It began almost five years ago. One afternoon I cleared out more than two-thirds of my wardrobe. Since then, my adventure with simple living has changed my life. In fact, I feel it fitting that I write this post where I am: mid-air. One perk of simplicity is that I can now pack in thirty minutes all the things I need to live and work from New Zealand for the next month into a single carry-on duffle bag.
I want to share five suggestions for how you can start decluttering your life. But before I do that, ask yourself, why? Why declutter in the first place? Do you want to live more freely, more affordably, more ethically? If you can identify your motivations clearly and concisely, then your intentions will translate into real change.
Decluttering is about identifying your core values and making your decisions concerning money, possessions, time commitments and habits around them. The kind of life you want demands a particular kind of lifestyle. Importantly, this means decluttering looks different from person to person. It’s not uniform. It doesn’t diminish, but rather maximises freedom of choice and expression of individuality.
So, here are five suggestions for simplifying your 2019:
By building a capsule wardrobe you can shop more ethically, save more money and stress much less. Then you’ll love every item in your wardrobe, wear them more and not need to think too much about what you’re going to wear. Try to simplify your wardrobe so that you have enough, but need to do a wash once a week or fortnight. Donate the rest to those in need, give to friends or sell for cash. Start by packing all your clothes up, as if you’re going on holiday, and for the next two weeks only unpack the clothes you want to wear; these will be your favourites, and the rest you can afford to lose.
Becoming mindful of what you eat helps you be healthier and also reduce waste. Cooking in the evening helps me to relax after a busy day and I like to try a variety of new things. But for breakfast and lunch I have something simple, repeatable, healthy and most of all, delicious. Repeat two or three dishes like this for breakfast and lunch, and your meal preparation will be cheaper and easier. Another tip is to have one shelf in your fridge where you keep all your left-overs or food that is soon to expire. Finally, if you’ve got a busy week but still want to eat well, and with zero waste, try a recipe box from Gousto.
It’s remarkable how much paper we accumulate without realising. Declutter and save trees at the same time by sorting your papers. Discard what you don’t need and then scan and digitise what you do. I capture using the Scanner Pro app, export straight into Evernote and have only one small black folder for documents I shouldn’t throw away. Take your paper decluttering further by subscribing to your favourite paper or magazine electronically. Get geekier and go deeper by using IFTTT.
Taking care of your body is simple and only requires small changes to see great results. Stop paying that expensive membership for the gym you never use. Instead, make things so simple that you are left without excuse: put on those old trainers and get outdoors. The Couch to 5K programme is free, easy and perfect for beginners. Start to stretch regularly, exercise your core and use your own bodyweight to build strength. Try cycling, running or walking part or all of your commute to work. Take your lunch hour away from your desk with a leisurely stroll outdoors.
Want to sleep better and wake up more naturally? Stay away from screens an hour before bed and an hour after rising. Keep your phone out of your bedroom and use something else as an alarm clock — maybe even an actual clock! Try setting it half-an-hour earlier than you need, to beat the morning rush. When your alarm sounds, make it your only immediate goal to get up and boil the kettle. Then, starting slowly, you can usher in the day.
These five suggestions are only the beginning and only come from my own experiences. I’ve tried to cover a range of categories, but within each there is room for you to think, pray and take your journey with simple living in the direction that is right for you. As Christians our lives are first and foremost oriented, not around a set of principles or practices, but a person — Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. From there, all else follows. And only that way round will you learn to live in such a way that is truly satisfying. So friends, come join in the adventure. And remember, have fun with it!
To read more from Alex, you can visit his blog The Coffeehouse Cleric
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