I love simplicity. When we live a life of simplicity, we have time for who and what we love. It is an inspiring ideal, like balance, that will probably always tease me with it’s down to earth reality check and natural beauty. Simplicity requires us to prioritize and stick to what really matters.
Albert Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Simplify Your Home or Workspace
Our environment is something we have some control over. We can immediately simplify by letting things go. I have a talent for seeing the potential usefulness of everything, so it is no wonder I needed to simplify my home. Everything can’t be kept on hand just in case.
If you don’t have money to decorate or buy things for your home, you might have fun discovering that getting rid of things can be just as thrilling. It opens up space, makes room for possibilities, makes your home or office visually less stimulating. Just like our lives need focus and purpose, our environments have purpose and are more efficient when we are very intentional about what things we have and where and how they are located.
Fly Lady suggests that when you clean out a spot, you have three boxes handy marked “give away, throw away, and put away.” I love that it is such a simple solution. No matter how complex the mess, all that miscellaneous stuff can be sorted into one of those four places: Where it is, where it should be, in the trash, or given to someone else who will use it.
Simplify Your Diet
I love variety. If you are a “variable” you will know how hard it is to just suffer through sameness. We thrive on novel, new, interesting changes. But all that changing is way more complicated than not changing. For those of you that love stability and predictability and a calm life, this is not news to you, I’m sure. But, it was a novel (yes new!) idea for me to think about trading in some variety for simplicity in areas that were not important to me.
For example, we eat oatmeal now as a family almost every morning for breakfast. It is healthy. It is fast. It is inexpensive. It makes very little mess to make and clean up. It has plenty of fiber that several of us need in our diet, and we can put different toppings on it to spice it up. Having less variety in our menu planning even makes grocery shopping easier. Oatmeal. Check. Simple.
I used to have a new thing I’d try to make for breakfast every day. I haven’t lost any of my love for variety, change and challenge. But, in the morning, I don’t want that to be my focus. I want to spend time on routine things that make my whole day a success. I want to very easily get breakfast on the table on time, and I want to know exactly how long that will take (under 3 minutes in the microwave). It is vitally important that we eat well. But, it is also important that we be on time and calm enough to get the day off to a great start. You could experiment and see what works for you. For us, this plan has been well worth the sacrifice.
Simplify Your Calendar
It seems that everybody suffers from an imbalance in this area. Your calendar is a commitment to how you will spend your life, and it seems like everyone else is willing and ready to fill the whole thing. Every group you are in may schedule things for you, the schools, work, church, etc. Either that, or you have nothing whatever going on and every day looks the same, blank calendar, just routine. Some people need to shake up their life and add some appointments for their own happiness while others need to add boundaries, say ‘no’ or ‘yes when’ more often and take back at least some control. I have been in both situations.
Appointments stress me. They break up my time slots in the day, and I do best with big open spaces for projects where I can relax, completely focus on what I’m doing and lose track of time (an experience called flow). I can’t live my calmest, best way with my days chopped up all over in little bits. So, for me, simplifying my calendar meant not allowing things to be scheduled on Mondays or Thursdays and keeping all doctors and dental type appointments on Wednesdays. This has been a simple way for me to cope with this problem. I prefer one day full of appointments and errands rather than a smattering of them daily throughout the week.
Staying home without other adult friends around all the time depresses me. I didn’t know this until my fourth child was my only companion. We lived in the country and it was at least a 30 minute drive to anywhere. We both starved socially. In our neighborhood before, there were lots of other young families like us, so I could just put chalk out and my children and I could have friends and a friendly chat. Here I had to make a real effort to schedule play dates and lunch dates with friends. A few other women from my church that lived way out in the boondocks with me and I formed a lunch group that met once a month rotating to each person’s home. We only actually carried it out three or four times, but, I still have a very strong love for each of these friends. It was a priceless investment.
Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way, suggests scheduling an “artist date” regularly just to enjoy your own company and add a little adventure. It is so nice to have something to look forward to. Using her suggestion to write daily and take myself out, I really did overcome personal barriers and learn to enjoy being alone, something I had never really learned before. Most of us can coordinate an outing at least once a month. I’ve tried it and can promise you that for me at least, it was worth it!
Simplify Your Schedule
Every choice, every decision we make is really a choice between two things only: What we are actually doing and what we would actually do instead. Should I watch TV or study is not a real choice if what I would actually do instead of watch TV is procrastinate and call a friend. If homework is only a possibility with no real intent or commitment to action, then it is just a guilt trip and nothing more. Feeling bad about what I “should” be doing never will get that “should” done. It requires action and excluding all other possible, competing actions at that time. Realizing this has made decision making so much easier.
I always want to do what is the most important all throughout the day. And, I noticed when I took business classes that suggest sorting your day into important and urgent quadrants that my life did not fit into their model. I get paid (and as a stay at home mom also not paid) to deal with hassles and distractions that others avoid to be productive. For example, I prioritize caring for children and play. These things are distracting and if I become too task oriented, I lose track of what really is most important to me. To prevent that, and to also get other, personal projects done, I had to invent a new and simpler way to prioritize and schedule tasks.
What works for me:
I know that I will start and end my day with key, self-care routines. I have 2 basic situations: alone and with people. Like customer service representatives who must interrupt their tasks to notice and assist people, this is what I do. People are my first priority and my attention is my most valuable resource. I’ve learned that when I’m with others, I can’t expect to get highly focused work done. So, I split my task list into two columns: one side is “alone” for high focus, not interruptible tasks. The other side is “together” tasks that require less attention, other people, or are easy to set aside and pick back up again.
Situation Specific List (so you are only comparing possible options)
+ Priority (do it in order of importance)
-surprise opportunity or emergency (that trumps the prioritized list)
= Simple Schedule.
May you experience more peace and joy in your life as you simply decide if you should keep your tasks where they are (routine/calendar), put them away where they belong (reschedule), throw them away (delete), or give them to someone who will use them (delegate).
DarEll S. Hoskisson
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: https://personalabridgements.wordpress.com and https://darellhoskisson.wordpress.com