I wanted to write this post for the plain and simple fact that I, too, have been at a loss of where to start. I knew deep in my core, my bones, my cells that something had to give. That I wanted to slow down, re-evaluate, breathe deep sans anxiety, and begin again. There’s no better way to do this than to simplify – but how?
That seems to be the million dollar question that I get from readers and podcast listeners, and I feel you so deeply.
For me, I retain new information best when it’s short and sweet, and preferably in bullet points. So that’s what I want to do for you today with this post. If you’re someone who needs things to be more in depth, I can’t recommend subscribing to the podcast enough – as that’s where I take majority of my blog posts and newsletters and dive way deeper – sometimes even bringing on guests to give their two cents as well.
5 Ways to Create a Simple Life
1. Work smarter, not harder.
This is something I subconsciously picked up from my dad as I was growing up. He was a self made entrepreneur who had an idea, and knew that in order make it come to life, to grow, he would have to hire the people who would know how to bring it to fruition. Once the company grew, he continued hiring out help so that the entire business wasn’t riding on his shoulders. Because of this, my dad was the owner of a large company, but was always home for dinner, always able to go on vacation, and frequently went out on dates with my mom. This was a such a beautiful example for me to witness as I, too, have the entrepreneurial spirit. I knew creating both of my businesses that I never wanted it to run my life. After all, one of the main reasons I’ve always been so attracted to entrepreneurship is for the freedom.
This applies whether or not you own your own business. Even if you’re in corporate, a stay at home parent, what have you, working smarter rather than harder still applies. It can come down to little things like prioritizing your to do list by the top 3 must dos, and then calling it a wash for the day. It can mean planning out your errands so that you’re not driving all over town, rather within a small radius to save gas, time and your sanity. It can mean dedicating an entire day to just one thing, so that you remain focused and feel accomplished once that said thing is complete.
Working smarter instead of harder is one of the MAIN, key ways I’ve been able to simplify my life and to rid myself of excess overwhelm.
Personal example: I took all next week off from booking any shoots to work on an online course for The Calm Collective. By dedicating a week to this project, I free myself from distractions, overwhelm, and anything falling through the cracks.
2. Leave space in your schedule
Just because there are 24 hours in a day, doesn’t mean that they all need to be booked. Quite the opposite, actually. I know full well that society tries to lower our worth if we’re not consistently moving or filling up our days. I’ve even been in relationships where I’ve been shamed for not working 24/7. But as I mentioned above, working smarter rather than harder is the key secret to productivity.
By blocking out time in your schedule, you’re telling yourself that self care is a priority – which it should be if you want to live any sort to balanced life. Which if you’re reading this, you do :) Do not feel the need to fill your schedule with mundane tasks just because it makes you feel better to see it filled in. If that’s the case, start writing things down like: “take a bubble bath” or “read a chapter of my book” or “walk to the coffee shop”.
Again, this completely applies if you work a corporate job as well. Often times I think we forget that just because we work under someone, doesn’t mean that we need to look busy all the time. That’s how society has programmed us, but so long as you’re doing the work and doing it well – you won’t have any complaints. I promise you.
Personal example: I block out the first 3 hours of my morning to read, journal and meditate. This sets the tone for my entire day, and it’s also trained my brain to know that I don’t book anything in the early morning if I can help it (unless there’s an early flight I need to catch or an event I’m shooting that starts early.. you get the idea).
3. Go 100% paperless
This is a small thing, but it drastically changed my life from the standpoint of a) I hardly have to check my mailbox (one less thing to do!), and b) all of my important bills and documents are online for quick access, and they don’t take up any space in my home. Plus it’s good for the environment.
Any chance you have to go paperless, do it.
Personal Example: I’ve been opting in for online receipts. In order to not have my email cluttered, I created a separate account where all of those receipts can go. This also makes it super easy when you’re doing any returns, since you don’t need to worry about holding on to that receipt for dear life to get your money back. You’re already in the system!
4. Organize your calendar from top to bottom
Having an organized calendar is a game changer. The moment something pops into my head or an appointment is made or plans are created with a friend, it goes in there. The reason I love Google Cal so much is that it’s on my phone and syncs up with my computer. I still have a physical calendar for my day to day tasks (for instance: which blog posts I want to work on, which podcast I’ll be recording, which shoot I need to edit, etc) – but for the actual commitments, that’s where Google Cal is my best friend.
By entering in my commitments right when they occur, I’m releasing myself from further responsibility and taking away the chance that I might forget. Getting into the habit entering your commitments on the spot will free you immensely from overwhelm and stress, and will immediately simplify your day to day life.
Personal example: To take your calendar organization to the next level (if you use Google Cal or if I’ve convinced you), make colored labels. I have one for: The Calm Collective, Cassandra Photo and Personal. This way, just by glancing quickly at my calendar I have a general feel for what my day looks like and what needs my attention.
5. Don’t buy more than what you need
Now one thing I’ll say here is that I love this method for simplifying, BUT, I’m also a fan of Costco and realize it’s bulk-buying benefits 100%. That being said, just notice your patterns and where you tend to waste and go over-board, and also be mindful of your home set up. For me, my new place is super small with limited storage. So it does me no favors nor does it bring me any inner peace to have to figure out how to store 20 rolls of paper towels.
It does, however, bring me inner peace to have a place for everything and to not feel like every nook and cranny of my home is packed.
Personal example: I used to always buy way too much produce and so much of it would go to waste. Not to mention my fridge would be jam packed, and then I’d end up having to throw at least half of it away. Now? I buy what I need for the week, knowing full well that if I run out, the store is 5 minutes away and I can always get more.
6. *Bonus* / Finish what you already have
Semi-relating to the key point above, this is a habit that’s surprisingly hard to get used to, but majority beneficial once you do. Not only for the simplicity factor, but also for the planet. This is pretty self explanatory, but by finishing what you already have and then re-supplying once it’s gone, you’re ridding your home (and your mind) of excess clutter. Win/win.
Personal example: for me this always comes down to my shampoo and conditioner. I was forever the queen of finishing half the bottle, and then going out and buying more. All this did was take up more space in my bathroom, and feed my spending habit. Now I wait until I’m forcing out those few last drops.
As you can probably tell from these 5 key things, a lot of it comes down to re-programming and creating new habits. As I’ve mentioned over and over again, so much of how we’re conditioned comes down to society and the flow of those around us. We always seem to be hustling, going from one thing to the next, and living within a lack mentality. As we start to shift these thought patterns by implementing small changes every day (like the 5 key things above), we’re re-wiring our brain and giving our life new direction.
We’re giving ourselves permission to slow down.
Image via Pinterest