4 Rituals to Simplify Your Life – Without Decluttering a Thing

4 Rituals to Simplify Your Days - Without Decluttering a Thing
{via Mario Kolaric / Design*Sponge }

Somewhere along the way, pursuing a simple life became synonymous with decluttering. That to live a simple life simply meant living with less possessions.

And that is certainly part of it. It’s where many of us began our journey towards simplicity. But it’s certainly not the destination.

I know many people who have uncluttered homes. Yet they are unhappy, leading complicated lives, with cluttered minds and cluttered calendars. Their homes are simple, their wardrobes are simple, but their lives are not.

We spend so much time removing and editing, that we lose sight of why we are doing this in the first place.

You want a simpler life

That is, you want to be able to live. To enjoy life. To experience what it has to offer. And if you’re too busy culling your belongings to actually do that, well, then you’ve lost sight of your why.

Find your why by adopting the following four rituals into your day.

They will help you refocus on what’s important and remind you that this life of simplicity is about so much more than decluttering.

They take less than 15 minutes and will set you up for a calmer, simpler day. Every day.

Ritual One – Quiet (5 mins)

Even the most extroverted of us needs a few moments of quiet in their day. Quiet to reflect, to just be.

You can do this any time of day, but first thing in the morning is ideal as you start your day from a place of peace and calm.

TIP: Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier in the morning and use the first five minutes of your day to sit still and quiet, just focusing on your breath.

The following three rituals work particularly well together, and all you need is one piece of paper or a page in your journal/notebook. Whether you do them immediately after your Quiet ritual, or just before bed (my favourite) you will really benefit from clearing your mind of unnecessary stress, anxieties and overwhelm.

Ritual Two – Brain Dump (5 mins)

Brain dumping is a mind-mapping/journaling exercise where you simply, well… dump the contents of your brain on to paper.

The idea being you release yourself from the pent-up frustrations, problems, worries and to-dos. Getting it all on paper means it no longer occupies space in your mind, releasing you to think more clearly.

Simply grab a pen and paper and start writing. If you really are hesitant set a timer for five minutes.

Without thinking too much, write down any thoughts floating around. Things you need to remember, tasks you need to do, problems, solutions, schedules, grocery items.

TIP: If you find yourself with nothing to write, simply write “I have nothing to write. I have nothing to write…” I guarantee your brain will spew forth soon enough. Don’t censor it, just let it flow. Neatness, spelling and grammar are not your concern.

Once you’re finished, hold on to the paper, as you will use it in your final ritual.

Ritual Three – Gratitude (2 min)

Recent studies have shown that those of us who are regularly grateful for the good in our lives are likely to be more physically active, feel more content in our day-to-day lives and suffer fewer health problems.

The key is to regularly spend time being aware of, and grateful for, the positives in our lives.

On a scrap of paper, in a fancy book, on a chalkboard in the kitchen – wherever – make a list of five things you are grateful for today. Keep it brief with just a few words for each item.

Ritual Four – Three Things List (5 min)

We overcommit ourselves when we write lengthy to-do lists. We know there is no possible way we can complete 39 tasks on any given day, yet we still write them down with the expectation they will be done. In doing so, we effectively set ourselves up to fail before we even begin.

However, a to-do list with only three items on it simplifies life. It is achievable, actionable and simple. You gain a victory and a huge sense of achievement when you regularly complete your to-dos.

“But there are more than three things I need to do daily…” I hear you say.

Absolutely. But the things that are a daily occurrence – making the bed, doing a load of laundry, cooking dinner, dropping kids to school – do not generally make it on to your three things list. They are a given.

The three things come from the tasks that are floating around in your head (which is why I recommend combining it with your Brain Dump). The phone calls you need to make, the appointments, the errands.

Each morning you nominate the three most important or time-sensitive of these tasks and you work to get those done.

Everything else you do for the day is gravy.

So once you’ve finished your Brain Dump, take a minute to look over what you’ve written, what’s a recurring issue or a pressing problem? Are there specific tasks that need doing? Is anything on the page time-sensitive? Circle those items.

Then list the three most pressing items. These are your top three. Do these before any other tasks.

You can list other, less-urgent tasks – but no more than five or six. And only if you’ve completed your top three should you move on to the secondary tasks.

Four Simple Rituals For Your Day

If you spend 15 minutes a day focusing on these four rituals, you will find your days are freer, calmer, simpler and happier. You will have regained your why and won’t have decluttered a thing!

ALSO: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by daily life right now, there’s a lot more information on these and other daily rituals in my book, ‘Destination: Simple’.  If you’re struggling, it might prove helpful to you. It’s available here.

Do you have a favourite daily ritual? Let me know what it is in the comments below. 


{ This post originally appeared on Midway Simplicity in February 2013 }



4 Responses to 4 Rituals to Simplify Your Life – Without Decluttering a Thing

  1. Hi Brooke,

    Your writing about simplicity or minimalism becoming synonymous with decluttering resonates strongly. I also know people who look organized and appear put together, but inside, it’s a raging firestorm of chaos.

    I came to simplicity and minimalism through a very nontraditional route. Most people start with their physical environment and (maybe) evolve to simplify their emotional, mental, and spiritual world. But me? I started internally and worked my way to my external environment… only after I felt like my inner achievements were prioritized over my external goals.

    I was recently chatting with Joshua Becker about the traditional route of minimalism – external to internal – and whether he encountered people who approached it the way I did (internal to external). He confirmed what I already knew: that I was the exception to the rule. And in typical Joshua Becker style, he had some insight to share on the typical path of simplicity/minimalism on the podcast episode I recorded with him.

    I appreciate your perspective on why we pursue simplicity and the direction that it could take for the widest and deepest impact (on ourselves and others). And I hope that the two of us and many others can continue showing the world that this is much more than what we can touch and see. This is about winning the prize for internal growth, not external achievements.

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