Simplifying your life often means incorporating minimalism. “Minimalism” can come across to people in many different ways. To me, minimizing for a simpler life doesn’t mean I have to live a 15-item lifestyle, pair down to living off of only a backpack and the objects inside of it, or that my house must be the stereotypical all white walls with 1 plant in the corner and only 2 pictures hung. While all of that can be considered a specific level of minimalism, I would say that’s a little bit extreme and for most of us, unrealistic.
Minimalism, “unbusying yourself”, simplicity, whatever you want to call it, is a way of life and not based around how many items you personally own or the way you decorate your house. To me, “minimalism” or “living simply” is all about choosing to live with less, decluttering or “minimizing” and only keeping what is truly useful and brings value to your life. So that you can live life with a clearer mind and focus on doing more of what you enjoy and what brings the most value to your life, rather than feeling burdened by so much all the time. Minimalism can look different for every person.
For most, minimalism looks like decluttering your home, but have you ever thought about how it can go even farther than that in other areas of your life? I believe in order for someone to truly live a fulfilling simpler life, minimalism should also affect all other areas of life such as relationships, your schedule, your finances and even your household items and food. I’m going to expand on each of these areas below in regards to how you can simplify these areas and curate a simpler, more peaceful & fulfilling life that works for you…so keep reading!
1. Your personal items, decor, clothes, etc.
When I first got really into the idea of living more minimally a few years ago, I minimized everything I owned. I decluttered through clothes, home decor, personal items, kitchen items, you name it. I went through each item and really thought about if that item is useful or really brings me value. If it didn’t, it was tossed. Of course, there were many times when I would keep things falling into the “just incase trap”, thinking I better hold onto it because I might need it someday. If you haven’t used something in the past year, let alone several years, it’s very likely you probably won’t ever and just don’t need it. It’s just cluttering your space. Pairing down my items to only what was useful and brought value to me felt so freeing. Not only did my space feel less cluttered but my mind mentally felt more clear and less stressed as well.
A common misconception with minimizing is that you only have to declutter once and then you’re good to go. Minimizing your belongings is often an on-going thing, it’s crazy how much stuff you can somehow accumulate in even just a year, without even trying. Especially if you have a husband and/or children living with you. Decluttering my home is something I do often and is needed atleast once or twice a year. However, if you’re pursuing a more minimal life, it’s important to be conscious about what you’re bringing into your home. Do you really need that item at Target that caught your eye? Do you really need to be ordering new clothes from your favorite boutique every month? Most often the answer is no!
It truly is sad the amount of “stuff” that makes it’s way into our landfills just because our society is overconsuming in this consumer-crazed world. How many times have you bought something that soon after you didn’t need anymore so you gave it away to a Goodwill? It may seem like we’re doing the right thing by donating our items to GoodWill, Salvation Army, or other donation centers. But more often than not as your items get sorted at those places lots of it doesn’t make it onto the sales floor because it’s junk that no one is actually going to buy. Therefore, it ends up in our landfills polluting the earth. This is why it’s so important to be intentional in our consumption and take to heart the old saying “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Our earth is desperately depending on us!
2. Your Relationships
We all need relationships in our life, it’s proven that having really great relationships is truly the foundation of a happy life, no matter what job you do, how much money you make, or how much you own. Relationships are how we thrive on this earth and it would be a pretty sad life to not share our lives with others!
However, sometimes there are relationships that are actually more of a burden to us than a blessing. These relationships can often leave us feeling drained, make us feel worse about ourselves, lead us into bad decisions, bring no real value to our lives or maybe even lead us into a depressive state. These kinds of relationships are toxic and even though it can be difficult to implement, should be “decluttered” from your life. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, maybe the other person doesn’t even need to know the exact reasons, but keeping your distance from relationships like this is typically going to be the best thing for your mental health and your heart. Are there any relationships in your life that only dampen your mood, cause destruction to your heart or keep you from getting to where you’re wanting to go? Think about how you can “declutter” in the relationships department in order to create a more peaceful, simpler life for yourself.
Another thing you can focus on relationship-wise is really appreciating your small circle of friends and family who truly love you and are there for you no matter what. Really pouring into those relationships and putting your time/energy towards them instead of trying so hard with others that don’t really care too much to have a place in your life to begin with.
3. Your Schedule
Who else has a hard time saying “no”? We are all busy. Somedays our schedules feel like a cluttered mess, sometimes it feels like we just can’t catch a break! We have our work schedules, our families, our friends, bible studies, gatherings/events, housework, etc. Then of course we’d also like to squeeze in a little time for ourselves focusing on self care and whatever we enjoy doing. It truly can be exhausting. The trick to simplifying your schedule is focusing on what brings the most value to you. What kind of person do you want to be? Which relationships are the most important to you? Where are you trying to go in life? Answering these three questions can help you build a more simplified scheduled curated around what you actually want to be doing and spending your time on. Are there things in your schedule you don’t enjoy doing? Can you think of ways you can cut those things out so you have more time to focus on what you DO enjoy? One way downsizing your belongings can help simplify your schedule is you should have less cleaning/picking up to do! Now think of other areas of your life where you can trim, it doesn’t always have to be items but maybe you’re involved in too many weekly groups, spending time with people that don’t bring a whole lot of positivity into your life, a chore you do often that doesn’t even really provide much value, etc.
