10 Ways to Simplify Your Life....quality over quantity!
You don't have to spend money....you'll probably make money!
The more you have, the more you have to take care of! Once you look at life in the new millennium from that aspect you'll find motivation to get out from under the complexity that has become a back-monkey for too many of us. You'll be able to sell, donate or recycle much of the deadweight. Simplifying can take a little start up effort, and I am here to testify, after a few of my own false starts, you need to free up time first, and space second. Baby steps or big strides .....be a little ruthless!
Free up your schedule....permanently. If you're constantly running late, you're running too much. Write down the things you do daily, weekly, and monthly and figure out what you can cut back on, or do without entirely. Memberships in organizations, affiliations, magazine subscriptions that you can't find time to read. Drop them all. Learn to say no. Stick with just one group or activity you love, and you'll probably feel better about it if it is volunteer work...I do, anyway. Keep one favorite publication you'll look forward to getting in the mail. Use your local library or try the new Kindle reading device from Amazon.
You can also evaluate your kids' time. Are they too scheduled? That's another time stealer. Have them pick one activity, or at most two, and eliminate the excess. You'll have more quality time with your kids, and they'll have fewer excuses not to complete schoolwork and chores on time!
Evaluate your job situation. Is it worth the commute? Can you do more work from home, or find a suitable job closer to home? If it's just too good a position to consider changing jobs, think about moving closer to work. With gasoline prices climbing you'll save money and time. Sit down and figure out what you're spending on gas and auto maintenance expenses. These days the cost of a long commute can represent a goodly chunk of cash that could be going toward your mortgage or paying off debt. If you do decide to move, you'll find the big sort you'd do to simplify will also make your home show better for selling and will also streamline the moving process.
Attack the paper trail. Whether you have an office in your home or just a small work/computer station...and you should at least have an organized bill-paying area....get in there and sort through the mounds of mail and paper records, be ruthless and shred, shred, shred. Go through every file drawer and shred or recycle everything you don't need for taxes and/or haven't looked at in 3 years or more. You don't need most of all those old records, and the important stuff you should keep either in a safety deposit box, or a fireproof safe at home. (I have to keep all my files for 7 years, but I box them each January after sorting and thinning what I can, and store them in the attic.) Get rid of any old office machines, gadgets, and supplies you don't use. Have an inbox, and deal with it weekly, pay bills, file receipts and recycle junk mail.
Scale down on tech gadgets, and clean up your computer. Chances are you communicate too much. You don't have to be available to all people at all times. Clean old files and contacts out of your computer; make a hard copy of important files all the email addresses you might want to keep. Get a new email address for yourself and give that only to the friends and family you want to keep in touch with. I once got a very snippy "bulk" email from a dear old friend of mine telling all her friends, guilty of spammng or not, that she was far too busy to keep reading all the jokes and snopes hoaxes she received from us. This is not the way to handle intrusive numbers of emails.....just start using the new email address, and don't give it to folks you don't want to hear from. Along these same lines, if you have a cell phone that takes photos and you can text with...but you never use those features, in fact you never use you allotted minutes your pay for....get rid of it and choose a simpler phone or even a pre-pay cell phone service. For people who do not use their cell phone for much other than emergencies or convenience while away from home, a pre-paid phone can be ultimately cheaper. Or stay with the full cell phone service and eliminate your land line. And if you need a lap top to use away from home, fine...get rid of your home office desktop computer. You'll no longer find yourself uploading files from one to the other, or trying to recall where you kept a file.
