I’m challenging both myself and all of you this first month of 2017, to commit to minimalism! And I’ve created a “31 days to minimalism in 2017” challenge to help us do just that!
Who feels like they are ending their year feeling “cluttered”, or as I like to call it, “stuffed out”? (and I’m not just talking about food!). Well if you’re like me, the answer is YES. And because I want to DECLUTTER and begin this whole thing called “minimalism” thing myself, I thought maybe you all would want to in starting out your new year trying it out too.
Remember back to the SIMPLE days when you were a kid? Life starts out so simple. Stresses and responsibilities of the world are nonexistent. We naturally enjoy every moment we are in, and don’t have wandering minds that are more focused on that next thing on our to-do list, instead of being fully there, wherever we may be.
We are free. We are free from needing STUFF. Playing outside, running around, being with friends…that’s what gives us happiness. Not stuff.
And then somewhere as we begin growing up, things change. The stresses and responsibilities that this world presses on us, well, they get to us. We begin turning to “stuff” to give us happiness. Our lives become more and more complex as the days go by.
But we all have the power to change. We all have the power to simplify our lives again and GO BACK TO BASICS.
I’ll be adding daily posts on my instagram of how I’m doing it! A minimalistic life can take on different meanings for different people. But when it comes down to it, its about keeping ONLY the essential, and eliminating all else. It’s about trading in the chaos of this world for peace. It’s about realizing you deserve to do the things you love and eliminate things (or people), that are causing you stress and unhappiness. It’s about spending your time doing what’s most important to you.
It means getting rid of many of the things you do so you can spend time with people you love and do the things you love. It means getting rid of the clutter so you are left with only that which gives you value.
In short, minimalist living will allow you to:
- Eliminate the unnecessary, leaving only the things that give you value and joy
- Spend more time doing the things you love (and less time doing the things you don’t)
- Enjoy more time with the people that are important to you
There’s really only TWO simple steps for those of you not wanting to take on the daily task: 1) Identify what’s most important to you. 2) Eliminate everything else.
But let’s be honest, most of us need baby steps. I know I NEED baby steps in order to change things and ways of living that have been part of me for a long time. So I’ve created this 31 DAY CHALLENGE, to help us all do just that!
Who’s still with me and me??
Simply follow each day’s challenge below, and if you want, or other social media platform, using the hashtag #Free2017 and , so I can see! 🙂
So here’s each day’s challenge! (starting January 1st!)
- Make a list of your top 5 important things. What do you value? Ask yourself what is truly important. What 5 things do you most want to do in your life? These priorities are necessary to establish before beginning the simplifying process. It is these things you will have more time for after committing to a minimalistic life.
- Evaluate your commitments/time. Look at everything you’ve got going on in your life. From work to home to social life to kids’ activities to hobbies to side businesses to other projects. Think about which of these really gives you value, which ones you love doing. Which of these are in line with the 5 most important things you listed above? Doesn’t line up? Eliminate it. Make a list of all the things you do from getting out of bed in the morning to getting into bed at night, and evaluate whether they’re in line with your priorities. Redesign your day.
- Learn to say no. This is actually one of the key habits for those trying to simplify their lives. If you can’t say no, you will take on too much. I’ve been there are done that, and it only leads to exhaustion and depletion. Learning to say no is the most freeing thing you can do for yourself!
- Limit your communications. From email to text messaging to social media feeds to other communication outlets, there is SO much out there that will distract you and take away from your valuable time. Set time frames up for them all, and stick to it. Tell yourself you are only going to check emails three times a day. Only scroll through your feeds a couple times a day, for a limited amount of time. Limit phone calls to certain times too. Same with any other communications. Otherwise if you’re anything like me, you catch yourself wasting over an hour just scrolling, continually responding to texts as they come, and checking your emails hourly! That takes too much away from your productivity.
- Limit your media consumption. I have a love hate relationship with the media. Whether it be tv, advertisements, or social media, it all all be good, and it can all be bad. You can let it positively affect your life, or negatively affect your life. You can moderate the time spent viewing and using it, or you can let it takeover. Be careful with the role it plays in your life, and if you see it consuming too much of your time, or if you find it negatively impacting you, reevaluate. Try a like I did this year for a month, or go through a “new year cleaning” at least, and clear your feeds of anything that leaves you feeling bad, self conscious, or just unhappy.
