Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How Mindfulness Helps to Simplify Your Life

I've been on a journey to simplify my life for about two years now.  It's just one step in my quest to live the life I want to live. This simplification has started with stuff.  You know, the stuff we accumulate and can't seem to live without.  It seemed pretty easy when I set simplification as a goal for myself, but putting it into practice has been a lot harder than anticipated.

Four Tips to Mindful Simplification
  • Be clear about your personal goal for simplification.
  • Before making a purchase, ask if the purchase fits into your personal goals.
  • Use a “box and fetch” technique to identify thing you actually use.
  • Think use, donate or discard.

Today I was reminded of my goal by the mere act of opening the email below from Sur la Table.

An email ad from Sur la Table

Buy two spatulas and get one free.  Why not?  I love spatulas and I can always use another, right?  I clicked through and looked at the colorful options.  Before I clicked to purchase I decided to pour myself a cup of coffee.  This took me into the kitchen where I glanced at the crock holding my kitchen utensils.

A kitchen crock full of kitchen tools.
My Kitchen Utensils
You can see as well as I that I do not need any more silicone spatulas.  Perhaps I should actually get rid of one or two that I have!  I find that mindfulness is essential to keep me on track in my simplification journey.

This mindfulness served me well about a week ago on a day of shopping with a couple of my friends. Mindfulness was particularly essential in The Container Store.  Have you been there?  I love the store for poking around.  Who knew there are so many boxes, shelves, bags and various organizational tools?  I wanted to buy everything.  Just think how all my stuff could be organized!

Mindfulness kicked in just in time.  Instead of putting this and that into my cart I walked through the store considering how each of the organizing tools I was attracted to might fit into my goal of simplifying my life.  I asked myself if the containers would actually make it easier and simpler to manage my stuff or would they just hide stuff I didn't really need.  In the end, I left the store without buying anything, but more determined to get rid of more of the stuff I was thinking about "organizing".

My friends and I had a conversation that day about Marie Kondo's best seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  Two of us had read the book and we had plenty to say about it.  The one thing I took from the book was this concept of mindfulness.  Much of the rest of the book I found to be too restrictive in approach.  It's worth reading, though, because you may find something there that helps your simplification journey.

Even though I started this post writing about silicone spatulas and that I may still have too many, I feel like I have been most successful in my attempt to simplify in my kitchen.  Simplification there was facilitated by a complete kitchen remodel this past year.  I had to remove everything from the kitchen prior to the demolition. 

I used the packing up phase to discard and donate all the items for which I obviously no longer had a use. Then, when moving back into the kitchen I only brought back things I use frequently.  I left everything else in boxes and only brought in items as I found I needed them.  I call this my box and fetch technique.  This encouraged another round of discarding and donating. Now, after ten months, I have one small box of kitchen gadgets that I plan to hold onto for another few months. If the items in that box haven't been needed by then they'll be donated. All in all, thanks to mindfulness, I feel more organized in the kitchen than I was a year ago.
A kitchen with uncluttered counter space.
My Remodeled Kitchen
My simplification journey continues, but just like all things that are worthwhile this journey takes time...and mindfulness.

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