12 Ways That I've Simplified My Life


Almost 12 years ago I looked at the sea of stuff surrounding us and said to my husband "I want to make changes".  I was overwhelmed and couldn't stand it anymore.

We had been talking about making other changes to our life, like buying a home on the outskirts of town to give homesteading a try.  It was what felt right to both of us.  But packing up all of our stuff and moving it didn't appeal to me.  I wanted freedom from it.   And so we began the process of selling and purging.  But selling and purging is not enough, as I soon found out.  I needed to change my thought process and figure out my why's and what my triggers were.

Simplifying our lives wasn't just about purging stuff though.  For us it was also about working toward our dreams of working for ourselves, growing/raising our own food, paying off debt and saving for the future, and learning to feel happy and content with what we have.  While each of our goals and, therefore, journeys will look different, learning to live intentionally is the one common denominator.


If you read nothing else, please read this:
If you're thinking about starting on your own path to minimalism, remember that it's not about getting rid of stuff, rather, it's about living intentionally.  Purging through stuff is a part of the transition to minimalism because it allows you to get rid of things that don't matter so you have room for things that do.

While not a comprehensive list, here are a few of the ways I've simplified over the past 10 years.  My hope is that it helps to give you ideas of ways you can simplify your own.


1. Started Living Small(er)
We purchased our farmhouse outside of town 11 years ago.  We purposely purchased a smaller home (1200 square feet) because we were about 1 year into simplifying our life and didn't want any extra space to clutter up with more stuff.  It was also quite a bit less than what we were approved for, another thing I'm grateful we did.  We only looked at one house that was in the amount we were approved for.  The property was amazing!  The house was pretty big - with a fully finished basement.  But we (thankfully) resisted.  Having a smaller mortgage payment has helped us achieve other goals as well.

2. Began Working For Myself
I don't know if this is really simplifying, but it's an accomplishment of what I've dreamed of and makes me oh-so happy!  It is a result of having simplified my life because we've reduced our needs and therefore our spending.  I know that many are ok working for others, and that's perfectly fine.  We should all do what's best for us (self employment certainly has it's own list of stresses).  I am not that person.  Although I loved what I did, I truly felt trapped and couldn't stand the politics.  I absolutely love working for myself.  I have no intention of ever working full-time for someone else ever again.

3. Reduced Our Needs And Wants
I can honestly say that I am very content with what I have.  There certainly are a few things on my wish list but I don't "need" anything that I don't have.  I had to figure out what was enough for me rather than mindlessly accumulating.  Reducing both needs and wants has enabled us to start living below our means, which allowed us to pay off debt and to begin working for ourselves.

4. Simplified Our Laundry
This will be controversial I'm sure, but I throw it all in together.  Yup.  Darks, whites, towels, whatever.  I will say that I only have 2 white shirts that I care to keep bright white.  If I wear those, I do only wash them with whites (sheets), but everything else goes together.  I also donated anything that was dry clean only.

5. Simplified My Wardrobe
I don't mean to make this sound really easy, but I kept what I love and donated what I didn't.  If I kept something as a "love" item and didn't wear it within one year, then it was donated.  I had to change the way I shop too.  I used to LOVE shopping.  In the past 10 years, however, I've really not found pleasure in it.  So what would happen is one of two things:  1. if we went to an outlet mall or something similar I would buy anything I liked because then I wouldn't have to shop anymore that year, and/or 2. I would order a bunch of clothes online once or twice a year.  The problem?  I was buying not necessarily what I needed and certainly not what I loved.  While I loved a few things, I definitely didn't love it all.  I am now content with my clothing and any potential new purchases are thought through to ensure 1. it's something that I love and 2. it will be worn regularly.

6. Realized Multi-Tasking Doesn't Work
Nope, it really doesn't.  For years I've insisted that I'm a good multi-tasker.  I thought it was the only solution to keeping all of the balls in the air.  What I've realized, however, is that's all it does.  Keeps the balls in the air.  Multi-tasking doesn't allow you to be successful with all of the balls and it brings in more stress then it solves.  I've surrendered to this and welcomed the reduced stress that comes with a single focus.


7. Stopped Buying Magazines
Although I ended my subscriptions not too long after I started my minimalism quest, I was still purchasing them occasionally.  They just weren't contributing anything beneficial to my life.  With so many blogs and online sources available, I search there if I want to find ideas.  I haven't purchased any at all in just over 2 years.

