September 1, 2017

Every few years a new trend comes along. Given the current high-speed technology overload, it’s not surprising that we are seeing increasing interest in simpler living.

As a busy plugged-in-mom of three children—who are also plugged in—I definitely feel we need to focus on unplugging, unwinding, and slowing down. If this means getting rid of clutter, all the better. Simplifying our lives can only help our racing, overloaded minds, and our connection to each other (and to nature, too).

Living simply doesn’t mean you have to drastically downsize your home or throw out every single electronic device you own. It doesn’t mean you have to forget about shopping or eating out.  Small shifts can create a simpler, easier, and less stressful day. Try starting out with these simple steps:

  1. Get rid of anything you have no use for. That drawer full of junk, the dresses in the closet you haven’t worn in over two years, the toys your kids have outgrown. Living simply is also about living with less clutter.
  2. Take more time outside. Eat dinner outside. Make time for after dinner family walks. Leave your desk and go sit in a park while eating lunch.
  3. Grow and cook your own. Spend less time in the store and more time in the garden and kitchen.
  4. Cut back on electronics. I love my computer and use it all the time, but I also know that putting it away for regular intervals helps me think more clearly and connect more—with others and with nature. Schedule weekly no-device time.
  5. Spend more time doing nothing. We all have packed schedules, but doing nothing (and especially doing nothing alone) has huge mind-relaxing benefits. Sit and look at a pond or lake, take a walk to nowhere, or take up tai chi, meditation, or swimming–all activities that free the mind.
  6. Watch your buying habits. Try this: For every new item you buy, you must donate two.
  7. Slow down. Eat slower. Walk slower. Drive slower. In a fast-paced world, moving slowly can reduce stress and help you be more present.
  8. Have everyone in your household help with chores so you have less to do. Regular chores help kids develop a sense of responsibility, and means less screen time, too.
  9. Live frugally. This is a challenge for some people, but think about it: a $15 handbag carries the same items as a $150 bag. If the $150 bag brings you far more pleasure, ask yourself how you are measuring your happiness. Time doing things we love or being connected with others in simple ways—like walking and talking—is priceless.
  10. Cancel any subscriptions you don’t use, including magazines, newspapers, email, and junk mail. A clean counter or desktop is a stress-less one.

Before you make a purchase or take on a new obligation, always ask yourself: is this simplifying my life or adding more stress, time, and clutter?