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How to Simplify Your Life (Looking Beyond #SimpleLiving)

Take a short scroll through Instagram’s #SimpleLiving and you’ll find nearly two million posts. You’ll see feeds filled with neutral interiors, calming aesthetics, eco tips and plenty more. But what does it really mean to simplify your life? What happens when you look beyond the hashtag?

Woman holding an open pink journal and peering over the top

Before you start simplifying your life…

Simple living generally involves a slower pace of life. And for many of us, simplifying involves cutting stuff out. But what might feel superfluous to one person, could feel 100% essential to someone else.

So, before you start taking any action to simplify your life, take some time to figure out what lights you up with joy, and (more importantly) what doesn’t. 

It might be as simple as flicking back through your journal or reviewing your mood tracker to look for the moments and things that had you jumping for joy. Or, a more intentional approach might feel better for you.

If that’s the case, try setting aside some dedicated time to get to know yourself. Take a look at everything that you’ve got going on in your life, and ask yourself how it really makes you feel. What do you want more of? What could you do with less of?

Use those lessons to guide you on your journey. And remember that it is a journey. This change won’t happen overnight.

Find out what’s important to you (and start living a more intentional life)

Simple living = sustainable living

Simple living and sustainable living go hand in hand. As you go through the process of simplifying your life, you’ll likely find that you're inadvertently helping the planet.

Why? Well less stuff, means less of an environmental impact. When you remove all the unnecessary paraphernalia from your life, not only are you looking after yourself but you’re looking after the natural world too.

Less waste. Less carbon emissions. Less stuff. It all adds up, it all helps to protect the planet.

So as you go through this journey, bear that in mind. Look for the ways that you can help yourself and the world you’re living in, at the exact same time.

Consider how you spend your time

Everyone deserves a life that feels true to them. Even if that means saying no to some people along the way.

It’s likely that simplifying your life will see you going against the grain. You’ll start waving goodbye to the “should dos” that society expects you to follow. As simple living writer Jessica Rose Williams says, “we don’t have to live the life we’re sold”.

This is where a journaling habit can help. Check-in with yourself regularly throughout this journey to see how you feel. When you’ve removed (or added) something to your life, take the time to see how that impacts your emotions.

You might find that creating a cosy home space trumps any desire to travel, even though your friends are obsessing over long trips around the globe. Or maybe you don’t want to start a family, despite the fact that your own family expects that of you.

Whatever it is, try to tune into what feels right for you. Not other people.

cosy fireplace in a light minimalist room

Declutter your digital world

The digital world might seem simple - after all, we can’t touch it or feel it - but there’s a lot of clutter out there. From endless social media platforms to overflowing email inboxes, sometimes that noise can be too much to bear.

Each time you use a social media platform, read an email newsletter (yes, even ours!) or open up an app, ask yourself “is this adding value to my life?”.

If it is, keep it! If not? Consider tapping that “unsubscribe” button.

Be honest with your people

Brace yourself, this is a big one… it’s okay to remove people from your life. Just as much as it’s okay to bring in new people and make friends as an adult.

As we grow older, most of us slowly start to realise that just because someone’s been in our life for a long time, doesn’t mean that they need to be in our life for the rest of time. Instead, quality friendships where your shared values align start to make much more sense.

So don’t be afraid to revamp your friendship circles. This is the hardest thing on the list but it can also have the biggest impact.

Buy quality products that last

We’ve all gotten used to instant gratification. If you need a product or want an item, you can get it delivered to your door in mere hours.

But when you look back at simpler times, people lived very differently. They saved up for things, planned for expenses and bought goods that were built to last. And there’s a magical sense of gratification to be found in that process.

It’s a big part of our ethos here at Yop & Tom. The last thing we want is for your journal to fall apart a few weeks into using it. Instead, every paper product we make is designed to be used over and over and over again. So it’s always there for you, exactly when you need it.

Opt for slow intentional purchases

Ever bought something, only to regret it just a day later? 🙋‍♂️🙋‍♀️

Simple living places a big emphasis on being mindful about where your purchases come from, and why you’re choosing to make them.

Marie Kondo told us to ask “does it spark joy”, which is always a good reminder to have. We’d like to take that one step further, by asking “will it spark joy, after today is over?”.

When you become more conscious of the items you want in your life, you’ll start to develop a stronger sense of what will continue to bring you joy long after that initial dopamine rush is over.

And when you do find an item you want to buy, you can be mindful about where that purchase comes from. Perhaps you’re looking for something that’s from a small business, that’s diverse, local and ethically made. That soon becomes part of the process of slowing down and making simpler, more intentional buying decisions.

woman on a hike touching a green plant

Choose a gentler way to travel

You can still live a simple life and travel the world. But for many of you, that might mean travelling in a simpler, more gentle way.

Rather than clicking on every plane ticket that comes on sale, you opt for slower travel instead. You choose long local weekends, over long haul adventures. And you make the journey on trains and buses, instead of flights. You cut out the stress of flying, whilst making the journey part of the adventure.

Live in line with the seasons

The modern world expects you to be the same, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. But nature says otherwise.

Each year, our planet goes through four very distinct seasons. And each of those seasons has valuable lessons, just waiting to help you live a simpler life.

Whilst summer brings a vibrant energy, winter encourages a slower, quieter pace of life. So, don’t be afraid to tune into that. Match your food, lifestyle and activities to each season. Permit yourself to hibernate in winter, and live off simple salads in summer. Give your body what it needs, whilst nourishing your soul along the way.

What if you could find the missing piece of the puzzle?

Bullet journaling can help you cultivate a calmer life. This is how to get started.