It’s easy to let life get out of hand. Many societal forces promote a life that’s big, unmanageable and unreasonably cluttered with extra things and unneeded complications. But you can simplify life and start living a minimalist lifestyle now.
Here are 20 things you can start doing now to simplify life before it gets any more out of control.
1. Decide which things are really important to you today, then do only those things. Forget about doing things that don’t add to your life in some way.
2. Rethink tomorrow’s commitments. If you have activities planned for the future that don’t contribute to a better life for you, your family or those who are important to you in some way, get out of them. Decline invitations and turn away from obligations that aren’t making your life better.
3. Analyze every task you do, looking for a simpler way. You can simplify life by simply rethinking the way you do the things you do. Cook simpler dinners, plan simpler parties and give presentations for your work with fewer slides and handouts. Cutting 20 percent of the steps from every task you do could free up hours in your day.
4. Close your email program and cut off other distractions. Limit email checks, texting and chat sessions to one or twice a day. Closing the application prevents it from distracting you from other tasks that are more important to your simple life.
5. Limit all other forms of communication. Let every call go to voicemail, and start establishing a reputation as someone who is hard to reach. Those who don’t really need your time will eventually stop calling.
6. Gain time by turning off the television. Get back the time you waste watching television by eliminating the TV altogether. If you won’t do that, turn it off more often, then use the hours you gain to do tasks you enjoy or take care of less pleasant tasks that have weighed on your mind.
7. Declutter your physical possessions. Get rid of as much junk as possible by throwing it away or donating it. You can simplify life by simply dealing with fewer items on a day-to-day basis.
8. Simplify your interior design. Make your life feel simpler by eliminating knickknacks and extra furniture from every room in your house. You’ll feel better when you set up a minimalist interior design scheme in your home.
9. Edit your wardrobe. Simplify life today by eliminating half your clothes. An overflowing closet is a sign of a life that isn’t evaluated often enough and that has gotten out of control. Eliminate the things you don’t or can’t wear, then focus on creating a better wardrobe with simple, classic pieces that will last a long time.
10. Clean up your computer. It’s no wonder some people feel out of control. With a computer desktop cluttered with icons, how could they feel simple? Clean up your computer, eliminating the stuff you don’t actually need.
11. Stop buying things. Turn your back on consumerism and materialism, and simplify life by stopping buying things. Evaluate every buying decision, then only buy things that are essential, like simple foods.
12. Clear your mind by spending time alone. Meditate, read a book or simply sit and recover. You’ll feel more in control if you schedule some alone time. Free of the distraction of things and people, your mind can reboot.
13. Savor your meals. You’ll feel better about what you eat if you eat mindfully and slowly. Take it all in.
14. Get the junk out of your line of sight. Visual cues help set moods, so get the junk out of your line of sight so the places you most often work or relax seem more serene.
15. Set routines. Life is simpler when you set up simple routines and stick with them. It’s fine to be spontaneous, but don’t give up your life’s established routine just because you get another offer.
16. Live frugally even if you don’t have to. You’ll feel more responsible if you limit your spending, leave a smaller environmental footprint and practice a bit of voluntary simplicity. There’s no better way to simplify life.
17. Take a walk. Most of us could use more exercise, and walking is one of the best forms of exercise. You’ll feel less burdened after a mind-clearing, body-stimulating walk.
18. Express yourself. Part of that out-of-control feeling could come from not having a form of creative expression. Write something, draw something, paint sometime or bake something. Dig out the dancing shoes or your old skateboard, then express yourself more to unburden your mind a bit.
19. Space out your activities better. Leave yourself time to stop and smell the roses — very literally if that’s something you like to do. Under-book every day instead of overbooking it.
20. Leave other people’s problems to them. Simplify life by dealing only with your own problems. Leave others to manage their own lives.
Once you let go of some habits and pick up a few others, you can simplify life and enjoy every moment of it.
Oh, and explore the rest of Minimalist Living Today for more advice on living simply.