I'm all about asking the question: What can I remove from my plate in the different areas of my life?
What must be done by me? What do I want to be done by me? What's dragging me down? Is it necessary that it drags me down? Is it just a part of life? Or can it go?
Is there a way that I could learn to enjoy this more? Is there a way I could learn to do this more efficiently? Is this serving my family? Is this serving someone else in a positive way? What is going on with each area of my life?
I think that's how you really get intentional - checking in with yourself, asking those questions.
This is the first time I've actually come up with an even ten so, I'm feelin' like the most profesh blogger of all time right now.
*ahem* Anyway, let's dive in.
10 Things I've Done To Simplify My Life
01: DECIDE WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT
The first thing that I would say came to my mind about things that I've done to simplify my life is I decided what's most important to me. I would encourage you to do this and to keep your list to 5 or less things.
Life is crazy and chaotic. Sometimes you need to come back to what matters most, but you've got to know what those things are.
For me, my list is broken down into relationships because really that's what each area of life breaks down to is your relationship with your priorities.
For me, it's:
- my relationship with God
- my relationship with myself
- my relationship with my husband, Brian
- my relationship with my children
- my relationship with my business.
And frankly that's about the order that it's in, too.
The reason that I have it in that order is, well, first of all, God. Not to be cliché, but really He is my most important relationship. And I'll be honest and say sometimes my actions may not reflect that. But in my heart of hearts, that's what's most important to me. That's the relationship that deserves the top priority. And if I feel like my actions are not aligned with that statement, I know that I need to make some changes and some shifts. And I will and I do. That's a constant fine-tuning of sorts.
Controversially, I put myself next instead of my relationship with my husband. I don't know if that's right or wrong, perfect or flawed, or what, but that decision came out of a lot of reflection and a lot of learning in my twenties. I just recently turned 31, so, I’m no old sage or anything.
But I will say that in my almost 11 years of being married to Brian, being a mother and “growing up,” I've learned that if I don't prioritize myself first, I'm kind of a terrible wife, mother, person, friend, sister and daughter, and all the roles that I fall into because I'm an introvert. The way the Lord made me is beautiful and incredible. But it's human. It's flawed. And if I don't prioritize myself and take care of myself at least a little bit, I don't perform well. I don't feel good. I'm snappy. I'm cranky. I'm short-tempered.
Of course, there are times where I feel like that and I've got to suck it up and be a decent person. Do my job. Get through my day. Be a nice wife. Say nice things. Hold back from saying something rude, unhelpful or cutting. But my point is, after my relationship with the Lord, my relationship with myself is important in that I need to make sure that I'm taking care of myself.
I put my husband first in a lot of ways. But all in all, I will say that I will make sure that I carve out a little bit of “me time” before I carve out a little bit of “marriage time,” if that is what it comes down to, it often does not.
I hope I'm getting my point across that I have to take care of myself so that I can be a better wife, a better mom, more available, more patient, kinder, able to respond and be mindfully present for my husband and for my children.
The order doesn't matter as much as you saying what your priorities are.
WHAT ABOUT FRIENDS?
Friends and non-immediate family are very important to me, but they're definitely on the outer rings of my life. Not the center ring. They don't come before that other list.
That doesn't mean that I'm selfish. That doesn’t mean that I’m money hungry because my business is on the other list first or anything like that. It just means my relationship with God first, and I've got to take care of myself. I have to make sure that I'm having some quiet time. That I feel OK. That I have taken a shower. That I take a second to myself. That I’m not feeling anxious or like I am lacking something. That I am just not doing good and not able to function. That my marriage is healthy. That my relationship with my kids is going well, or at least it's been taken care of and that I put time into.
My relationship with my business is so important because my business is not just a business. It's my passion. It’s really a ministry of sorts. It is so important and it is my family's livelihood. Brian and I work together on it and it's how we provide for our family, as well as other organizations who are doing good work and need financial backing. This matters!
When it comes down to it sometimes (a lot of the time actually) I do have to prioritize my business and my work above having coffee with a friend who's going through a hard time. Every once in a while it just comes down to it.
But usually - because I'm an entrepreneur, I work from home and I've got an amazing team behind me to carry the load of the day-to-day stuff - I can say, “You know what, I'm not going to work today. I'm going to finish up school with the kids and I'm going to go ahead and have lunch with my friend because she needs me.” I do that all the time.
