HOW TO SIMPLIFY LIFE: STEPS TO A CLUTTER-FREE AND INTENTIONAL LIFE
Decluttering and simplifying helps us find more time, space and freedom in busy, everyday life. In this article I’m sharing my own experiences of how to simplify life and steps to a clutter-free and intentional life for you and your family.
HOW TO SIMPLIFY LIFE
I thought it might be helpful to take you on a journey through my own path to simple living, especially if you’re new to my website or simplicity as a lifestyle.
I’d like to share what I’ve learnt about how to simplify life and the steps that helped me get there. 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, rather than that long To Do list or pile of laundry that’s staring you in the face!
Decluttering and simplifying your life isn’t something that happens overnight. Life can be complex and it can take time to untangle it.
It’s more a question of making some deliberate decisions about different aspects of your life. It’s about defining what’s important and what’s just clutter, learning to say no sometimes and finding simpler ways to do the things that you need to do so you have more time, space and freedom to do what you want to do.
To me, this is what simplifying life is all about – not trying for a perfect life, but an easier life. More full of what matters with less of the clutter that doesn’t.
My journey might look different to yours in the finer detail but here are the steps that I took, how one step led to another and some of the benefits I gained along the way. It might give you some ideas on how to simplify life for yourself too…
1. RECOGNISING WHERE THINGS GO WRONG
Rewind to about ten years ago when my kids were babies and I was juggling career, family and everything else. I hadn’t realised it at the time but my life and its stresses and strains had caught up on me whilst I wasn’t looking. I worked hard at my career, worked hard at being a mother and worked hard at being a wife.
I was working hard all the time but somewhere, some time, something had to give. I had carried on for years, believing 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 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, things came to a head one difficult and emotional day in the office. I was forced to take time off work and re-assess my life and the impact it was having on me (and therefore my family). At the time, it felt like the worst thing in the world and a major sign of weakness on my part but it turned out to be the beginning of profound change…
2. KNOWING WHEN THINGS NEED TO CHANGE
My meltdown was the catalyst for this 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 slow, small and daily changes to my lifestyle.
If you want to make changes in your own life, don’t feel overwhelmed. Remember that baby steps will get you to where you want to go just fine!
The first thing to think about is whether you’re ready for change. It’s no good planning to do this or do that if you’re not committed to the idea of giving it a go.
The decisions you make about what clutters your home, schedule and life don’t need to be the decisions you stick with forever, but one thing I do know…
Unless you’re motivated and ready to take action, not just physically but in your head too, then no changes you make are likely to stick. Accepting that things need to change and being in the right mindset to make those changes happen, are vital.
That’s why I like to write about mindset, intentional living and personal growth on my website. Decluttering and simplifying are important, but how you think affects what you decide to do (and not do) so mindset is key to everything!
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.
Therefore, by reducing the amount of clutter you have, the lower your stress levels. You can read more of the research here.
And, the more clutter you have, the more time you spend looking after it – cleaning, tidying and moving it.
The research I read all sounded good and well worth giving a go. Clutter around my home was certainly taking up my time and energy and stressing me out a lot. The idea of less clutter meaning less stress and more time 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 at the end of them.
I seemed to be busy all day but never had enough time or energy to enjoy the things I was so busy working towards.
My life was cluttered in so many ways and that clutter needed to go!
4. DECLUTTERING STUFF
My first step into the world of simplifying was a small project that I tackled one weekend. I’d read up on decluttering and decided to make a start for myself. I began by 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.
Over time, my home began to look clearer, calmer and easier to keep clean and tidy. I found that I had more time, space and energy for other things that I wanted to do. Less stuff – more life!
Decluttering isn’t always easy and there are some tips you can use to get started. I tried them out myself when things got tough and I can honestly say, they work. I share a lot of these decluttering tips on my website so you don’t make the same mistakes I made!
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.
5. LEARNING TO THINK DIFFERENTLY
Getting rid of my clutter was great but 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 think differently.
It wasn’t about getting rid of things for the sake of it. It was more to do with weeding out the things in my life that didn’t add value, have purpose or that I didn’t appreciate – to make room for the things that did.
Decluttering was the tool that makes this happen but simplifying life (or the Minimalist lifestyle if you like to give it a name) is a general lifestyle shift towards less stuff in your home, schedule, heart and mind and more time, space and freedom in every other way.
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.”
6. TRYING LESS IN OTHER AREAS OF LIFE
Eliminating the clutter and excess in my life bought about a complete change. Not only did I enjoy having less clothes (less decisions, less faff, less wasted time) I found that I naturally chose less of a lot of other things in my life.
- 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.
7. LIVING INTENTIONALLY
Deciding how to simplify life is about intentionally choosing and including in your life what’s right for you.
It’s about getting rid of the clutter, keeping out the things that don’t support you and making space for what does. Find simple ways to do what you need to do so you have time, space and freedom for what you want to do.
I believe that intentional living is at the heart of decluttering and simplifying life. Of course, you can choose to do a few decluttering projects and get rid of some stuff, but if you want to make more sweeping changes then you’ll need to make some intentional choices.
Intentional living is just a fancy way of saying that you know what you want in life and you find ways to make that happen. As we touched on at the top of this article, this all starts with your mindset and being ready and willing to make changes.
Then it’s a question of deciding how to simplify life. Do you want less clutter in your home, to be less busy, have more money, less stress, more direction, more freedom. Maybe all of this and more?!
Intentional living underpins all these because it means you’re being purposeful and deliberate about creating your best life in all its areas including family, health, relationships, home, work, leisure, financial, emotional. And, I believe that the way to do this is by decluttering and simplifying life, getting rid of the things that get in our way and hold us back and finding a better balance through simplicity.
RESOURCES ON HOW TO SIMPLIFY LIFE
Here are some helpful articles and resources on how to simplify life, home and schedule:
- 7 ways to be intentional with your time – learn how to say no and invest your time wisely
- Simplify Your Home – a complete guide and workbook to clearing your clutter and keeping it away!
- 5 life-changing benefits of decluttering your home and life
- Simplify Your Life – a guide and workbook to introduce you to simplicity and intentional living. Soul-searching questions to discover what you really want from life (and what’s just clutter)
- 10 things to declutter that aren’t actual things – clutter is so much more than the stuff which you can see