SIMPLIFY

posted by Andrea | 01/22/2016

simplify

At the start of another New Year, I can’t help but think more about simplifying my own home and life… and based on the emails I’ve been getting lately, many of you are thinking about the same things!

I’m positive I could write a lengthy novel on all my thoughts about simple living… but since I like to keep things “simple” I’ve come up with a little acrostic using the word SIMPLIFY.

If you are striving to live a simplified life, I urge you to consider the tips and suggestions in this post. In my opinion, they are all integral pieces to the puzzle and all work together to help you to simplify and organize your home and life.

S = START

You won’t get anywhere on your journey to simple living if you don’t get started…. right? And if you want a double “S”, I’d suggest “Start Small”.

Pick one small yet specific area of your home that bugs you the most and start there. Or choose one part of your schedule that feels too full and start there.

Just start somewhere! 

I = IMMEDIATE

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my motto for life is similar to Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline… only I would add “Just Do It NOW”.

I realize there are situations when you literally can not do something right away; however, I’m somewhat confident (based on my own personal experiences) that in most cases, doing it NOW is possible.

Doing something NOW is almost alway preferable to doing it later. For one thing, if you do it NOW, you don’t need to think about it later; and also, if plans change and you have less time later, you won’t need to worry or stress about the fact that you no longer have time to do the various tasks on your list.

M = MAINTENANCE

I don’t think any of us would think twice about showering or getting dressed today… even though we just showered and got dressed yesterday. And I’m sure none of us will moan and groan about needing to eat dinner tonight… even though we just ate breakfast and lunch earlier today.

Obviously, we get dirty and hungry every day — even if we take showers, get dressed, and eat huge meals the day before… this is just simple daily maintenance that is part of life.

So why then do so many people complain about the fact that their homes get messy again even though they just cleaned them yesterday, last week, last month, or last year?

Unless you’re not actually living in your home, it’s going to get dirty, dusty, messy, and disorganized again… this means that once you get an area of your home organized, you will still need to have a general maintenance plan to keep it relatively neat and organized.

I realize that might sound like extra work… but like I’ve said before, “Simple Living is SIMPLE… it’s not EASY”. And believe me, a simple weekly or monthly maintenance plan is SO much simpler than a huge organizational overhaul once a year!

P = PURGE

At this point in my life, purging is something I do ALL the time without really even thinking about it.

If I don’t need or use something anymore, I purge it.
If something doesn’t fit (me or the kids), I purge it.
If I don’t love something or don’t find it valuable, I purge it.
If I find or buy something better, I purge the older item.

It’s second nature for me to always be on the lookout for things I can purge and remove from my home in order to declutter and simplify my surroundings.

While I don’t expect every one of you to be as ruthless as I am, I would like to encourage you to see if you can get rid of just 10 things RIGHT NOW (or maybe after you’ve finished reading this post).

Also, put a donation bag or box in the bottom of every closet in your home, and from now on, anytime you don’t need, use, want, or love something, put it right into that bag or box. I have a feeling you’ll be surprised how quickly those bags and boxes fill up!

And if you are the type of person to worry about “what if I need it someday”, try implementing this tip!

L = LIST

I certainly can’t write a post about simplifying life without including some sort of comment about making lists 🙂

I LOVE LISTS!

I’m the type of person who remembers things better when I physically write something down — but I also know that when I have a list, I am much less likely to procrastinate, to forget, to get off track, or to waste time on unnecessary tasks and activities.

Bottom line, lists make most people much more productive and efficient — both of which are really helpful when you’re trying to streamline and simplify your life.

I = IMPROVEMENT

“Perfection” has no place in simple living — instead, I urge you to continually strive for IMPROVEMENT.

There is (and will always be) more that you can do… and although that can seem overwhelming at times, if you strive for improvement versus perfection, your simple living journey will be so much more enjoyable (not to mention more attainable).

Purge one bag of clothes from your closet, say “no” to one of the extra to-do’s in your schedule, take one more hour of time for yourself, your family, your favorite hobby, etc.

F = FOCUS

As much as magazines and Pinterest would love you to believe, a “simple life” is not the result of reading a certain book, buying specific organizing containers, having a mix ‘n match wardrobe, or only owning 100 things.

