8 Steps to Simplify in Spring, 2019
“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials. ”
Spring is here! Tender green emerges from the warming earth, birdsong greets the morning, and once more we eat dinner while the sun still shines. In addition to the familiar itch to plant my feet in the rapidly-growing grass, my mind also anticipates spring yard sales, flea markets, and chances to snag a few bargains to add to my décor. It’s always satisfying to bring my treasures home, dreaming of how I’ll refurbish them and rearrange my current décor.
But, although the joy of the acquire, rearrange and refurbish feeds my hunter-gatherer instinct, I’ve come to realize that the end result actually looks like this: too much stuff and a time drain I can’t justify. We all know what happens to our psyche when we’re surrounded by an overabundance of stuff: emotional/mental/physical exhaustion & stress, sleep disturbances, reduced brain function and more. Everything just seems more complicated…stuff makes us feel like we’re even busier than we already are.
So, in an attempt to de-clutter, de-stress, and de-junk my own life, I’ve compiled a simple and relatively pain-free list designed to Spring Simplify even the most dedicated hoarder, hunter-gatherer, addicted shopper, décor junky, etc. It will take time and a little planning, but I believe that our love for clutter can be curtailed.
So here goes: your peaceful, less stressful, and more organized life awaits.
De-clutter, De-clutter, De-clutter
- Unsubscribe: Unused & unwanted email lists clutter our minds, make us feel like something/someone is waiting on our answer, and generally adds to our busy schedules. When you feel that your inbox finally resembles a Zen temple, remind yourself of the work it took to disengage yourself from the mindless chatter of junk-tech. Ahhhh…
- Reduce (Debt): Of course, it only makes sense to reduce our debt and buy wisely, but spending less means working less. Added bonus: fewer bills equal less time devoted to thinking about bills and less time devoted to sitting down to pay bills. Wow…Sign me up!
- Limit (TV, tech, contacts): Yes, even personal time with others. Yikes! No worries—you don’t have to cut off time with your mom, best friend or better half. Think of it this way: your brain has a finite amount of energy on any given day. Frivolous talk, meaningless chatter, and people-pleasing obligations are just plain stressful and expend precious brain-time. Practice (thoughtfully & respectfully) saying No. Remind yourself that you’re also allowing others the same calm that you’re granting to yourself.
- Plan (Meals): How do we juggle the basic necessity of food vs the time needed to prepare it? Planning goes a long way here. Plan for at least two sit-down meals per week. These “special meals” can be partially prepared ahead of time as can lunchbox meals for the kids and work. The itinerary for the remaining meals have two goals: healthy and easy to prepare: i.e., fiber, adequate protein/vitamins/minerals, and quick prep time. Fancy is out-of-style on the busy days. When budget allows, “Takeout Night” adds a no-dishes time-saving incentive. #Guilt-free&Happy 🙂
- Avoid (Excessive shopping): Buying things (stuff) is understandably tied to budget, a math equation of sorts. Buying (acquiring) = clutter and debt = stress. Limiting what we purchase buys us a less cluttered house (and mind), calmer attitude and less debt. We gain more time since we’ve less to clean and worry about (and we stop misplacing things too!). I feel better already! Whew…
- Chill: Worry is a pointless emotion some of us are hard-wired to experience more often than others. (I count myself in on this one.) I used to catch myself worrying about things I can’t control on an every-day basis. What I discovered: I can redirect those self-defeating thoughts. How? Our brains acquire knowledge and skill by practicing. Unfortunately, our grey matter doesn’t know the difference between positive and negative experience—it creates and reinforces pathways we do (or think) over and over. The same is true with negative thoughts. You may wonder why I’ve included worry into a post about clutter. Simple: worry is here because worry is clutter—complicated, time-consuming, expensive clutter. First, make steps to break the cycle (unlearn) of obsessive worry: Notice when the worry starts. When it does, redirect your thoughts to a positive memory, song, upcoming event—anything positive that stops the obsessive mental practice taking place in your head. This redirecting practice will seem difficult at first, but with time and practice, you’ll be on your way to retraining your brain to chill.
- Purge: This is a difficult one for me. Although I’m nowhere near being classified as a hoarder, I do love my décor and French farmhouse accents, slipcovered furniture and just about anything old. These comforts inspire and calm me. But, luckily enough, my internal “junk monitor” begins feeling complicated when my stuff reaches alert levels. But, I admit, there’s bit of a lag in the system. I usually end up “storing” the overflow before my alarm system alerts me. Enter the time issue: Purging, another time-consuming chore that I wouldn’t have to engage in if I didn’t overbuy in the first place. What to do? Well, I have a plan if you’re similarly inspired and calmed by the thought of checking out local barn sales, clearance sales and flea markets in search of treasures.
- Window shop: Many times, the atmosphere and décor/clothing/clearance eye candy satisfy our consumer hunting fix. No harm done.
- Buy, but remember step #’s 2 & 5: Purchase if it makes your heart sing (Joy!), but let careful, mindful, responsible be your guides.
Remember: As you progress in becoming mindful of too much stuff, you will recognize the feeling of being overburdened, overfull, complicated and stressed. Your goal will be less buying, therefore less purging.
- Detach: (in place of obsess): Just when you think these tips will have you on your way, you find yourself diligently focused on nailing each one. Please don’t overthink. I also tend to do this. Although these ideas are a great start, apply your own theme and allow them to bring you Joy, not detract from it. Detachment is one of the foundations of chill: If it’s undesired, unnecessary, cumbersome, or thorny (or over-priced), avoid it.
Remember: Simplicity is one of the cornerstones of Joy. Accomplishing it should be relatively enjoyable (there’s that word again), calming, (eventually) and satisfying.
Let me know what you think of these tips. I invite you to share your thoughts on simplifying and de-cluttering your way to happiness. I’m all ears. 🙂
Happy de-cluttering. Let’s get going…