A simple life has some unexpected benefits.

Conquering Cognitions

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I am determined to simplify my life. I want to shift my focus from more to less- less stress, fewer headaches, reduced time spent on things that steal joy.

With five children and a husband that has a strong entrepreneurial drive, my life design is not inherently simple, and that is OK. My dream is not a tiny house or living off the grid, but I would like to limit unnecessary distractions. My goal is to simplify how I interact and function within my life and this is how I'm doing it.

Simplify Possessions

I decided to try the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge which requires getting rid of one item on day 1, two on day 2, and so on until you reach 30 items on day 30. This challenge encourages you to find 465 items total to give away, donate, or recycle.

I like to organize and clear out possessions, so I was looking forward to this challenge. It is always good to start a big project with the simplest task first because early success helps with momentum and motivation.

As you would expect, the first few days are not hard, but it becomes significantly more difficult as the month progresses.

I went through my closet and purged clothes, thinned an impressive collection of coffee and tea mugs, sorted through books (I found three copies of To Kill A Mockingbird), and recycled several empty DVD cases. I guess I already donated the DVDs?

By the 21st day, I was running out of ideas and had to get more creative. I chose to purge some of my cat’s toys. Shockingly, she had 49 toys (mice, yarn, balls, etc.) in her basket, and I quickly found the necessary 21 items. To be fair, I purged some of the dog’s toys too.

I recycled 25 journals that I received as part of my professional organization membership. I have not read them for years, but I felt like I should be reading the journals, so I saved them. After recycling the pile, I went a step further and removed my name from the journal subscription.

I cleaned out my desk and the catch-all drawer in the kitchen. By the end of the 30 days, I met the 465 item goal and it felt great.

Are there things in your home that no longer serve a purpose or bring you joy? Do you have clothes you don’t wear, dishes that you no longer use, or books that need a new home? Will it benefit your life to simplify possessions?

If so, maybe the 30-day challenge is a good place to start.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak.”
Hans Hofmann

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Simplify the Digital World

The decision to downsize tangible items was just the first step in eliminating distractions and simplifying my life. A larger area of interference for me is digital clutter. Emails, social media, and YouTube can complicate my life. I go online to pay a bill and then get distracted by email. Or, I check the weather and then find myself lost on Instagram.

Here is what I’m doing to reduce digital clutter:

  • I turned off most notifications on my phone. The notification sound tends to distract me from the present moment, and this is disruptive and unnecessary.
  • I unsubscribed from email lists that no longer serve a purpose for me. I mostly removed myself from business marketing emails.
  • I deleted apps on my phone that create more distraction than joy. Personally, social media is a time-waster for me. I didn’t delete them all from my phone because I use them for work, but now I have to type the name into the search bar to access it. The multi-step process makes it less habitual and more intentional.

What digital activities take up the most time in your day? Is it a necessary activity? Does it serve a purpose or bring you joy? If not, maybe it is time to organize or purge some digital clutter in your life.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Confucius

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Simplify Decisions

Another aspect of life that takes time and energy is making decisions. Have you ever stopped to think about the sheer number of choices you have in your daily life?

I love Oreos, and there are 25 varieties of Oreo cookies! The Coke Freestyle soda machines in many restaurants have 165 different types of soda. Baskin Robbins has 31 ice cream flavors, cable TV offers over 100 channels, and restaurants have a crazy number of menu items.

Too many choices are hard on our brain and can lead to decision fatigue. Society will not limit the number of options for us, so we need to simplify the decision-making process ourselves.

One change I recently made was removing all but one book from my nightstand. I have a habit of reading several books at the same time, and my nightstand has traditionally been piled high with them. When it was reading time, I often couldn’t decide which to read first, so I would watch TV. Moving forward, the book on the nightstand is the book I will read.

Another frequent, and cumbersome, decision for me is what to make for dinner. I try to make it as streamlined as possible by having a few meal ideas that I rotate through the weeks. My favorite routine is one my family started many years ago - Friday night pizza. I enjoy having at least one day a week that I don’t have to plan dinner!

Are you experiencing decision fatigue and using precious emotional energy on unnecessary tasks? Do you need to simplify your wardrobe, meal plan, TV viewing, evening routine, or nightstand?

Pick one area and make a change, and then use that extra cognitive energy for something that makes you happy.

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Final Thoughts

As you begin to unburden yourself from physical clutter, digital distractions, and unnecessary decisions, you create a life routine that has more room for joy. We have a limited amount of time each day to engage in activities that serve a purpose or make us happy. If your headspace is occupied by unnecessary complications, consider how you can recycle, purge, or delete it from your life.

What can you do today to simplify your life?

Originally published on ConqueringCognitions.com. Please follow me for more articles on healthy living, self-development, and personal growth.

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Clinical psychologist turned writer | PsyD | Outdoor enthusiast | Museum lover | We are stronger together | ConqueringCognitions.com - healthy cognitions can conquer almost anything

Colorado Springs, CO
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