When it comes to organizing I have one main rule: KEEP IT SIMPLE.
You can spend hours and hours reading and looking at blogs, Pinterest, online shops and books all focused on organizing. There’s no shortage of information and tools out there about it, but it amounts to very little if you haven’t first done the hard work of seriously decluttering and minimizing the stuff you own. Put another way, organizing will not work or accomplish much unless you ruthlessly declutter and minimize your belongings.
Back to my one main rule of organizing simply. When we invest in complex pieces and methods, its too much work and we don’t do it or those we live with don’t understand and don’t follow along. So what does organizing simply look like?
1. Have a place for everything. This helps everyone. If everything has a home, its easier to put away. You know where it goes, they know where it goes. It may take some training to put things where they belong, but make sure everything has a home. As you’re thinking through homes for your items, don’t be afraid to go against the grain. Just because you’ve always kept your purse in the closet, doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the best place for it. Notice where and how you use more general items and see if there’s a better space for those items.
2. Use what you have. Minimalism is cutting down on items you own. So rather than running out to your favorite store and buying new shiny baskets and boxes, see what you already have that you could use. As I was decluttering, I found baskets I had forgotten about and got creative with repurposing items to use for storing items I chose to keep. Its also more environmentally friendly. Mason jars, clothes pins, shoe boxes, bags, baskets, etc are items that we all own and can use for organizing.
3. Use modules for tasks & projects. As you think through where things belong in your home, you may want to corral them into boxes or baskets so that they’re easy to store, but also readily available for when they’re needed. A great example of this is a craft project. Maybe its not getting finished because you keep it all tucked away in an office or closet. But if you have the desire to see it finished, maybe you can store it in a box or basket somewhere in your living area, so that you can easily pull it out and work on it, rather than making it hard to access. Another example could be your side hustle. I work full time, but obviously blog as well. Besides my laptop I use a notebook and a few other items for planning and dreaming. I have a backpack that I keep these things in so that I can either jet out the door to a coffee shop or pull it out at my dining table and work when I have a few minutes.
4. Keep surfaces clear. To be blunt our countertops, table tops, and floors should not be storage space. This was a weakness of mine that I didn’t even realize when I began decluttering, but I used to be the queen of making piles. But not only do piles on our surfaces attract more clutter, but they are an eye sore and can add to stress.
5. Organize simply. Inner & outer circles & deep storage. I’ve heard this method throughout the years and it makes sense while being simple. The idea is that those items that we use over and over again should be in the inner circle of a space. So in the kitchen, the knife and cutting board you use every meal should be easily accessible, plates, cups, silverware, again, should be in the inner circle. Maybe a serving platter that you use once or twice a week, belongs in the outer circle. Meaning it may be higher up in a cabinet or farther back on a shelf than items that you use more than it. Deep storage would be for anything that is rarely used, like a turkey roaster, etc. As a minimalist, I could argue that anything that would qualify for deep storage, should seriously be considered for minimizing.
I love this Marie Kondo quote: “The secret to maintaining an uncluttered room is to pursue ultimate simplicity in storage so that you can tell at a glance how much you have.
While she is referring to see through bins, it makes sense on more levels than just the bin you use. The key to organizing is decluttering first and then organizing in a way that makes sense and keeps it simple. So often we want to sort and label and buy new things to store stuff in, but that’s just adding to the complexity of life. Keep it as simple as you can on all levels and your home will feel lighter and more relaxing.
Without a doubt this is the hardest part of decluttering an area. It can be mentally exhausting because of all the decisions you have to make. This can take time and if we’re not in the right mindset, these decisions can be really time consuming. But there are a few ways to prepare for this step that will make it faster and hopefully easier.
Prepping to Sort
1. You need to be in the right mindset. This in and of itself is a separate blog post, but if you’re to this point in your journey of simplifying, you probably are in the right mindset for the most part. Just keep a few things in mind:
-My personal mantra: “Simplify your life, so you can pursue what matters most.” And in the moments its: simplifying this room/area/drawer/shelf/whatever
-“Decluttering is infinitely easier when you think of it as what to keep rather than what to get rid of.”
