L is for Limiting Commitments: A-Z of Simple Living

'L' is for Limiting Commitments: A-Z of Simple Living
{via Roctetrictic on Flickr}

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?


When we talk about creating a simpler life, the conversation often revolves around reducing our stuff. Sorting, purging, decluttering, de-owning.

And undoubtedly that is a huge part of the simple living journey. We will struggle to live simply if we are weighed down by our belongings.

But let’s talk about you for a minute.

You are a person of depth and complexity. You have strengths and needs and heart and soul. You are lovely and mysterious and ever-growing. You are not just your stuff. In fact, your stuff doesn’t define you at all.

So it makes sense that the simple living journey extends well beyond your stuff too.

What about your time? What about simplifying your time?

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You feel overwhelmed by commitment, no time to stop, no time to breathe in the scent of those roses. You wish you could slow down and appreciate what you have – you know it’s a lot – but you simply do not have time.

Today I want to tell you that there is time. You may not agree. You may not like to hear it. You may click away in disgust.

“What would she know? She doesn’t know how busy my life is. How many commitments I have. How much responsibility weighs on my shoulders.”

And you’re right – I don’t. But here’s the heart of the matter…

You Can Find More Time By Limiting Your Commitments

Commitment and responsibility are part of adult life. And while some people resent that they are tied to these commitments, the fact is they are good for us. To a point.

Family, partner, school, work, sport, health and friendships.

Commitment and responsibility help us think outside ourselves and our own immediate needs. They help us expand our worldview and keep us from becoming entirely selfish.

But they can also rob us of precious limited time and energy.

Daily extracurricular activities for your kids, an overly-full social calendar, volunteering for multiple committees, saying yes when you should be saying no.

Too many of these commitments leave us depleted, exhausted and unable to give time and energy to the commitments that mean the most.

By choosing to limit your commitments, you will find more time to:

  • have slow weekends – the kind where pyjamas are worn, movies are watched and coffees are lingered over
  • say yes to opportunuties and last-minute plans – like when friends call on Friday afternoon and invite you to dinner
  • take spontaneous trips and adventures – an unexpected day at the beach when the weather is just too good to miss
  • experience downtime every day – a ten-minute siesta or a swing in the hammock – these things shouldn’t only happens on holidays.

Your Time is Not Unlimited – So Choose Wisely

Establishing your priorities in life will make it easy to say yes and easier to say no. (Because none of us love saying no.) In addition to the inevitable commitments of going to work, feeding your family, paying your bills and managing a household, which of the following commitments is important to you?

Write them down. Make a list. Stick it to your fridge. You need to understand what is most important in your life.

  • time with your spouse or partner: offering your support, your time, your love
  • time with your kids: their daily care, taking them to school, play, reading, laughing, teaching, loving
  • church/spirituality: attending organised church, prayer, meditation, study
  • commitment to yourself: self-care, exercise, alone time
  • time with your extended family: time to catch up, phonecalls, get-togethers, birthdays, holidays
  • time with your friends: feeding your soul and theirs with meaningful connections and relationships
  • health: committing to exercise, healthy eating and daily activity for both you and your family
  • volunteering: helping others less fortunate or using our personal skills to improve an organisation

Add to that list any other commitment you value and use it as a roadmap when it comes to simplifying your time.

It’s OK to Say No.

When faced with a new social event, committee invitation or extracurricular activity for your kids, ask yourself if it aligns with these priorities. If it doesn’t, you will find it much easier saying no.

Ask yourself ifthis new commitment will:

  • overload your kids’ schedules?
  • take you away from your family regularly?
  • interfere with your relationships?
  • foster resentment in yourself and/or others?

When you’ve got your roadmap right there, telling you where your priorities lay, it will be easier to make your choices.

Remember: your time is finite. So choose wisely.

Now over to you. If you could remove one commitment from your life, what would it be? And what is holding you back?



12 Responses to L is for Limiting Commitments: A-Z of Simple Living

  1. It is just the best feeling to wake with a day before me in which I have no commitments. Oh, the luxury of letting things happen as they will. I might go shopping, or clean out some cupboards, or do some gardening, and try to factor in time with my book and a pot of tea or cup of coffee. Pamper sessions in my bathroom also appeal. Bliss!

    • Agreed, agreed, agreed!! I love the days of letting things happen. It’s such a simple pleasure, but so refreshing. xx

  2. Great minds think alike–my post for tomorrow is about the same topic! ;-)

    I think our biggest hurdle in this area is that our culture values “busy-ness.” Being spread too thin, “doing it all” (which is impossible), not having time are things that are respected and that people brag about. We have confused mindfulness and intentional living with laziness. It breaks my heart when friendships go by the wayside, because people are “too busy.”

    • Great minds, indeed! ;) I’ll be sure to check it out, Bethany.

      And I agree, the whole idea of “busyness” is a really destructive one. We’re setting ourselves up to fail if we keep believing that being time-poor, overwhelmed and under-slept is a badge of honour!

  3. I love this Brooke!

    You can always make another dollar but you’ll never make another minute.

    I’ve also learned that time is a priority issue when people say they don’t have time they meant “it’s not important for me to do this”.

    I used to fill my days with busyness and commitments thinking this made e a successful person.

    Now as you know I’ve moved to italy dropped all of my commitments and here time is slow because there’s so much less to do, at least here in the south.
    Gratitude, Grace

    • Thanks, Grace! And your story is such an inspiring one. We’d all do well to take a leaf out of your book! Southern Italy sounds incredible. x

  4. I’ve always had a hard time saying no… There was a time in which ‘free time’ was actually guilty inducing. But I’m slowly learning to say it :)
    It’s always good to be remembered of how saying no is OK. Thanks for another inspiring post :)

    • I was exactly the same! I still have to give myself a pep talk when I opt for some alone time. It’s good for me and good for people around me too. It turns out I’m a much nicer person when I’ve had a little alone time to recharge!

  5. _L is for Limiting Commitments: A-Z of Simple Living |
    Slow Your Home_ was in fact a superb blog. If it possessed more pictures this would definitely be quite possibly even
    better. Take care -Ernie

  6. I appreciate you giving a list of where our commitments should fall. My husband is so busy and it makes me crazy. Too much stuff. I always tell him I’m not impressed by busy. I laugh. He laughs. But its true!

  7. Where I live (Seattle), it seems like everything has to SCHEDULED. It makes for an overly scheduled life. I long for the days when kids could just go play catch in the front yard, not have to be a part of a scheduled, rigorous baseball team to be exposed to the game. It’s exhausting, but also depressing because it’s hard to get my kids involved in things with others kids unless it’s “scheduled”. Good thing I have 3 of them, where they can just play with each other. :)