Does it ever feel like you’re living in survival mode? Life is stressful and overwhelming, and it’s just getting busier for most people. But the good news is there are practical things we can do to slow down and simplify. Tune in to find out more.
In this Episode:
- The reason why life is so complicated
- 3 things that will radically simplify your life
- Thoughts on information overload + how to tune out the noise
Featured In This Episode:
- Get your free Mindful Decluttering guide
- Read the blog: simplyfiercely.com/blog
- Connect on Instagram: @simplyfiercely
Subscribe to The Simply + Fiercely Show
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPTS
Hello, and welcome to The Simply and Fiercely Show a podcast for women who want to clear their clutter and create space for freedom and joy. If your life keeps getting bigger but not better, keep listening to learn about decluttering from the inside out. It’s about creating a life that’s aligned with your values and priorities. So, you can have more of what matters, and less of what doesn’t. I’m your host, Jennifer and I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s get started.
Hey everyone, Jen here, and this is episode four of The Simply and Fiercely Show. Today, I am going to be sharing three things that will radically simplify your life and I know that’s a bit of a big claim yet but I’m going to stand behind it. I genuinely believe that if you listen to these ideas that I’m going to share with you today and you really commit to practicing them and implementing in your life then it can have a dramatic effect on not only how you go through your day but just I guess how you feel about your life in general. Just creating a bit of peace and ease and maybe just a bit of space that wasn’t there before. Okay, so I just invite you to come with an open mind and also just really commit to implementing these things in your everyday life.
Okay. So, before we dive in, I want to set the stage a bit and just talk a bit about why our lives are so complicated in the first place. If you’re new here, I’ll just add that you’ll notice that I like to do this a lot, I really believe in thinking about cause and effect, right? So, if we want to create simplicity in our lives then it really helps to think about, like, where the problem comes from? Why did life you know, when did life gets so hard? And what can we do to I guess sort of like, turn back the clocks, right?
We’ll simply put, I think that a lack of simplicity, is very closely related to a lack of intention in our lives. Okay. So, a lot of the people that I talked to and obviously I’ve got my own lived experience, it’s almost like we’re living with sort of a frenzy. We’re just so busy and we’re overwhelmed and think that often, it’s a bit like we’re living in survival mode. Okay, so we completely lose sight of the big picture ad instead it’s just about like getting through the day.
So, it’s like, it’s like you like barely know that there are things you could be doing right now to make your life easier, like in theory, but you don’t even have time to think about it. Because you’re just so busy thinking about what you have to do next, right? Reminds me of like, you got to pick the kid, I guess for me, like, I gotta pick the kids up from daycare and like we’re barely in the car and I’m already thinking about like, what do we have to make for dinner? Right? Or, you know, you might not have kids, that might be a pet example. I think it’s just, it’s that treadmill living, I guess is what I’m trying to say, well, you’re just so focused on just putting one foot in front of the other and you just seem to keep going. That you’re not really thinking about anything else or any of the big picture things of life there’s just so many responsibilities, and expectations and sometimes that’s all you can do to get through the day.
But I guess the problem is, sometimes you spend so long just looking down at your feet and just focusing on your next steps. That when you finally look up, it’s like your life has gone completely off track and you just don’t know how to get back to where you want to be. So, it’s not painfully obvious that’s something that I’ve experienced firsthand myself. Just you know, that feeling, the way I describe it, it’s just like feeling really suffocated and trapped in your life, where everything is just so complicated. And you know, that you just want something different, you know, you want things to be easier but you just don’t even know where to begin. And it just kind of feels like this is just what you have to live with. Right? Like just live with the exhaustion and the overwhelm and the never-ending stress. And that is what we do, because we’re adults.
But what I would like to invite you to consider is that there are some things we can do to simplify our life. Right? That life doesn’t have to be so complicated and that it is possible to sort of untangle the web of you know, our responsibilities and our expectations, some of that weight that’s kind of like sitting on your shoulders, you know, that tension that you can just imagine, I’m sure, like close my eyes and like kind of feel it almost strangling me. But if you can feel that way, if that if that resonates with you. The good news is there are things that we can do to radically simplify our lives if we just slow down and attempt to be a bit more intentional. Okay, so I’ve got three of those to share with you today. I will just dive in.
The first one is question all your assumptions. Okay. So, what do I mean by that? As I said earlier, I think a lot of us could find ourselves living, almost like we’re on a hamster wheel, right? It’s like you’re on autopilot. You’re going through the day, you’re getting through stuff, you’re getting things done, you’re working through your to do list and it’s like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, right, like, getting things done.