2. Go through and get rid of all the obvious trash. Getting the obvious trash on the surface the day before or right at the beginning gets those things out of the way so that you can dive into the real work.
3. You need to know how/where you’re going to sort. It can be space on the floor or counter space (if you’re doing something smaller like a drawer.) You’ll need a couple boxes or baskets or bags for the several piles that you’ll be making: trash, move, keep, donate, maybes.
4. Know where to donate. We’ve all seen the meme’s about driving around for months with a trunk full of donations. Know where you’re going to donate and add it to your schedule for the next day.
Now you’re ready to sort through all the things.
Trash. If you followed my prep steps, then you’ve already removed the obvious trash from the area, but there will be other things that you do not need to stop and consider, just toss it (recycle if possible).
*items broken & not worth repairing
*items broken & you haven’t repaired in 6 months or more since being broken
*items not loved & not worth donating (ugly, out dated, handmade, etc)
*papers/junk mail/ coupons
*worn out scissors/staplers
*old/used/damaged/unwanted craft supplies
*torn/stained/worn out clothing
*happy meal toys
*expired or never used beauty & bath supplies
Move. As in move within your home. Most likely you will come across items that belong somewhere else or to someone else. I strongly suggest having a basket or box to toss these things into because if you go to return it when you find it, its easy to get distracted and get off task.
Keep or Minimize?
This is the hard part of deciding what you keep and what you minimize. As you think through each item, here’s some questions if you don’t know the answer immediately:
*When was the last time I used this?
*Do I have something similar that is better?
*Has it served its purpose/done its duty?
*What’s more valuable–the item or the time & space that it takes up?
*Would I buy this item right now if I were in a store?
*How did I acquire the item?
In addition to those questions, keep an eye out for multiples and similar items. This is where in some areas you can really make headway in minimizing.
Also, really question the gifts, sentimental items, and memorabilia. Physical items represent memories and people and moments, but we don’t have to keep everything of every moment or every person.
Be ruthless with items that use the excuse of “someday” being useful. Many things are easily acquired or borrowed from others and do not need permanent residence in our homes and lives.
Also, for each space you’re in consider the Pareto Principle which generally states that we use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time. Figure out the 20% and get rid of the rest!
Maybes. Being a minimalist, I want to say DO NOT HAVE A MAYBE PILE. But I also live in the real world, where sometimes you just can’t make a decision. So have your maybe pile, but try your hardest to make decisions and keep this pile very small.
With this biggest and most difficult step of sorting out of the way, your home should feel lighter and you’ll be ready to move on to Step 4: Organizing.
“Empty the Area” probably sounds simple enough and it is. But I want to explain why I single it out as a step rather than combining it with “Pick Your Area.” I could say, “Pick your area and empty it” but I feel compelled to put it as a step in itself because of the importance.
When you empty a space, no matter how big or small, you’re able to hit the reset button.
If we don’t completely empty it, things get looked over, left behind, avoided. To me, if I’m going to spend time decluttering and I know the end I have in mind, I’m going to go all in and emptying the space you’re working on is the best way. Here’s why:
First things first. When its empty you can clean it. Whether its just a quick swipe of a desk drawer, or a deep clean of your kitchen cabinets, cleaning is easier when there’s nothing there. So go in with the mindset of giving it at least a quick wipe down.
When we remove EVERYTHING from an area, we have to truly consider each item. If we pick it up, we have to acknowledge it and make a decision if we want to keep this item or not. Otherwise, we subconsciously think it belongs to that drawer or room or space and do not give it a second thought. So, emptying the area makes us decide (which I’ll go into detail about with the next post). Also, we usually come across items that we forgot we even had, that had we not emptied, we wouldn’t have unearthed. For example, you’re cleaning out the bathroom sink or mirror storage area. Pulling out every bottle and sample, you find ones that you’ve forgotten about or are so old, that its easy to get rid a few items due to never using them.
