How To Simplify Your Life Without Becoming A Minimalist Or Saying No To Everything

October 9
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Maybe you’re not built to be a minimalist. You don’t want to live in a tiny house and the thought of paring down your boot collection makes you want to punch someone in the teeth. Or if you’re like me, minimalism is super appealing but you fear the only way to achieve the level of zen that comes from this lifestyle is to burn down your house and start at zero dark possessions. Yes, a clean slate seems like the only way to simplify your life now that you’ve accumulated multiple scarves in the early fall, late fall, and dead of winter categories.

Perhaps it’s your schedule, not your attic, that could use a simplification overhaul. The anxiety sets in when you see your calendar packed with all manner of meetings, social gatherings, and place holders for — fingers crossed! — moving off the waitlist for goat yoga. You’ve been told to “just say no,” to overextending your energy and time. The battle cry of those who warn against the dangers of over scheduling your life is: Stop committing to all this nonsense!

But what if you’re happy keeping all your possessions and cant really say “no,” to most of the things on your schedule but still want to find that sense of calm and control that simplifying promises? Give these three suggestions a spin.

Lower Your Expectations

If you’ve been slogging along trying to do all the things and also wondering why you can’t remember where you put your phone (hint: it’s in your pocket), I’m here to whisper some realness in your precious ear. You can’t do it all, darling. At least you can’t do it all to the best of your ability. Something’s gotta give and — Spoiler Alert! — it’s usually your sanity. If you’re seeking to simplify, chances are you’ve put an assload of pressure on yourself to be everything to everyone and make sure long lists of things are getting done. Better to lower these unrealistic expectations you’ve put on yourself.

It’s time to let go of the idea that you have to crush it at work, family life, friendships, exercise programs, housekeeping, hobbies, side hustles, and creating interesting gluten free lunch options. You have to be clear about which things are priorities and give yourself some grace in the areas that are going to be less than outstanding. I’ll be honest, when I am working on a goal or have an extra busy calendar, my house is the first victim. I used to beat myself up over not having a tidy home but once I lowered my expectations I set myself free from always feeling like I was failing. Now I focus on keeping the common areas cleaned up and get to the rest of the house when I have the time and energy. Same goes for unfolded laundry, serving leftovers, and giving cash for a kid’s birthday gift instead of a wrapped present.

Ask For Help

A sneaky thing happened as we evolved from communal living: the stigma of asking for help. For some reason this is considered a sign of weakness or neediness, both of which are as undesirable as an STD. It goes hand-in-hand with the unrealistic idea that we should be doing an excellent job of managing 100 things on our own, thank you very much. But if hiring some help to clean your house or take care of your yard is going to simplify your life, you should absolutely do it. There is no shame in a babysitter, a meal service, or asking friends and family to lend a hand when you need it (or don’t have the extra cash to hire someone).

Make Tasks Enjoyable

Part of what makes life feel complicated (instead of simple) is the stress that comes from doing the things that don’t naturally feel fun. To use my example of housework, I have been known to get raging mad while vacuuming because I believe it to be invented by the Devil, himself. But if I listen to an audiobook or podcast while I run Satan’s Cherrio Sucker Machine, I become an astounding 70 percent less homicidal. The floors are clean and everyone who crosses my path gets to live — it’s a win-win! Finding a way to make tasks enjoyable tricks your brain into thinking it’s a simple and easy project.

Simplifying your life doesn’t mean you have to raise a yurt and remove yourself from every committee you’re on, it just means finding a lighter approach to old ways that feel heavy.

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