And to some extent, it’s not even just our days, it’s our whole lives, right? You know, so everyone’s story is different but like, for me, it was like, you know, you go to college and then use this to get a job and then you get married and you buy a house and you just keep going, you keep doing all the things that you’re supposed to do. And we’re busy and we’re tired but you know, almost, I think it’s like a necessity, I think our brains to start making a lot of assumptions, we just do what we think we have to do. Because we don’t have the time or energy to question it. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s not even about time or energy. We just don’t even think to question things because as I said, we’re living in that survival mode. We’re on the hamster, male hamster wheel, oh, my goodness, that word and we’ve become creatures of habit.
But what I am suggesting, excuse me, is what if we changed that? What if we just started questioning the things like our thoughts that we just assume? or law or just assume that they’re always correct? So, for example, I’m talking about the little voices that say things like, I can’t do that. Or the voices say, I have to do that. Or I don’t have enough time. Or that is impossible. Right? These are thoughts that we all have. But are they true? And is holding on to these beliefs, making life more complicated.
Let me give you some personal examples. I’m going to start with a few simple things and then I’ll work my way up to some like bigger life things, just you can see a few different examples. When I used to work in an office, this is back, I was working in a transport company actually. And I was that type of person who was always working late and I hate, oh, my goodness, I hated it so much. I would come home grumpy. I wasn’t eating well because I’d get home so late and then now couldn’t be bothered cooking, so, I’d drive thru. I was just, it was causing a lot of stress in my relationship because I was so miserable. Honestly, if you talk to my now husband at the time, he would say like, I think probably 50% of the things I would say to him was just me complaining about my job. So, I was just really unhappy and like just so stressed, right, just feeling really overwhelmed. Which, you know, I think a lot of people can relate to right? Well, a lot of people right now feeling very stressed and overwhelmed and overworked with their jobs. But here’s the thing, when I look back now and if I’m really honest with myself, you know, with obviously like the wisdom that comes with time and then also I’ve spent, you know, the past seven years now sort of writing about simple living. With this sort of new perspective, I can see that I made that period of my life 100 times harder than it needed to be. How? By not questioning my assumptions. So, here’s some of the things I would say to myself back then if I don’t stay late and get this done then everything will be a disaster tomorrow. I’m the only one who can fix these problems no one else knows what to do. It’s my job to be responsible for these things and I have to do it, or I’m not doing my job properly. Or finally, everyone is depending on me.
Honestly, I could go all day and list a million things like thoughts like these that I used to tell myself and look, sometimes these things were true. I don’t want to undermine that I had real responsibilities just like everyone, right. But, but but but at the same time, I am completely confident that probably more often than not, I was making things a bigger drama than they needed to be. Okay, so yeah, sure. My boss wasn’t complaining when I stayed late and took on tons of extra work right? And when I made everything my responsibility but realistically the truth is I should have pushed back or at least tested the waters. Okay.
So that’s what I mean by challenging assumptions. I should have tried leaving, leaving earlier. Sometimes I should have, you know experimented with leaving some things on done or letting some things be other people other people’s responsibilities. But I didn’t and I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m sure that for everyone listening right now, there’s something that you think you have to do, quote, unquote, that you really don’t want to do and it’s stressing you out. And whether it’s at a habit, or it’s just like cultural or family expectations or any of a million reasons, you’ve just never questioned it. Okay? So maybe you don’t want to go to your mother in laws for lunch every Sunday. Maybe you don’t want to take your kids to soccer practice. Maybe you don’t want to sort your laundry. I don’t you know.
There’s a million things, whatever it is that you don’t want to do. What I’m asking is, have you ever questioned whether it’s really necessary? And have you ever tried to stop? Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that you’ll never have to do these things, right? That’s obviously not how the real-world works. But what I am saying is that there is probably a middle ground. Yeah, so somewhere between where you are now and you know, this, like fairy tale fairy tale world where you don’t have to do annoying things. There is a space in between and we’re not even exploring the possibilities, because we’ve just been living by these assumptions for so long that they feel like law. Okay.
So, as I said, you can start small by just subtly questioning everything as you go through your day. Sometimes you just realize that there’s things that you don’t have to do and other times you just have to experiment a bit, right, test things. Don’t do things that are on your to do list, don’t do things that you think you have to do. And sure, sometimes you’re gonna realize, oh, crap, yeah, I really do have to do that and that’s fine. You know, you haven’t lost anything, you just go back to what you’re doing. Or, you know, there’s a little fallout but it’s inconvenient. But isn’t it better than wasting years of your life doing things that you don’t really need to do?