For the items we decide to keep, emptying the area makes us think about whether this is the best home for those items. Things that you think will go back in the space and therefore were tempted to not take out, may need to be relocated somewhere else. For example, you have a desk in your bedroom. As you’re cleaning out the drawer you come across scissors that are fine to be in the desk drawer. However, you mostly need them when you’re in the kitchen, so maybe they’d be better housed in a kitchen drawer. That’s where you use them most so you only occasionally have to go from your bedroom to get them for something there. So, in general, don’t just store things because “that’s where its supposed to be,” think about your home and the flow of your lives and store things that best suit you.
My last and perhaps best reason is because seeing something emptied is freeing and motivating. Sometimes decluttering feels weird and spaces look empty, but sometimes that emptiness is a breath of fresh air. Spaciousness can be a beautiful thing. Just because we have a room or shelf or basket, doesn’t mean if has to be filled to the brim. Use that time of emptying out an area to be inspired with how it can be.
Miss the first “Decluttering Guide” posts? Click below to catch up!
Its been six months since I started working full time. The newness is wearing off. I’m no longer feeling the daily stress of learning new processes, people, and protocols. Those first couple of weeks I was super strict about our family not taking on anything new. But now that work feels more like the norm, and we’re out of that initial survival stage, I’m feeling the strain of not having enough time.
Forty hours a week is no small chunk of my time solely devoted to one thing. Before, as a stay-at-home mom, then later as a work-from-home wife and mom, I had the ability to double task. I’m not talking about trying to do several things at once. I know the myth of multi-tasking has been busted, but I did have have the luxury of throwing in laundry or some meal prep and then going back to writing or whatever other task I was on.
Now, meals, laundry and extracurriculars all take place in the span of evening and weekend hours. The flexibility I used to have is now gone and it has changed things immensely. There are also fewer opportunities for spontaneity.
So how do I find the time? I don’t. I find what I can let go of and say good-bye.
The importance of priorities and intentionality is a lesson I’ve been learning over the past couple of years and one that has now been thrown into a standing of absolute necessity. With all the demands on my time and attention, I cannot imagine the pull of our lives into a thousand directions if I didn’t have those things narrowed down. Since I’ve had this slow work up of being a minimalist and essentialist, I now can more easily say no right. I no longer mull over requests and opportunities and feel guilty when in the end I’ve either squandered away time on the decision or overcommit.
So, when feeling pressed for time with more invitations and commitments than you know you can do, here’s a few of my favorite reminders and questions:
1) What are my priorities and values and does this fit?
2) What is the trade-off? There’s always a tradeoff. You can’t say yes to something without saying no to something else.
3) Is this something I want to go big on or go all in for?
4) Is this something for another time (or season) in my life?
5) If I’m not faced with a new opportunity but feeling pressed for time I ask, what must I eliminate?
In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown, again and again hammers in the point of “Less but better.” We all are only given 24 hours in a day. I’m finished trying to see how much I can possibly cram into those hours. Instead I’m focusing on what matters most, giving it my all, and resting in those choices. And when it feels like I don’t have a choice, I try to dig down and see where the “lack of choice” comes from. Expectations I place on my self, trying to please others rather than staying true to my values and goals, etc.
My husband is the one who started this whole minimalism journey for our family. When, finally, my eyes were opened to just how cluttered our home was, all the problem areas very quickly came into focus. And I wanted to do it all. I had visions of clear counter tops, capsule wardrobes, friends dropping in and no panic hitting, walking through my house at night to comfort a child without that dreaded lego finding my foot in the dark, and on and on.
The problem was every area was a problem. I needed my entire house to be purged of the excess, but with two small kids, this would not be a quick fix and I knew that. I was happy just to keep everyone alive and fed and relatively clean, never mind purging the overwhelming excess we were living in. But I also didn’t let that thought keep me from beginning.
Doesn’t that happen sometimes? We get so overwhelmed at the task before us that we don’t begin. Whether you’re just beginning this journey into minimalism or have been at it a while, but need to declutter some more, the first step is to pick an area to work on.
