Posts Tagged Life Style

How To Start Living A Minimalist Lifestyle

How To Start Living A Minimalist Lifestyle

live a minimalist life

If you’re wondering how to live a minimalist lifestyle, you’re probably a lot like me when I first started. I had an “okay” life, but one fateful Friday afternoon the economy tanked, my career disappeared and I started asking some big questions. Questions that lead me to a simple life and started me on my journey to figure out how to live a minimalist lifestyle.

Let’s start with the basics…

What Is The Definition Of A Minimalist?

Minimalism is the practice of intentionality as it relates to your relationship with possessions and how you live your life.

While many people focus on the decluttering and downsizing, for me, minimalism is all about intention. It is not that having stuff is bad, it’s when the thing you own, end up owning you that’s the problem. We want to have exactly what we need and nothing more because it affords us a life that is perfectly aligned with our vision of an ideal life.

What Does Minimalist Life Look Like Practically?

what does a minimalist life look like

For me, it was all about building a life where the things I wanted more of in my life became my focus and those things that I wanted less of were either eliminated or minimized. It was there that I laid out some parameters of my version of a minimalist lifestyle:

 

  1. Focus on what matters: quality time with loved ones
  2. Earn a living while being location independent
  3. Be debt free
  4. Have a flexible schedule with minimal commitments
  5. Pursue what’s interesting and, where possible, profitable
  6. Minimize distractions and unpleasant elements in life

minimalist interior

What you’ll notice here is nothing about that says “own less stuff” or “declutter my possessions”. But things like being debt free means I don’t buy a lot to begin with and minimizing distractions means not having a bunch of stuff standing between me and my goals.

How To Live A Minimalist Lifestyle

how to life a minimalist lifestyle

Minimalism can take many forms; the important part is to figure out your flavor of minimalism and optimize your life towards your ideal life. You could try to live with very few possessions, you could put together a capsule wardrobe, or you could adopt a frugal lifestyle to only work a few days a week.

To get started with a more minimalist lifestyle, you might want to consider a few different approaches

Try Decluttering Your Possessions For A Simpler Lifestyle

declutter your lifestyle

To live a simple lifestyle, you’ll need a simple living space. Take some time to declutter your living area. Focus on keeping things that you value deeply, and toss things that you don’t need any longer. I took about six months to fully declutter my space. Giving yourself time will ensure that you are intentional about what you keep and what you discard.

I recommend you kick start your decluttering by doing a 30 day Decluttering Challenge, which gives you simple 15 minute things to declutter your way to a decluttered home.

I like to complete the decluttering process in sweeps; the first sweep, get rid of anything that you know you no longer use. Take a few weeks to live without those things, and notice if the things you’ve kept are serving you. I did three sweeps in total, after noticing that I had held on to things following the first two sweeps that I still didn’t need. After the third and final sweep, I was shocked to see how few possessions I actually used in my daily life.

Question Everything About Your Lifestyle

Question everything about your lifestyle

The best skill you can hone in your life is the ability to take a step back and look at things objectively. As humans, we have blind spots into things in our lives that hold us back. It could be a toxic relationship, it could be not holding ourselves accountable when we should have stepped up, it’s the million little things that bother us as we go about our day. Any time I realize I just got used to something or hear “that’s just how we’ve always done it” I start to ask questions.

While getting square with things in our career, our relationships and our money is critical, those are things that take a lot of time because you need to navigate changes carefully. I found that me fixing small little things in my life that bothered me was a game changer for me.

I had a whisk that I’d make eggs with every morning, but I hated it because the handle was so uncomfortable. Its such a little thing to be bothered by, so I just put up with it. Then one day I realized every day I’d pick up that whisk and it bothered me and said aloud “whisk are like $5 why am I putting up with this!”.

question everything about your lifestyle

So, I threw it in the trash and went shopping for my “perfect” whisk. And now, I enjoy making eggs each day.

Stay Mindful And Live With Intention

a lifestyle filled with intention

Minimalists live intentionally. If there is something in your life that you don’t love, change it! When I started my minimalist journey, I was in a job and on a path didn’t serve me. Within six months, I had made a plan to change it and took made the leap.

I like to think about what my ideal life looks like, and then work toward that. Cutting out the things that aren’t serving you is the first step to creating the life that you want. An exercise that helps me is to write down what an ideal day would look like for you in five years’ time. Then outline what things you want more of in your life and what things you want less of in your life. With that in hand, you have a goal post to work towards as a goal.

Consider Your Lifestyle Around Relationships

a lifestyle that focuses on quality relationships

Going minimalist to me meant that I was spending time with only the people I wanted to spend time with. Though I have many friends, only a few of them are people who motivate and inspire me to grow and learn. I evaluate my relationships on how well they fit into my future ideal life and focus there.

To me, becoming minimalist meant focusing my social time on people who lifted me up. This way, I was maximizing my social time on people that mattered and freeing up time to spend on other priorities in my life.

Many people use this time to evaluate relationships in their lives, then let others fade away. While many people view this as cutting people out, I prefer to look at it as a relationship that has run its course, it’s natural arc. You don’t have to be rude or dramatic about it, in many cases I’d just stop accepting invitations and over time they stopped coming.

Be Intentional With Your Time

being intentional in our lives about our time

Reclaim your time. Instead of RSVP’ing “yes” to everything you’re invited to, take some time to think about whether it’s something that you are excited about attending. Be intentional with how you spendminimalist journal goals time management your time. I realized the biggest challenge that I had to overcome was getting over any uncomfortableness with saying “no”.

When I started my minimalist journey, I decided to cut out a lot of stuff in my work, my social calendar and more. I knew having a flexible schedule hinged on me taking control of things.

While saying no to things at work can be tricky, I developed some tricks to get out of meetings, cut out unnecessary tasks and free up a lot of time. In my social life, I stopped spending time with friends that didn’t meet the criteria of “is this relationship growing?” or “is this person matching the effort I’m bringing to the relationship?”

Simplify Your Wardrobe

simpler lifestyle with a simplier wardrobe

One of the biggest changes I made was adopting a daily “uniform”. I don’t need professional dress clothes because I work for myself and rarely go into an office. My uniform consists of a simple grey T-shirt, a white undershirt, one type of jeans and one type of shorts. I also have identical work out clothes, 2 pairs of shoes and a bathing suit. All my shirts are identical in cut and color, they work with everything I have.

how to have a really simple closet of clothes

This is obviously an extreme approach, but it suits me because I never have to think about it. I grab one shirt; one bottom and I don’t have to spend time making sure it matches etc. I just grab and go, it’s so easy!

If that’s too much for you, consider a capsule wardrobe which lets you have some variety, but still keeps it simple.