But when I'm writing out my priorities, when I am writing out what really matters, that's kind of where my list is. I think it can be really daunting to come up with that list, but I think you should do it. And they think it's important.
If my feelings about a relationship with my main people and my business are suffering, something's going to have to give, because those are my priorities. So that's one thing that I have done to simplify my life is: I called out and said “what is most important to me?” And I made that decision prayerfully and thoughtfully over time.
I've got that list. I know I can come back to it if I'm feeling a little lost, overwhelmed or burdened by all the things. I can come back and look and say, “OK, what are my priorities? What needs to be top of the heap here in this situation?”
Although it can be daunting at first, once I did it, once I decided what's most important to me in my life, it simplified my life. It simplified my decisions. And it simplified a lot of things because my calendar reflects those priorities. My heart reflects those priorities and the way that I make decisions and say “yes” and “no” to things reflect those priorities. So, simplified my life a lot.
02: Learn to say no
Another thing that I did to simplify my life is I learned to say “No.” Learning to say “no” can be so difficult for some people. It is not super difficult for me. It depends on the circumstance. There are some things that I feel like, “Oh, my heart goes out to the situation. I want to say yes, I want to be there to help.”
I am really passionate about giving. I'm getting a little personal here, but in the first year of my business our family was America's version of poverty. It was really, really, really bad. (If you want to hear our story, you can listen to episode six of my podcast.)
We came around to the other side. Our business was thriving and went as a business from zero to seven figures in 18 months. It was so exciting and crazy. I have always been passionate about giving and helping others and my difficult financial experiences in my life with my husband definitely fueled that fire.
I became even more passionate about giving and wanting to do good things with this money. I got a little bit too gung-ho about giving and gave away too much to where it was like, “Oh crap, now we don't really have a safety net here.”
We probably should have put a little bit more away because that’s what you want to do. I have a hard time saying “no” when it seems good, when something seems charitable, when it seems like it's going to help somebody else.
I definitely think that sometimes self care and prioritizing your own family can turn selfish. I think sometimes it could turn into you're not really “looking outside of your own bubble.” I never want to get to that point. It's such a hard balance. I really think it's got to be some kind of gut check that you have with your own self and a “heart thing” that you're watching and prayerfully keeping watch over I guess, and asking the Lord to point out to you if you've gone too far one way or the other.
In this case, with the money thing, I had gone too far. Too much charity, not enough being careful, wise and a good steward. I wanted to give back after I felt like we had had to take so much and we weren't able to help at all.
I've since learned to say “no” and to be wise. I'm not talking about just with money - that was just in one small example - but in little things like volunteering for something or having coffee with a friend, sometimes you just need to say “no.”
Sometimes it's not a good idea. It's not wise. It's not a moment to be giving. It's a moment to be wise is in the way of, “I know what my family needs today and this isn't gonna work for us.”
There's a lot of talk, from me as well, about self-care and having time away, taking care of yourself, having girls’ nights, going to get a Mani-Pedi every once- in-a-while. That's so great. But sometimes it's the opposite and while this girl's night that I just got invited to is so fun and a great idea, it's a really bad week for me to leave my family and do that. It's going to end up not serving me and actually stressing me out. You may need to say “no.”
I've got a blog post about saying “no” and it has really simplified my life to have that skill to know how to graciously say “No, I can't do that right now.”
Unapologetically having your boundaries in order is such an act of simplification and it's a habit that will serve you well.
03: REMOVE DISTRACTIONS
The third thing that I have done to simplify my life is I turned off the things that distract me from my life. I'm talking about Facebook, phone notifications, all those types of things. There's recently been a podcast episode about that and I'll link to that in show notes for you guys as well. It's literally called “Phone Settings For A Present Life” and that is exactly what it is. How to physically set up your phone to stop beeping to you and distracting you from your actual life. It’s so funny, especially being a blogger, there's this pull and this almost expectation to share every moment and to not actually enjoy very many of them.
I feel like I have struck a really great balance of sharing plenty, sharing the fun stuff, the silly stuff, the serious stuff, the family moments, the business moments, the processes behind the scenes, but also really not feeling like I always have my phone. I found that balance I feel like. And I'm really happy with the balance I've struck. I want you to feel like that too. Turn off the things that distract you from your life.
I do not have the Facebook app on my phone. Facebook is on my computer and I can log in and do what I need to do there for work or pleasure or whatever. And then I'm done. It's not carried around with me all day long. I don't think it should be.
