3 Ways I've Simplified My Life

When it comes to simplicity, it's easy to talk about things in the abstract. It's a personal journey and simplifying looks different for everyone, so it's often difficult — nigh impossible — to give hard and fast rules for the "best" or "right" way to simplify.

In fact, I'm a pretty firm believer that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to simplify. But the abstract only works for so long. Sooner or later, it's the concrete ideas and examples of how others have done this whole simplifying thing that are what helps us figure out what does and doesn't work for us.

So in the spirit of tangibility, I'm sharing with you three ways I've simplified my life — tangible, practical, (sometimes very) specific changes that I made in my own personal life that have led to a simpler, less stressful life.

averie-woodard-147351.jpg

SETTING A SEASONAL FOCUS

If you know me from anywhere else on the internet, you probably know that I do a lot of different things. Many would argue that the number of projects I have my hand in makes my life anything but simple, but the truth is, simplifying a lot of other things in my life has allowed me to focus on as many different things as I'm able to.

One of the ways I'm able to do this is by setting what I call a seasonal focus.

In the same way we go through seasons in the year, we also go through seasons of life — seasons of busyness, seasons of calm, seasons of growth, seasons of loss, seasons of change. And so, for each season, I choose a seasonal focus.

In my current season of life, that focus is on two main things — my creative projects and time with my family. During my 3-5 month stint (at my friend Holly calls it) down in Florida, I have the unique opportunity to spend more than just those outside 9-5 hours working on this blog, my YouTube channel, and building up my small business. The time I'm not working on those things is mostly spent hanging out with my adorable nephew, sister, and brother-in-law, because I know I have a limited amount of time where I'll basically have unlimited access to the laughter and snuggles of a 1-year-old bundle of joy.

This doesn't mean that I'm not doing other things, but in this season, those are the priority. And when my season in Florida is done, I'll look at where I'm at, reassess, and choose a new focus for the next season of my life. 

EMBRACING OUTFIT FORMULAS

My closet is where I began my simplicity journey over two years ago, and while it's still not quite where I want it to be yet, one of the things that has helped me increasingly simplify my style as I've refined it over the last couple of years is by embracing outfit formulas.

Now, you've probably heard of this concept already. People like Mark Zuckerberg practice it in its extreme, wearing quite literally the same thing every single day, but the general principal for how it works is coming up with a few formulas and mixing and matching those with different pieces throughout your week.

For example, one of my outfit formulas is shorts or pants, a shirt, a layer (like a cardigan), and sandals. Another is a dress, a fun necklace, and sandals. On any given day, there's about a 95% chance you will find me in one of these two outfits formulas because they look great and they make getting dressed in the morning so much easier.

Going back to the seasonal focus thing, there may come a time in my life where I'm able to dedicate a bit more time to really refining and honing my style by spending a bit more time coming up with new outfit combinations, styling them in different ways, and more. But for now, I'd rather stick with what I know looks good and makes me feel good, and spend my time and energy on those projects and people I'm focusing on for this season.

SOCIAL MEDIA FREE WEEKENDS

It's no secret to anyone how easy it is for social media to take over our lives. We  can spend hours mindlessly scrolling through our computers or phones and, as a result, miss so much of what's happening right before our eyes.

Never mind the fact that the amount of information overload we can get from social media can make our lives feel way more complicated than they were ever meant to be.

Toward that end, at the beginning of this year I began instituting social media free weekends. Plain and simple, I don't check social media on the weekends. By making it an all-or-nothing kind of thing, it eliminates the question of if I'm spending too much time on it or if I could be doing something else instead.

Within the paradigm of a typical 9-5 work week, the weekend is our time to relax and refresh, to spend time playing and being with the people we love. You can't do that if you're constantly checking social media. I also believe it's difficult to truly rest if you're plugged into social media all the time. It certainly varies from person to person, but I find it hard to believe the constant barrage of noise and notifications would be restful for anyone, no matter what your personality.

So on Saturdays and Sundays, I simply say no.

There have been a couple of weekends in 2017 where some things are happening that I wanted to share or document in real-time rather than after the fact. When this happens, I get on, post, and then put it away. I don't check or respond to notifications. I don't scroll through feeds. I share what I wanted to share and leave it at that. The rest can wait until Monday.

These three seemingly small, practical changes I've made have simplified my life and made certain aspects of it more intentional, more focused, and far less stressful. I'd love to hear some of the practical ways you've simplified, so please chime in in the comments!

Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

Sarah Anne Hayes