HOW I SIMPLIFIED MY LIFE: DECLUTTERING, MINIMALISM AND LIVING WITH INTENTION
If you’re looking to make changes and find more peace and calm in your busy life then check out this post. Find out how to simplify life and read how I simplified my own life through decluttering, Minimalism and living with intention.
HOW TO SIMPLIFY LIFE
I thought it might be helpful to take you on a journey through my own path to simple living. My hope is that it might encourage you to look at your life differently so that you can really focus on the things that are important to you, right here and now.
Getting intentional about your life and where it’s headed (and how it’s headed there) isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s more a question of making some deliberate decisions about different aspects of your life, learning to say no sometimes and finding simpler ways to do the things that you need to do.
My journey might look different to yours but here are the steps that I took, how one step led to another and the benefits I gained along the way. It might give you some ideas on how to simplify your life too…
1. Understanding where things are going wrong
Simplifying my life isn’t something that just happened overnight. My life had caught up on me without me realising. I worked hard at my career, worked hard at being a mum and worked hard at being a wife.
I was working hard all the time but somewhere, some time, something had to give.
In other articles I’ve shared how my constant dedication and striving for 100% led to a melt-down that I should have foreseen. I’d carried on thinking that I could do it all and have it all, if only I kept pushing and working hard enough.
How stupid of me and how naïve to think that I was Superwoman… when clearly, I was not!
I had stuck my head in the sand for too long, ignoring the warning signs and pushing them under the carpet so that I wouldn’t see them and neither would my friends and family.
However, the meltdown came and although, at the time, it felt like the worst thing in the world and a major sign of weakness on my part, it was actually the best thing that could have happened to me at the time…
2. Accepting that things need to change
My meltdown was the catalyst for change. From the point at which I’d sunk so low that I knew things HAD to change to the point at which I can, hand on heart, say my life is finally where I’d like it to be, my journey from start to finish came about because of momentum and cause and effect.
After lots of research, soul-searching and asking myself difficult questions and facing some equally difficult answers, my journey from the start to this point was all about a series of choices, decisions and actions that built up over time.
What began with a small decluttering has ended up with my simplifying every aspect of my life.
I’m a passionate advocate of the minimalist lifestyle and simple living (as I know first-hand this stuff really makes a difference!). I’ve found ways to create enough spare time and energy to pour my knowledge and love of helping others back into my little blog and website which I hope supports others to re-look at their lives and take action.
I often get asked about my own journey and why I went from juggling it all to consciously juggling less. So, I thought it might be helpful to share my story with you. If you’re reading it and it’s resonating with you, I hope that you’ll feel a little encouragement and support…
3. Understanding the role of clutter
Studies have shown that the amount of clutter around you is directly proportional to stress levels, especially for women.
Putting it simply, the more clutter, the more stress.
The more clutter you have, the more time you spend looking after it – cleaning, tidying and moving it.
Therefore, by reducing the amount of clutter you have, the lower your stress levels. You can read more of the research here.
The research I read all sounded good and well worth giving a go. Clutter around my home was certainly stressing me out a lot and the idea of less clutter meaning less stress was too good not to try!
I wanted to reduce the amount of stuff and clutter in my home so that I wasn’t constantly playing catch up, overwhelmed by the mess and forever moving, tidying and cleaning it. Especially in the evenings after a long day’s work and a battle with the kids at bedtime.
I’d had enough. I didn’t want to settle for just getting through my days only to drop into bed exhausted by the end of them.
Instead, I wanted to spend my time playing with my kids, looking after both myself and my family and still have heaps of energy and get-up-and-go for when new things came my way and exciting opportunities opened up.
In the words of Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
I wanted to make sure I made the most of each day, ready to take on the world and whatever the day might throw at me!
4. Decluttering to create space (and time)
My simplifying journey started out when I spent a weekend decluttering my clothes.
I’d had enough of not being able to find anything to wear and fed up of looking like something the cat had dragged in. I was annoyed that my kids and work commitments meant that early frantic mornings left me little time to make myself look good and more importantly, feel good, each morning.
Of course, it wasn’t their fault though. It was me that needed to get myself more organised!
Decluttering my wardrobe bought instant benefits so I carried on decluttering the rest of my home – the toys, the kitchen, the garage and so on.
Owning less stuff created more time, space and energy for other things that I wanted to do instead.
Decluttering was the first step and it was how I learnt, first-hand, that decluttering was a great solution to many problems and most importantly…
- It was the best way to clear space in my home, my heart and mind.
- With space came clarity as I began to define what was important and what was just clutter (in all its shapes and forms)
This is why decluttering is a vital tool and first step to simplifying your life so that you can find and focus on what’s important. You can see the wood for the trees.
The important stands out instead of being lost in the unimportant.
