Simplify your life by throwing out the clutter

Spend more time doing things you like

Simplicity is gaining in popularity as a response to our economic times. Even though it goes against our contemporary American brain to be satisfied with greater simplicity and less stuff it came very naturally to our grandparents. Maybe it’s time to return to our practical past by challenging stereotypical American assumptions like:
* Baby boomers’ belief that human worth is tied to how much we work;
* Some parents equating being a good parent with giving your children everything they want;
In other words, simplifying will be different for everyone. What would make your life easier?

Leo Babauta writing for Zenhabits suggests that simplifying means getting rid of much of what you do to spend more time with those you love, doing the things you enjoy. It means “getting rid of the clutter so you are left with only that which gives you value.”

Babauta suggests many ideas. The following is adapted from
* First, write out a clear description of what your simpler life looks like.
* Identify your well-considered priorities or simplifying won’t work for you. Make a list of the four to five most important things to you, what you most value, and what you most want to do in your life.
* Identify which commitments – from family, hobbies, work and volunteering – truly give you value and you deeply enjoy. Which are in the top four to five most important things you listed? Drop those that aren’t.
* Log your time investments from upon awakening until you go to bed. Do they support your top priorities? Eliminate those that don’t. Then redesign how you spend your waking hours.
* Simplify your work and home tasks. Instead of hacking your way through your to-do lists, identify what’s most important and do those first. Eliminate the rest, delegate them or pay someone to do them.
* Set appropriate limits! If you don’t know how, take an assertiveness class. If you set no limits you teach others that you’ll always say “yes” to their requests. And guess what. They’ll keep asking!
* Take control over your emails, cell phone, IM, Twitter, etc. They’ll take over your life if you’re not careful. Set limits like checking emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Or admit that these electronic connections are a top priority and more important than whatever else you’re falling behind on.
* Get rid of stuff. It feels good. Use the idea of a workshop participant: once a year she hangs all of her clothes backwards. When she wears something she hangs it back up frontwards. At the end of the year anything that remains hanging backwards gets donated. I love this simple idea!

Happiness and satisfaction are never from what you own. They come from your relationships, being satisfied with what you have, being what you want to be and living your values. Recommit to your simplicity annually to avoid slipping back onto the American hyper-treadmill once the economy recovers.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.