To help get an idea ask yourself these questions:
*Where are the problem areas (OR what area is driving you crazy?)
*What is a small area with little to no emotional attachments?
*What small area could I declutter that would have a big impact? (Basically, what area would you really see and enjoy the difference of it being decluttered and simplified?)
With your answers in mind also consider these guidelines:
Consider the time you have. Whether its a couple hours every afternoon or a weekend, its best to complete areas in that time frame. Leaving huge projects undone only add to our stress. It also leaves room for it get interrupted and messed with by others. Also know that it is most likely going to take longer than you think. I used to jump into projects thinking I could get them done in a couple hours only to be left with a huge unfinished mess.
Do NOT start with something emotional. If your pictures or bookshelves or clothes or keepsakes are one of the areas overwhelming you, its still not a good place to start. You’ll reach a point of decision fatigue much quicker when it comes to things that are hard to decide about. Working on things that we don’t care about, helps us build up our minimizing muscle and motivation and will carry you through the areas that hold harder decisions.
Be sure its YOUR stuff. So often it is our spouse’s never touched hobby things, or our kids’ toys, etc that really gets under our skin. However, with the exception of kids too young to decide, its best to start with your own things or an area that your spouse (or whoever you life with) approves. Reduce your clothing, your hobby stuff, the kitchen, etc. Have conversations with those you live with about why you’re wanting to simplify and your vision of what life will be when you’re not spending so much time and energy on stuff. If they’re not 100% on board, they may start to see the benefits from your things being reduced and decide to join in.
Here’s a few suggestions, but not the only places you could choose to begin in:
*your clothing (it could be just one drawer depending on your time constraints)
*desk (mine was desk drawer)
*purse or backpack
You can also take a Konmari approach by gathering similar things (like books) from all over your home. Again, for those of your not new to decluttering, but have the urge to minimize, you still need to pick an area. Do so by considering the time you have and whether its something you’re emotionally ready to tackle and if you have the approval from others you live with for working on that space.
If you, like me, have had your eyes opened to the necessary clutter and excess you’re living with, don’t let the overwhelm stop you. You’ve caught the vision that living more simply is what you need, so jump in! Its so worth it! Enjoy the journey! There will be obstacles, but it is so worth the work you put in.
City living can seem complicated. When I was a child growing up in the rural eastern part of Kentucky, taking a trip to Lexington was a big deal. It seemed like a busy bustling city and it was intriguing. Now that I’ve lived here for nearly 10 years (more if you count my university years), and traveled to some of the biggest cities in the world, it doesn’t seem so busy and bustling. Sure traffic is awful at rush hour on New Circle Rd or even worse, Man o’War –hopefully you’ve learned alternate routes that time of day–but over all, our little city in my opinion is one of the best. A city yes, but there are plenty of ways to build a simple life here and there’s lots of people doing just that. What does living simply mean when you live in an urban area?
Simple living has been defined a variety of ways. I like the way Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple defines it, “Living holistically with your life’s purpose.” Joshua Becker describes minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.”
Neither of those or any other definitions I’ve read say anything about where you live. Whether you live in a rural or urban area, you can live simply. In fact, I think it could be argued that city living makes simple living easier, but that is for another blog post. Here are a few ideas for building a simpler, more intentional life in a city, with specifics from my own city, Lexington.
One of the reasons I became a minimalist is because I wanted to spend less time caring for my stuff and more time outdoors. When I have time in the woods, life seems to be put in better perspective. While that may not be one of your reasons, there are so many benefits for time spent in nature. Sometimes we feel uncomfortable going to a new park, so pick one and go and keep going until you’re familiar. Also, initiate conversations with the workers of the park. Some have an onsite naturalist, who would be more than happy to chat about the park.
We have some true gems right here in Lexington like McConnell’s Springs, Raven Run, Veteran’s Park, Legacy Trail, Town Branch Trail. Jacobson Park, the Arboretum and more. Not so far away we have The Red River Gorge, The Pinnacles in Berea, multiple sites along the Kentucky River palisades area, and one of my favorites, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.
