We live in a world of bigger, better, faster, stronger. Some would even add “excessive,” and while I don’t believe there is anything wrong with having nice things or many nice things, generally speaking more stuff equals more stress. I’m sure each of us could use a little simplicity in our family life.
Picture a life less complicated, crazy and chaotic. Picture your family life with less calendar clutter, over activity and noise. Now, breathe in, breathe out, wax on, wax off.
Pardon the phrase here, but simple math would tell you that the more you have, the more you will maintain. If you were to Google “simplify life,” a long list of sites would appear, and those wouldn’t necessarily include the books, blogs, magazines and movies––all geared to help you live life simply.
“This desire to simply simplify is “generally known as
‘voluntary simplicity,’ or the’ simplicity movement,’
the need many of us see for a less stressful, more meaningful life.” (1)
Voluntary simplicity does not mean doing without things entirely or getting rid of everything you have. Voluntary simplicity is a much broader philosophy of living life in a balanced way. With that in mind, here are seven ways to voluntarily simplify life right now.
1. Begin screening your calls.
Don’t answer the phone just because someone calls you. And if you don’t recognize the caller ID, consider not answering the call at all!
2. Turn off your cell phone.
Does it really need to be on all the time? Can’t you (shouldn’t you?) turn it off for a couple of hours? Maybe put it on airplane mode. Think baby steps if you can’t simply throw the switch.
3. Get rid of your land line.
If you have a cell phone consider loosing the land line. This is a tough idea but it could give you big rewards. Think about it. It will save you time and money.
4. Let voice mail take your calls.
If you don’t want to be constantly interrupted then let technology work for you. Let the call go to voice mail, and you can respond when you have time to do so.
5. Answer email twice a day.
Just because someone needs a response “now” doesn’t mean you need to respond now. Since I moved to answering email twice a day, I can’t tell you how many problems seem to get resolved without my input or advice.
6. Stop answering all texts immediately.
What I mean is stop answering your texts as soon as you receive them. Texting has become the most accepted rude behavior in our modern world. Pavlov was right. When I hear that alert letting me know I have a text, I start to salivate, and immediately ignore whoever is near me. We have been programmed to reach for our phones when we hear that sound. Reaching for our phones has become a reflexive––and excessive––way of life.
In the pilot episode of Modern Family, Phil calls for his kids to come downstairs:
“Kids get down here.” One of the children enters the kitchen on her phone and says, “Why are you guys yelling at us? We were way upstairs. Just text me.” Yes, texting is a part of life, but it isn’t all of life. Shhh. Silence your text alert.
7. Digitize everything.
No more paper. Go green, and put everything into digital files on your computer. Then back everything up in the cloud. No more looking through files that are hanging in those old file drawers. Now you can search for your files using key words, so finding the file you need or want is only a keystroke away.
What Einstein Can Teach Us About Simplicity
Although I can’t validate the story, urban legend suggests that Albert Einstein’s wardrobe consisted only of black pants and white shirts. The reasoning behind the simple wardrobe was that it eliminated having to make choices every morning. By only having black pants and white shirts, he didn’t have to spend any time thinking about what matched what. His choice of what to wear had already been made for him.
Whether or not you subscribe to Einstein’s fashion philosophy––or hairstyle for that matter––isn’t the point. The point is to simply simplify life!
What can you do to simplify our own family life this week?
(1) Reference: Carol Sorgen, “Cut the Stress, Simplify Your Life,” WebMD