The journey toward simple living can be a long one. And for the most part, it seems impossible. Trust me, I’m right there with you. I am constantly trying to live more simply, and failing roughly half the time. But there are definitely some ways I have learned to live more simply, and these 6 small steps toward simple living are totally manageable, so you can do them too!
Cut Down on Clutter at Home
This is one of the simplest, easiest steps you can take toward simple living. It may seem like an overwhelming task, but it’s one that you can quickly get started with, and one that will make the world of difference once you’re finished! I definitely start with the things that don’t belong out (mail on the kitchen table, dishes or clothing in the living room) and put those away. That part is easy, they already have a home elsewhere. The tricky part is tackling the things that permanently live in a space they really don’t fit. Examples of this would be overdecorating and having too many knick-knacks out, trying to fit too many pieces or furniture in a room, etc. Those are harder, because you have to adjust your expectations and then choose between finding a different home from them, or possibly getting rid of them altogether. And sometimes that can be a tough pill to swallow.
A little personal experience: when I got my first apartment in college, some friends gifted me an armchair they didn’t want anymore. It was huge, super comfortable, and didn’t match anything else I owned. But I loved it. It lived with me in both of my apartments in college and traveled with Dave and I to our first apartment in Madison (much to Dave’s disappointment.) When we purchased our house this year, I was determined to make it work. To the point that we actually packed it with all the furniture and moved it into the house. I was finally able to acknowledge that at this point in our lives it was just clutter, but man was that tough! But realistically, it didn’t fit anywhere because it was so oversized. So trust me, I get that it’s hard!
Make a Meal Plan
Not only has meal planning been a step toward simple living, but it has also saved us money. Up until the last couple of years, I would head to the grocery store (sometimes with a list, sometimes without) and just purchase foods that we liked and ate regularly. But without a plan, we ended up wasting so much food, specifically produce, and realizing we had forgotten foods we actually needed.
Now, I do the same thing every week. I take a look at what we already have in the house that we can use for dinner, and I add that to our meal plan. Then I fill in the rest of the days and write down exactly what ingredients we need and how much. I write down what we’ll each have for lunch and breakfast each day, and we choose a few snacks for throughout the day and in the evening (usually cheese sticks and veggies during the day, some sort of frozen greek yogurt treat or chips and salsa in the evening). I only buy exactly what we’re planning on eating that week. It saves us money, it saves space in our fridge, freezer, and pantry, and it’s so much simpler!
The only exception to this is once a month when I visit Costco, then I will buy bulk packages of foods that we regularly use. Often this is canned goods, crackers, etc.
Clean Out Your Closet
Just about all of us put off cleaning out our closet, absolutely insistent that we need every single thing in there. Yet, almost everyone I know has clothes in their closet they haven’t worn in at least a year. I get it. I’m totally guilty of this! I’ve cleaned out my closet three times since we packed to move to our new house in June because each time there were still clothes I couldn’t bring myself to admit I didn’t need anymore.
Cleaning out your closet has so many benefits. First of all, it just saves space and gets rid of the mental and physical clutter that unused clothes take up. Second, it allows you to make some extra money if you choose to sell your clothes. My favorite place to do this is thredUp. You just request a bag, they send it, you fill it with clothes and drop it off at the post office (they’ve already addressed it and paid for shipping.) Then you can use that money to buy clothes you actually like. (Sign up with my link and get $10 to spend there – score!)
Cleaning out your closet also helps you to identify any clothes. I recently got rid of all the work pants I didn’t like, only to discover I didn’t have a single pair left! Oops. Finally, cleaning out your closet can help you to identify your personal style, if you haven’t already. Each time I get rid of more clothes I don’t wear, it becomes abundantly clear that all the clothes I do wear fit a very specific style, and I love that! I’m so much happier with my wardrobe now that I ever have been, even though it’s smaller than it ever has been.
Set a Budget
I love having a budget because not only does it save money (the obvious reason) but it also helps simplify other areas of your life by preventing you from buying something you don’t need that you might have otherwise purchased. Like, I stroll through the clothes department and makeup department just about everytime I’m at Target. Why? I have no clue. I don’t need more clothes and makeup, and I won’t allow myself to buy more. But I still do it. And thanks to that mental budget, it’s super easy for me to tell myself, “Nope, can’t do it this time. Not in the budget.” I’ve saved myself the money and the clutter, so it’s a double win!
This has also really helped in conjunction with the meal planning, to cut down on wastefulness with food. I’m more likely to limit my grocery trips to the foods I am 100% sure I will buy, and avoid going over budget by skipping the foods I might eat or want to try, but that also might go bad before I get to them.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of routines. Seriously, my entire life is run by routines. I recently wrote this post about how I crafted a productive evening routine and this one about my morning routine. I love them. And for good reason! They save me lots of time in my day, they save me stress, they save me from being late to work on a daily basis.
Declutter Your Digital Life
Digital clutter is deceiving. Since we don’t see it physically taking up space in our life, it doesn’t really seem like clutter. But it is! And for me, it’s usually the most mentally exhausting clutter. I recently wrote a blog post about minimizing your digital clutter that will help you take those first steps.
So, this is one of those blog posts that ended up being significantly longer than originally planned. If you stuck with me until the end, that’s awesome. If I metaphorically rambled on a little extra it’s because I’m so passionate about simplifying where you can, and have on many personal stories behind each of the lessons I share!
Leave a comment and let me know what struggles you have with simple living!
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