Clothing & Accessories
Whether you’re after a capsule wardrobe, uniform style, or being more mindful in your clothing purchases, there are plenty of options. If you desire to own less, but better quality look into high quality brands from boutiques and specialty shops or some departments stores. If you’re becoming more consumer conscious find a fair trade clothing retailer or locally made items (great for accessories). The options have grown even in the last year as to what you can find made in ethical & sustainable practices. Thrift or resale stores are also another great option for finding clothing in more conscionable ways.
In Lexington there are multiple stores now carrying some fair trade items. Lucia’s World Emporium is all fair trade and has a great selection of accessories and has some clothing as well. There are multiple thrift and resale shops including chains like Clothes Mentor and Plato’s Closet, then you have local vintage finds from Miss Molly Vintage (you can find her booth at Feather Your Nest) as well as multiple children’s clothing resale shops.
Simplifying your transportation is probably many times easier when living in an urban area versus a rural one. There’s usually public transportation as in buses, trolleys, metros. Then there’s alternative transportation such as biking and walking. The short time I’ve lived in eastern Europe made me a huge fan of the plethora of public transportation options and walkability of those cities. As a foreign friend recently noticed after moving to the States–many times a sidewalk just stops without warning or reasoning. America as whole could really up our transportation game.
Lexington has recently taken strides in this department. There’s been expansions of greenways like Town Branch Trail and the Legacy Trail. There’s many bike lanes being built and incentives from various employers for riding a bike in lieu of driving a car.
So whether you’re in Lexington or elsewhere, look into what intiaitives your city is doing to improve public and alternative transportation and see what you can take advantage of.
Local Eats & Drinks
Eating local is such a great way to live out a simple life. It supports local businesses and farmers, its better for the environment and is usually a healthier option. Besides just eating in locally owned restaurants, look for ones that also use local or regional produce and meats. Shop for your groceries from farmer markets, local farmers and CSA programs, or co-ops.
In Lexington, “Kentucky Proud” food products are everywhere! From large grocers like Meijer to the farmers market locations, there’s many ways to get local food. The dining scene has really been booming in recent years with more really great locally owned restaurants, bars, breweries, and of course all the bourbon that this area cranks out.
Living simply for us has in part come to mean loving where we are, living responsibly in regards to the environment, our finances, and our time. We want to live a life of beauty and meaning. We are intentional about how we raise our kids and that means whole-heartedly embracing and supporting our community in a variety of ways. While I’ve offered many specifics for Lexington, I’m sure there’s much going on in your urban area as well. Reach out to like-minded folks and see what they’ve discovered. Look into locally owned small businesses and local resources and what the city government is doing with green initiatives, the park system, and small business.
And as mentioned earlier, pick a few places or businesses or activities to try out and do so until you’re familiar. Talk with the people there. Developing those relationships often means, personalized service and care and even friendship.
One of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry said, “We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” Living simply ties all those together–caring and loving and knowing where we are.
I’d love to hear from you, how living simply has impacted your relationship to where you live. Feel free to leave a comment below!
One day several years ago, my kids were tiny and all over the place. During one of those days when the stars aligned and they both took a long nap, I started in on a decluttering project. I was working in our extra room which has been everything from homeschool room, office, guest bedroom, etc. I had been feeling good, working without distractions and some feel good music carrying me along.
I had several piles–the keepers, the trash/recycle, and the things I wanted to get rid of. In the midst of what was a seemingly productive afternoon. I hit a mental wall. I was focused on minimizing and knew what I wanted to end result, but there I sat amidst piles of papers and kid crafts and mementos and found myself not knowing what to do next.
The process of decluttering can seem daunting. We get all excited and motivated reading blogs or books, but when we dive into our project we may stop before finishing it. There could be many reasons for that, but often times I think because we don’t have a process in place, we can get stuck in the steps. Knowing what to do next, can go a long way in moving us along to the results we want – minimized stuff, organized belongings we keep, and an easier household.
