One of the most important success lessons that I learned in my life is:
“The easiest way to become successful is to find someone who is already successful at what you want to do and follow his/her footsteps”
That’s why when I decided to start the Midway Simplicity blog, I reached out to the top simple living advocates with the following key question:
“Could you please share with us one of your
most practical simple living tips/ideas?”
I was looking for more mainstream ideas that are not too harsh for the lifestyle of an ordinary person who just wants to find peace and enjoy more with less, without becoming an extreme minimalist (i.e. the Midway).
I received awesome replies from 27 humble, wonderful and inspiring simplicity advocates (or as I prefer to call them: Legends).
In this post, you are going to enter and explore the world of simple living from the shoulders of inspiring icons who are making our lives more peaceful and joyful.
Leo Babauta - Zen Habits
Place limits on everything you do.
Limits force us to choose the important and eliminate the rest, so that the limits make what we do more powerful.
So only do email for 10 minutes, twice a day, for example, and only send out 5 sentence emails. Only own 100 things, or do three important tasks each morning. Only travel with 10 things, work for 6 hours a day, or go to a restaurant once a week.
Those are only examples, of course — you’ll have to find limits that work for you.
Courtney Carver - Be More With Less
My best tip to start living more simply is to stop checking email first thing in the morning. Instead, do your most important work first. That could be a yoga class, writing, or another work project. When you check email first, you do everyone’s important work besides your own. You react to messages and shift your schedule based on email. Instead, do what means the most to you first, and check email a few hours later.
Francine Jay - Miss Minimalist
When you’re decluttering, start with a clean slate: completely empty the room, closet, or drawer you’re working on. Then put back only those things you truly need or love. It’s much easier (and more fun!) to single out things to treasure, than to single out things to toss.
Joshua Becker - Becoming Minimalist
Schedule solitude into your life. Simplicity is a counter-cultural lifestyle. Advertisements bombard us from every possible direction calling us to earn more, buy more, and possess more. Their messages and imagery are powerful – far more persuasive than we realize. Simplicity requires turning off that noise, centering our hearts on what’s most important, and crafting a new life… often without completely disengaging from the existing one. Meditation and solitude provide that opportunity. The basic steps of simplicity will always look similar (slow down, live with less, focus on what’s most important), but they will only come into sharper focus when we set aside time to separate our attention from everything else competing for it.
Lorie Marrero - Clutter Diet
Think prevention. Most people focus on reducing what they have already accumulated—like cleaning out a closet—but they forget to look at the habits that made the closet crowded in the first place. Be very mindful of what you are bringing into your home. Don’t pick up things just because they are free, or because someone is giving them to you, or because they are “perfectly good.” We have printable “Clutter Prevention Wallet Reminder Sleeves” on our free tips page (www.clutterdiet.com/freetips) which are used for holding your favorite credit card in your wallet. They have printed on them the five questions you should ask before buying anything.
Allan Douglas - Simple Life Prattle
It’s OK to say NO
One of the greatest stress producers we have in modern life is the pressure put upon us to participate in social organizations, to be involved in activities, to “be there” for everyone who asks. These are worthwhile things, but *you* need to choose which ones to devote your time and energies to; don’t succumb to the notion that if you decline an invitation you’re a heel.
Of course if you decline all invitations so you can sit on front of the television, that’s another matter. Spend your time in worthwhile pursuits, but don’t hand control of your time to others. Make your own choices, don’t over-extend, then do your very best in those activities. Reserve sufficient time to be spent together with your family, as a family. Investing your time and attention in your children will pay large dividends as they grow up.
LJ Earnest - Simple Productivity
To me, the easiest way to simplify your life is to stop multitasking. By focusing on a single thing at one time, you get more done, and you lose the craziness of trying to maintain multiple tasks in your brain at once. It gives a feeling of space and peace that allows you to simplify other areas.
Erin Rooney Doland - Unclutterer
A simple change to make is to put a hook or bowl for your keys near your preferred entrance to the house, and then deposit your keys there every time you come home. It’s an easy habit to form, and in addition to saving you time so you never have to hunt for your keys, it might also help you in an emergency. If you’re ever in the position of having to leave your home quickly, you know exactly where to find your keys. If you live in a high crime area, be sure to store your keys in a place that isn’t immediately obvious to an intruder, like on a hook on the back of your coat closet door.
Robert Wall - Untitled Minimalism
If I could sum simple living up in one word, it would be “intention”.
Every time you start a sentence with “I have to….”, stop for a minute. Put that sentence under the microscope and ask, “why?” Is it because somebody else would do it? If so, you’re living somebody else’s life. Is it because somebody else expects you to? If so, then you’re chasing somebody else’s dream.