And so began my journey to a more intentional life that supports me.
Don’t let lack of time or lack of support at home put you off. With a few strategies in place, anyone can declutter their home – you just need to be a little creative!
If you want to get started right now, grab your free copy of my popular Declutter Starter Kit.
However, I soon learnt that the benefits of decluttering were only as good as long as they lasted! The clutter soon crept back if I didn’t stay on top of it and those benefits disappeared as fast as the clutter reappeared. It was so frustrating!
I found that the only way to keep a decluttered home was to change my relationship with my belongings. This is how I became Minimalist.
5. Learning to think differently about stuff
Becoming Minimalist meant that I no longer kept random stuff that I didn’t really want or need. More than a simple act of throwing out the clutter, Minimalism was more of a lifestyle and mindset shift where I needed fewer physical possessions and actual stuff to make me happy. I began to find happiness in other ways…
I shopped more mindfully (Minimalism certainly isn’t about never going shopping again!) and pared my possessions down to the minimum. I never felt I was losing out by becoming Minimalist as I was only ever getting rid of the things that weren’t important to me so I didn’t miss them if I didn’t have them anymore!
Now might be a good time to say that Minimalism is so much more than its label suggests.
To my mind, it’s the most freeing and empowering of lifestyle choices. It encourages you to re-evaluate and question your perception of what makes you truly, deeply happy.
To quote Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist – “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value, and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
So, back to me, my decluttered wardrobe and my newly minimalist shopping habits…
My Minimalist lifestyle and approach didn’t stop there. I found that Minimalism could be applied to different areas of my life including my calendar, my goals and my eating habits. It was just a question of using the same Minimalist principles – in a nutshell, keep what’s important, what adds value and enhances your life and get rid of the rest.
If you take the plunge to get started, the benefits are well worth it!
Try this article on How to Become Minimalist: 7 easy ways to start for some helpful tips.
6. Trying less in other areas of life
Eliminating the clutter and excess in my life bought about a complete change. I found that I naturally chose less of a lot of things.
- I wanted less stress in my life so I was happier and calmer
- Less clutter in my home so it was easier to keep clean and tidy
- Less complicated finances so I could save more, donate more and spend more on experiences (rather than stuff)
- Less fancy recipes that took less time to prepare but were just as yummy
- Less commitments in my diary so I and the kids had more free time.
More specifically, I wanted less of the things that wore me down and more of the things that lifted me up.
I naturally gravitated to simple in every way – a simpler lifestyle, a simpler schedule, a simpler self-care routine, a simpler way of setting goals that I actually achieved!
A simpler life isn’t necessarily an easy life. It’s not a magic wand to make all your troubles go away, but it does make things eas-IER.
Even though I’m a Minimalist, this is why I like to write about simple living.
A simpler lifestyle doesn’t have a label or a definition and so I think it’s more appealing to newbies who get put off by the term Minimalist. It’s not encumbered with statistics about how many possessions you have. It’s just about making the complex… well, less complicated!
Simplicity is meant to make things simpler, both in practice and in definition.
Simple living is about intentionally choosing and including in your life what’s right for you.
There are no rules, no measurements, no notion of going without, which leads me on to the next step of my journey…
7. Becoming more intentional in every way
I believe that intentional living is where decluttering, minimalism and simple living all come together.
- If you make the effort and take action to declutter your home then you’re being intentional.
- If you explore minimalism and the concept of needing and having less stuff and try it out for yourself, then you’re being intentional.
- If you make a conscious choice to make your life less complicated and therefore so much easier, then you’re being intentional.
- If you’re looking to make changes because you’re not happy treading water in your life, struggling to manage or lurching from day to day, then you’re being intentional.
- If you’re ready to honour your priorities and the things that are important to you in life – family, relationships, self-care, personal growth and anything else you’d like to add on to your list – then you’re being intentional.
- If you’re fed up going through the motions, of letting life just happen to you, of settling for making-do, and you want to take action – then you’re being intentional.
Intentional living underpins all these because it means you’re being purposeful and deliberate about creating your best life.
You decide changes need to be made and you make them. You don’t wait around for them to happen TO you.
RESOURCES FOR SIMPLE LIVING
If you’re interested by my story and would like to know how to simplify your own life, here are some helpful resources on simple living:
- 14 ways to live intentionally every day – practical ways you can get started
- Simplify Your Life – a powerful little course to help you define your priorities, understand how less can be more and practical ways you can get started simplifying your life right now!
- 5 powerful lessons from learning to simplify my life – what I’ve learnt and how it’s changed me
YOUR NEXT STEP…
If you’d like to learn more about how to simplify life and what you can do to get started, then check out my short course, Your Intentional Life.
I’ll walk you through your first steps to working out what you want from your life and help you free up some time, energy and space to really make that happen.