How are you? Busy? Unfortunately, the phrase “I’m so busy” has become a mantra for the modern age. We seem to have bought into the idea that we need to fill our days and our homes until our heads and closets are ready to explode. We speak of a simpler life with fewer distractions and less stress as if it’s something unattainable, and maybe just for people who live off-the-grid in tiny houses. But what if we could make small changes to create a simpler way of living? One where “busyness” was no longer our default?
Courtney Carver, author of Soulful Simplicity and reformed workaholic and over-consumer, suggests we begin by banning the word “busy” from our vocabulary. Here are ten other practices Carver discovered on her journey to a simple, more-heartfelt life.
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1) Ask yourself: Why am I so busy?
This may shed light on whether there is something deeper going on. Do you have a false belief that being busy gives your life more meaning? Are you only busy because you need to maintain a certain lifestyle? It may turn out you don’t have to be busy after all.
2) Bring meaning to your mornings
Keep the phone and laptop turned off for the first hour of your morning, and make starting the day with ease a priority. Perhaps you’ll meditate, write in your journal, put on a face mask, listen to some music, make a healthy breakfast, or just talk about last night’s dreams with the family. You’ll be teaching yourself that whatever you think can’t wait… can.
3) Stop saying “yes” when you want to say “no”
Say “no.” If you don’t want to say: “Hell yeah,” then chances are you want to say “no,” but feel guilty about saying it. Give up the guilt, and trust that good friends and colleagues will understand. If you doubt this, then try a “yes” fast by saying “no” to everything for a week, and see how it turns out.
4) Plan ahead
Make a week’s meal plan before shopping for food—that way you’ll be more likely to spend less, waste less and save precious time thinking about what to cook later.
5) Reduce the to-do list
It may sound obvious, but we can convince ourselves that nothing can be taken off our agenda. After a deep breath and a re-read, chances are you will find a couple of things on the list to give up. And if you have children you might want to revisit their to-do list too.
6) Savor the moment
Act like you’re a tourist. No, that doesn’t mean stopping everyone you meet for directions, but how about savoring the journey to work like you’re a newcomer to your town, or visiting the museum or park at lunch? Stop running on autopilot from chore to job to chore, and take a few 30-minute vacations.
7) Reduce your wardrobe
Yep. Carver is known for suggesting we pick just 33 items of clothing, excluding underwear, but including shoes and jewelry that will last a whole season, and packing the rest away. It will make for fewer clothing decisions, no one will even notice, and if they do they won’t tell you!
8) Think before you hit that purchase button
Hit pause on online purchases for a month and check back to see if you still can’t live without that lime squeezer when the 30 days are up.
9) If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it
Similarly, find a big cardboard box, walk around your home and fill it with things that don’t bring you joy. Then put the box under the bed for one month and see if you or your family miss any of it. Whatever you don’t miss, give away or sell. Repeat this with closets and drawers and watch your home slowly declutter.
10) Forget keeping up with the Joneses (and the Kardashians)
Above all, stop comparing. We’ve turned busyness and “stuff” into a competition, but maybe it’s time to focus on what makes us personally happy. That way, the next time someone asks us how we are, we might be able to answer: “I’m great,” and not, “I’m busy.”
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