8. Limit My Online Time
As noted in my life changing morning routine post, scheduling time to view social media as well as read emails has been very beneficial.  I previously wasted too much time doing both of these.  Also, I've turned off notifications.  I look at it when I want to look at it.

9. Began Spending Money More Intentionally
Yes, I still buy stuff.  The difference in how I spend money now is that I think purchases through and I spend with intention.  I think purchases through because I still catch myself impulsively thinking "oh I'll buy that".  By waiting to make a purchase, it gives me the time to figure out if it's truly a purchase I want/need or if I'll only end up regretting it.

10. Stopped Trying New Beauty Products
Beauty products are expensive.  Even more problematic is that we typically don't use up the "miracle" products we buy, instead, we feel guilty tossing them out and therefore hold onto them.  That and the "free gift" with purchase items that we just had to have.  The next thing you know you have drawers full of cute little bottles and tubes.  Although I'm not saying I'll never try a new beauty product again ( since I make many, that cuts the need to purchase right down), but I'll take from the point above and purchase much more intentionally.  And toss it or give it away if I don't like it.

11. Get Moving
We try to walk/run/bike a lot more.  Not only is it good to get moving, but it keeps us from spending money and reduces stress.  It gets us outside in nature where I feel like I can think things through and put them in perspective.

12. Living Intentionally Daily
While every moment of every day is not intentional for me, I do try to live intentionally daily.  Intentionally expressing gratitude, intentionally doing something to work toward tomorrow, and taking responsibility for my life.


I'm not trying to make my path toward minimalism sound easy.  It's been hard and I've had setbacks (many) as well as successes (many).  I've learned a lot about myself, some of it things I've chosen to change.  What I can tell you for sure is that this path has encouraged me to actually begin taking steps toward things I'd only previously dreamed about.  It has taught me how to work intentionally toward what I want rather than depend on luck.

It's often said that minimalism is a journey and not a destination.  A journey full of twists and turns that I wouldn't trade for anything.




What are some of the ways you've simplified your own life?  I'd love to hear your tips and ideas!


4 comments

daisy g said...

I agree with so many of your points. I had to smile when I read your comments about wardrobe. This week I put my winter clothes away and took out my warm weather things. It was so exciting to see the clothes I haven't worn in a while. It was like getting a new wardrobe without having to go shopping! Little things...

We live simply, and have recently started using cash on a regular basis for gas, food, and outings. It's freeing to know that there will be no bill coming in the mail and that we can move forward.

I also wash all of my clothes together. We each do our own laundry now (less work for Momma), and don't bother buying much in the way of whites from the thrift store or yard sales. I appreciate my clothes and being able to wear what I like (even for work), but they are simply a practical element in my life.

I love getting a glimpse into your life, knowing that we are on similar paths.
Hope you are enjoying some sunshine this weekend!

Laura Vecsey said...

The other day, I came across a lavender body cream you all made and which i must have purchased at the Saratoga farmers market. I applied some and was immediately surprised by how ... amazing it felt. Sonrhis morning I looked your site up to read about the company because I would like to get more products. And today is Sunday so the market will be going on. In the meantime, this post was affirmation of where i am in my own life. So again you’ve surpassed me with something super beneficial. Great post. Great philosophy. Thanks

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Daisy - you are so right about the wardrobe when you switch seasons. I feel exactly the same way!!! We use cash for quite a few things too. I think it makes us more mindful of how much we're spending. I can't get my husband to use cash at the gas station though.....I wish. :) Thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing bits of your own life with us!

Laura - thank you so much! I'm THRILLED that you love our body butter and, of course, thrilled that you're enjoying what you are reading here. :)

Louise said...

I also agree with so many of your points. On the magazines issue, they are a weakness of mine! I am a sucker for a pretty picture and an attractive layout. I get around this in 2 ways, I buy magazines in op shops (Australian word for thrift shop) usually for as little as 50 cents for a $8-10 magazine. As I mostly like gardening and home magazines I find it doesn't matter all that much if the magazine is a current issue. Once read I recycle them back to the op shop for someone else to enjoy, which also stops the piles of magazines from building up around the house. I also read several favourites for free on RB digital, which is an online platform I log in to via my local library membership. I can have my cake and eat it too using these ideas.
Cheers, Louise.