Doubling Down On Debt Free Living

live a debt free lifestyle

A huge part of minimalism is creating financial freedom and the number one enemy of freedom is having debt. Throughout my journey working hard to get debt free has made almost everything else in my life better. If I didn’t like a job, I had the money to find a new one. If the economy tanked, living below my means made it easier. If I had a big bill come up unexpectedly, I had the cash in the bank.

Minimalism has affected my life in ways that I never thought possible. When I started my rent was $1500 a month, after I built my tiny house, it only cost me $15 a month (not a typo). It’s hard to describe how life feels when you literally can earn an entire year’s worth of living expenses in under a months’ worth of work.

The security it brings, the peace of mind you have and the ability to weather the worst life can throw at you is a blessing of the highest level. It also allowed me to be very picky about what jobs I took, how I spent my time, where I lived and the life I live.

Maximizing Your Earning Potential

maximize income

One area I don’t see a lot of talk about is not only getting out of debt through frugal living, but maximizing your income. In a time that I was cutting my cost of living dramatically by living as a minimalist in a tiny house, I was also working to increase my income potential.

Why? Because part of being an adult is paying your bills, paying taxes and saving for retirement, but I didn’t want to spend all day doing that. The ideal situation was to do work that absolutely loved, but at an hourly that meant I didn’t have to work a ton if I didn’t want to.

To do that, I choose skills I enjoyed, but also were incredibly valuable to others. Meaning, I had skills that could earn other people a lot of money. For me, that meant I consult on marketing, where I could charge sometimes up to $1000 an hour. This allowed me to do focused work to earn my income fast and move on with my day. It also meant when I needed funds for a trip, a big purchase, etc. I could pick up additional work to pay cash.

Adopt A healthy Lifestyle With Simple Meals

healthy lifestyle

I love to cook and since I have more time in my life now, I pretty much cook all my meals from scratch every day. With the added bonus of being healthier and cheaper, I eat really well and, for me, cooking is a way I relax. You can adopt a weekly meal schedule, plan your meals ahead or do meal prepping. Whatever works for you, just think about how a simplified diet can make daily life easier and healthier.

a simple diet with simple foods

Take Time For Introspection

be introspective about your lifestyle choices

One of the best “investments” I’ve made in my life is to take time alone for introspection, which is just you sitting with your own thoughts to analyze your thoughts and emotions. In a world where we are so “busy” I think people are terrified to spend time with our own thoughts because they’d come face to face some uncomfortable truths.

The biggest thing is to just make space to think. So put your phone on silent in the other room, turn off the TV and block out distractions and just sit with your thoughts. You’re going to feel a lot of internal resistance to this, but pushing through to the other side is where the magic happens. Ask big open ended questions and don’t judge the answers that come.

 

Learn To Live A Minimalist Lifestyle:

I’ve written a lot about living a more simple lifestyle, so check out other was you can do the same in other areas of your life!

 

Your Turn!

  • How would simple living affect your daily life?
  • Would you be willing to give minimalism a try?

Great Gifts for Minimalists: Meaningful Ideas They’ll Appreciate

Great Gifts for Minimalists: Meaningful Ideas They’ll Appreciate

Great Gifts for MinimalistsNavigating gift-giving around the holidays is often tricky for those with minimalists on their list. After all, how do you find gifts for minimalists when they don’t buy, need, or even want much?

After years of being a minimalist living in a 150 square foot tiny house living, I get asked this question every year. People often tell me they have no idea what to give me (the truth is they don’t need to give gifts at all, but I definitely appreciate the thoughtfulness).

So, I decided to compile a list of the top gifts for minimalists. Hopefully, you’ll find something for every minimalist on your list. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. No matter what you give, chances are they’ll appreciate the sentiment.

And if YOU are the minimalist and don’t know how to help confused family and friends figure out gift-giving this season, send them this post to give them a few great ideas!

Self-Improvement Gifts for Minimalists

Self-Improvement Gifts for Minimalists

Minimalists are often goal-getters. They’re all about self-improvement, and if you love and care about a minimalist, you want to see them succeed. You may need to do a little homework—find out goals the person is working towards. Learning about what is on a person’s bucket list is a great way to get ideas to help them achieve.

Reading and learning materials are always an excellent gift on the path to self-improvement—and it doesn’t need to be limited to ONLY tutorials and self-improvement books, either. After all, what’s a better mental health break than reading or listening to a great book?

If people ask you what you want, you can think of gifts to help achieve your own goals. Here are a few ideas for great self-improvement gifts.

Kindle Paperwhite

kindle as a gift for a minimalistThin, lightweight, and now waterproof, a Kindle is an excellent gift for someone who’s cutting back on clutter. Books on a Kindle are a great way to give someone a great read without taking up more space on the bookshelf. Yes, an electronic reader is often a divisive topic for bibliophiles, so feel out their preference first. If they already own an e-reader, then a book recommendation is a terrific gift.


Audible Subscription

audbile as a giftRight now, an Audible subscription comes with 30 days free, then $14.95/month. I love Audible because it lets me get more “reading” in when I’m driving, commuting, or on a road trip. Making the most of my travel time allows me to work on my goals with a business or self-improvement book, get in fun reading with a fiction book, or learn all about something new.

ryans picks for audible and kindle ebooks

Tiny Houses

tiny house living book

Tiny House Living

by Ryan Mitchell (I might be biased)

a pattern language

A Pattern Language

by Chris Alexander

the minimalist mindset

The Minimalist Mindset

by Danny Dover

Sci-Fi

children of time

Children of Time

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

infinite

Infinite

by Jeremey Robinson

the passage

The Passage

by Justin Cronin

Business Books

the coaching habit

The Coaching Habit

by Michael Stanier

strengths finder

Strengths Finder 2.0

from Gallup

the 100 dollar startup

The $100 Startup

by Chris Guillebeau

Young Adult

the maze runner

The Maze Runner

by James Dashner

city of ember

City of Ember

by Jeanne DuPrau

matched

Matched

by Ally Condie

Adventure

ringworld

Ringworld

by Larry Niven

hell divers

Hell Divers

by Nicholas Smith

the martian

The Martian

Andy Weir

Thriller

pines

Pine

by Blake Crouch

orphan x

Orphan X

by Greg Hurwitz

bird box

Bird Box

Josh Malerman

lessons as gifts
Lessons
If you know your gift recipient is interested in taking lessons, they are a terrific gift. There are many options available through local community organizations and businesses. A few ideas to explore:

  • Dance
  • Musical Instrument
  • Art Classes
  • Cooking
membership gifts
Fitness Classes and Memberships
Fitness classes and memberships are also excellent gifts for minimalists (assuming the person on your list is interested in the fitness area). It always helps to ask or offer up a few ideas they may enjoy and allow them to choose the class or plan that fits their preferences and lifestyle. Fitness ideas include:

