Easy ways to simplify your life

Man relaxing on porch with a coconut

You never hear anyone complain about having too much time. Ever.

Our world doesn’t really allow boredom or downtime anymore. Think back 10 or 12 years, before you had a constant smartphone companion. Consider the times, even in little breaks or bursts, where you did nothing: Sitting at stoplights. Walking the dog or pushing the stroller around the block. In the bathroom. In the waiting room. During commercial breaks.

They might seem insignificant, but those little brain breaks — even the times when you feel bored — can be what you need to recharge and access the creative parts of your brain. Not just for art or performance. But for things like problem-solving and building more meaningful relationships.

Now, most people fill every spare moment looking down. Sometimes we’re scrolling on our phones for work or reconnecting with someone we love. But more often than not, we fill what used to be actual breaktime with social media. On average, we’re there for 153 minutes per day — about 2.5 hours.

Think about it: There are 24 hours in a day. You should be asleep for eight of them. Another eight are spent working. So, that’s:

24 – 8 – 8 = 8

Woman standing in a field relaxing

We have just eight unaccounted-for hours per day. And we’re spending 2.5 of them — a whopping 31 percent — on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and the like.

With an entire cyber world full of recipes, hairstyles, TV shows, designed-to-the-nines houses and countless posts to like, love and share, our brains are flurrying with activity all the time — even when our actions don’t reflect it. We FEEL busy, even though we’re not actually doing anything. Or the opposite is true, and we constantly chase those picture-perfect ideals until we get ragged. 

Add to that our family and life obligations — school, work, soccer practice, PTO meetings, visiting our parents, dentist appointments, household chores, grocery shopping — and the well quickly runs dry.

But only if you let it.

It might feel like trying to swim upstream, but there are a few easy ways to simplify your life and ultimately get so much more out of it. To start:

Take back your 2.5 hours

At least some of it. We’re not dogging on social media — it can be a really fun way to stay connected and inspired, or even build a community of your own. But how often are we turning that inspiration into action? How many times this year did you follow up a “Happy birthday!” message on a friend’s wall with an actual phone call or in-person hug? Don’t just pin your dream garden, plant it! Don’t just save that recipe for the perfect pumpkin bread, bake it! And don’t just message a friend on Facebook and call it a friendship — cultivate the relationship with actual time spent together in the same place.

Person watering plants in garden

Drop the B-word on your time

We treat it like it’s a bad word: budget. You budget your money, because it’s a resource that can run out if you don’t. Try looking at your time the same way. Don’t just consider the things you need to do, like work or a couple loads of laundry. Think about what you want to do. If you don’t, “unnecessary” things — you know, the simple pleasures that make life worth living — fall first by the wayside. What are you gonna do, just NOT sleep or work? No. You’re going to miss yoga or lunch with a friend or whatever nonessential thing is on your list. Budget them in!

Declutter your brain

Maybe it’s taking an extra 10 minutes each morning to sip your coffee on the porch — without your phone. Or filling your space with fragrance, turning on some low-key music, clearing your head and focusing your senses for a bit. Maybe it’s pulling weeds from your garden or taking a walk outside — with your head up. Whatever helps you relax and reset, even if you only have a few minutes to spare, do it. You’ll feel the benefits.

Simplify your life

We’re getting dangerously close to the most wonderful, unquestionably busiest time of the year. A season when entire days, weeks and months can whizz by if we let them. Instead, simplify your schedule. Declutter your brain. Allow yourself to rest and recharge. Spend time with people who make you smile. And cherish every single moment, looking up.

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