I’ve been really busy lately. Sometimes I think that means I can’t be a minimalist. After all, shouldn’t my life be slow and simple if I’m a minimalist? But the more I think about it, my life is slow and simple. I just fill it with things I actually want to do because I like being a little busy. It feels good to simplify your life and simplify your schedule to the point where you can free up time and fill it back up with things you love.
So how can you simplify your life enough to be busy with the things you actually want to do? How can you simplify your schedule so the boring stuff doesn’t eat up every spare moment?
Let me share 8 ways to work smarter, not harder, so that you can minimize your schedule. These habits will help you fill your days with the things that matter to you!
This is a guest post by Jessalyn Jones from Doable Simplicity.
Live UNDER Your Means to Free Up Time
The biggest way that minimalism has simplified my schedule lies in the money it has saved me. My husband and I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for almost 10 years. We could have moved out very shortly after we got married but we didn’t. We appreciated that by living under our means we were able to save up.
That savings literally saved us when unexpected expenses came up. It also took us on some really great trips! It saved us lots of stress and gave us lots of fun times.
But most of all living under our means saved us lots and lots of time. Because we didn’t have huge bills to pay I was able to focus on a volunteer work that is important to me. I was also able to start writing and begin my blog.
I know it is tempting to buy the biggest and best. The consumer society we are all a part of wants us to feel that we are missing out if we don’t get all the things. But what if you tried a little experiment? Just try living under your means and see if you can free up time for what really matters to you.
Say No to Things That Aren’t Essential
The next step in letting minimalism simplify your life and your schedule is to start saying no. There are a lot of things that are really important but not everything has to be really important to you. It’s time to learn the word no.
It’s really hard to say no to someone without feeling at least a little bit bad about it. In fact, I’m convinced it’s impossible to say no to anything unless you know what you are saying yes to at the same time.
It may take a little time but stop and think about what you really want your life to look like. If everything went exactly right in the next 10 years where would you want to be? What do you dream of? Stop and really think about it.
Once you have done that, it’s easy to turn down everything that doesn’t move you towards your goals. Think about what is really essential to getting where you want to be. Also, think about what you need and what your family needs.
Last but not least, when asked to do something remember you are not the only person who can do it. Where will you make your greatest contribution? When can you bow out and let someone else take it on?
Use Systems to Automate the Boring Stuff and Free Up Time
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt stuck on the hamster wheel of groceries, cleaning, laundry and errands. There are have been times when I thought I was going to waste my whole life away washing dishes or folding laundry. But those times seem like a long time ago now. Why?
Because I’ve created systems to automate my boring chores. These systems keep my chores on a regular schedule so they never get overwhelming. Using systems for the boring chores of life helps me free up time for the things I actually enjoy. It also makes the chores a little more fun.
How do you create a system to automate your chores? It’s simple. Just think about what needs to be done, think about the best time and way to do it, and always do it that way. Once you’ve stuck to the plan a few times it will become a habit that sticks for good.
For example, I always do all my laundry on Monday and I always listen to a book while I fold it. It’s not done till it’s put away. Since I created that system I no longer put off doing laundry till I’m drowning in it and I actually look forward to folding it for a little bit of “me time” with my book.
You can make systems for almost anything, including appointments, maintenance, and family traditions. Using a planner can help you get everything on a schedule that works for you so there are no surprises and no emergencies.
I Free Up Time With My Planner!
My life changed the day I saw my good friend using her planner. As she finished one appointment she stopped, pulled out her planner, and wrote down when the next appointment would be and what would be covered at it.
I knew that was exactly what I needed to do. I bought a planner immediately and I have been using a planner over 7 years now. It has literally changed my life. I no longer forget appointments, feel overwhelmed with chores, or feel that I have no time for fun and relaxation.
If you want to simplify your schedule it is essential that you get a paper planner. Use it to write down the things you have to do each day. But don’t just use it for that. Use your planner to track new habits you want to develop. Create a weekly meal plan in your planner. Last but not least, use your planner to find pockets of time for hobbies and self care.
