Well, here we are halfway through February.
How are your New Year’s resolutions going?
Don’t worry. Much like Planet Fitness, this is a no-judgement zone. If you’ve already fallen off the wagon with your promise to exercise every day or your resolution to quit sugar cold turkey, it’s okay. In fact, I’m not really a big fan of New Year’s resolutions anyway.
What I am a fan of, however, is life change.
Not something that is based on a certain day of a certain month of the year. But a simple, profound desire for change in your life. The point where you realize that things aren’t working the way you’ve been doing them up until now and you’re ready to remedy that.
For me, it came after my mother passed away from cancer in 2013. Not only were the proverbial blinders taken off about life in general, but I also realized that my life in fact hadn’t been working up to that point and I was ready to make a change.
Do you see that word there? Ready.
I believe that you will make real, transformative changes in your life when you ready. Plain and simple. There’s no magic pill to swallow or wand to wave to make it happen. You just have to be ready. You just need to dislike your current situation more than the amount of work it will take to achieve a new one.
But once you reach that place… that significant moment in time when you are ready to stop surviving your life and start to actually live it instead… well, that’s when things start to get really good.
So, if you’re at that time now… yep, halfway through February, on a random and arbitrary day… and you’re ready to simplify your life, to get back to basics and cut out some of the noise and chaos… well then, my friend, this post is for you.
1. Clear Out Your Closet
No, this is not a euphemism for getting over your issues (although that would simplify your life too). I actually mean to clear out your closet. Simplifying your life should make it easier, smoother and more organized. And I’m guessing that right now, those adjectives do not describe your morning routine of getting dressed.
If your morning looks more like this…
Then it’s time to simplify.
Now, it’s up to you whether you want to go all ultra-minimalist and do a capsule wardrobe. I, personally, do not do that. But instead, have pared down my wardrobe to a reasonable amount of clothes and only hold on to things that I legitimately wear. Sound good? Great! Here’s how to do that:
- Get rid of anything that has holes, stains, rips, tears and is otherwise gross or damaged.
- Donate/sell anything that is too small, too big, too young (be honest) or even too old for you.
- Let go of any items that you haven’t worn in the last 6-12 months because if you haven’t worn it that recently, there’s probably a reason.
But don’t just stop with your clothes. Take your new, ruthless attitude and go through your shoes, scarves, hats, belts and other accessories while you’re at it. The goal here is to clear out all of the excess, so all that’s left is what you actually wear. If you don’t believe me when I say you’re only wearing 20% of it anyway, try the old hanger test where you hang the things up that you have worn with a backwards hanger and then look and see what other items have actually moved after a week or two. Most likely, it will be few, if any. So, why bother having them take up the space?
Make your mornings simpler and faster by clearing them out!
2. Refine Your Hygiene Routine
Alright ladies, this one is especially for you. And you high-maintenance men too. An easy way to make your daily life simpler is to cut back on your hygiene routine. Sure, we all like to look nice. But if you have to put on fake eyelashes and straighten your hair just to go buy some eggs and cheese, then you can stand to simplify.
The truth is, we can actually get by with a lot fewer products than the marketing powers-that-be would have us believe. So you can start by cutting out all the unnecessary facial and hair products. You only really need something to wash and moisturize your face – everything else is just fluff. Same with all of the lotions, sprays, gels and potions you may be using on your hair. In fact, the less of these you use, the healthier your body (and your checkbook) will be. Cut back on the number of times you wash your hair per week (which is also better for you and your hair) and cut out the Kardashian-esque extras like highlighting, sculpting and hair extensions unless you’re headed to a runway show.
The more you can simplify your morning routine and appreciate your true, natural beauty, the better off you’ll be both physically and emotionally.
3. Prepare/Plan Your Meals in Advance
Now, this is where you might be saying “Wait a minute, I thought I was supposed to be simplifying my life, not adding to it!” But, stick with me. Yes, planning and/or preparing your meals in advance will require some more of your time. But the point here is to simplify your life, meaning no more standing in front of your fridge staring aimlessly into the abyss or calling Domino’s for the 500th time this month.