- Purge your stuff. Set aside a day or weekend and JUST DO IT. Go through your house or apartment, and just clear the unnecessary, eliminate the clutter, and donate things that you simply don’t use anymore.
- Edit your rooms and wardrobe. Along with giving yourself a weekend to purge, also give yourself a day to go through your rooms and closet, and SIMPLIFY. If you haven’t used it or worn it in the last 6-9 months, get rid of it. Don’t do what I do often and tell yourself, ‘well maybe I’ll need it or wear it one day’. You won’t. Get rid of it now. It will feel great once you’re done!
- Simplify your technology life. I always have a space issue on my electronics, whether my phone or computer. If you find yourself having the same issue, or just have way too many files and folders all over the place, clean it up! Delete photos that you’ll never care to look at again, organize files into folders, and get rid of folders you no longer need.
- Limit your buying habits. Whether you think you have a shopping problem or not, most of us can say when being honest that we buy too much. Limit your shopping habits. Yes, that means online too! It won’t happen overnight, but commit to asking yourself before every purchase from here on out, DO I NEED IT? If not, rethink your purchase before swiping that card (or typing those cards numbers into your computer!)
- Free up time, and spend it doing what you love. Find ways to free up time for the important stuff. That means eliminating the stuff you don’t like, cutting back on time wasters, and making room for what you want to do. Once you’ve freed up some time, be sure to spend that extra time doing things you love. Go back to your list of 4-5 important things. Do those, and nothing else.
- Spend time with people you love, and eliminate toxic relationships. There is no reason to give your time and life to people that bring out stress in you. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose wisely. Remove people from your life that you realize are negatively impacting you. Don’t be brought down by people that could be easily eliminated. Once eliminating, go back to your list of the 5 most important things. Some of them are most likely people (or at least hopefully are!). Take the time you’ve gained from simplifying your life and eliminating toxicity, to spend with these people, whether it be friends, family, spouses, children, ect.
- Spend time alone. We’ve grown up in a society that tells us to go, go, go, and makes us feel this need to always be around others. It is SO healthy to spend time alone, yet most of us aren’t comfortable with it.
- Be present and slow down. Be fully there, wherever you may be! Our world is filled with distractions and worries. Slow down, and enjoy the moment you are in. Eat slower, and savor the flavors. Drive slower, and enjoy your surroundings. Be fully there in the moment, wherever you are. ,
- Streamline your life. I think Zen Habits explained this one best, so in the exact words found on the website: Many times we live with unplanned, complex systems in our lives because we haven’t given them much thought. Instead, focus on one system at a time (your laundry system, your errands system, your paperwork system, your email system, etc.) and try to make it simplified, efficient, and written. Then stick to it.
- Clear your desk. Or whatever you use at your workspace. When your space is cluttered, it can be distracting and stressful. Clean it up and organize everything. Work in a cleared, simplified space.
- Keep your email inbox empty. I’m guessing if you checked your inbox right now, you’d have at least 100 emails, whether read or unread. Congrats, you’re NORMAL. But today I’m challenging ALL of us to keep our inboxes EMPTY from here on out. Read your emails during designated times, then delete them, or move them to appropriate folders if needed. Simplifying your inbox will surprisingly decrease stress and anxiety you didn’t realize it even added!
- Learn what “enough” is, & how to live frugally. Whether you see yourself as being “materialistic” or not, our society is materialistic as a whole. It’s in our nature to always want “that next thing” whether it’s the newest shoes or latest cell phone. But it’s a cycle that doesn’t end, and certainly won’t lead to happiness but only to wanting more. Learn what “enough” is for you personally, and choose to stop it there. Learning the definition of enough and how to live frugally, is directly related to simplicity. on how to live frugally.
- Create a simple weekly dinner menu. It may seem like a “first world problem”, but having to constantly think of what you are making for dinner that night, and then planning accordingly, can be a real stressor! Instead, take one day, I take Sundays (when I actually am good about doing this), and plan your weekly menu. 🙂
- Eat healthy & exercise. Aside from nutrition/health being what I went to school for and all, I promise this one does have to do with minimalism as well! Think about it, eat bad and live inactive, and it will eventually catch up to you. Maybe not now, but years down the road, it will indeed lead to medical costs, doctor visits, prescriptions, ect. You get the idea. Being unhealthy is complicated. Living a fresh, fit n healthy lifestyle will help simplify your life in the long-term. Not only does exercise simplify long-term, but it also reduces stress and makes you feel good in the short-term!
