Five Ways to Simplify Your Life Today

Sometimes the process of simplifying can be overwhelming. There are dressers to go through, closets to clean, and changes to be made. Just thinking about all that needs to be done is enough to make you want to give up on minimalism.

Don’t despair, dear one. Minimalism is a journey. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. It might not even be realistic to try to simplify everything right away. It is probably best to do it a little at a time.

In our society, though, even one step can be a major undertaking. It can take hours to clean out a closet. It could take days to clean out a garage. What if you don’t have the time or energy to complete a major project?

Fear not. There are ways to simplify your life without committing hours and hours of time. These are things you can do even with a hectic schedule. Here are five things you can do today to simplify your life:

  • Unsubscribe from store emails. Clearing clutter is central to the minimalist lifestyle.  The clutter on the bookshelf is easily seen. Electronic clutter may not be as obvious. While it is mostly invisible, electronic clutter is a problem because it consumes your time and attention. Do you have emails from retailers?  Hit “Unsubscribe.” Fewer store emails means less time cleaning out your inbox. It will also cut you off from the store’s advertisements, decreasing the chance that you’ll purchase from them.
  • Clean out your wallet. It’s a small project, but one that will benefit just about everybody. Are you storing receipts in your wallet? Go through them. Discard the ones you no longer need. Accumulating business cards? Enter meaningful contacts into your phone. Throw out the rest. And of course, dump out all your change. Your wallet will be lighter and thinner.
  • Do a mini-purge. Choose one surface (kitchen counter, dresser, vanity) and focus on cleaning that just surface. You don’t have to go through the whole dresser, just clear off the top. Clearing even a small surface is a step in the right direction.
  • Throw out 5 things. Look through your purse, backpack, briefcase, bathroom, refrigerator or another area. Look through your old mail. Look in the trunk of your car. Find five things and throw them out. Not a big step, but small steps repeated over time can have a big impact.
  • Unplug. We spend so much time connected to our devices. There is no shortage of sites to look at, statuses to update, and profiles to manage. These things take time and energy. One way to simplify is simply to unplug; to step away from our devices and do something relaxing. You can read, go out for a walk, or take a nap. The main thing is that you clear some space in your mind and in your schedule.

Minimalism takes time, but it can be done little by little. You may not be able to do a full purge by tomorrow but you can do something small. There are small things you can do today, usually in a few minutes, that will make your life simpler. What can you do today?

There is Only One Best

Call me crazy, but I enjoy taking tests. It’s like a showdown between me and the material (or in a hostile situation, me and the professor). Standardized tests are the same for me. It’s me and the test clashing in battle, and only one of us can emerge victorious. I love it. (This is part of the reason I want to be a professional student, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

When studying for standardized tests, I often see these instructions:

Choose the best answer.

That concept is key because for a multiple choice question, there can be several good answers. Many can be good, but only one can be best. The best answer is the one that must be selected.

In the same way, there can be many good uses for my time. Reading books, studying, listening to music, knitting… any of these could be good uses of time. However, at any given moment there can only be one way to make the best use of my time.

For example, last week I signed myself up for two classes through Coursera, a website that offers online classes from top universities for free. (If you have time you should definitely check it out. The courses are awesome.) I signed up for Think Again: How to Reason and Argue and Calculus 1. I love calculus, and I love the idea of learning how to create and recognize a good argument. While these things are great, Coursera courses aren’t the best way to use my time right now. My time is better spent searching for employment, writing, and brushing up on my Greek and Hebrew.

Considering my goals, I decided to drop both Coursera courses. I hope to take more courses though Coursera at some point, but now is not that time. I sacrificed what was good and choose to do what is best.

Minimalism is about choices. We choose to live with less. We choose freedom from clutter in our homes and in our schedules. We choose full lives over fashion. We choose to live intentionally. We choose the best uses of resources – our time, talent, and treasure. When presented with many good options, we choose only the best.