  • Finding a unique fitness experience local to their town—yoga, hiking, kayaking, etc.
  • Membership to a local gym
  • Yoga classes
  • Sessions with a personal trainer
  • Standup paddle board
  • Register for a marathon (if they’re into it)

Entertainment Gifts for Minimalists

Entertainment Gifts for Minimalists

With so many subscription services available these days, there are tons of ideas for entertaining gifts for minimalists that are inexpensive and enjoyable. There’s also the option to give the gift of an experience. Tickets or another event experience is my absolute favorite gift to give and receive because it means I get to do something fun with the person I care about. The gift of entertainment could mean dinner out, tickets to an event, or another adventure. I think of what the person likes and often get two tickets. Not only is it an excellent experience, but we experience it together.

subscription gifts for minimalists
Movie, Music & TV Subscription Services

  • Hulu: The first 30 days are free then plans start at $5.99/month
  • Spotify Premium: First three months are free, and then plans start at $9.99/month
  • Disney+: Launching December 2019, plans start at $7/month or $70/year
magazine subscriptions for minimalists
Magazine Subscriptions

Check out digital subscriptions, which are an excellent option for most magazines. Look for a publication fitting their area of interest.

  • For the coffee lover: Drift magazine $52/year – published 2x/year
  • For the avid reader: Ruminate magazine $50/year (subscription directly supports literary writers and visual artists)
  • For women with a minimalist mindset: Real Simple magazine $10/year
tickets to events as gifts
Tickets to Events

  • Local sports events
  • Theater
  • Concert
  • Brewery tours or vineyard tours/wine tastings

hobbies for small spaces

Gifts of Time Ideas

Gifts of Time Ideas

Giving and receiving the gift of someone’s time is so meaningful. What could you do to help someone around the house or do something for them they would appreciate? The bonus of giving the gift of time is you often get to spend more time with your friend or loved one.

babysitting as a gift
Gifts of Time

  • Babysitting
  • Pet sitting
  • Dinner & a movie
  • Game night: bring over a meal and games
  • Helping hands: use your special skill or talent to help weed flower beds, plant vegetables, reupholster chairs, or paint a living room.

Consumables

consumables as gifts

Next up are items people eat or use up. A perfect example of this is food items. We are all busy, and most of us like food, so making a treat or buying a favorite food is a great gift. Think of difficult-to-make items or gifts that are an indulgence. Here are a few exceptional items I’ve found.

candles as gifts
Health & Beauty Products

foods as gifts
Food Products

  • Wine/beer
  • Baked goods: cakes, cookies, quick breads, candy
  • Jellies, jams, and pickles
  • Homemade Jerky
  • A care package of favorite treats
  • SnackNation Box: $24 for the first box, then $40 month
  • Candy Club Subscription: $30/month (first box is 50% off)
  • Gift cards to local retailers, restaurants, and food trucks
  • Coffee and tea gift cards
  • Membership to the local co-op
  • CSA subscription (community supported agriculture/farm share box with fresh produce each week)
pet products as gifts
Pet Products

  • Rescue Box: $23/month (think Bark Box, but proceeds go to supply food and vaccines to shelter animals)

Practical, Buy Once-in-a-Lifetime Gift Items

Buy Once-in-a-Lifetime Gift Items

I do this a lot, since I don’t need much and I don’t buy much either. So, when there’s something I need to replace or buy new, I hold off and suggest it as a gift when others ask. For example, I’ve needed new shoes for a month or so, but I’m holding off. This way, those who want to give me a gift can do so, and it’s something that I really need to replace a worn-out item.

buy once in a lifetime products

When I do need to purchase something, I get the highest-quality, longest-lasting product possible. For more ideas, check out my post on how to find items you only need to buy once in a lifetime.

rugged mountains bullet journal printables
pendleton blankets

Charity Gifts for Minimalists

Charity Gifts for Minimalists

If you absolutely can’t think of anything to give (or anything you want to receive), consider a charitable donation. Asking friends or family to donate to a cause you’re passionate about is a meaningful option, especially around the holidays. Giving back is something everyone (minimalists and non-minimalists alike) can appreciate!

charitable giving ideas
Charitable Giving Ideas

  • Donation to a favorite charity
  • Sponsor their team for a charity walk
  • Volunteer time with them at a local non-profit (walk dogs, serve meals, sort food at a pantry, etc.)
  • Museum memberships (Check out the North American Reciprocal Museum Association for a membership that allows privileges at a favorite vacation spot, too.)
  • Botanical garden memberships
  • Ecology center memberships (They often offer tours, birdwatching, even canoe rentals.)

As you see, gift-giving doesn’t have to mean giving someone more “stuff” to clutter up their homes and lives. There are plenty of gifts for minimalists that are useful, meaningful, and even give to the greater good.

Your Turn!

  • What’s your favorite gift to give to others?
  • What’s the most practical gift you’ve ever received?

Why Is Simple Living So Hard? 5 Tips for Simplifying Your Life (From Someone Who’s Done It)

Why Is Simple Living So Hard? 5 Tips for Simplifying Your Life (From Someone Who’s Done It)

why is simple living so hardLast year, I did a no-spend challenge. For an entire year, I didn’t buy anything except food.

It doesn’t get much more “simple living” than living in a tiny house and spending nothing for a whole year, but even after I got into the groove of buying nothing, I still felt the pull of the busy world around me. So, throughout my no-buy year, I kept a list of all the items I wanted to buy when the year was over.

Ryan living simply in a tiny houseI live in a 150 square foot tiny house. I follow a minimalist lifestyle and own less than 1000 items to my name, but at the end of my no-spend year, there were 30 items on my wish list! However, as I went through my list and prioritized, I realized there was only ONE item I truly wanted. Despite my commitment to simple living, even I get tripped up by advertising traps and marketing. We live in a world where we’re constantly told that we need more things to feel happy.

It’s no wonder the simple life has so much appeal. Most people are stressed out, overloaded, and working themselves to the bone. If you look at the way American society has changed in the last 50 years or so, it becomes obvious. When I was growing up, I was told you go to school and get a degree. From there, you get a good job, do a good job, and build job security. You add money to your 401(k), buy a lovely little house with a picket fence. You’ll meet your future wife and create a family, living out the American dream lifestyle. Eventually, you retire fat and happy at age 65.

But in 2009, I graduated with my masters. I got a job and the company I was working for folded six months in. The rug was completely pulled out from under me. I realized the narrative I had been living wasn’t realistic, something had to change.

what's right for you, question to ask when you want to live a simple lifeNow, society is really good at pulling you back on the conventional path. For example, when I was looking for flexible employment I could do anywhere, I saw hundreds of options for jobs that would have tied me to a 9-5 corporate ball and chain. It was daunting to realize I had to create my dream job for myself. It would have been easier to follow society’s path.