- Declutter before organizing. I’ve made the mistake before, trying to organize clutter. You will never succeed at truly organizing, until you first declutter and eliminate the unnecessary. Don’t try to take a file or room and try to “organize” a ton of clutter mixed in with a few necessities. Declutter first, organize second.
- Find inner simplicity that allows you to decompress. Whether you think of yourself as a “spiritual person” or not, getting in tune with your inner self can create a lot of peace. What does this look like? It could be praying and talking with God, time spent meditating or journaling or getting to know yourself in a different way, or time spent adventuring or going on a walk. However you do it, I promise spending time on this one will be worth your time!
- Find a creative outlet. Whether you’re lucky enough to call your passion or creative outlet your career or not, finding this creative outlet for yourself is key to living a happy and meaningful life. Whether its baking and recipe development like me, blogging, painting or drawing, writing books or poetry, designing things or creating artwork… finding your passion and creative outlet will offer a lot more meaning to your days. And don’t say, “I’m not creative”. I used to say that, but I realized my creativity just took a different form than a pen or paintbrush (it was in the kitchen!). How do you find yours if you don’t know it already? What do you find yourself doing when you’re bored? When your procrastinating from your real work? When you’re needing to relax? Some good starting points!
- Simplify your goals. I’m queen of setting 1000 goals for myself, only to allow the list to stress me out and accomplish NONE fully. Make a SHORT list of your most important goals, and don’t add to the list until checking off everything first. Simplifying your goals will lead to more success and less stress.
- Single-task. Multi-tasking rarely works for anyone when they are honest. I know when I multi-task, both things suffer as my attention and energy are split. And it usually causes me stress because of being a perfectionist and knowing neither are being completed to their fullest potential. Make a schedule for yourself each day, and try to single task your way through it.
- Develop equanimity. Say what? What does that word even mean? Equanimity is mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. It’s natural to react to every little situation that happens in your daily life, but it also causes unneeded stress, anger and anxiety. When something happens, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, is this really worth my energy? Don’t waste your time reacting to all the small things that don’t deserve it.
- Reduce your consumption of advertising. Advertising is popular and rampant in our society. Why? Because it works. It gets us to buy things we normally wouldn’t buy or feel we need something that we wouldn’t have otherwise felt the need to have. Decrease your time viewing ads, whether on tv, in magazines, or on any other outlet, and it will naturally lead to less buying. Which is important for a simplified, minimalistic life!
- Make a Most Important Tasks (MITs) list each day. Making a long to-do list will only stress you out and feel like a failure when you don’t get everything done. Or it leads to multi-tasking, which we talked about above. Instead, make a list of 3-5 things you want to accomplish each day, before you go to bed the night before. That way, you don’t waste any time the day of, thinking of what you want to accomplish, and you don’t get stressed out or distracted by a long list.
- Create morning and evening routines. Routines are key to productivity and simplicity! Creating a morning routine for your first 1-3 hours of being up, and a night routine of your last 1-3 hours before going to bed, can make all the difference in your productivity and stress levels. What are mine?
- Learn to do nothing. We are wired to always be DOING. But doing nothing is the most peaceful thing you can do for yourself, and allow time for in your day. It won’t come natural, and at first you’ll be tempted to hurry on to the next thing on your to-do list when sitting down to do “nothing”. But trust me, once you master this, it will add so much peace to your day!
- Go for quality, not quantity. And experiences always over things. Instead of having a lot of things or stuff, try to limit what you have. And make the limited amount of stuff “count”, spending your time and money on things that last and add value to your life. Spend more money on experiences, and less on “stuff” that just gets thrown off to the side. Decide next holiday, you’re going to buy “experiences” for your loved ones, instead of “things”, and ask for the same in return!
- Leave space around things in your day. Don’t stack things back to back to back. Whether it’s your to-do list, or in-person appointments, if you have the power to control your schedule, add some “blank space” between your “to-do’s”. Scheduling things back to back leads to anxiety and stress, especially if you just happen to be falling behind, which is bound to happen sometimes. And when you aren’t falling behind, that blank space will allow the breathing room you need in your days to stay sane in this crazy roller-coaster ride we call life
(These 31 steps towards minimalism were selected from a list )
Always ask: Will this simplify my life? If the answer is no, reconsider.
on how I’m doing these things each day () and post how you’re doing it yourself! Use the hashtag #Free2017 and tag me so I don’t miss it!