Everyone has their own reasons why their life just seems to be getting busier. Work could be really frantic for you right now, organising your summer vacation is taking its toll, or just everyday life, housework and socialising has you being pulled from all angles.
The reality is for all of us is that life is getting louder, more stressful and harder to switch off from. We are exposed to 5000 advertisements and messages on an average day, spend over eight hours staring at a screen, and thanks to the internet we now receive five times as much information a day as we did in the 1980’s.
Whatever the reason you are feeling overwhelmed, the likelihood is that you’d really appreciate the opportunity to take life at a slower, less hectic pace.
The good news is there’s a few simple steps you can take in order to take back control.
Try and adopt a few principles from a minimalist outlook and way of living today, in order to help bring back some calm and order and help you feel happier and more relaxed.
One: Declutter Your Home
The average UK household now owns around £35,000 worth of ‘stuff’. Our houses are getting smaller, and nine out of ten homes store extra belongings in the garage or loft as they just don’t have enough room in the house for them.
We clearly on average have more stuff that we will ever need, wear or use, and studies have shown that holding on to this stuff just isn’t good for us.
It means we feel stressed and often anxious about the lack of space we have to share with our multiplying possessions. We end up spending hours weekly cleaning under books, shelves, ornaments and throws.
One quick easy minimalist fix? Get rid of the clutter and noise.
Take two boxes, and tackle one room, cupboard or drawer at a time. Put things to donate in one box, things to recycle in another, and things you are happy to keep back in their location.
Three rules. Don’t keep anything ‘just in case’, don’t keep anything broken or damaged, and don’t keep anything just because you think you should. Try and be ruthless with yourself.
It can be hard to start with, but very quickly you will begin to see and feel the benefits. Less time cleaning, less time maintaining, less stress of sharing living space with clutter you’ve not touched in five years.
Two: Detox Digitally
The average Brit now spends nearly four hours a day on their phone or a mobile device, checking it upwards of 28 times a day. It’s also the first thing we check in the morning, and last thing we read at night for most of the population.
Considering that we are all so busy, we seem to have an awful lot of time for notifications, alerts and breaking stories that pop up on our display screens throughout the day.
A quick digital detox can do wonders for boosting happiness, sleep quality and concentration levels.
Today, try three things to minimise your digital dependency.
- Turn off non-essential notifications. You don’t need to be told each time someone likes your Facebook status.
- Download an app such as Moment, to track your daily phone usage. Honestly, as soon as you see that you personally have spent four hours a day on your phone, your habits quickly change. Think what else you could be doing with the time.
- Don’t charge your phone in your bedroom. Leave it downstairs before you head to bed at night. Breaks the cycle of before bed scrolling.
Three: Want Less
If I asked you to think of two to three material items on your wish list right now, which you think would make your life a little bit better for one reason or another, could you?
A luxury watch, a designer handbag, a new television perhaps?
Now think how or why you think they’d enrich your life.
That new designer watch. Thinking honestly, what makes it different from a well-crafted non-luxury timepiece? It’s the branding. The lifestyle associations which come alongside it.
A bigger television. Is it to enjoy your films in better quality, or just because when it comes to TV’s, we’ve been repeatedly told bigger is better?
A luxury branded handbag. Probably as well-made as a hand stitched leather bag you could find for a third of the price. However they come without the logo. So how would people know that you’ve got THE coveted bag of the season if it’s non-recognisable?
I have been guilty of this thinking. If we’re being honest, you may have been too.
However if we started to see material goods for what they really are. Tools to help us in our daily activities. Things. Stuff. We stop coveting them all so much.
It has been proven time and time again that buying a better version of something we already have doesn’t provide us with lasting happiness. Instead, we get a quick adrenaline rush and then were on to coveting the next item on our wishlist. Spend your money on experiences rather than things, and feel that stress of wanting more slowly dwindle.
Four: Stop Saying You’re Busy
Being busy, and leading a hectic life that is filled to the brim, has become the new normal. Our society seems to measure people more and more on their productivity and output. We are expected to manage hundreds of emails, whilst making time to exercise, pampering and pruning ourselves and yet still preparing for several meetings a day, and then be sociable in the evenings, oh and don’t forget you need to tweet all about this throughout the day so everyone is aware of how much you are really doing. Even typing all of that was exhausting.
Well guess what? It’s okay to not be busy. It’s acceptable to say no. It is perfectly fine to prioritise what will make a difference to your day than doing the hundreds of little tasks ‘just because’.
If we stop using ‘busy’ as a measure of success, and cut down on the daily unnecessary noise (checking our phones 28 times, or polishing all of our household clutter twice a week) we will start to find more time for the things that make us truly happy.
Five: Know Your Priorities
Every time I feel life is getting a little too cluttered and busy, I take a step back and realise I am prioritising day to day menial tasks over experiences and opportunities.
One way to enrich your life is to write down the five things that matter most to you, and then think about how much time you have spent today on things that you cherish.
It’s a tactic a lot of minimalists use to make sure they are putting their energy into what really matters to them.
Make sure that where possible, you are investing your time on your top priorities. It may be your health, family, work or sports. Either way, you only get that time once, so use it wisely.
Overall, if you make just one of these small changes, you will hopefully feel that you are living a simpler, less chaotic and happier life.