In today's consumer-based society, many people are motivated by self-serving ideas and materialistic tendencies. If you were to take stock of all of the items you have in your closets, junk drawers, and attic, how much of those items do you actually use? How many of those things did you forget about entirely? The sad truth is that most of us lead busy, cluttered lives and we have no idea what a simple life even looks like, let alone how to live one.

What Does Simple Look Like?

The simple life is free from unnecessary possessions, obligations, and expectations - everything serves a purpose. For example, that box in the back of your closet that is full of useless junk you never use but for some reason don't throw away? Gone. Your commitment to a cause that you don't actually care about? Dissolved. Living a simple life is about getting rid of everything you don't need and focusing on the things that really matter - family, love, and happiness. When you simplify your life you will feel a great weight lifted from your shoulders and you will find that you have a lot more time to devote to the things you really care about.

How to Get Started

Simplifying your life is not something you can achieve overnight - it could take you a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years to cut out all of the clutter. The first thing you need to do is to take the time to think about the four or five most important things that really matter to you. Do you really enjoy volunteering for that non-profit organization or are you just doing it to make yourself look better? Do you really need to put in extra hours at the office every week or are you just trying to show up your colleagues? Asking yourself these questions will help you identify the things in your life that are really important.

If you really want to simplify things, start by making a list of all of your commitments, activities, and obligations. Compare this list to that list of things that really matter to you - do they line up? Go through your list and eliminate the things you don't really need or that you don't really enjoy. Next, tackle your to-do list. Cross off any items that don't really need to be done and focus on the essentials. You can do the same for your to-do list at work. Try to find ways to simplify your work life, delegating tasks where possible and eliminating those that are unnecessary.

Tips for Maintaining a Simple Life

Once you have made the effort to simplify your life, all you have to do is to maintain it. The best thing you can do is to keep in mind those four or five priorities you originally identified. Each time you find yourself facing a commitment or obligation, ask yourself if it fits in with your priorities. You will also need to learn how to say "No". If you don't learn how to say No you will only end up back where you started in a few months' time, with too many tasks and obligations on your plate.

You may also find it helpful to compartmentalize your life. Focus on work duties when you are at work and focus on family life when you are at home. Do not answer work calls or respond to work emails during family time and stay focused on your job when you are at work. When these two aspects of your life start to overlap, that is when things will get complicated again.

Another important step in achieving and maintaining a simple life is to remove physical clutter from your life. Go through your closet and donate all of the clothes you do not wear. You might even want to go through and put together a collection of outfits using essential clothing items and then just get rid of the rest. Keep an eye on your spending habits and make sure that the things you buy are only the things you really need. Place your value in quality time with family and activities you enjoy over material things. When in doubt, refer back to your list of priorities.

Getting rid of clutter and simplifying your life is by no means an easy task. It could take you months, or even years to really pare things down to the bare essentials. Once you do, however, you will find that your life becomes so much more enjoyable and that you have more time to spend with the people you love.

Frugal Village