What you should ask is what’s right for you…and also, what’s wrong for you? Simple living means different things to different people. Those definitions don’t work for everyone. Often, it’s easier to define what you don’t want. Most people hesitate to say exactly what they want, but they can quickly pinpoint EXACTLY what they don’t. “I don’t want to work for this jerk anymore,” or, “I don’t want to trip over clutter around my house,” or, “I don’t ever want to hear from a debt collector again.” Then, what you want is the opposite.

What You Need To Know BEFORE You Try Simple Living

what you need to know before you try simple living

Do you think you’re ready to rise to the challenge of simple living?

Before you try simple living, you must explore your reasons. People are often hoping to leave their old life behind but embracing a simpler life won’t magically erase your past. Simple living isn’t the ultimate solution to every problem in your life.

It’s important to unpack your baggage and deal with it. When people see others in tiny houses, they often say, “Look at that person, they look so happy! Tiny houses are the secret to happiness.”

Honestly, happiness doesn’t have anything to do with a smaller home. It’s because the person in the tiny house has decided, “these things are important to me” and “these other things aren’t.” When you see people living a simple life happily, it’s because they’ve gone through the pain of unpacking their emotional baggage.

simple living requires introspection

Simple living requires introspection. One affliction in America is the busyness culture. We are so afraid to slow down because we would be left alone with our thoughts and for most people, that is terrifying. So we put a screen in front of our face. We jam-pack our schedules. We keep our homes filled to the brim. We don’t allow ourselves to slow down and think. We can’t enjoy the experience because we’re too busy taking a selfie to show others how much “fun” we are having, so much so, we haven’t had a substantive conversation with the people we are with that would make a memory, but later that week we’d tell our therapist we don’t feel connected.

In my experience, the best investment I’ve made is time alone with myself. It was the most productive time I’ve spent, and it pays dividends every day.

One saying I follow is: people are happy because they’re happy people. It’s not because of the stuff we own, the house we live in, the place we travel to, or the job we do. We’re happy because we choose to be that way despite the bad things in life that inventibly come up.

The Pros and Cons of Simple Living Like A Pro

pros and cons of simple living

After my company folded, I did a lot of soul-searching. I realized I wanted a different, less-traditional job—basically, a job that I had to create for myself. Could I have taken the cube farm route? Sure! But I know I wouldn’t have been as happy or satisfied.

But building my simpler life didn’t happen overnight. It was a slow and steady process. If I had to take away one lesson from the experience, it would be:

it takes time to start to live simply

Simple living requires time to transition, but it’s so worth it!

There were plenty of bumps along the way too. Like, when I told my parents that I was going to take a simpler job, scale back, and blog full-time. I remember my mom was seriously worried (even though she’s incredibly supportive).

Then when I started to build my tiny house, I found that many people were curious and some of them critical. One day as I was working on my place a lady stopped at watched for a while. She started asking me all kinds of questions about my home. I’ll never forget her parting words, “Good luck finding a wife who will want to live in your tiny house.” I remember thinking maybe she was right. Perhaps I was making a mistake. Which brings me to the second point:

You need to question everything when you want to live a simple life

Simple living means people will question and critique your life.

But the truth is, those people are questioning you, because there are aspects of their own life they’re struggling with. That’s when I learned how self-centered people truly are. They may look at how you don’t need as much “stuff” or how you’ve chosen a less-traditional job, or a smaller home. You may hear, “I could never do that!” And the truth is, they probably couldn’t.

simple living isn't for everyone

Simple living isn’t for everyone.

I also discovered this as I started dating. I found out that there are pros and cons of living a simple life. Yes, people question your choices (and maybe even your sanity), but those who stay in your life are really worth keeping. I’ve found the women attracted to the simple life are really grounded. They aren’t hung up on superficial stuff, and they’re aligned with my worldview. Being open and honest about wanting to live simply, attracted women I wanted to date, and dissuaded those who wouldn’t have been a match anyway.

The same is true with friends. I’ve found that as my life has become simpler, I’ve found more time to spend with the people who really matter to me. It helps you narrow your focus and figure out who is truly supportive and needed in your life.

relationships are important when you focus on what's important

Simple living helps you form closer relationships.

Today, my friends sometimes joke I don’t work at a real job. I just “run a blog.” But then they see me headed off to other countries. They look on when I get to spend a few weeks (or months) in Croatia, Australia, Stockholm, or the UK. They ask me how I take morning hikes on a Wednesday when they’re working their 9-5.

The truth is, because I’ve chosen a simple, less traditional path, I’ve been able to accomplish many big goals. I blog for a living. I write books. I spend time with those who mean a lot to me. My time is more valued, and my life feels more meaningful. Although I’m not a trust-fund kid, by any means, I don’t have debt, and I travel often.

to live simply you need to know what your goals are

Simple living helps you achieve a life you design and remove obstacles.

When it comes to simple living, if you want it, it’s achievable. There’s no secret sauce or trick to simple living. It’s about deciding on the goal that’s right for you, figuring out how to align it with your lifestyle, and then pursuing the goal single-mindedly.

You might think, “Being my own boss, living debt-free, eliminating clutter, cutting back stress—those all sound awesome! I want that!”

And indeed, simple living is possible in some form for everyone. But there are a lot of misconceptions about simple living out there. A lot of people get an idyllic notion stuck in their head that isn’t accurate or aligned to their needs.

farm cabin tiny house

I’ve met a lot of people who jump into living in a cabin in the woods, or they go out and buy a full-fledged hobby farm in the country. They haven’t found out what’s right for them. They’re subscribing to someone else’s definition of simple living, which is a dangerous mistake that will only leave you searching for answers.

When you jump into a new lifestyle out of nowhere, you’re basically saying, “I don’t like my life now. I’m going to live a new life.” But what happens is you end up importing all the problems your former life had: all its definitions, labels, and problems.

understand who you are at your core

Simple living doesn’t change who you are at your core.

So, you want to become a homesteader. You go out and buy land and a barn in a spot you’ve never been to. You fill the barn with animals you’ve never raised before. Then you wake up one morning, and your life is not simple at all. In fact, you’re stuck with a pretty big problem. You never leave the farm because you need to milk the goats, tend chickens, and put the cows out to pasture.

It’s all about finding the simple lifestyle that’s livable for you. For example, I would love to own a few cows and goats, but I also love to travel. I can’t commit to animals that need milking twice a day, every day, or they go off milk. I couldn’t even leave for a weekend trip, and it wouldn’t work with my life.

its not a magic bullet

Simple living doesn’t make your life perfect, but it helps you find more meaning.