You can simplify your daily routine (and keep your body healthier) by planning ahead and figuring out what you’re going to eat in advance. Whether you decide to utilize a meal planning service where they deliver whole meals to your door or just plan your own meals using Pinterest or your God-given Martha Stewart skills, by laying it all out ahead of time, you will actually give yourself extra time in your evenings because you won’t be standing around trying to figure out what to eat.
Although I haven’t done it myself yet, I do have several friends who spend one day (usually Sunday) preparing all of their meals for the week. Then, all they have to do during the work week is heat up their meals and relax. The same goes for being prepared by keeping healthy snacks in your purse or car. Not only will it keep you from going through the McDonald’s drive-thru (hopefully), but it will also save you time and gas money because you will always be prepared, just like Grandma was with the butterscotch candies.
4. Cut Back on Social Media
If ever there was something I could suggest that would benefit you in multiple ways, it is to cut back on social media. Social media in and of itself can cause stress, anxiety and depression because of the constant comparison it forces people to make between their own lives and the supposed “perfect” lives of their supposed “friends.” You can be feeling peachy-keen about yourself and after just an hour of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, end up feeling like this…
So, why not cut back on the self-torture and limit your use of social media. Cut back in the number of platforms themselves by only using the ones you enjoy and getting rid of the others that you had just because you felt compelled to fit in (yes, even as an adult). On the ones you do use, un-friend or un-follow people whose posts upset or offend you. Limit the amount of time you spend scrolling your feed and stalking other people’s profiles. And most importantly…
Be present in your life experiences instead of being sidetracked with posting about them for other people to see.
5. Establish an Evening Routine
And by evening routine, I don’t mean post up on the couch and binge-watch Netflix until 2 in the morning. One of the biggest reasons we end up feeling stressed, tired and overwhelmed is because of poor time management. We may not set out to lose five hours watching Game of Thrones or scrolling Instagram, but once it happens, we end up feeling frazzled and stressed because there’s still laundry, dishes and work to get done before bed.
So, simplify your evenings (and the next morning) by establishing a routine each night. First of all, our bodies love routine and will quickly fall into a new pattern after just a few days of practicing it. Plus, an evening routine won’t just help you get everything accomplished. It will also set you up for a better night’s sleep and a less stressful morning the next day.
Intentionally prepare for the next day by laying out your outfit (from your new, streamlined closet!), make sure the Keurig has enough water in it, make your lunch ahead of time and organize your bag or briefcase. Then, choose a couple relaxing activities that you love, like reading, taking a bath or journaling and make them a daily ritual. Make sure you start doing your evening routine early enough to get to bed at a decent hour (by 10 p.m. is best for your adrenals!) and before you know it, your nights (and days) will be running like a well-oiled machine.
And since I am all about making your life simpler, I’ll save you the trouble of having to take notes or print out a bunch of pages, by giving you this handy infographic to put on your fridge, your bathroom mirror or wherever you’re most likely to look at it.
Now, get to it. Your simplified (and fabulous!) life is waiting for you!
Until next time… keep your worries tiny and your dreams BIG!
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished author, speaker and freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has been published in numerous print and online publications and appears at tiny house festivals, healthy living festivals and private engagements across the country, speaking on the subjects of downsizing & minimalism, clean eating, healthy living and spiritual health. She appeared on HGTV’s “Tiny House Big Living,” is a regular guest on the NBC morning show “Charlotte Today” on WCNC-TV and has also appeared as a guest on the Tiny House Podcast, The Purpose Show and LiveTiny Canada.
In 2015, Jenn launched her website, Live a F.A.S.T. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living and downsizing into a 160-square- foot tiny house. She now teaches others how to make similar changes in their own lives through her online webinars and her e-course collection, De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress. Her new book, Live a F.a.s.t. Life: How Stripping Down and Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back is available now on her website, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.