That afternoon, I left my piles scattered and closed the door praying my kids wouldn’t go in and pilfer through all the things. I sought out a book I had read not long before that had so much good detail about the process. Francine Jay’s The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify (Updated and Revised) helped me many times during those first decluttering sessions and much of my process pulls from hers and other’s helpful advice as well found on countless blogs and books.
What I’ve put together is 5 steps to decluttering any area. In the coming days I’ll add a separate blog post for each step to go into more detail of how to complete it and what setbacks or obstacles you may find along the way. But in short here are the 5 steps:
1) Pick your area
Written down as bullet point it seems simple enough, but as I mentioned, any of us can get bogged down in one step or another. Knowing the steps and what to move onto can be extremely useful in finishing strong and meeting your goals.
As for my the ending to my stuck-in-the-process-decluttering story, I took the advice I found from books and blogs and soon had an enormous pile of minimized items in our garage. With every box and bag that I shed from our home, our lives became lighter and fuller–fuller of the things that mattered most to us, like better time together as a family, focus and energy to pursue interests, and hearts more content and no longer running the rat race just to collect stuff.
“A home with fewer possessions is: more spacious, more calming, & more focused on the people who live inside it.” -Joshua Becker
Changing seasons can be a big chore when it comes to clothing, especially if you have kids. I used to have tubs of clothes for summer and winter to swap out for myself, my husband and kids. Now being minimalists, we all have much less clothing and don’t require a total swap. However, because we live in a temporal climate with extreme heat and cold, we do have a few things to put away at the change. Over the past few seasons, I’ve found some helpful ways of dealing with the swap to make it and future seasonal swaps smoother.
For putting away previous season:
Declutter. Its always a good time to declutter. Stuff, including items of clothing come into our lives so easily. Whether its a free race t-shirt, a scarf gifted for a holiday or birthday, or an impulse buy, its always coming in. You can try to establish a routine like one in, one out with your clothing, but even with that there is usually some excess accumulated throughout the season.
As you’re going through your current clothing for the past season, see which pieces you didn’t wear at all–those are an easy toss. Then consider the ones that you may have worn, but either not much or didn’t like it for whatever reason. Also check for pieces that got enough wear and tear to warrant getting rid of them.
There’s also a chance if you cull enough items, you don’t have to do a total swap. If you have enough space, just rearrange your closet so that they’re up and out of the way without having to put them in deep storage in an attic or garage.
For pulling out the new season:
Declutter. Again, you can ALWAYS find something to declutter. Maybe you held onto an item for whatever reason that you didn’t wear last year. If you pull it out and know that it has done its duty, get rid of it. Take any weight or body changes into account and see if there’s some items that you can get rid of due to that change.
Also, if you’re changing to more of a capsule wardrobe apply that to the new season. You may be able to cut out entire colors or style, so get rid of those items that won’t work with your capsule. Or there may be things that you just know you’re done with. Get rid of them! If you love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, a seasonal change is the perfect time to experiment with it.
Another way I try to minimize is by looking at what pieces are similar. If I have 5 red blouses, I probably am not going to wear them all. Try to reduce each set of similar items by several pieces.
As you’re changing out, take the time to organize and arrange things in a way that makes sense for you. Most importantly, focus on having a good mindset in regards to your clothing. They are after all a utilitarian necessity. Only keep what you need and what works now. I have much fewer clothes now and no one has ever mentioned to me how few it seems to have. On the contrary, I now often get compliments and I credit it to being more selective and purposeful in the items I have, knowing what I like and what suits me best. So basically, I dress for me now, not everyone else.
Take advantage of the change of seasons to hone in your wardrobe, rid yourself of excess, and move on to a simpler life.
I’ve always enjoyed being active, but like many, staying fit seems to get harder when you become an adult and take on more responsibility. There’s the issue of most of us working 40+ hours a week. Add in spouse, kids, a house and stuff, and its so easy for working out to get swept under the rug.