In fact, sometimes simple living is really challenging—even difficult. But, it’s in that struggle we find the beauty and satisfaction of a simple life. Research has found that when things come easy for us, we don’t derive as much value out of it. Although a life free of stress sounds terrific at first, it’s struggle and adversity that bring us meaning. I’ve found this very accurate for myself. The things I’m most thankful for were the most difficult. Striving and strife make us value it more. Simple living isn’t easy, but it also brings us a great deal of meaning.

The Logistical Challenges of Simple Living

challenges of simple living

Aside from the philosophical pros and cons of simple living, there are a few logistical challenges as well. It’s important to understand these barriers and consider all aspects BEFORE you move toward a simple life.

the space that you live in might not be largeSpace: When people consider moving into tiny homes, they think they have to live in a tiny house of 200-300 square feet when it might not be right for them. The truth is, 200 feet isn’t going to work for some people, particularly if you have a family. You won’t feel happy with five people in a super tiny home. So, maybe instead, you sell your 4,000 square foot house and buy a 1,000 square foot house. Find something for half the mortgage and use the money to travel as a family.

living simply might actaully cost more moneyMoney: It sounds counter intuitive, but even a simple life costs money, there are times where simple living may even cost more than your old life depending on certain factors. If you want to live simply in a city, you still need to earn an income. You still need to understand your budget. On the surface a simpler life may seem cheaper, but you still need to look at your relationship with money. Why do you spend? How can you simplify your finances and still feel satisfied? Is spending X dollars a month in rent or on your mortgage getting you closer or moving you further away? What steps can you take to get your money under control?

understanding why you buy thingsWants: You need to get down to the underlying reason you want an item. After all, no one buys a $100 designer t-shirt because they NEED it. They buy it because they want to show they can afford it. Why? Because they want a girl to like them? Why? Because they really want love and companionship. Many people are addicted to (fleeting) happiness they think they can buy, which doesn’t actually satisfy their needs. We’ve all heard of retail therapy. It’s a hard habit to break.

cutting out toxic relationshipsRelationships: People run into the obstacle of relationships because they don’t know how to prioritize and say no. Simplifying your life doesn’t only mean tossing out belongings you don’t need and downsizing. It means finding ways to get more control over your schedule. You want to spend time with the people who mean the most to you, doing things your love, in a way that is on your own terms. When I simplified, I cut back to only the people who were important to me and who I wanted to invest time in. The others, I cut out.

figure out what you do and don't want to spend your time onTime: Simple living takes time. One of the biggest obstacles I faced when simplifying was realizing I had to go through the process of figuring out what I wanted. I had to get out of debt. I had to figure out how to become location-independent, own my own business, and deal with my own baggage. It took me years from the time I started my blog to quit my job. During that time, I was downsizing possessions, building my tiny house, and navigating my path. What seemed so simple ended up taking me 6 or 7 years to achieve. And guess what, I’m still working at it even today.

simple living means making choices that are hardSacrifice: When I started to simplify, my family announced they were going on a trip to Italy. Now, family time is extremely important to me. But I had set really aggressive financial goals to pay off my student loans. I decided between the goal of paying off my loans or going to Italy with my family. In the end, I didn’t go on the trip. I’ve faced many of these hard choices over the last 6 or 7 years. I had to recommit every single day.

you'll need to redefine who you are in some waysIdentity: Many of us define ourselves by our career. It’s how we earn money. It’s what people pay you to do. When you introduce yourself, you say something like, “I’m a banker.” Well, you might be a banker now, but it doesn’t mean you need to be a banker tomorrow. If living a simple life means finding a fulfilling career path, you may wrestle with your identity. What are other ways to earn money, and what’s holding you back?

When I started living in a tiny house, my rent went from $1,500 to zero. That allowed me to take risks and follow new pursuits. I could start a company. Most of my pals were like, “I can’t do that because I have a mortgage and bills. I must stay in this cubicle.”

5 Tips To Simplify Your Life (from Someone Who’s Done It)

tips for simple living

No matter where you are with simplifying your life, there are 5 practical tips I recommend that you can apply today. These tips really apply to any new situation or significant lifestyle change you’re considering. If you’re wondering how to destress your life and build a life you love, it starts here.

1
Ask What You Want More Of – Look at your current lifestyle and write a list of all the positive aspects that bring you joy. What do you want more of in your life? Maybe it’s time, family, travel, health, or something else. What makes you the happy and what would you like to expand on?
2
Ask What You Want Less Of – Now it’s time for the flip side. Sometimes it’s hard to nail down what we do want, but people are pretty clear what they don’t want. What are all the aspects you’d like to eliminate from your life? Write down anything that drags you down, makes you unhappy, drains your energy, or causes you stress. It may include debt, your dead-end job, too much clutter, toxic relationships, or something else entirely. What do you want less of in your life?
3
Define Your Ideal Day – This journaling exercise really helps you pinpoint how your perfect life looks. Imagine your ideal day (or even your ideal week); walk through each moment from the time you get up to the time you drift off to sleep. What is your morning like? What’s your routine? Do you work? What type of work? How would it look? Get as specific as possible—what clothes would you wear, what would you eat, what people would you spend time with?
4
Define Your Goals – Behind every single success is a goal. Goals give us a marker to move toward. When you pinpoint your targets, write them as clearly as possible. Set SMART goals and define the parameters. Any time you want to achieve something big (or small), a goal will guide your way.
5

Write Out the Steps – This will look a little different for everyone. There isn’t a clear point A to point B roadmap and sometimes it seems like such an overwhelming task that you don’t even know where to start. The question is, what do you need to do next? Do you need to break down your goals into smaller steps? Do you need to set a budget?

If you ask yourself these questions about your ideal life, your vision will start to come together. You’ll match up your idea of a simple life with the reality of what works for you. Life doesn’t need to be complicated. Many people find the simpler their life gets, the more satisfying it becomes. Make time for the lifestyle that really matters to you.

Your Turn!

  • What does simple living mean to you?
  • What’s your biggest challenge when simplifying?

How to Embrace the Basics of Hygge (Even in a Small Space)

How to Embrace the Basics of Hygge (Even in a Small Space)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard the buzz about the concept of hygge. The basics of hygge are about adopting a warm and cozy décor.

But for many people this means buying a lot of extra items—candles, blankets, or decorative items like pillows. If you prefer a minimalist lifestyle, and especially if you live in a tiny home, adopting the basics of hygge seems tough at first (but once you get started, it’s pretty easy).

embrace the basics of hygge

I was lucky to go on a spur of the moment trip to Stockholm in 2018. It was an amazing experience that really let me see just how prevalent the concept of hygge is in Nordic cultures. I was hanging out in Copenhagen and had a few days to explore, after spending Christmas with my family in Germany. Since it was my first time there, I had no idea what to expect.