Simple living requires drive, determination, and LOTS of focus.

If you haven’t already done so this year, I’d encourage you to really think about a few goals you have for yourself, your home, your schedule, your family, etc. and then focus on those goals all year long.

Every time you are faced with a decision to buy something, take on another time commitment, or add another responsibility, stop and think how the choices you make will affect your overall goals.

Stay focused on the end results you want to achieve, and then continually work to take small steps towards achieving those goals.

Y = YOU!

As I’m sure many of you are aware of, there are MANY excuses we can make to keep our cluttered and chaotic way of life. It’s so easy to blame the others we live with, our job, or our stage of life… but the fact of the matter is, WE are the ones who ultimately have control over our own homes and lives.

If you want to get more organized, don’t let anyone or anything else stop you. Start small, start Immediately, come up with a Maintenance plan, Purge Purge Purge, make a List of goals and to-dos, strive for Improvement, and Focus on working towards Your goals.

I wish I could promise you that striving to live a simpler, more organized life would always be easy and fun… but that’s just not the case.

Sometimes a simplified life means that you suck it up and do the laundry and the dishes at 10:00pm because no one else is going to do them and they need to be done. Sometimes a simplified life means being honest with yourself and the fact that you most likely will never fit into the “after I lose those last 10 pounds” section of your closet and just donating the items once and for all. Sometimes a simplified life means saying ‘no’ to really fun opportunities or a career advancement because they don’t line up with the overall goals you have for your life.

Nope, it’s not always easy or fun… but it IS worth it!

I wish I could better articulate just how many benefits I have seen in my own home and life as a result of my continual efforts to simplify. And once you start seeing and feeling and enjoying the results, it’s so much easier to keep up with the maintenance and stay focused on the end results.

If one of your goals for this year is to simplify, I certainly hope this post will move you one more step in the right direction! 

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25 comments

  1. Jen

    05/11/2017

    where oh where did you get that fabulous sign? I LOVE it!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks — I actually made it with old barnwood we took off from our house during the kitchen remodel!

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  2. Angela

    01/25/2016

    I LOVE this post.. And so needed it!! Thank you!!

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  3. Nayu

    01/23/2016

    Hi Andrea,

    I loved the Maintenance part, which is something I have to do regularly for my mental list of pacing myself so I don’t overdo things.

    Read a few linked articles and finally watched how you fold t-shirts! Tried it just now and it’s so easy-thank you! How do you fold sleeves on long sleeved t-shirts? I folded the whole top in half, matched up the sleeves then folded just the sleeve in half (upwards) before folding it onto the main t-shirt.

    May try folding socks next, as I wear odd socks and it would be nice to see the patterns rather than rummage through the pile for what I’m after!

    Nayu

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  4. Jennifer

    01/23/2016

    I love the point you made under M=Maintenance! I used to feel that way, wondering what is the point in cleaning up to have it run over again in a day, but I love how active my family is, and the messes are just part of it and just have to be cleaned up regularly. I now look at our dirty entryway and remember our great day at the beach (we live on the Tx coast) and WANT to sweep it up, but I also hope we’ll get to go back to the beach and track in more sand tomorrow, but I don’t want it piled with yesterday’s!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yup — I just don’t understand why so many people get upset that their homes get messed up even after they clean them. I realize it can be frustrating and feel like you’re fighting a losing battle — but we live in our homes, so the will constantly get messy!

    Enjoy your sandy beaches. We’re covered with snow up here!

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  5. Sheri D

    01/22/2016

    The I in simplify really speaks to me. I do this all the time. I am now retired but when I worked I would rather get up at 4:00 a.m. to shovel the snow rather than have it hang over my head all day and have to do it when I got home. My husband traveled for work and sometimes had very early morning flights. I could have snuggled down in the bed and gone back to sleep but that was the time I could scrub the kitchen floor before getting ready to go to work. I also got up a little early on the days I washed the sheets from our bed so they could be in the dryer before I went to work and then I could make the bed when I came home for lunch. I just hate having stuff hanging over my head all day. And yes, I make lists too. If I don’t I wander around mindlessly.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — 4am to shovel. That’s great!