Something I’ve implemented to keep better track of my schedule and everything that goes on in my life is using my daily planner, daily. I use to-do lists to stay on track of things and not get behind and I put things on our calendar so that we know ahead of time what’s to come. Instead of always forgetting, losing track of time or having that feeling of “things just popping up out of nowhere”, we know what our week is going to look like before it starts and we know what needs to get done each day in order for that week to go smoothly.
I’ve also practiced saying “no” more often this past year. When I’m feeling too overwhelmed, too busy, too tired, I’m starting to better recognize when enough is enough for me. Sometimes that means missing out on something because I need to take some time for myself to just be home and relax. Sometimes it means rescheduling plans with friends or family. I’ve learned to just take things at my own pace. Say “NO” when you need to, and DON’T feel bad about it!
I love the “Becoming Unbusy” Facebook page, lots of great inspiration and tips on how to simplify your life in this area!
4. Your Finances
I think it goes without saying that minimalism and living more simply is a GOOD thing for your wallet! You’re not buying as much, you’re saying no to “stuff” you really don’t need, therefore, you’re saving money!
In order to truly simplify your finances, I believe everyone needs to get on a budget, and stick to that budget. I think it’s also important to cash flow everything, meaning, pay for everything in cash, not on credit cards or loans. If you don’t have the money to buy whatever it is, you DON’T buy it until you do! (The only exception to this is probably buying a home) Living a debt free life has always been a very high value for me. I lived debt free until I got married, of course then I inherited my husband’s student loans, car debt, and we bought a house. So we are still not completely debt free but are working hard towards that together. I completely loathe being in debt to someone, and when I am, I do everything I can to throw as many dollars at that debt as I possibly can. It’s difficult at times, it takes sacrifice and dedication, working extra hours and cutting back. But by minimizing your consumption of “stuff”, it makes it so much easier!
Living with mounds of debt and all of those bills to pay each month is so stressful. Our goal as a married couple now is to become debt free (even from our mortgage!) as soon as possible so that we are able to not stress as much about how much we have to be at work in order to pay our bills. We want to be able to freely give more to others in need as well as have the freedom to do the things we want with our money. With less bills to pay, this means less time at work and more time spent as a family, possibly even an earlier retirement. This is the ultimate goal, as our time is more precious and valuable than any item that can be bought with our hard earned money!
5. Household Items
We all know how popular essential oils are nowadays. Yes, I am a fan. I also LOVE finding ways to replace my everyday cleaning & hair/skin products with items that have more simple ingredients, are more natural and free of harsh chemicals and allow me to incorporate my oils! Of course, my only rule for this though, is that it must still be budget-friendly. If the switch I’m making is going to be way more expensive than the alternative, we just can’t swing that budget-wise right now. I would LOVE to live a 100% all natural product life, but sometimes, sadly, natural can mean more expensive. You just have to decide on what’s worth it in your own life, what affects you and your family the most, etc. The good news though is more times than not you can make many of your own daily household items for very little or find budget-friendly alternatives!
This also simplifies so much for me, because when I find a really good natural product or recipe to make something myself and it works for me, I’m not tempted to buy anything else, like Bath & Body Works lotions/soaps/perfumes, fancy scented stuff at the grocery store or other body care items someones trying to sell on Facebook. I don’t have a million different bottles of soaps, lotions, etc sitting around anymore just cluttering my space. I also feel so much better about using something with simple, natural ingredients and isn’t going to irritate me or smell artificial and chemically. After using more natural cleaners for a while now, I actually can’t stand the smell of most chemical cleaners anymore. They make my eyes water up and I sneeze like crazy when I use them! This tells me my body probably wasn’t ever meant to inhale that nasty stuff, I adjusted to it because I grew up around the chemicals and also used them for so long, but once I stopped using them my body reacts negatively when I do!
6. Your Food
Simplifying your food is actually really easy if you just put in a little effort. It’s also so much better for your budget and your health! Many people think that eating healthy is just too expensive, when in all reality, some of the healthier basic foods are actually way cheaper than buying the convenient frozen/processed foods! Rice, beans, in-season produce, whole chicken (even frozen chicken breast-we stock up on it!), flour, eggs, etc. All of that is so affordable and definitely healthy. If you get creative you can make so many delicious, healthy, frugal meals even with just the basics and a good spice cabinet! We even try to practice a little bit of self-sufficiency (and save money!) by growing some of our own veggies in our garden and raising some chickens so we can have fresh eggs daily.
We’ve also limited eating out quite a bit, that’s another trap that is easy to fall into. It’s definitely more convenient but not cheap or healthy. We stay away from eating out too much by meal planning for the week ahead and buying what we need to make those meals from the grocery store each Sunday. We actually really enjoy cooking dinner together every evening, it’s just a routine now a days! You’d be surprised how much better you feel internally when you make your own food, it also tastes so much better. We know where the ingredients are coming from and what exactly is in it and we know our food isn’t filled with preservatives!
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely days when we’re both exhausted and popping in a frozen pizza or cooking up a frozen skillet dinner is just the easier thing to do some nights. But those nights are far and few between and we limit ourselves to those “quick convenience meals”.
Well, there you have it, 6 areas of your life worth simplifying! Was this helpful? Did you get some ideas on how you might be able to enrich your own life by minimizing in these areas? Feel free to leave a comment!