Hygge was everywhere! There were charming Christmas markets, beautiful twinkling lights, churches, coffee shops, quaint stores, and museums (that managed to be both light and cozy at the same time). I really enjoyed the atmosphere and I couldn’t wait to implement some of the ideas I learned about the basics of hygge into my own home.

So, here’s what I learned during my visit to Sweden about hygge. This will help you add more warmth and comfort to your life without buying items you don’t need.

The Basics of Hygge

the basics of hygge in a small cozy space

Hygge is pronounced “hu-guh” and means warm and cozy in Swedish. It doesn’t only refer to furniture, blankets, or candles. Hygge is more of a concept or a lifestyle and it’s a big deal in Nordic countries.

The concept is quite popular in cold climates because, obviously, when the weather’s chilly, you want to stay comfortable. When you live in a small space or have limited resources, you may wonder how to still invoke a relaxing, calming feeling in your home.

To me, it’s even more important to make a small space relaxing. In a larger space, you may find more flexibility, but it can also be more difficult make larger spaces have that cozy feel. You can add lots of options. The light of a TV or overhead fluorescents aren’t as harsh in a big room. Small living, on the other hand, is all about embracing the cozy.

This may seem like a winter-only concept, but the truth is, you can implement the basics of hygge all year round. Apply the principles to your living space and you’ll find your home is more relaxing, comforting, and feels happier. It’s about a shift in mindset.

What I Learned About Hygge in Sweden

what i learned about hygge in sweden

As I said before, during my time in Copenhagen I was lucky to have a few days to explore. I really fell in love with the atmosphere and the overall vibe. When I was there, the concept of hygge really stood out to me. You’ll see the word pop up a lot in comments and reviews of different spots. Most places I went in were around 80-85 degrees (much warmer than the 75-78 degrees considered normal here in the U.S.). They really amped up the heat there.

People in Sweden also wore a lot of hats and winter accessories. They’d dress in layers with jackets, scarves, gloves, and more. So, even when people were indoors, they’d often wear several layers. In addition to wearing plenty of layers, people in Sweden love to wear sweaters.

With the long winters, there’s a lot of nesting going on, especially since the winter is so long and cold. The people of Sweden take hygge seriously, making a really cozy place to spend a good chunk of their time throughout the year.

hygge winter in sweden

There are other ways they accommodate the long winters as well. Coming from a building background, I couldn’t help noticing, that despite the really cold climate Swedish windows are typically very large. Usually houses in colder climates feature smaller, more efficient windows. But in Sweden, since the winters are long, many people have huge windows in their home to let in as much natural light as possible.

While this isn’t as efficient for heat retention, they’ve made the decision to prioritize natural light exposure. It keeps the people there feeling mentally healthy and happy during the winter months, keeping away seasonal depression disorders. This is especially key since they don’t spend a lot of time outside for at least the good part of the year.

Now, what does light have to do with coziness? A lot! Following the basics of hygge means keeping your space really bright, utilizing a lot of natural light. The décor is often quite minimal, with plenty of openness and texture. Again, hygge’s more of a feeling than anything else.

warm cabin interior

I saw lots of natural materials—wool and cotton. Textiles used in interior design are often natural and highly textured as well. I saw a lot of big fluffy blankets and soft pillows. The colors are often lighter and soft as well. This all contributes to a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere.

One of the biggest parts of hygge is the lighting. Lighting is a HUGE deal in Sweden. I saw candles and twinkle lights nearly everywhere I went. Almost every home has a really great focal fireplace in the center of the room (as opposed to the United States, where we often see TVs as the centerpiece). If a family has a TV in Sweden, it’s often hidden or set off to the side.

Softened edges, plenty of texture, neutral colors, warm wood tones, and earthy colors all contribute to the feeling of hygge along with the natural light. You see a lot of plants—succulents and leafy plants—because when you’re spending so much time indoors, plants help recycle the air and improve the air quality of the space.

candle lighting in sweden

There’s a lot of thought put into the vibe of each room when applying the basics of hygge. People think of the atmosphere and feeling more than the look or style of the place. The feeling of hygge is achieved alone or with family and friends. It’s found in a public space or in your home. What it really means is cozy, charming, light, warm, and relaxing.

Most importantly, you can’t buy hygge. It’s not about adding more stuff to your space. It’s really about clean, cozy, comfort. For this reason, you often see natural materials used in hygge design, rather than plastics, bright colors, or cold, metallic surfaces.

Adding the Essentials of Hygge to Your Home

the essentials of hygge

No matter the size of your home or the current style, adding hygge elements and accessories will create the feeling you desire. Remember, hygge is about ensuring most items serve a functional purpose. So, for example, a fireplace may serve as warmth, a cooking hearth, and a light source. Blankets are used for snuggling up on the couch, sleeping in your bed, or folded as cushions on the floor.
If you want to add the basics of hygge to your home, here are a few ways to create a soft, cozy feel.

1. Add and Use More Blankets

add blankets for warmth and a cozy factor

Warm, cozy, fluffy blankets are perfect for cuddling up and reading a book in front of the fire. Look for blankets in natural materials and light colors. You’ll see a lot of cotton blankets (especially helpful in the warmer months we see here in the United States), down comforters, and big, chunky knitted afghans. Oftentimes, blankets are used as seating, for padding a bench, or draped across the end of a bed to use as needed.

2. Layer Up in Warm Clothing

layer up for warmth

Now, if you’re like me and live in a warmer part of the United States, you may not need all kinds of layers. That said, a soft sweatshirt is practical and helpful, especially in the spring and fall when the weather gets chilly in the evening. I’ll admit I’m partial to hoodies when a chill comes into the air. Scarves, sweaters, gloves, and hats are a big part of the hygge “look” but obviously it’s all about being practical. If the weather’s warm, there’s no need. A pair of comfortable slippers or a nice warm set of socks may be plenty.

3. Embrace Mood Lighting

mood lighting in a hygge space makes it feel calm

The basics of hygge include making the most of lighting. Hygge focuses on natural, warm light and following the rhythms of the sun. So, during the day, bright sunshine through a window is nice. In the evening, warm, soft lighting from candles and strands of soft twinkling lights help you wind down and meet the time of day. Changing switches to dimmer switches is an easy DIY project and can tone down the mood of a space to the perfect Hygge lighting feel. This style of lighting is certainly practical for any lifestyle, especially the tiny life. I prefer to use natural light whenever possible.

4. Warm Up with a Fireplace

cozy fireplace for warmth on a cold winter night

It seems like everyone in Sweden has a fireplace. It’s a great way to invoke the feeling of hygge. However, if you live in a small house, you may have a wood burning stove, a firepit outside, or use another heating method. You can still get the feeling of hygge using candles and soft, dimmed lighting in the evenings. This helps prepare you for sleep and creates a toned down, relaxing atmosphere.

