3 Quick Tips to Simplify Your Life

National Simplify Your Life Week is August 7-13, the perfect time to get in gear for a new school year. Try our 3 quick tips for clearing the chaos:

Clear Your Clutter

The first step to sorting all your stuff is to break it down into small chores. Choose one area at a time and take stock of what you already have. If you have fifteen minutes, clean off one surface, like sorting junk mail on the kitchen counter. If you have one hour, dump out the contents of one drawer. If you have one day, try one section of a room or closet. Sort into 4 piles: Keep It, Trash/Recycle It, Donate It and I Don’t Know. Have a bag or box ready for donated items and place it by your door or in your car so you can drop it off at a local thrift shop the next time you pass it along your regular route. Doing so will give you a sense of accomplishment and prevent second-guessing about any sentimental items. If you’re keeping things that need attention, like a torn hem or a missing button, be honest about how much time or money you’re willing to spend to make those repairs, and give yourself 30 days to tend to them so they can be properly stored. The I Don’t Know category is a temporary pile - it’s just there to move you through the sorting process and keep you from getting stuck. If you have an oversize pile of items in the I Don’t Know category, take a break, have a snack, then return rested and ready, or enlist a trusted friend to help you make tough decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Emotions run high when we try to clear our clutter: everything from sweet nostalgia over a fabulous pair of shoes to guilt and shame for overspending to simply feeling burdened by so much stuff. If you are so overwhelmed with objects that you can’t see the first place to start, it may be worth investing in a few hours with a professional organizer who can help you sort through mountains of paperwork and holiday decorations. If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed by everything, consider working with a certified life coach. They can help you discover what thoughts and behaviors may be preventing you from moving forward and identify clear goals to get you out from under that endless pile of laundry and on the road to better mental health. 

Clear Your Calendar

Invest in a calendar that you’ll actually use, whether that’s a preloaded app for your phone and desktop like Google Calendar, a multi-user calendar app like Cozi, designed to share among busy families, a festive wall calendar like this https://www.officedepot.com/a/products/4512813/2023-2024-Blue-Sky-Roosevelt-Monthly/  or a desktop planner like this one from Emily Ley, New York Times bestselling author of The Simplified Life, Tactical Tools for Intentional Living

For a personal spin, get inspired with bullet journal ideas on Pinterest or Instagram, but remember, the goal here is practical simplicity, not perfection. You want easy tools that let you look ahead and decide how you want to prioritize your time, not another art project that keeps you up hours after midnight when you’re already finishing work emails and frosting individual werewolf face cupcakes for that fourth-grade Halloween party. 

As Brene Brown says, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” (Read her quick tips for boundary setting here in Oprah Magazine!) Start small by setting a boundary about your time, perhaps scheduling one hour on your week’s calendar where you don’t have to work, cook, clean, or manage other people or projects. Then, start allowing a few minutes more for transitions. If it takes you 15 minutes to drive from work to the store, give yourself 30 minutes. You’ll have a few minutes to listen to a favorite song, make a quick phone call to a friend, or simply bypass stress about being rushed all the time. It’s a great way to allow yourself to go from one focal point to another so you can be present for the work you enjoy and for the people you love. 

Clear Your Consciousness

It’s hard to think about clearing your mind when intrusive thoughts and an endless to-do list are taking up all the space in your brain. We are in a world of distracted drivers, doomscrollers, and over-dedicated caregivers. 

If you have a dedicated hour or room in your home to spread out to meditate, you’re lucky – and rare. Many people schedule a few minutes to meditate first thing in the morning or right before bed in a semi-quiet corner. If you feel awkward or silly starting that way, Michigan Lifeologist Melissa Champion, LMSW, suggests starting small, by attaching a few minutes of mindfulness practice (being fully engaged and present) to something you already do, like brushing your teeth or waiting for tea or coffee to brew. The important thing is to try to be present in the actual moment, and allow worries and thoughts to come and go as you focus on feelings of clarity and relaxation. You can also make time to doodle, go for a walk, play an instrument, or sing a song. The purpose is to give yourself – and your brain – a change of focus and a break from negative thoughts.

There’s no right or wrong way to build a mindful meditation practice, just a commitment to carve out that time for yourself as if opening a small gift. Look forward to it, make space for it, and give yourself the time to treat yourself as kindly as you very likely are treating everyone around you. 

Do you feel stuck? Lifeologie Counseling can help you come up with creative solutions to life’s problems. For one-on-one help learning how to clear your mind, try a yoga or meditation class in your community, or connect here with one of our Lifeologie counselors who specialize in mindfulness.

About Lifeologie

Lifeologie Counseling was founded in 2000 with one goal in mind — to bring a fresh, innovative approach to the everyday problems of life. Creative solutions to stuck problems®. With our unique multi-specialty, collaborative approach, Lifeologie Counseling helps individuals and families heal their wounds and break out of old, unhealthy patterns.