It is a mindful decision to live a simplified life. Less stuff means more open space for what's important in your life. It might be difficult to get started. Here are 10 ways to simplify your life. Ideas you might want to try in this journey.
1. Capsule wardrobe
Capsule wardrobe is getting popular these years. It just means editing down your wardrobe collection to a very small number for every season. It might be 20 pieces or 50 pieces total including top, bottom, outerwear, underwear, shoes and handbags. Imaging the calm and ease of owning a very small collection, yet everything matches. And it reflects your taste and style.
There are many ways to build up your capsule wardrobe. Depending on personal situation, the exact number or method is not that important. The point is to edit it down, throw / donate what you don't like or ill-fitting. Plan and design your seasonal collection. Keep them versatile. Basic neutral colors and classic design are a good start.
It takes time to fine tune your style. Don't expect to get it right the first time and be done with it. It takes the habit of review and edit regularly to keep the wardrobe small and functional. It does get easier and easier.
2. Minimal skin care/ make up/ toiletry
Is your toiletry, skincare product, or make up collection taking up too much of your space? We accumulate them without thinking too much, and suddenly they are overwhelming us.
It is fun to try out new product, but what we really need is very little. Keep the best and throw away the rest. Be ruthless and only keep the essentials you use every day.
Some people take a step further, and transfer the products to plain glass or plastic bottles without labels, or making their own labels. When displayed, the space looks more peaceful and minimal.
3. Simplify cleaning supply - natural, organic, basic
We use different cleaning products for everything in the house because that's what big companies want us to do. But we do not have to buy into this. There are many basic general products that clean just as well. All purpose soap, vinegar and baking soda, and many household items can be used for cleaning effectively.
Instead of using toxic chemical advertised by big companies, we can go natural, organic and home made. There are tons of DIY cleaning recipes on the internet. Think about green alternatives and the benefit of saved money, preserved health, and uncluttered space you will have.
4. Simplify your kitchen pantry
Kitchen is usually a representation of our health. What's stocked in your pantry and refrigerator? Is it nutritious or over-processed food? It's time to redesign what to keep in our kitchen.
First, throw away expired food or food you will not enjoy eating. Get rid of unhealthy food that does not fit your new lifestyle.
Second, put them into different categories and proper containers for storage. Label them so you or your family members can easily find them.
Third, review what you have and plan the future. No matter what diet you like to follow, a healthy and balanced diet should consists of fresh produce from earth. Home cooking is usually better than eating out. Keep a lot of healthy choices at home to avoid reaching for packaged and over processed food all the time.
5. Manage money - budget, tracking, investing, learning
We can not have a simple and peaceful life if we are struggling with finance. It does not mean we have to be rich to be calm and happy, but it does mean we have to take control of the money flow we have.
We start with what we have currently. Track our income, expense, set our financial goal, saving and investment goals. If you feel uncomfortable just thinking about managing money, it is time to learn and get educated. There are a lot of free or paid resources on and off line that will fit your schedule.
The most important part of managing money is to take control and make decision yourself. Sure you can hire people to help you, but you still need to know what you are doing. Many experts make money from you instead of profit from your investment growth. It's difficult to know who can trust. So put the important thing back to your hand. Set your own budget, saving, investment, follow your own system, and do your research and learning.
6. Downsizing - car, house, book collection, hobby equipment, kitchen tools
Downsizing is a quickest way to a simple life. If it does not fit into your home, it has to go. The biggest one is the space you live. Do you really need so much space? What if you live in a smaller space.
Look around the house, what takes up large space? Collections of books, DVDs, hobby equipment, kitchen tools? Think about it again and make a decision of what can let go now. The hardest part is making decisions. Delayed decision means no change.
A more dramatic way to downsize is to put all your essentials to suitcase as if moving to across the country. That's all you need to keep, and the rest can be packed in storage or donated. What we really need is very little. It is what we want that is endless.
7. Reduce, reuse, recycle - anything should be useful / meaningful or pass down.
Reduce, reuse, recycle. Mending and fixing instead of discarding and buying new ones. Re-purpose what you have brings a new life to an old object.
Buying used furniture or clothes reduce waste. Or "DIY / make your own" is a great alternative too.
Use less paper towels and paper plates. Less disposable products and more old fashion ways. It might take more work to clean, but you don't have to keep buying and stocking all the extras.
Be green and reduce the garbage we produce everyday. Let our world be more self contained, and not relying on commercial products all the time.
8. Value experience rather than material possession.
We are in the society of consumption, always buying more and bigger stuff to compete with your neighbors, to proof you are successful, or to show your love to family members. Is it really making sense? Can we stop playing the game?
Deciding what's important to you is the starting point of a simplified life. Happiness does not mean presents, fancy house or cars. We do not need luxury to be happy. In fact, the happiest countries in the world are usually poor, but their life is rich.
Interaction with friends and family, activities together, and quality time without distraction of technology all make us feel like millionaires. It's the mindset we have to change, and constantly watch. What do you want your life to be? A house full of fancy possessions are nice, but not a requirement for a happy and fulfilled life.
When we can see beyond the material possessions, it brings us peace of mind, and life is much simpler without the false competition.
9. Review and edit what you own regularly. Be mindful about what you own. More is not always better.
Keeping life simple is a skill to learn. It means paying attention to what you want to keep that fits your lifestyle, and what you want to get rid of from your surrounding. It takes constant editing.
We bring in something new, and throw away something that does not fit our life at the moment. It's a flow of coming in and going out. We have to decide for ourselves what stays in our life. If we keep too many extras, we get cluttered, stressed, distracted easily. If we keep too little or keep the wrong thing, we might feel uncomfortable or not authentic. It is the balancing point we try to achieve. The point changes all the time because our situation changes. It is an ongoing process.
Go with the flow and go with your heart.
10. Get others on board - Family members, friends, co-workers. Find or form your community.
If you are living alone, simplify life is much easier. But most of us live with family members. It makes a difference if they are on the same page with you, specially for kids. Teach them how to live a mindful, organized and simple life. They will benefit for a long time.
Adults are sometimes more stubborn to change. Start with ourselves. Once they see the benefit of a simple living, hopefully they will gradually change. Everybody has freedom to choose the kind of life to live. And we respect that.
Find support from like minded friends, family or groups. It is always easier to have companies starting a new journey. Exchanging tips and tricks, sharing up and downs. You are not alone.
I hope these 10 ideas get you started on the simplifying life journey. Feel free to leave a comment and share your experience.