5. Enjoy Warm Drinks

enjoy warm drinks

Most of us enjoy coffee all year round. I like to drink mine out on the porch in the morning before I start my day. This helps me destress, prepare for the morning, and gather my thoughts. If you’re not a fan of coffee (or prefer hot drinks later in the day), how about a cup of hot chocolate or tea? Cozying up with reading material, a soft blanket, and a warm beverage is the ultimate way to unwind and get the hygge feeling (no matter the time of year).

6. Move Away from Technology

embrace simplicity

While we may not think of hygge as synonymous with minimalism, they do have similar values. With hygge, you embrace cozy simplicity. This means putting down your phone, turning off the TV, and taking time for more mindful activities. Reading, listening to music, and even journaling will help you get into the spirit of hygge. As I said, I barely noticed TVs in Sweden, and they certainly weren’t the focal point of the room. Taking a break from your phone will give you a chance to relax, feel less stressed, and get refreshed.

7. Declutter Your Home

declutter your home

Here’s the deal, many people own stuff just to, well, own stuff. They forget the purpose of owning stuff is to serve a function and enhance your life. The essentials of hygge living, include decluttering and letting go of stuff that weighs you down. Hygge should help you feel safe, cozy, and happy, not weighed down and stressed out. This means cutting out the clutter and parsing down to what really matters. Buy quality items that are built to last.

8. Avoid Hard Edges

avoid hard edges in hygge

With soft fabrics and fluffy textures, hygge is all about softness and comfort. This means natural materials without sharp, hard edges and lines. Furniture and room décor should fit with this comfort-focused approach as well. Plants and lights, wood, stone, cotton, wool and other natural components are important to creating the feeling of soft, fluffy hygge.

9. Create a Space to Gather

create gathering spaces

I typically prefer to entertain or gather outside when I have visitors, but this doesn’t mean an outdoor gathering can’t still invoke the basics of hygge. When your friends are enjoying themselves around a campfire in the yard, wrapped in blankets, enjoying conversation, it still fits with the idea behind hygge. When you live in a small space, entertaining is often a challenge, so organize the room around your kitchen table, your stove, or fireplace (rather than the TV). This helps people connect without distraction and enjoy each other’s company.

10. Enjoy Comfort Food

enjoy comfort food

One of the biggest ways to enjoy hygge all year round, in any space, is to embrace comfort food. The concept of hygge is all about being warm and welcoming. Mealtime should fit with this same philosophy. Think of a delicious bowl of soup, golden cornbread, or a yummy pot pie. Even in the summer months, a delicious bowl of chili is everyone’s favorite and there’s nothing better than pasta on a cold winter day, right? Focus on foods that are warming, rich, filling, and delicious for the ultimate comfort.

If you’re looking to make your home a more relaxing place of retreat and rest, embracing the basics of hygge are a great way to do it. Even if you live in a very small space, it’s not about adding more stuff to your home, but selecting functional, natural items that will bring you comfort.

Your turn!

  • What are your favorite ways to make your space comfortable?
  • How do you relax and create a cozy feeling?

How to Destress Your Life

How to Destress Your Life

how to destress your lifeI get asked for advice by a lot of readers. One of the most common is how to destress your life and live a simpler, calmer existence.

Now, I’ll admit, paring down and living a life with less stuff has helped address the root cause of my stress quite a bit. The simpler your lifestyle, the less chaos you need to worry about. Minimalism lends itself to a calm, orderly way to focus on what matters.

But, of course, there are plenty of times when I get stressed out about money, too many commitments, or social drama. Even though I’ve managed to cut way back on the typical stressors, there are times when I still have to step back and destress. So, if you’re wondering how to destress your life, here are the practical steps I take to cut out the chaos.

1. Recognize Your Stress

recognizing stress

Many people don’t know how to recognize stress or figure out when they’re feeling it. Yes, there are obvious signs of anxiety or distress, but with “normal” stressors, many people don’t even realize how much they’re feeling.

Sometimes, small stressors will eat at you. You won’t realize it until you’re completely stressed out, seeing effects on your sleep, eating habits, and happiness. This is especially common when people are very busy. You may look back on periods of your life and think, “Woah, my stress was way out of control and I didn’t even know it at the time.”

Personally, when I get stressed, I clean. Suddenly it’s a Wednesday afternoon and I’m scrubbing down my kitchen and I’ll stop and realize there’s something weighing on my mind. I don’t normally grab a broom and start cleaning just because. It’s typically a sign I’m really feeling pressure and I need to figure out how to destress my life.

recognize what gives you stress

Maybe cleaning isn’t your coping mechanism. Some people eat sweets, some people run, some people sleep, others stop sleeping, while others lose themselves in a TV show or video game. Whatever your coping method is, it’s important to recognize it.

If you recognize the signs of a stressful time, it will better help you know how to destress your life by taking the right approach to mitigate the problem. From there, strategize ways to address the root cause of your distress.

Some people experience common signs of stress, while others show very minor symptoms that go unnoticed (but still ultimately take their toll. A friend of mine told me she really only notices she’s stressed when every little thing gets under her skin—an offhanded comment, traffic, minor inconveniences. Another friend grinds his teeth in his sleep.

Discover your signs of stress and learn to recognize them right away. This will help you start to plan your approach to address the stressors.

2. Cancel One Appointment

cancel one appointment to reduce your stress level

If you want to know how to destress your life, take a look at your calendar first. How packed is your agenda? How much free time do you have scheduled? Is your calendar full and your to-do list long?

The first action I take when I’m feeling stressed is to look at my schedule for the week and find something I can cancel. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fun social outing with a friend, an activity I had planned, or a show I have tickets for. I write it off.

Now, a lot of people push back on this idea. There’s a lot of guilt tied up in our commitments. People are convinced they can’t possibly cancel anything.  It would be laughable how predictable humans are on this point if it weren’t for the fact their health was taking a hit by being so stressed. So, put aside your excuses, your reasons, just choose something, and cancel it.

cancel appointment to make life easier

Even if you live a minimalist lifestyle and simplify your routine as much as possible, chances are, your calendar still gets booked now and then. Be mindful of how you schedule your time.

The counterfoil to stress is time to step back, catch your breath and collect your thoughts. What helps you destress? Is it exercise? Cooking? Reading a book? Whatever your hobbies are, take that chunk of (now free) time and enjoy yourself.

Going forward, learning to say “no” is one of the most empowering actions you can take. Avoid scheduling or committing when you know it will cause you undue stress. Learn to say no to perceived obligations and let go of feeling guilty. Remember, when your schedule is less stressful and packed, your work will improve, you’ll feel happier, and you’ll get more enjoyment out of the activities remaining on your calendar.

