14 habits for a simpler life

You, like many of my clients might feel like living a simple life is elusive and that living with ease can’t be fully created. You might have even tried to build habits for a simpler life and listened to a million people tell you how to do it best only to start and stop, and lose interest in it all.

I understand that feeling. The women I work with feel the same way – overwhelmed by their responsibilities and the curve balls life consistently throws. They are tired of not knowing which “simplicity” trick or hack will work best. What they have found in decluttering and getting organized is that when there is too much in your space, or huddling in your head, you can’t – easily – see the forest from the trees.

Everything is more difficult.

What I have learned after doing this work for over 22 years is when you let go of a thought, a thing – even a person – that contributes to the difficulty you are freer to make the best choices for your well-being. And freer to see what will work best.

It is where “simple” rises to the surface and where good habits for a simpler life and lifestyle can be created. When you have space – in your head and home – you can see a clearer path to the wellness you seek.

Here are 14 habits for a simpler life I swear by {and the plethora of tasks and responsibilities that are part of it}.

1. Slow down.

Every day find a way to slow down. You are busy. You have deadlines and appointments and are juggling the needs of others. “Slow down” doesn’t mean putting it in park for hours. It simply means to catch yourself in the middle of some of your busy movements and find a slower pace if even for 20 minutes, or 20 seconds. There is no need to rush to the finish line or complete something in the name of being “done“.  When you move too fast, you miss a lot of the most important things in life – including the lessons.

When you feel flustered or rushed stop and ask yourself, “What am I rushing for?” It might serve as a way to help you slow down and remind you that it all ends…everything will be over at some point. Why rush toward that inevitable end?

2. Focus on the top 3.

Many of us have a list a mile long of things we “need to do”. We angst over all the things and end up spinning our wheels trying to get something accomplished. And yet all that spinning never leaves us really satisfied. Instead of trying to make progress with it all, create a list of the most important things you need to do today or in this season of your life. Keep your list somewhere you can see it. Ideally it will be where you make scheduling decisions. Focus on what you deem are the top three most important tasks or projects. Each day find a task or two or ten to do to move the needle forward in completing those projects or plans. {Note: This is the list making app I use, and adore}

3. Time block.

The best way to complete or move forward with your top three is to dedicate time blocks to work toward your project. Blocking off chunks of time to work on a project or plan reduces the scarcity mentality when it comes to time. When you schedule in that time and can “see” it on your calendar, you get more done and stay focused more in the process. To be clear, chunks of time need not be lengthy. Keeping things – the task, the time, the expectation – small often means making more progress. A little goes a long way and often saves you time – and mind!

4. Take mindfulness breaks.

Sit in silence. Take a walk. Stand under a tree. Similar to “slow down”, when you add in breaks to ground yourself you pull yourself into the present moment. And that is where all the magic happens. Schedule your mindfulness breaks to help you take them as seriously as your tasks.

5. Choose a new habit over a new product

Instead of looking for a gadget or yet another product to help you “do” your life, think first about how you can change something you are currently doing. Maybe you just need a shift in thinking or a different way to look at doing something. If what you are doing is pushing you to buy more of anything, ask yourself first if it will help to buy yet another notebook, basket, utensil, “supply”, etc. Or is it an excuse to delay the inevitable hard work present in creating the new, healthier habit? Before you buy, ask yourself: Do I need this? Do I have something else like it that will solve the problem? Will buying this delay my progress, add too much to my life, or advance my goals?

You don’t need more things. You need a commitment to yourself to be open to change, and a trust in yourself that you have a lot of what you need to make it happen.

6. Eliminate distractions.

Where simplicity allows you to do more, distractions cause chaos and roadblocks preventing the creation of anything. Turn off your notifications! When I first read about doing this as a way to reduce the pull of other people’s expectations and priorities, it piqued my interest so I decided to give it a try. It is the most freeing thing to feel I have more control over the outside noise. I have more opportunities to make progress on goals, projects, and tasks because I am not constantly being pulled or alerted by messages from even the most well-intended people. The noise doesn’t disappear completely. But when you turn off notifications you reduce how much noise you let in, set yourself up for success, and give yourself the best chance at being the best version of yourself.

happier home

7. Eat well

The prayer we say before eating a meal sums up the power of eating well. “Thank you God/Universe for this food we will eat. May it nourish us, and give us the energy to do good in the world.” When you eat real food, with little processing or chemicals you give your body that energy it needs to stay healthy and give it the best chance at “doing good”. Find healthy recipes and get in the habit of prepping food and making a meal plan to make eating well easy to do. And that way, you will have the energy to out and make your important mark on the world.

