We’re in the homestretch of 2016, and along with the shorter days and falling temperatures comes a mountain of year-end stress. Pressure to fill our calendar with holiday gatherings, project deadlines, doctor’s appointments, and tax preparations. Attempts to throw a hail mary at our goals for the year before time runs out. As if these obligations vanish on January 1st, 2017. We’re learning that is certainly not the case.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the season, but at some point it’s not possible to squeeze all of our plans into the 19 remaining days. Sometimes we need to focus on what we can do and let go of the rest. Call these New Years resolutions, goals, or mindfulness practices, but we identified areas where we can make positive changes. These small shifts in our habits will make 2017 less stressful, more fulfilling, and a little easier.
These are our go-to strategies for simplifying our life in 2017.
8 Ways to Simplify Your Life
When things feel overwhelming, our possessions tend to take over our living spaces. Papers pile up, junk drawers overflow, and clutter seems to pop up out of nowhere. We’ve noticed an uptick in the odds and ends strewn about our apartment, so we plan to tackle our problem areas one at a time. Start small: desk drawers, the entryway, or the hallway closet. Organizing one area can make the rest of your home feel surprisingly calmer.
2. Clear your pantry/freezer
We’ve become BFFs with Costco. We stock up on all kinds of meat, dry goods, and paper products (not to mention our lifetime supply of storage bags). In theory we shouldn’t need that much from the grocery store; just produce, milk, and emergency chocolate. But we still find ourselves doing weekly shopping trips for things we probably could do without. The worst part is much of it goes to waste before we can use it.
In the coming weeks we’re going to clear out our pantry and freezer and get creative with our cooking. Bring on the soups, casseroles, and stir frys! Instead of adding more to our overstocked pantry, we’re going to use up as much as we can. Hopefully we will stretch those Costco trips a little bit longer, too!
3. Slow down your morning routine
Mr. RW has talked about his morning routine and how it sets up the rest of his day. We both used to rush through our routine to get out the door as fast as possible. Now we are proponents of taking it slow in the morning. We enjoy a cup of coffee before sunrise, make a hearty breakfast, and listen to a podcast or two. Find something that helps you relax in the morning: exercise, reading, crosswords, or drawing. Your emails and news updates can wait.
4. Disconnect in the evening
Our favorite new habit is to disconnect from email and social media after 7:00pm. After constant bombardment by notifications and reminders all day, give yourself a break from the distractions. Use that time for self-care and relaxation. Anything urgent can be dealt with tomorrow.
5. Audit your subscriptions
Look through your subscriptions and decide whether you use them regularly. Do you need Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Sling TV, and Amazon Prime all at the same time? Do you get value out of product subscriptions like NatureBox, Birchbox, or Dollar Shave Club? If not, try pausing the service for a month or two and see if you miss it. Consider magazines and newspapers, as well. Anything that’s billed monthly is fair game.
6. Fight the twitch
When you’re standing in line, taking a walk, or riding the bus or train, resist the urge to check your phone. It’s so easy to see a notification, open the app, and fall down the rabbit hole of mindless scrolling. Our phones distract us from being present. Those increments of lost attention add up throughout the day, and most of it is totally unnecessary. Practice focusing on what is in front of you, even if it’s mundane.
7. Write down thoughts
We keep journals in our bags, and throughout the day we jot down thoughts, ideas, reminders, and feelings. The idea is to dump these thoughts onto paper instead of letting them cloud your mind. Some recommend the Bullet Journal method for organizing thoughts, but find whatever system works for you. Allowing yourself to record thoughts as they happen makes it easier to act upon them later.
8. Let go of a goal
If there’s a goal you were hoping to accomplish but didn’t quite reach, it’s okay to let it go. So you didn’t save as much money as you planned, or you didn’t get to that home improvement project, or you didn’t learn that new language. Accept it, and move on. Maybe this year wasn’t the right time. You can always tackle it later.
How do you want to simplify your life in 2017? Do you have goals you want to accomplish in the next year?
~ Ms. RW