3. Fix the Actual Problem to Destress Your Life

fix the problem to fix stress

Many people attempt to fill up a leaky bucket by adding more water instead of stopping the hole. When it comes to stress, people feel like they should pour more time, energy, and effort into the problem, rather than addressing it at the root. This is a vicious cycle, one that will run you into the ground, leaving you sick, tired, and worse off than before.

The next time you’re wondering how to destress your life, step back and ask, “Why am I stressed about this? How did I get in this situation in the first place?”

Money is a good example of this. People often stress about their finances and debt without addressing the root cause. How do you minimize your spending and figure out a way to stop living a lifestyle you can’t afford? I’ll admit, when I decided to shift into tiny space living, it was mainly out of financial necessity. I realized I simply couldn’t afford to live otherwise. Once I made the choice to address the problem, money became much less stressful. I could afford the way I was living and that was freeing.

I still push myself to address the money stress often. I’ve been on a buying freeze for the last year (buying only consumables and necessities), which has gone very well. I’m surprised at how much it’s helped me really focus on my needs and prioritize.

what bothers you, fix that

There’s not enough credence given to creatively fixing problems, either. For example, if your house is always a mess, instead of stressing out over cleaning (or not having enough time to clean), why not look into how much a housekeeper costs? Is it worth it to you to hire a housekeeper and eliminate the root cause of your stress? Another example: I hate doing laundry. I pay $15 per week for someone to do my laundry. Is it an extra expense? Yes, but it’s 100% worth it. One of the most stressful jobs on my plate is gone.

We can often fix problems simply and cheaply for good if we think about new ways to address our stress. Can you afford to outsource the problem? What could you do preemptively to avoid the problem in the future?

If you have financial issues, could you schedule time to review your budget each week or month? If you hate doing dishes, could you commit to rinsing them each night before they pile up too much? Could you schedule laundry time twice a week to avoid falling behind?

4. Set Up Rituals and Routines

setup routines to help with the chaos in life

Ritual and routine are the secret way to destress your life. When we face chaos and uncertainty, it adds to our stress. Even deciding what to wear each day, what to eat, or how to plan your workday all become additional stressors.

Minimizing your lifestyle helps to reduce these extraneous stressors immensely. For example, dressing in a sort of uniform style takes the stress out of deciding what to wear to work each day. You don’t have to eat the same food for lunch every day, but packing your lunch routinely each night will help you prepare without hassle in the morning.

When you wake up every morning, aim for a similar time. Set up a regular morning routine (especially since mornings are notoriously stressful for many people). Wake up, take a shower, make breakfast, sip coffee. Personally, I like to drink my coffee on the front porch while I figure out my plan for the day.

set up routines to help with every day stress

These rituals become anchors for us in times of chaos. The idea is, even if your life is a mess over there, you know what to expect over here because you have a ritual and a routine. It helps to create more balance.

Be sure to build in something you really love in your daily routine. Take a short walk, listen to music, check out a podcast. Whatever it is, that calms you down, build it in. Take time for those little rewards so you feel refreshed and recharged.

On the same note, don’t let your ritual or routine become an obsession. Stress often stems from fighting against the flow and trying to keep up with everything in our lives. If your routine breaks for a day, no big deal. You may forget, may not have time, or may simply want to do something else. That’s totally fine. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

Staying on a routine even offers health benefits like better sleep and less anxiety. So yes, it may seem a bit boring to stick to a routine but in the long run, it will help you figure out how to destress your life and keep up with whatever life throws your way.

5. Schedule Time for Nothing

schedule nothing to make life eaiser and happier

When I had a big corporate job, there were times when I had to create pockets on my schedule to destress (and to keep my boss and coworkers from requesting my attention). I would put a webinar or another “away” note on my calendar, giving me a little uninterrupted time to finish up my projects, think creatively, and problem solve.

If your schedule is back-to-back all day, you may need to sign yourself out of your email, put an away message on your office Slack channel, or simply block out “busy” time on your calendar. These little breaks give you a chance to breathe, collect your thoughts, and will honestly enhance your performance.

schedule nothing to relax and enjoy life

If you can’t afford to take time out of your workday, be sure you’re at least taking full advantage of your breaks and lunchtime. Employers should give you time to get in a walk, eat your food away from your desk, and recharge. There’s a tendency in today’s corporate culture to see if employees can out-do each other by taking on more and more work. This tendency leads to burnout and stress.

When you’re out of the office or outside working hours, take time for yourself at home as well. Allow yourself time to do the activities that refresh you and recharge your batteries. Block out time on your calendar to simply think or if you like, meditate. No matter what you do, don’t feel guilty about it—this free time is helping you perform better at your job and life!

6. Put Away Your Phone

put away your phone and enjoy life

Phones are a real problem for many people. Try as we might, most of us can’t get rid of (or put down) our phones. There’s a constant barrage of messages, notifications, emails, and activities pulling at our attention and eating away at our time.

Unless you’re a doctor, a heart surgeon, nurse, or EMT, most telephone communications aren’t critical. Typically speaking, you can wait 20-30 minutes to return a phone call and even more time to return an email. (After all, if it was really all that urgent, wouldn’t they call?) Put down your phone and give yourself a chance to focus on what’s going on around you. The more you give yourself permission to stop being at the literal beck and call of everyone around you, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

Cutting back on your phone (and internet) use is one simple minimalist habit that will make your life better. Remember, you don’t need to be there emotionally or mentally for everyone right away. It will only add to your stress.

Similarly, don’t answer work-related correspondence outside of work hours. Whenever you reply to an email or take a phone call, it sets the expectation with your boss and coworkers (or clients) you’re readily available all the time. Give it a break when you aren’t on the clock. No career, no matter how critical, should expect you to stay on-call 24 hours a day. Even doctors know they can burn out and make mistakes under stress.

put away your phone and talk to people

Recognize how social media may stress you out as well. If you want to know how to destress your life, stop comparing your life to others online. Don’t get involved in the drama we often see in online conversations. If you find yourself stressing about something someone said on social media, it’s probably time to take a break.

Stress is a natural part of life. There are many people who tell us adding more “stuff” to our lives—from lavender scented candles to white noise machines—will help us destress. There are others who encourage building in more time at the gym, more yoga lessons, or classes on stress reduction. While some of those suggestions may help in the long run, most people simply need a fast way to destress now.

Think of ways to remove stressors from your life. Spend less money on stuff you don’t need. Cut back on social obligations you don’t enjoy. Say no to commitments that rob you of your free time. Destressing your life is doable, especially if you cut back and learn to live with less.

Your turn:

  • How do you destress?
  • What do you do to make time for yourself?