If we wait to simplify until life is calm, we may never get around to it. I know, because when I first started more intentional simplifying I was 7 months pregnant with our first baby, a full-time college student, and working/supporting my husband the rest of the time. It wasn't ideal--my energy was severely lacking--but it was necessary.
I can't think of a time since that I would consider ideal simplifying conditions. Some of the most successful simplifying was done when we had 8 weeks to prepare for a short jobless and homeless season--not ideal, but still effective. Even the more "ideal" seasons were full of basic family routines like childcare, meal planning/prep, house keeping, job stress, etc.
All of this to say that we don't have to wait for life to calm down in order to calm and simplify our surroundings. In fact, it's likely that a calmer, simpler home is just the catalyst needed to help life follow suit. Below are some simple, practical ways I have been able to simplify even while life isn't so simple.
How to Simplify When Life is Complicated
It's possible to create a little simplicity in our homes even when life is a little chaotic. Sometimes it might even be necessary to help us better cope in the chaos. It isn't necessarily easy, but the effort is always worth it. Use these tips to get started...
Find a pocket of time.Even 20 minutes once a week will do. If you could do 20 minutes everyday for a week, even better. Give up a little of your end-of-the-day relax time with the idea that you'll be able to relax better once you get some simplifying done. Or set aside some time on the weekend. In really chaotic seasons, finding time may seem impossible, and that's when it's likely time to let something go, at least for a little while.
Let something go.We only have a limited amount of resources like time and energy. When life gets too full, you likely have to let an activity or obligation go in order to make room for intentional simplifying time. For me, this is often routine housekeeping. I temporarily ease up on some of the regular cleaning in order to focus on getting rid of things. I know this time will make cleaning easier when I'm done. You might need to let go of a project or put it on hold, or put off entertaining, or whatever make sense for you. And go ahead and let go of any resulting guilt while you're at it.
Be realistic.Know your limits. Especially if the thing making your life chaotic is related to health. Health issues can greatly hinder your energy; something that needs to be spent on family and the essentials before diving into extra projects like simplifying. You might even opt to delay more intentional simplifying until everyone in the family is healthy. Whatever your state when you simplify, adjust your expectations to the details of your life. What you can accomplishment may not be what you hoped and dreamed; but any progress is worth celebrating.
Have a clear goal.Write down the top 3 areas you want/need/hope to simplify (stick to more specific areas like a closet or a shelf rather than a general room); then write down a reasonable timeframe you're aiming to complete it--anything from a week to a month, depending on the work to be done. Keep this in a handy spot in a regularly used planner, on the family calendar, or the fridge. Anywhere you will see it throughout your day and week to make your goals happen.
Start a list.Along with the clear goals above, have a little writing space handy to make lists. As you simplify, you'll likely run into more things that need to be done, or even items you'd like to buy. Add them to a running list to get to later. By writing it down you can get it out of your head and stay focused on your current goals. You can get to those project lists or shopping lists after you reach your simplifying goals.
Find the calm.Every season, even the most chaotic and messy ones, has some element of contentment to be enjoyed. Find what that is in this season by writing down the things you're thankful for; spend your down time getting inspired; take a moment to fill up when you're feeling empty; and relish in your newly simplified spaces by taking pictures or showing friends or just sitting and staring to take it all in. Find that bit of peace and get the most out of it.
Life may be a little chaotic, but it's time for some Spring Simplifying around here. Big time. And just in time for me to re-release my Simplifying Home ebook and launch the new SimplifyingHome.com website. Yay!
Join me in some Spring Simplifying?! Checkout How to Simplify Your Home This Spring on the new blog, join the Simplifying Home email list for a 2-page worksheet and 10 Steps to Start Simplifying, and tag your own photos and posts with #SimplifyingHome and follow @trinarcress for my updates. More to come from my spring simplifying in the next few weeks.
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10 ways to simplify + refresh life
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