Five steps to living more simply (and saving in the process)

Living the simple life sounds so peaceful, doesn’t it? It’s calm and free of drama. You’re never ruled by a schedule, so you wake up without an alarm, prepare healthy organic foods, and eat only when you’re hungry. Missed appointments? Never. Rush hour? No such thing. It’s peace and harmony all day long.

Ok, that’s not entirely true, but living simply is a step in that direction. It takes some of the chaos out of your day, reduces your stress, and leaves you more time to spend with the people you love, doing the things you like to do.

In today’s world, that might seem almost impossible. What’s important to understand, though, is that simplifying isn’t always a simple process. Life can be complicated, but there are things you can do to bring order and peace to your days.

Check out these five things you can do to start living more simply:

1. Deal with the clutter

Purge all that extra stuff– the things that you don’t use, need, or even remember that you have. An entire house can be overwhelming, so start in one room and work for 30 minutes at a time.

Take a closet, for example. Remove everything and then sort through it one item at a time. Make quick decisions to toss, donate, or keep–and be merciless. You probably won’t fix it, list it on eBay, or send it to your sister any time soon. If you were, you would have done it already.

If you absolutely have to, create a “maybe” box and fill it with a few really hard-to-decide items so they don’t derail your other quick decisions. Pack it up and store it out of sight. If you haven’t reached for it in a year…you know where it goes!

2. Stop buying all the stuff

We know Amazon makes it so easy, but they don’t have to live in your house. If you limit your buying habits to what you actually need, you’ll have less stuff—see tip #1 above—and you’ll have more money. Win-Win.

For some people, it’s difficult to escape the materialism trap, but there are so many better ways to find happiness, deal with stress, or be entertained. Try spending time with friends, taking a kickboxing class, or watching a movie. It’s much more fun and costs a lot less money.

For the things you do need, make a list and stick to it, whether that’s at the grocery store or online. For some things, you can buy used or even borrow if you’ll use it only once or twice. Make shopping decisions that will leave your wallet a little heavier and your home—and your life— a little lighter.

3. Re-evaluate your obligations

When you say yes to something, you say no to something—or someONE—else. An overscheduled day raises your stress level and certainly doesn’t allow you to live simply.

Find ways to free up your time for what’s most important to you. That means eliminating the things you don’t like and making room for what you enjoy, whether that’s a 20-minute catnap or a day-long Netflix binge. No judgment here.

Everyone has busy days, but when they’re filled with things that don’t lift you up, they’ll inevitably drag you down. Learn to say no and protect your time. Some of our favorite responses are, “I’d love to, but I just don’t have the time.” or “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I really have too much on my plate right now.” Voila! You’re off the hook.

4. Dial down your list of things to do

If you’re like most people, you have a never-ending list of things to do. There are two ways to manage that monster: delegate and divide your to-dos into days.

Your spouse, your kids, your friends, and anyone else you can find, they can all run errands, too. Choose a dry-cleaner that’s on your husband’s way home from work or have you kids return that cup of sugar to your neighbor. Order your groceries online and choose curbside pickup. You don’t have to do it all.

For the things you insist on doing yourself, limit your list to 2 or 3 tasks per day. When you work from an endless list, crossing off just a few items makes it seem like you haven’t done enough when you’ve actually accomplished quite a bit. Turn that feeling around and make a daily list that’s much more realistic, and more rewarding, too.

5. Limit your communication

Communication is the key to success. That might be true, but over-communication can be overwhelming, especially when much of it isn’t of any great importance. Between your work email and your personal email, your Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, you’re overstimulated and exhausted by noon.

Not only are you expected to respond to each of your 500 friends’ last social media posts, but that response needs to include the perfect non-edited looking picture with the funniest caption. Ahhh, social media.

Try taking a 30-day hiatus from social media and see how much extra time you have in your day. You’ll never want to go back.

As for email, that’s another story. While you’re working, commit to checking your email once every two hours. That’s it–no peeking, no checking it during your lunch break, or sending a quick response to just this one. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you are when you’re not continually interrupted. You can do the same thing with your personal email. Check it once a day, or twice if you have to, but that’s it. Being at your email’s beck and call is no way to live. Be the boss and dial it back to simplicity.

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