Your texts, your phone calls, your social media app alerts. All those things are only in the way how much you let them be in the way. I decided to prioritize (back to #1) and turn off the things that distract me from living my actual life, from being present for my God, myself, my husband, my children, my business, my friends, my family, and all these other things.
04: TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
The next thing I did to simplify my life is I started spending time alone. This was another thing that totally came out of my 20’s, of me figuring myself out.
I say this a lot, but I'll say it again. Extrovert and introvert is not being hyper or super high energy, or loud versus quiet and shy. It's actually where you get your energy from. Extroverts get their energy from being around other people and introverts get their energy from being alone. There's people that are both, and that's called ambiverts. I don't know many of those but I know they're out there.
I am an introvert, and learning to give myself alone time, oh my gosh, it just restores me in such an amazing way. It's unbelievable what less than 10 minutes of being alone will do for me.
Even if you're an extrovert, being alone is so good for the soul.
Just being quiet for a second. Get the kids in bed, check in with your hubby and make sure he's good, and go for a 20-minute drive. Get a Chai latte and go for a drive with the windows down. Don't even turn music on, just be by yourself. It’s so nice to see what good company you are and where your thoughts go. What worries, fears, dreams or joys come to mind?
05: simplify your home
Another thing I did to simplify my life was I simplified my home.
I got rid of the clutter. I let go of the drawerfuls of junk and crap that was taking up all the nooks and crannies in the closets, under the bed, wedged in between couch cushions, crammed into nightstand drawers and kitchen drawers. Multiple spatulas, spoons, and bowls that were mismatched. Magazines and random clutter.
I got rid of all of it and I've kept it all away by ruthlessly being the editor of my home over the last six years. It has transformed my entire life more than almost anything. It's been huge.
You probably already know this is what I do. This is what I'm known for. This is where my signature course, my e-course, Your Uncluttered Home came from- this has been my process and my journey and I now teach other mamas how to do the same thing.
Simplify your home, watch your life transform. You wouldn’t even believe it if I told you all the different areas of my life that have changed just from simplifying my home.
My marriage improved.
Relationships improved with myself, with my kids. I was a lighter person, much happier, less stressed out.
I found it so much easier to stop yelling and stop reacting to my life because I wasn't living in this place of constant stress. My life no longer reflected the way that my home was cluttered. It reflected the way my home was uncluttered.
Studies show that the way that we have our homes is a reflection of the way we have our lives. And I really believe that.
It's been true for me and true for the thousands of students who have gone through Your Uncluttered Home. I definitely, definitely would say that one of the biggest things I did to simplify my entire life was clearing my home of clutter.
06: Establish routines
There's a podcast episode about this! Listen here.
My morning ritual is very important to me. I hate when something is going on that causes me to miss my morning ritual.
That happens very rarely because my morning ritual begins pretty early in the morning. It's only when we're traveling and I have to get up early to leave for the airport for a trip or something like that that gets in the way. I feel a big difference when that happens, and it's not a good difference!
My morning ritual has transformed my life so much. It has simplified so many aspects of my life.
Another thing we did to simplify is we started living in smaller homes. Back before all of this, before I decluttered, before this part of my story began, we lived in a pretty large house. It was definitely big for our family size at the time. It was about 3,000 square feet and we only had two of our kids. In my opinion and experience, it was too much for us.
It was so much maintenance and cleaning and it wasn't really worth it at the time because I was so overwhelmed. I was fighting depression and was pregnant with our third baby, Hudson. We couldn't even afford to furnish all of it, so it just felt empty, dull and high maintenance.
We ended up downsizing and started to live in smaller houses. Nothing super tiny or anything, just smaller. Small enough to where the potential landlord would say something like, “Are you sure this house is big enough for you guys?”
Friends and family would comment regularly on the fact that we were living pretty small. It didn't feel too small to us but small enough to where it got comments for sure. It was a little bit against the norm, even now when we have four kids. And now that we're going to be adopting, our family is going to grow even more.
Our house is about 2300 -2400ish square feet andthree bedrooms (plus our office). We work from home, we’ve got an office that's an extension of the garage. So even now our house really isn't that big for a family my size. It's definitely the biggest house that we've had since our big downsize.
I can handle a little more square footage now. I've got less stress and I'm not in a crazy season of struggling anymore. My kids are older, they help out a lot, my husband's here to help, we have a housekeeper that comes once or twice a month and helps.