But as I said before, I truly enjoy it. I like a good sweat. It makes me feel strong, I feel healthier, my back doesn’t hurt when I’m regularly exercising. So why don’t I do it? Or why is it so hard for me to stick with it? For one, I think we try to make it too complex. When we simplify our lives and schedules we might have more time. But what if we simplify our workouts too?
Equipment & Gear
I used to think, if only I bought (insert your product of choice), then I would work out more. I’ve learned the more stuff you have for a hobby or activity the more complex it makes said activity. When we have so much stuff for working out we have to store it, wash it, fix it, organize it, get more accessories, etc. So what if we can minimize equipment? What workout stuff is sitting in our closets and gives us a guilt trip every time we see it? Let’s let those things go and get back to basics.
Is working out in a certain place absolutely necessary? Often we will use location as an excuse not to do it. Its either too far or will take too long to get there or we feel like unless we go to a certain place, we can’t be fit. That’s just not true. You can workout anywhere. If we find something that works in our own homes, that simplifies our budgets by cutting out fees, gas money, and saving time, let the location oriented ones be the exception not the rule.
I used to think I had to do some crazy long and complex routine to truly get a good workout. I would spend money to buy promises made by workout videos. More often than not, it was too time consuming. A simpler routine would have been easier to stick to, leading to better results because I would actually do it. There’s also the issue of many times complex routines are difficult to get the correct form down, meaning we spend time and energy doing a workout the wrong way, really missing the muscles we’re supposed to be working.
Over the years, I’ve found that having simple workout routines–basic exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, etc, or running/walking are the best. I’m able to do them any where, its time efficient, and can be done even if I’m doing a more extensive workout later in the day. By keeping workouts simple on various levels, I’m able to incorporate this into my daily routine and make it a part of my life.
The idea of travel, to most, seems anything but simple. There’s the planning phase which includes everything from research, passports, visas, tickets, reservations, packing, prepping to leave (work, home, pets, kids, etc). Then the actual trip can be complex – departure & arrival deadlines, check-ins, cultural mishaps, loss of items, and anything and everything else that could happen. But isn’t it all worth it? Travel can be extremely rewarding. It can be a time of immense personal growth, opening us up to next experiences and opportunities. I actually met my husband on my very first trip overseas!
So can this thing that is so incredibly awesome and yet pretty complex be made simple? I think so, and here’s some thoughts on keeping travel simple.
Some trips need to be planned in detail. Take for example the Tsh Oxenreider & family who (affiliate link) traveled around the world. A family of 5 visiting 30+ countries will need to do quite a bit of planning and booking. Other trips, not so much. Finding that sweet spot of not over planning, but also not making a huge error, as in not purchasing a visa prior to leaving, is something to think about and strive to find that balance. What’s important is to cover those absolutes such as travel info and legalities such as visas, registration requirements, etc.
As for the time in the location, I love to have an open schedule. I want to leave room for adapting to the culture, going with the flow, and seeing where the trip takes us. We may meet up with friends or family in a location or you may meet new people who take you in and show you the sights. Not having everyday booked completely leaves room for that spontaneity.
Many people go on a trip and come home claiming that they over packed. We often get nervous leading up to a trip. Subconsciously packing all our things is a way of comforting ourselves or compensating for the fact that we’re not entirely prepared by knowing what to expect with weather and cultural expectations. However, the entire trip we’re left dealing with all this stuff we’ve brought. In some cases it may not be a big deal if its left in the hotel room, etc. But you still have to keep up with it. Packing lighter and more strategically gives freedom from worrying, managing, and caring for the stuff. Its just better in general to be less dependent on material items and to be more adaptable to what may come.
Another big issue is how our expectations of a trip can make it not so simple. Being flexible and willing to do things differently or try new things, can add a depth to your trip that wouldn’t be experienced if we stay close minded or unwilling to be adventurous. Communication with those you are traveling with or going to visit is also key for setting better expectations for both yourself and for them.
Much more could be said about how to simplify travel. To attempt simplifying your next trip, look at how at each stage (before, during and after) the trip you can simplify and really savor the moments and culture you’re experiencing.
To see more in the Keep It Simple, click the picture below.
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