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Spring Cleaning – A Simple Life Manifesto

A Simple Life. What does that mean to you? It seems strange to me that it’s something so many people crave, when just a few generations ago, it was the norm. How did we get so busy? How did we amass so many things? Where did all of our free time go?

I know for me, if I don’t schedule free time or time to read a book or relax it won’t happen. How crazy does that sound?

Everyone’s battle for a simple life looks different. Whether it’s work, school, family, or community that occupies the majority of our day, getting back to a simple life is a journey, not a destination.

It’s a process we should be aware of at different points of time in our life. Whether we visit it daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly (how corporate does that sound? Quarterly? Maybe seasonally is the better word) it’s an on-going practice that we can lovingly revisit when needed.

I find Spring the perfect time for revisiting this process of mine. We’ve been cooped up all winter, aching for green, aching to get outside, get our hands dirty, get active.

All of a sudden we find ourselves overwhelmed with the Spring Cleaning to do list, the holidays, the activities we’ve signed ourselves up for.

As a working graduate student, author, entrepreneur, mother, farmer, and homesteader, planning simplification into my life is vital. How do I do it? First off, I find some quiet time (hard to do, I know!), put on some classical music, make myself some tea and make a plan!

So put on some music, make yourself a cup of tea and join me in this process:

My Simple Life Manifesto

child with hanging laundry

Make a list of your priorities

These should be 4-5 things, in order of importance. This seems really easy, right? You know what your priorities are. You could probably recite them in your sleep, but when your to do list becomes 7 miles long, and you have exactly 1 hour of productive time, how do you know what to focus on? And what to let fall to the wayside?

For me, these are my personal health, my family, my education, and then my career. I will write a post later on why my first priority is my personal health and why yours should be too.

For an example, check out my post on 17 herbs for anxiety.

Take a look at your commitments

We all have things in our lives that require our attention. Make a list of all of the reoccurring activities you do. For me it’s riding my horse, cooking, writing a blog, writing a book, school, work, cleaning the house, etc.

Make a list of EVERYTHING, and then cross something off! If any of these commitments don’t reflect your top priorities you listed in the first exercise, or doesn’t bring you joy, cross it off.

Stop multitasking

I’ll be honest, this is the hardest thing for me to do. I have a feeling multitasking and I will have a life-long argument.

When you multitask, you are more likely to make mistakes, you waste time mentally switching between tasks, and you increase your stress. Check out this lifehack.org article for more info on the evils of multitasking.

Disconnect

We’re all guilty of it. Almost addicted to it. Ever feel lost without your phone? We’ve developed into a generation of insta-everything. Most people keep their cell phones on them at all times.

Text message, phone calls, instragram, twitter, facebook, tumblr, etc. They constantly pull our attention, fill up our spare time, make us available to anyone at any time.

I fully believe they’ve contributed to our generation’s ADD. Break yourself away from your smart phones. Make it a habit to leave your phone in the bedroom, or turned off, or at home while you’re running errands. Learn to sit quietly, without having to be constantly entertained by your phone.

When we think about simpler times, people sat quietly a lot, and thought. They were present in the moment, taking in the scenery, or enjoying the company of the people they were with, or simple just were. When was the last time you just were?

Purge Your Stuff

I thought about calling this step “declutter” but it’s more than that. You can still have way too much stuff, but have it all put away and organized well.

Spring cleaning is an excellent time to take an inventory of all of the stuff you have, and get rid of what you really don’t need. Go through your clothes, cabinets, dressers and drawers and simply chuck or donate what you don’t need, don’t use, or doesn’t have sentimental value.

The stuff itself doesn’t complicate your life, but an empty home makes for an empty mind…in a good way!

For inspiration, I re-read this book every Spring. The Quest of the Simple Life. It’s about a clerk in London in the 1800’s who lost his job and had to move his family to a small farm and develops a sustainable life.

It reminds me of the type of life I want – full of hard work, time with my family, and simple pleasures.

If you’re struggling with stress and anxiety, check out my FREE 7 day email series on how to use herbs to support your mental health.

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Jennifer A

Tuesday 23rd of February 2016

I love spring cleaning, and you are right. When there is space in the house, you can do things, other than cleaning and organizing. Great post, the spirit of spring cleaning is creeping up on me and one of these days I'm going to hit that school room that is staring at me right now. It needs a whole overhaul.

Organizational Specialist

Monday 23rd of March 2015

Love all these; stop multitasking, disconnect, and purge versus just declutter, all excellent points!