You’ll never be happy unless you’re living your life, and chasing your dreams. Figure out what those dreams are, and do your best to intentionally order your life around achieving them. That’s the core of simplicity.
Trent Hamm - The Simple Dollar
Build a relationship with your neighbors. If you have a good relationship with the people around you, they’re a constant resource for borrowing things, helping out in a pinch, keeping an eye on your place while you’re away, and often for friendship without having to go out. One of the first things I do when I move into a place is meet and build a relationship with the people around me.
Colin Wright - Exile Lifestyle
Focus on what’s important to you, and let that guide your decisions in life, your purchases, and your activities. Aim to reduce from your life the things you don’t enjoy at the same time. After a while of doing both of these things consciously, you’ll be in a much better spot, with less of what you don’t want or need, and more of what you do.
Joshua Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus - The Minimalists
Keep it simple, don’t live outside your means, and be true to yourself no matter what.
Tammy Strobel - Rowdy Kittens
When I walk in the door I immediately put my stuff away. For example, shoes aren’t allowed in the tiny house, so they either stay on the porch or sit by the heater to dry off. The same goes for my wet rain coat. I hang up my coat above the heater to dry and then it goes into the closet.
In addition, each of my belongings has a designated home. I have a spot for my computer, power cords, clothing, and books. Putting stuff aways saves me time because I don’t spend 15 minutes looking for my keys or iPod every morning.
If I don’t follow these simple steps, I can’t seem to find what I need and it’s frustrating to constantly look for the same belongings over and over again. The trick is forming a ritual of picking stuff up and putting it away.
Colleen Madsen - 365 Less Things
When it comes to this journey of living with less all you need is a little determination and a lot of resistance. Determination to reduce what you own and resistance to the temptation to replace it with something new. The first thing I did was to stem the tide of stuff coming in and then slowly but surely I have reduced the clutter that already existed. As time wears on I find I am prepared to release more and more things. Every day I reach a new level of satisfaction and one day, I know not when, I will reach my final destination. Right now I am happy to be somewhere midway.
Andrea Briggs - Inside Thread Studio
Love what you have.
One of the most helpful & motivating techniques I have used personally in my own life to simplify my habits and slim down my personal clutter & possessions is to truly love what I have.
I asked myself these questions over and over again…
- How much of what I own do I truly love?
- How much do I buy do I end up keeping? Or even really use?
- How much of what surrounds me is really necessary and used in my day to day life?
- How much of my stuff is secretly sucking my energy?
Over and over, I asked myself these questions and applied them to the stuff surrounding me through this slow and easeful practice, I ultimately re-shaped how I purchased, used, and kept my personally belongings.
I realized, I should never underestimate the positive or negative energy my things created and when stuff is shoved and piled around the living space it can truly effect daily energy and over all emotions. Simplifying can be easy, especially when you re-examine the attachment to your personal belongings and what all your things mean to you! Ask yourself those questions each day and see what happens!
Beth Dargis - My Simpler Life
My most practical tip is about the To Do list. Go over the lists of the past weeks. How many tasks did you accomplish each day? Now average it for the week. How many did you average for a day?
When you make your to do list for tomorrow – check to see what the average tasks accomplished was. If it was 10 a day, don’t have a to do list of 20. You will just feel badly when they don’t get done. If it was 3 a day, have the three most important things to do on your list. And everything else you do will be a bonus. The more realistic you are about how much you get done on an average day, the better planning you will do.
Andrea Dekker - Simple Organized Living
Do 15 minutes a day… every day. Turn off the phone, shut down the computer, give the kids a snack, and spend 15 minutes totally focused on cleaning and organizing. Don’t get distracted by anything, but instead, race against the clock to see how much you can accomplish in that short amount of time. We all have 15 minutes a day — and by doing 15 minutes every day, we can accumulate 90 hours of cleaning/organizing a year!
Tina Su - Think Simple Now
Set a date with yourself every day — for 30 minutes to an hour or longer — where you turn off the TV, the phone, computer. Take this time to read, to journal, or close your eyes and relax.
Simple living is a reflection from your inner state of mind into your external. It all starts from within. Doing this will help center us and re-group our souls from the noise that clutters our inner space.
Nina Yau - Castles In The Air
Examine closely what is in your life that you actually need in order to be happy, healthy and at peace. Genuine abundance is everywhere, most especially within yourself. After we’ve removed the extraneous, the unnecessary, we are left with the extraordinary.
I find questions are the best inner compass since everyone’s journey will be unique.