8. Make your bed.

You have heard about the importance of this task and why making it a habit is one of the simplest ways to accomplish a lot in your day. Making your bed is a domino effect. It is a simple task and completing it makes you feel good – accomplished – in even a small way. You take that feeling with you into your day and are then more likely to follow through on other health-promoting habits.

If you want to change the world – or at least create goodness in your own world – start by making your bed.

9. Own less.

I think this speaks for itself. Simply put: Less stuff = less work, less to navigate, clean, work around, decide on.  “Less” opens you and your space up. And that openness is the gateway to creating a fulfilling life you love. To own less you must be willing to let go. So, let go of excess, of things you don’t like, need, or use. Let go of limiting thoughts and the expectations of others and yourself. And give yourself the time you deserve to experience “less” and create more from it.

10. Always find a home

The biggest rule in getting and staying organized is this: Everything must have a home. When things have a home, the area is neat. And importantly, you can find what you need, when you need it, without stress and frustration. Follow this rule to a “T” and you will always have a sense of calm in your home – and your head!

11. Tidy up

Being tidy or the act of tidying up means you can easily put things back where they belong leaving your space neat, and quiet. So once you have created your home (see habit 10), the goal is to use it. Tidy up isn’t about never having your space get to a disheveled or chaotic place. Rather about the ability to return it to normalcy, where it can function as the welcoming, calming – happy – entity is meant to, without too much angst.

If you want to use your space and your things, be active and present in the “doing” of life, and be able to restore things to continue to appreciate your space and your place in it, tidy your space every day.

Happier Home

12. Look inside not out

There is a lot of noise out there and a lot of opinions and comparisons. They force you to look outside for answers instead of within. We aren’t taught to do a deep dive to look inside or to trust that our answers are there. But learning how to do so is integral to creating a healthy life you love.

What is inside is what is most true. It is what you truly need, and want. When you pay attention more to what is inside and work to quiet the noise outside you start to build trust in yourself. And it is from that place where you can make decisions more confidently and live more deliberately. The more you recognize what is pulling you away from yourself, the more you can shift your thinking. And the less scared you will be to veer off the beaten path from getting information “out there” to getting it “in here”.

One tool to help you listen

13. Use simple, and non-toxic products.

To create a life you love, health in your head, heart, and home must be part of it. Creating a healthy lifestyle by using products that protect, heal, nourish, and nurture, can be difficult.  There are too many options, confusing marketing messages, and too much wasted time sorting it all out. Choosing products to achieve the health you are looking for can feel like navigating a maze blindfolded. And because of it, you get stuck in bad habits, using products that don’t fully meet a “healthy living “standard.

This curated list of companies and products I use and am affiliated with meet my minimalist and simple standards: they are sustainable, easy to use (and in some cases have multiple purposes), have basic, few, and easy-to-understand ingredients – which makes them simple solutions – and they work. They make living a healthy life a simple habit to form.

14. Quit your bad habits.

It is time to stop doing the things that continually chip away at your energy, health, and esteem. However, it can be difficult to first recognize where something is “bad” and then actually quit it.  Pay attention to what zaps your energy or doesn’t help you fulfill your goals. Quitting anything you are attached to chemically, mentally, or physically is hard. Letting go can mean enduring a period of withdrawal. And that can be a sign that it wasn’t for your best good in the first place. All of this can make you shy away from quitting at all.  Make it easier by focusing on the goal you have for your life, your health, and well-being, and not on the temporary pain of letting go.

And be patient with yourself. Change isn’t easy. But as you give yourself some grace, time, and permission to make mistakes you will create better habits and live life more simply.


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