You may not think you need to simplify your life. But let me ask you something. Take a second and think back on your life in recent weeks. Can you think of a time where you overcomplicated things?
I know plenty of examples come to mind right away for me. 🤦
Truth is, we are constantly making things harder on ourselves than we need to. In our work, our relationships (including the one with ourselves), and so on.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Common ways we over-complicate things:
First off, I just want to say. Pretty much everyone overcomplicates life, or has at some point. But not everyone has built the self-awareness to recognize that.
Even those who don’t appear to over-complicate things likely put more effort into overcoming the urge than you might realize.
So before we even begin, take a deep breath. You are normal!
Here are some common ways we over-complicate things:
- Failing to communicate clearly
- Not being upfront about what we want or need
- Trying to do everything alone
- Not saying “No” & taking on too much
- Seeking approval for everything we do
- Focusing on what we can’t control
- Trying to change people
- Turning to “Band-Aids” or coping mechanisms instead of confronting problems head on
- Not focusing on being present
- Waiting or talking about doing something instead of actually doing it
- Owning too much stuff or owning stuff for the wrong reasons
There’s a lot of value in simplifying your life.
When you simplify your life, you simplify your mind.
You give yourself less sources of mental clutter, which give you less reason to overcomplicate things. It’s easier to find clarity, and to focus on living intentionally and according to what is actually important to you.
When we overcomplicate things, it could be a sign that we have some mental clutter we’ve been neglecting. What exactly that mental clutter looks like varies from person to person. It can look like stress, overwhelm, lack of focus, unresolved trauma, and so on. I won’t be getting too much into the details of that here.
But the point is, no matter what the source of your mental clutter is, chances are you can benefit from identifying areas of your life to simplify.
In addition to reducing mental clutter, some of the benefits include:
- Helping you perform better, feel better, & feel more energized
- Enabling you to better manage your emotional & mental health
- Empowering you to bring your best self into your relationships
- Allowing you to make better, more effective decisions by improving your focus
- Achieve greater clarity on what you want
- Live with intention in everything that you do
You might also like: 17 ways to declutter your mind
8 highly effective ways to simplify your life
Now, onto ways to simplify your life.
Let me be clear. I don’t categorize myself as a minimalist. This article is not meant to push you to become one either.
I’m not saying you need to simplify down to the point where you’ve removed the majority of your material possessions.
My purpose in all that I write is to help you be more intentional about everything in your life. If that means minimalism for you, great. If it doesn’t, also great.
So with that, approach this with an open mind and take what works for you!
1. Define your priorities
This has to be #1. What are you working towards? If you don’t know, take some time to figure this out first. Start with listing out what you most value in life. Build your priorities around this.
Mental clutter builds when you aren’t clear on your priorities, or when your day to day actions don’t match your priorities & your values.
2. Simplify your goal setting
Simplify your goal setting doesn’t mean dream small. It means make sure you’re approaching your goals in a manageable way.
Break them down into tiny, more actionable steps.
Make sure you’re clear on what you want and why you want it (this is where your priorities come into play).
3. Simplify your daily schedule
Does your to-do list seem never ending?! Do you have every second of every day planned out on a very tight schedule?
You have some room to simplify. And sometimes, simplifying is the secret to getting more done.
Use your priorities to guide you.
Another beneficial practice is to list out your top three priorities for the day (think: if I get nothing else done today, I need to do these 3 things today). Do this at night before you go to sleep so that when you wake up you know exactly what you need to commit to do. This can eliminate waking up with stress or anxiety. It can also help keep you focused throughout the day. If you catch your attention slipping to anything but those three things, bring yourself back.
You can usually accomplish more than just those 3 things, but narrowing it down to 3 is a great way to simplify and make yourself much more effective.
4. Simplify your living space
This one is pretty self explanatory. If your physical space is a mess, chances are your mind is too (or will soon become cluttered).
A powerful way to keep things from getting out of hand and ensure you have to spend less time cleaning/organizing is to simply own less stuff.
What truly adds a big benefit or joy to your day to day experience? What have you held onto unnecessarily and can be eliminated?
5. Simplify your wardrobe
This one may not resonate with everyone. Again, it’s just an idea to consider if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your life — you decide if it’s right for you.
When I was at the peak of my overwhelm, picking an outfit to pack for a trip or to wear on the weekends added to my mental clutter.
It seems a silly thing to stress over, and it is!
But if you own things that aren’t aligned with your personal style, or worse, you don’t exactly know what your authentic style is, your wardrobe can be an extension of the multitude of ways in which we live a certain way because we think it’s what we need to do to feel fulfilled. We think we have to wear certain styles to be accepted, to feel we have value and are worthy.
If any of this resonates with you, I recommend taking a step back to write down: what is my authentic style? What do I feel most comfortable wearing — fabrics, styles, colors, all of it. Write it down. Get rid of whatever doesn’t align, and make a commitment to only purchase outfits in the future that align with what you wrote down.
6. Simplify your finances
Your personal finances are a hugely important area of your life to take control over. The way you manage your money enables you to do what you love, live a great lifestyle, and so much more. But the very idea of personal finance can be so intimidating.
You don’t have to be a finance expert. You don’t have to create an intense spreadsheet to manage your monthly budget, or spend hours each week researching stocks to invest in. A simple budget and investing in index funds will go a long way.
If you don’t have the time or desire to track complex finances, don’t! Simple strategies are quite effective.
7. Simplify your commitments
Are you spending time and energy on people or activities that don’t feel like they really add much value to your life?
Time is limited. Don’t waste it on commitments that aren’t serving you. Who and what we commit our time to should enhance our life, not drain our energy without much to show.
You’re not obligated to say yes to everything or be everything to everyone all the time.
It’s not selfish. It’s wise.
8. Build a strategy around all the above
Building a strategy around all the above can help give you the momentum to take action.
The initial effort to simplify your life may take a decent bit of time and work. Going from cluttered home to intentional living won’t happen in 5 minutes. Re-defining your wardrobe has multiple steps. Your strategy can help keep you on track.
It can be as simple as “I will commit to spending 1 hour each week towards simplifying my living space (or wardrobe, schedule, etc. — pick based on what makes sense for you).
You’ll soon reach a point where you’ve successfully simplified. But life is a continuous growth process. There is no destination to arrive at where you get to say, “Yes! I simplified my life” and then ignore everything.
Maintaining the results of simplifying your life requires regular reflection and habitual action. Your strategy should take this into account too.
Something as simple as spending 5 minutes a month reflecting on whether or not you’re doing a good job at keeping things simple can go a long way.
Simplifying your life should also become a weekly habit — something that ensures that week to week, you’re aware of whether or not your behavior reinforces your goals.
When you simplify your life, you simplify your mind.
And when your mind is clear, you can be most effective at living with intention in all that you do. What are ways that you can simplify your life? Let me know in the comments!