What do you use, consume and wear on a daily basis? Make a record of this for the next thirty days. Now of these things, what made you happy? What did you enjoy doing, wearing, using? What made you unhappy? Are you able to let these things go?
Neil Pasricha - 1000 Awesome Things
Embrace the 3 A’s of awesome!
Gary Foreman - The Dollar Stretcher
Many people are familiar with the concept of ‘zero based budgeting.’ That a budget where you don’t start with last year’s expenses as a baseline, but rather start at zero. Even dollar must be justified. A similar tool can be applied to our lifestyles. Sort of a ‘zero based lifestyle budget.’ Just because we did something last year doesn’t mean that we need to do it again. Adapt to changing times, changing needs and a changing personality. Take a look at everything you do and decide whether it adds value to your life.
Matt Madeiro - Three New Leaves
Make a swap. Each day of the week, take one thing you normally do (watch TV, surf Facebook, etc.) and shorten it by 30 minutes an hour. Spend that time on something with an impact: read a book, take a long walk, go to bed earlier, etc. These small changes alone can make a huge difference in your week, so imagine what would happen if you did them for a year?
Wanda Urbanska - Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska
In our busy lives, there is no better gift you can give yourself (and others) than building a cushion of time into your schedule. If you have an appointment and you calculate it’ll take you 30 minutes to get there, leave 45 minutes early. That way, if you’re delayed by traffic or other reasons, you won’t have to stress. When you arrive, you can compose yourself, drink some water and get ready for whatever is at hand. This simple step can make a big difference.
Miriam Ortiz y Pino - More Than Organized
The easiest way to keep things simple is to learn to ask yourself a couple of questions before you buy something. The first is “do I already own something that would do the same thing?” The second is “do I want to take care of this new thing for it’s lifetime?” These questions work for everything from snack food to new cars. There is no right or wrong answer, just what will work for you.
Pea Syne - Simple Humble
Everyday we are bombarded with choices and things that are supposed to improve our lifestyles and bring us more happiness. However, improved lives and contented, at ease people are the last thing I see on television, online or in public. In fact, when you do meet these calm, spiritual souls they really stop you in your tracks, because they STAND OUT.
Their strength of quiet resolve, trust in their own instinct and refusal to mingle in the affray of shallowness and the absurdity of the world can really take your breath away…just for a minute.
We all have this ability and innate self wisdom, most of us allow it to die from mis-use. We ask others for truths about us that we really already know. We follow trends instead of what is right and pure for us. We don’t listen to our gut feeling when someone points us in the wrong direction masquerading as a potential partner, friend or a financial advisor.
To opt for simple living in today’s world you have to re-tune your mind-set and to do that my simple advice is to run from the crowd for at least half an hour a week.
Turn off the noise, AKA the ‘news’, the demands, the worry, the grasping advertisers and desperate celebrities doing all kinds of PR stunts just for a slither of your attention.
Return the attention to yourself and ask yourself if you are where you need to be. Ask yourself if you are truly happy and find the answer to that question…don’t leave it hanging. If not, what are you doing to change it? Ask yourself if you are still interested in being exceptional and brilliant or sit there and explain to your disappointed soul why have you given that up. Ask yourself if you have picked the absolute best people to spend the remaining irretrievable years of your life with or should some of them hit the road.
That’s my simple advice. It isn’t about minimizing ownership of quantities of products. It’s far more important than that. It’s about maximizing time with yourself. Because if you are not happy with your answers at first, regular quality, quiet time will eventually reveal to you the best way to get the answers you wish for. It will also heighten the desire and understanding of minimizing for less quantity, more quality.
Tiffany Washko - Nature Moms
Revolving credit may be great for the economy, but it ties you down to payments for things that you probably didn’t actually need or even want but rather felt that you had to have. Paying off your credit cards is an important step on the road to living a minimalist lifestyle. The freedom that comes from not being tied to a financial obligation for your stuff is worth it in the long run. It will also likely help you avoid buying things you don’t actually need.
Leslie Cao - Radical Turtle
When going shopping, purchase clothes only made out of natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, wool, bamboo, and hemp, not polyester, rayon, or acrylic. Depending on the shop, it will probably eliminate at least half of your clothing choices. So, in the end, you purchase less and longer-lasting, better quality clothes, while reducing your environmental impact. These fabrics are able to biodegrade since they are not made from oil-derived plastic.
Thank you all for your awesome & simple insights that enlighten our lives.
Your lives inspire us to find peace and enjoy more with less.
What is your most practical simple living tip?
Please share at least one in the comments below. What you share adds a ton of value to the community!
* Featured Photos Credit: *~Dawn~*, Pink Sherbet Photography, audreyjm529 @ flickr CC