise something

There’s always room to grow, make or raise something. Caring for another living thing, whether an animal (cat, dog, chicken, goat, etc.) or a plant (flower, vegetable garden, etc.), or creating something from scratch with your own hands  allows you to focus your efforts on something else. The care you provide for that living thing nurtures it to its fullest potential. The care you put into the item you have created brings out a talent of yours other people do not possess. You have given something good of yourself that will in turn provide goodness for you – maybe it’s food on the table, maybe it’s wet kisses from a dog, or maybe it’s an art project.

What would you like to do? Seek out what interests you most and head in that direction.

Turn it off, tune out

Technology has a place in our lives, and is often helpful. But sometimes there is a need to tune out and shut off the television, internet, cell phone, video games, etc. Ask anyone about their time spent on a computer, for example, and they will tell you (if speaking honestly) that they spend more time than they need or should. Some things become too much of a distraction and take away from actual living. What you thought would be 10 minutes on the computer has become 30 minutes, or longer. What could you have been doing in that time? Played with the kids, gone for a walk or exercised, read a book, had a cup of tea, talked with your significant other while holding their hand.

Just as you will do with your budget, look at your time spent on the phone, the computer, video games. Does it bring you significant happiness and connections? If it doesn’t, move on to something that does. Move away from distractions and towards actions. It will most definitely help.

Get rid of the junk
Too much stuff. Does this apply to your household? If it does, it’s time to take that stuff out of the house and spread it around. Have too many clothes? Pack up what you don’t need and give it away to a charity, or simply drop it off at Goodwill or another organization that takes items.  What about old computers, TVs, radios or other tech items? If you have outdated or broken items, donate them to someone who could use them, or recycle them. Spring cleaning is on the horizon, so when you’re under the sink wiping away winter’s grime from the cracks and crevices, look to the junk drawers, closets, and storage spaces as well. Those probably need a cleaning too. You’ll feel a whole lot lighter, and in the end make space for something of meaning.

Be on the move

Exercise is an important part of your overall health. Perhaps you enjoy hiking, biking, boating, or just walking – whatever it is, head outside for a while and get moving. You’ll feel better.

In the same vein, consider volunteering for a community organization you feel strongly about. Spend a set amount of time each month dedicated to the cause – maybe one hour per week or five hours per month.  Your time and care will mean a lot to the organization, but what it will do for you will be even greater. You’ll see.

2 Comments to “6 steps to simplify your life in 2011”

  1. Lynn Baber says:

    Excellent post. As baby boomers age the search for, or to recover, simplicity is growing rapidly. Your suggestions are simple (!) and draw a nice parallel between having less of what isn’t important and finding more of what is.

  2. What great suggestions! We had a budget crisis that gave us the opportunity to examine our food buying strategies, eliminate waste and still create meals made with locally produced foods. Every Monday is “The Soup Project” on my blog with a tasty budget-friendly, earth-friendly vegetarian soup.

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