Clean your storage areas first. Garage, sheds, closets, cabinets, pantry. I recommend tackling one room at a time, and you've already done your office. Really, if you haven't used and item, or even looked at it in years, you can sell donate or recycle it and never miss it. You may have to steel yourself from second guessing, when you get about halfway through the big sort, but be strong. Or quit for the day and come back resolved to be ruthless tomorrow. You can pick a staging area to place boxes and stacks of things to go to charity, the recycling bin, or to sell. It will be messy, but it will be temporary. Then make those calls, place those for sale ads, and haul away the offending rubble. If you're brave, have a yard sale. Keep only what you know you will use. Probably you will never again use 20 year old toys and sporting goods, rump-sprung chairs, Granny's old kitchenware, or all 12 suitcases. Lose them and be amazed at the empty shelves and storage space you'll need for the next simplifier.
Clean your house second. Kitchen first, it's the biggest job and you'll find it will be easier now you have more storage. Thin down your cookware, utensils, dishware, etc. Get rid of the gadgets you never use. Only keep what you will need for daily use, and store those party and once-a-year at the holiday-dishes, extra glasses and pans, box them and put them in the garage or attic. They will stay cleaner boxed and stored than on your shelves. Sell or donate appliances and gadgets you never use. Those you use occasionally you can now store off the kitchen counter....makes for simpler daily upkeep in the kitchen. Go through your pantry and toss any food stuffs that are pull-dated...and do that once every couple of months.
In the bedrooms bathrooms and living rooms, sort through every drawer, sort your closets again, and look at every flat surface for things you don't use and never want to dust again. Take sentiment out of the thought process, pretend that if you do not get rid of it you'll have to box and move it. With clothes, use the 3 year rule; if you haven't worn it in that time, you won't miss it when it's gone. If you do lose that weight, you'll want new clothes anyway!
Re-think your yard. If you're already an unwilling slave to your yard and landscaping, that may be one more reason to move...downsize. If you're overwhelmed and don't enjoy gardening, at the very least you should research easier plants, xeric design (less watering), and use more slow-growing perennials that require less upkeep. There is lots of info online about planning a low maintenance yard. Now for me, gardening is relaxing and it is one of the things I've kept in my simplified life...but if you hate it, don't do it.
Scale down your transpo. This time last year we owned 4 cars. Two people! Oh we had a use for, and a supposed reason to keep each vehicle, but it turns out it was not cost effective, or carbon friendly. We didn't need a pickup truck to haul stuff once or twice a year. We can rent a pickup truck for a fraction of what we spent maintaining and insuring that old elephant! The sports car was a collector that would never get the attention it needed from us, the people who like to arrive from point A to point B without having to repair our transportation alongside the road. We decided to sell everything we could outright, and get out from under the car payments. We bought a really nice second hand gas-sipper at auction (I recommend auctions if you can go with a mechanic to check the vehicle....in our case someone had switched the spark plug wires, a simple and cheap fix). We still have an SUV with a hitch for a small trailer, but we more often trade off use of the efficient car, or plan our routes and errands to go together. We also have two nice bicycles for short trips and just plain fun. We use public transportation to go to the downtown area where parking is impossible.
Pay off debt. Once you've started culling and thinning and selling....you'll seen how one person's dust can be another's diamonds. It's serendipitous that now you have some extra cash from selling your unwanted stuff to pay down some debt and ease the stress of the monthly bills. Pay off and close all but a few credit accounts. Keep a card with you for emergencies, keep your balance low, and pay on time. Many people absolutely love the convenience of automatic payment and computer bill-paying features. If you're using the newly cleaned and organized office, I think the old way can be just as easy. It's a personal choice.
Stop buying more stuff. You'll need a few new clothes each year, but you have all the gadgets and conveniences you'll ever need. When you do need to replace appliances or furniture, you will be able to budget for the best of class, and not be so overextended on credit you have to worry about paying for it. In the meantime, if it still works, don't replace it. Save your money. It is not a bargain if you don't need it, and/or it infringes on your financial comfort zone.
Now sit back and breathe deep. Start setting aside some private time for yourself and your loved ones that you will allow no one to intrude on. You'll be amazed at how much lighter and freer you are...The lack of worry and time pressures may startle you at first. You'll get used to it very fast.
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