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  6. Debbie

    01/22/2016

    This was a great post! I’ve shared it with several people already.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Debbie!

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  7. Allison

    01/22/2016

    Great post! This is my goal for this year. I’m going slowly so that I don’t get anxious and retreat to my bed but for every bag of garbage that goes out I tell myself that it’s one less bag of crap in my house. And I see it as a victory.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes! A victory for every bag and item removed!

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  8. Debbie

    01/22/2016

    Good post! I’ve been there in getting tired of cleaning the kitchen after I just cleaned it hours before, and repeat the following day. I’m glad you reminded us of comparing it to showering. In regards to purging, I’m curious to know how long you keep using your towels until you buy new ones?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Debbie! I don’t have an exact “rule” for how long to keep towels — I just replace them whenever they need to be replaced.

    That said, I must have some really good towels because we’ve been using the same bath towels for our full 10 year marriage! I do replace the wash clothes every 5-6 months since they get “oily” from using our oil facewash method.

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    Debbie Reply:

    I just saw a great deal for towels, and I’m thinking after using the towels gifted to us for our wedding 5 years ago I’m wanting to get some fresh ones. I especially can see the ones that are quick drying are not as “fresh looking” anymore. I calculated and the 5 years equals 1,825 uses for each towel for one shower a day. My husband even takes 2 showers a day.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    do it!
    also, Dave always takes 2 showers every day too — but he has 2 towels, one for morning, one for evening 🙂

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  9. Megan

    01/22/2016

    I love this post and thank you so much for modeling what a simplified and organized life looks like. I have found a lot of inspiration on your web site that has helped me streamline my life and balance my priorities while being a working Mom. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into this web site. Our children are close in age, so it’s fun to utilize your ideas. If you ever do decide to write a book, I would love to read it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Megan! Glad to hear some of my tips are helping you to simplify — that’s my goal!

    I have no plans of writing a book — but if I do, I’ll be sure to share it all over my blog and social media!

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  10. Barb

    01/22/2016

    Andrea,

    You beautifully articulated how to simplify with this acrostic post! Thank you for motivating me to keep working toward the goal of simplifying my life!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Barb 🙂

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  11. Debby

    01/22/2016

    I love this post. I think I say that everytime I comment. 🙂 LOL But that’s ok. It was actually from a post a while back that I took on the idea of Starting backwards. My photo albums need digitized. I believe you might have said don’t worry about starting from years ago, do this year and work backwards. Well that is just what I did. I completed 2015 and it should arrive today. Now my focus is to work on it as I go each month for 2016, and then create a separate book to work on 2014. And just keep chipping at it until I get there. I love your site and I am so glad that 3 January’s ago I googled organizing files and clicked onto a post that you had written. I implemented your ideas and cleaned out all that paper clutter. Went from a 4 drawer file cabinet and a 2 drawer cabinet down to just the 2 drawer cabinet. I have been a loyal reader ever since. Plus I love watching those babies grow.My “baby” will be 18 tomorrow. She is so much like Nora. Embrace the strong will. It sure works well for them when they get older and deal with peer pressure.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — thanks Debby! Way to go on the photo album! I can’t tell you how many people just don’t do something because they are too overwhelmed (pictures are a biggie) so the fact that you actually got started is a great accomplishment in itself!
    Thanks for your words of encouragement about Nora! everyone tells me that her strong will is a positive thing… so I’m just going to believe everyone and trust that eventually, her super strong will is going to benefit her later in life!

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  12. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    01/22/2016

    I’m definitely feeling like purging is one of the most important parts of being organized and simplifying things. I can clean up my living room so quickly because there’s not much to pick up! Other parts of the house are a little harder to keep clean and clean up because there is a lot more stuff to put away. The more I get rid of, the easier it is and the more clean and peaceful our house feels. And I never miss any of the things I’ve purged. It’s good motivation to continually work at it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Christine, purging is an important step — and you’re right, less stuff in your home means less stuff to clean, pick up, organized, etc.

    Also, LOVE the title of your blog 🙂

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  13. Organize 365

    01/22/2016

    This post is awesome!! I agree with every point!
    🙂
    Lisa

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