We still live a little smaller than most people with our family size, and it's great. I love a small house. I think there's something really beautiful and there's something to be said for small living. And I love when people message me and they say, “You know, I've got two kids and we live in a thousand square feet and we just love it. We're outside all the time.”
It's so true, you get out and you start to live. You enjoy the outdoors. You really make your little home count, you know? It matters to you more. It's more important to you.
08: GET MOVING
Another thing that I did to simplify my life was I started walking. This might sound silly and you might wonder what that has to do with simplifying, but it really does.
I started walking as a way to simplify my health. I think that the health and wellness industry is a money hungry industry of unnecessary advice, and I got sick of it. I just wanted to feel better. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to feel like I had more energy.
I wanted to get moving, but I really didn't like to exercise, so I just started to walk.
What I found was that, first of all, I love taking walks. Whether my kids come along or Brian's home and they stay with him and I go by myself, I love to walk.
I started to let my thoughts wander. I started to get really grateful. Then I started to intentionally think of things that I was grateful for while I walked. I call those my “gratitude walks.”
Sometimes I do that, sometimes I listen to a podcast or an audio book, sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I pray, sometimes I have absolutely no agenda and I just go for a walk and see where the Lord takes me. But walking simplified my health. I lost weight. I feel better.
I do more than just walking now, but I still walk almost every day. It's a simple practice that I am really fond of that's really changed my life.
09: IMPLEMENT A NOTHING DAY
Our "nothing day" used to be once a week. Now I guess I still have a “nothing day” once a week, but really a very intentional, absolutely zero things on my calendar day, once a month for sure.
Sundays I like to turn off social media, at least for the most part. I don't look at my phone much. There's no work, unless I really want to because I love what I do. Sometimes I getting inspired and want to jot down a blog post or something. It's just rest, whatever rest looks like that day for me.
“Nothing day” is when you feel pulled really thin and you just need a break. “Nothing day” is no phone alerts, no phone at all, maybe. No capturing things for social media. I just unwind. Maybe we'll go out and do something fun as a family, maybe we'll just hang out and do nothing at home. That's usually what happens, but the point is it's just a day of “vegging out” and just “being.”
It's something that is so overlooked and not very often scheduled and it needs to be. It's so good for the soul.
10: SIMPLIFY YOUR EATING
This goes back to the whole thing about the health and wellness industry- it's overwhelming! We eat at least three times a day and making food can be so complicated. It can really take over your day.
A friend of mine, Amanda Wilson, is an incredible Instagrammer for the health and wellness industry. I had a couple coaching calls with her about two years ago, and among other helpful things, she taught me about food prepping instead of meal prepping.
Food prepping is when you prep basic foods so that you can put plates together for meals, instead of deciding what you're going to eat way ahead of time, making the meal, and putting it in the fridge.
Because what was happening for me was I eat by mood, so I would make a meal and put it aside and I wouldn't want that later. What if I didn’t want leftover spaghetti or whatever it is when it came time to eat it? I was wasting food and opting for convenient takeout far too often.
Instead, I started prepping basic foods that I know I eat all the time. For example, grilling up some potatoes, grilling some chicken and seasoning it lightly with salt and pepper so it can be used for any recipe, making some cauliflower rice and putting that in the fridge... things like that. Things that could be made as part of a meal but aren't already a designated meal.
That really helped me and it simplified my meals.
I would encourage you to find a way that you need to simplify your eating, if that's feeling like a point of stress for you. I have a really good friend who just absolutely loves food. She loves everything to do with the creation of food. She would never want to simplify this area of her life. She loves cooking from scratch. She is amazing at it. But that is not me.
While I do enjoy cooking from scratch, I don't want to do that for every single meal. This is an area of my life that it served me greatly to simplify. I found a way that worked for me and our family. I would encourage you to do that if that’s hitting home for you.
And there you have it: 10 things that I've done to simplify my life. I hope that this was inspiring in a fresh way because I'm really just telling you something that I've done and not really telling you exactly how to do it. I think that can give you creative space to make it your own and apply this to your own life.
ARE YOU READY TO CLEAR THE CLUTTER AND FOCUS ON THE AREAS OF YOUR LIFE THAT BRING YOU JOY?
YOUR UNCLUTTERED HOME IS LITERALLY EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BECOME A MINIMALIST MAMA WHO IS ABLE TO BE A LOT MORE PRESENT FOR WHAT MATTERS MOST.