The idea behind voluntary simplicity is very appealing to many of us. The thing about that philosophy is that it is anything but easy much of the time. It seems the modern world is constantly distracting us and overloading us with unwanted and unnecessary complications. To keep life simple, a solid focus and plan helps keep interruptions to a minimum.
A Simple Meal Plan
Simple meals, cooked from scratch free up our time and help us eat with intention. A meal plan is not or should not be restrictive. Rather a meal plan is just that a plan. A plan with flexibility for change. It’s a road map that allows for site-seeing detours and more. A meal plan answers the question, ‘what’s for dinner?’ A meal plan does not mean that inspiration can’t strike. Want to have spaghetti instead of the salmon on the meal plan – go for it. The meal plan is only there to guide not rule.
Use a meal plan with simple, seasonal foods. This isn’t about spending hours in the kitchen for each meal. Keep meals simple with easy favorites most of the time: soups, salads, tacos, simple broiled meats and steamed veggies, stir fry, etc. Focus on seasonal ingredients and never forget the wonder of leftovers (make a big pot of soup so it can feed for 2 nights, for example or use extras for lunch).
Use a Calendar
Whether it’s an app or pen & paper, a calendar or a journal of some sort can be a real life saver. Use it to track appointments, to-do lists, meal plans (see above), and everything else. It’s much easier to see how crazy life is when it’s all there in black and white.
Be sure to leave much white space in that calendar so that it can be filled with joy and relaxation.
The thing to remember about calendars and to-do lists is that they are deeply personal. Everyone needs to figure out the best system for their own lives and personalities. Don’t try to fit into something designed to fit generic people, rather make a system fit into your own unique needs and habits.
Time for Rest
No one can enjoy life when constantly sleep deprived and rushed at every possible moment. Rest, sleep, let the body and mind shut off for just a little while. Life will be more enjoyable and simpler simply for making this idea a priority.
Rest doesn’t have to be only sleep. Sleep is important but more than that so is planned restful moments during the day. Include time for restful walks outside or some kind of hobby (knitting, reading, painting, etc.). Simply make sure not every moment beyond a few sleeping hours is full to the maximum level.
Social media, television, news, texts, article, videos, etc. etc. Distractions are everywhere. Some of them go way beyond simple distraction to causing stress, anxiety, fear, unnecessary busyness and much more. Put some limitations on those things.
Life can be anything but simple when we get caught up in online debates with strangers on some kind of Facebook forum. Watching a movie can and should be relaxing. Spending every weekend binge watching some kind of television series probably ends up robbing us of enjoyment more than it provides.
Choose wisely and place reasonable limitations so that there is a balance between entertainment and mindless distraction or worse stress-inducing media consumption. There’s no law that says we have to use social media. There tends to be this weird peer pressure behind social media, but opting out is an option that many of us overlook.
Everything has a Place & Everything in Its Place
I know this sounds super neat nick but it’s more than just tidiness. It’s about less things to clog up our time and our space. When things run over available space it often becomes stress. We have to move them to sit or eat or cook. Use things and then put them away. When our possessions are simple and neat, it is much easier to keep life simple overall.
If there isn’t a place for something, question it’s necessity. Only keep what can be put away. This can be a brutal but worthwhile exercise. Rather than buying another dresser for clothes, decide if more clothing is really necessary. Instead of adding another book shelf, can some old books be culled from existing shelves to add new favorites?
It is important to remember, that there is no right or wrong way to keep life simple. Simple is as varied as our homes. These tips and tricks should be used as starting point only, refine and perfect them as necessary.
How do you keep life simple?