As important as it is to be physically active, I believe emotional and mental wellness is just as – if not more – important. Exercise and good nutrition are just two aspects of living well. While exercise has been proven to bolster moods, what good does it do if hours later, you’re right back to feeling melancholy or overwhelmed?
I find that my bad moods and worst days are generally directly related to the busyness and chaos around me. I wrote a bit last week about choosing how time is spent, and who it is spent with. After I wrote it, I finally got around to reading Emily Ley’s Grace, Not Perfection which really hones in on this point. Choose what’s important, and give yourself the grace to leave the rest.
It’s really a game-changing book and I highly recommend it.
There’s a quote near the end that I especially love:
“Being a woman with many loves and responsibilities will test your patience, stretch your well, and make you love more fiercely than you ever thought possible – because time is your most precious commodity.”
That’s me – I have so many plates spinning, and each plate has something delicious and nourishing to my soul on it. In order not to drop any of those plates, I’ve been working to simplify my life. After reading Grace, Not Perfection, I realized I had implemented a number of Emily’s suggestion, as well as some of my own.
Here are six ways to simplify your life and focus on the important things.
Unsubscribe from email lists.
I don’t know about you, but I used to wake up to 100s of emails. 9 out of 10 were junk mail or sales alerts from stores I bought something from once, five years ago. Take some time and unsubscribe from those lists. I love Unroll.me for this – in fact, I just updated my subscriptions today! Waking up to 50 or so emails is so much more manageable, plus it’s easier to find the emails that are actually important.
Black out the time you need.
My “real” job in marketing is meeting-heavy at times. When I realized I wasn’t getting anything done because I was in meetings all day, I started blocking time on my calendar to work at my desk. People trying to schedule meetings see those blocks as “busy” and schedule around them. It’s worked out so well that I now implement that strategy into other parts of my life, scheduling time to do things like write this blog post or spend 30 minutes on the floor with a foam roller and a lacrosse ball to work on my mobility.
Click the unfollow button.
Last week, I purged my Instagram feed. I relentlessly unfollowed people I went to high school with that I haven’t seen since we graduated. I unfollowed brands I don’t buy from, bloggers that haven’t posted in months, I unfollowed anyone that didn’t make me feel good or inspired. This was a tip Emily recommended as well. I need to do the same on Facebook, soon.
Make your social media accounts a happy place to go, not a place where you end up comparing yourself to someone else, wondering if you’re doing enough, successful enough, thin enough… Just hit the unfollow button, simple as that.
I have never been able to tolerate clutter. I’m probably the only child in the history of the world who was never told to clean their room – because it was always clean. My dolls had designated shelf space, my bookshelf was organized in alphabetical order, and my bed was always made. It’s amazing how a clean space helps you feel less chaotic, even if you’re up to your eyeballs in work.
Take a few minutes to tidy up your space. Throw away junk mail and those post-it notes from three weeks ago. Fold the laundry and put it away (I know – I hate it, too). Pick up the coffee mugs and knick knacks that seem to always end up scattered about. Once you have tidied up, take a moment to breathe in and appreciate just how much better you feel in a clean space.
I’ve been trying – and failing gloriously – to get more sleep. A few weeks ago, I made it a goal to be in my bed at 10:30. I allowed myself the option to read a book, but I had to be in the bed at 10:30. Except I realized fairly quickly that when 10:30 rolled around, I would head to the kitchen and spend the next 20+ minutes prepping my lunch for the next day to save time in the morning. By the time I cleaned up the kitchen and went through my nighttime routine, it was after eleven.
I had an “Aha!” moment a couple of weeks ago and realized the practicality of making my lunch while cooking dinner. I was spending the 30 or so minutes of dinner prep floating around, not really able to commit to doing anything substantial if I didn’t want my dinner to burn. It hit me that if I packed the next day’s lunch while dinner cooked, I would be utilizing otherwise wasted time. Plus, I only messed the kitchen up once. It’s been a game changer.
Look for little ways you can combine tasks. Buy yourself a few minutes here and a few minutes there and suddenly, you have a whole half hour of time back in your day to do whatever fills you with joy. Just think – 30 minutes to soak in the bathtub, reading a book, and drinking a glass of wine, all because you made lunch while cooking dinner!
Get rid of screens.
I’m the worst at this, but there is something to be said for ditching the phones, tablets, and laptops. Turn off notifications and tuck your phone away after a certain hour of the evening. Focus on whatever is right in front of you. If you’re plowing through a project at work, close the social media and email tabs you have open. Set a timer if you need to – 30 minutes and you can check your email. When you ignore screens and focus on the now, you find that work to-do lists dwindle, bed time comes earlier, and time spent with loved ones is sweeter.
Taking a few minutes to trim away the excess will help you find calm in the chaos, sanity in the busyness.
Remember, a little adds up to a lot.
What are your tips for simplifying your life?