Nothing will help you free up time liking having it all laid out in a planner.
Less Stuff Means Less Work
Another thing that will simplify your schedule greatly is decluttering. How? Doesn’t decluttering take a lot of time? Well, yes. It can take a lot of time at first. But once you have decluttered your home it will pay you back in time.
The simple fact is this. You own your stuff but it owns you back. The more you own the more you have to take care of, clean around, and store. When you own less you have less to do.
So if you want to simplify your schedule and free up time for things you love, the single most important thing you can do is declutter your house.
You will find that when you live in a clutter free house you can clean faster and you aren’t looking for misplaced items all the time. In turn, you will clear up mental energy for things you actually want to do and your weekends will cease to be overrun with chores.
Make Pretty Little Habit Stacks
“What you do every day is more important than what you do once in a while.” -Gretchen Rubin
Since I read James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits I’ve been absolutely amazed at how small things you do each day can change your life. It’s amazing how you can free up time for tiny habits and those habits can make a big impact.
For example I only write for 10-15 minutes a day and it adds up big time! I used to put off writing a new post and then force myself to do it all at the last minute (AKA panicked hours). Now I’m always ahead and always thinking about writing. I enjoy it a lot more too.
So how can you be more productive by harnessing the power of habit? You simply need to create habit stacks. Tiny sets of habits that connect to one another are called habit stacks. You have to stack any new habit against an old established habit. That’s how you get it to stick.
For example, I stacked practicing my violin for a few short minutes right after getting dressed in the morning. My writing habit it stacked right before making dinner.
If you have a new habit you want to start, stack it. And then make it easy by having all the stuff you need for it laid out and ready. You will be amazed at how much tiny little habits can change your life.
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” ~Mark Twain
I’ve always loved that quote. It’s just too funny to forget. But what does it mean? It means you need to stop procrastinating and get it over with. Whatever you have to do that you don’t want to do, or that you think is hard, that’s the thing you should actually do first.
Think about. When you procrastinate a big task it’s just hanging there over your head till you get it done. It grows into a bigger problem than it actually is and then it has to be done in a hurry.
Instead of procrastinating, think about your day. Ask yourself what the hardest thing you have to do today is. Then do it.
We all waste a lot of time trying to avoid the hard or boring tasks in life. But you will greatly simplify your schedule if you stop procrastinating.
Follow Your Dreams But Measure Backwards
To me, the most important benefit of minimalism is that it has opened up my schedule so that I can be me again.
As a young woman I had so many dreams but then all the adulting got in the way. I was trapped in the hamster wheel of errands and chores, cooking, cleaning, and working. It didn’t seem like I had any more time and energy and I felt like I was losing myself.
But with minimalism, I still do all those boring normal life things, but they are simpler. In turn, I have time and energy in little parts of my day to do things that move me towards my dreams.
Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m moving very fast. But that’s why I stop and measure backwards. Instead of looking at the gap between where I am and where I dream of being, I look at how far I’ve come.
When you are trying to be more productive and simplify your schedule look at all the progress you have made in the last year, 5 years, 10 years. You will see that you have grown and learned and improved so many parts of yourself.
That will help you look for little ways to keep growing every single day and it will also help you stay positive and motivated.
Simplify Your Schedule and Love Your Life
“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money but you cannot get more time.” -Jim Rohn
Sometimes I think that productivity tips are counterintuitive to the minimalist life because they are all about being busy. But that’s not true.
Being productive is the same as being minimalist. Minimalist with your time. By looking for ways to be more productive and simplify your schedule you are really looking for ways to use your most valuable resource, time, in the best possible way.
When you stop devoting your time to stuff you don’t need, obligations you don’t care about, and work that you shouldn’t be doing you will get back all that time for things that matter to you.
Do you want to learn a new hobby? Are you dreaming of a trip? Does your family need more time with you? How will you spend your time?
Simplify your schedule. Free up time. Fill it back up with a life you love!
Jessalyn Jones is the blogger behind Doable Simplicity. A blog dedicated to showing you the way to a simpler life with less.