It’s funny, actually, when I think back to that same transport job, I have this story, right, where I used to run this report every week and then I’d send it out via email to a bunch of people. And I did it because the person who had my job before me just told me to do it, right? And so, you’re an employee, that’s what you do. I just kept running the report every week. And then one day, I don’t even remember how I figured this out but I realized that not a single person was reading the report. So, but it turned out as the person who originally requested it didn’t work there anymore and no one else even knew what the purpose of the report was. But just everyone had been doing it and just been habits and nobody questioned anything. And as a result, I was literally wasting an hour of my week, you know, every single week just running a report that not a single person looked at.
So that’s how things can manifest when we don’t question assumptions and our everyday lives. Okay. But as I said, it can be so much bigger than just a report or doing you know, some kind of everyday tasks that we don’t want to do. Here’s a bigger example of how, you know, our not questioning assumptions can sometimes hold us back from from things like our dreams or ambitions.
Back in, I want to say, around 2014 , 2015. At that stage, I’ve been living a more minimalist life for a few years and as a result, I had really downsized. I at the time was living in this really tiny studio apartment that was so small that we actually shared our kitchen and bathroom with another apartment which might sound extreme to some but it actually worked really well for us at the time. And what was so brilliant is by you know, reducing our living expenses to this extreme. I was saving about 80% of my income. Yeah. Which of course, sounds great. And so, I saved up a bit of money, I paid off all my debt. But it got to this point where I was like, okay, well, why am I doing this? Like, what is my quality of life?
So, I was working the same job that I was telling about earlier that I was saying I hated, right. So yeah, I appreciated the money and obviously, it was a privileged position that I was in a lucky, you know, space where I could save so much but I wasn’t happy and I was just really frustrated. And so, I started to wonder, like, I remember having this thought, like, maybe I could just work part time, right? You know, I dreamed about having more time for myself, you know, I could read, I could go for walks, I don’t know, all these things that people do when they’re not working, you know, 50 hours a week. But the voice in my head was just saying like, at the time I was in my mid-30s, I had no kids. And like, all I could think was like, there’s no way you can do this, right? It’s just not what people do. It’s like my brain was screaming at me like, that’s impossible, just shut it down Jen, you could never do that. Right. It’s like a ridiculous idea. Like people don’t just work part time because they want too. It’s just not what people do.
But you you know, sometimes we just don’t know until we try. I guess that’s the whole point that I’m making here with this tip is that I’m not saying that everyone can work part time. But once I started to question, that initial assumption, once I started to challenge that belief that that initial wall that I put up that just said, there’s no way that you can do this, then I could at least look at it objectively, right? I could start to like run numbers, for example and I could see what was possible. Okay. And so, it’s that, that led to me working part time for few years and it was fantastic and it was really great for me. And I would have never, that would have never happened, I wouldn’t create it and it was, you know, obviously, working less creates a lot of simplicity in your life, right. But that would have never been possible if I didn’t even allow myself to challenge that initial assumption, which says, I can’t do that. Yeah.
So, to recap, if you want to simplify your life, sometimes it’s as simple as questioning your assumptions. Okay, so here’s a few examples. If you think I have to do this, then you can simply ask yourself, are you sure? Are you sure you have to do this? Have you tried not doing it? Pretty easy. Well, I shouldn’t say easy, right? I’m not saying these things are always easy to do, but it’s just sometimes worth asking the question. Okay.
So, another thought another assumption you might have is just like, I’ll be letting everyone down. Right? If I don’t do this, if I don’t show up if I don’t do everything for everyone. But then the waiting question is just sort of saying, Will you really, you know, it? I think sometimes we have a way of sort of, I don’t know, say it’s, in a way doesn’t sound bad, but like inflating our own importance, right? Like, we think, oh, I don’t do everything for everyone and we’ll let everyone down. But then the reality is that snows are not that important. Another one is like, I thought that an assumption I guess you might have, or you can just call them thoughts is that I’m so far behind, right? And so that can be really stressful and overwhelming is going on so far behind, I’m never gonna get caught up I’m so far behind in life, everyone else is doing so much better. Or, you know, as some of you know, I teach decluttering programs. One thing I hear people say, it’s like, oh, it’s so easy for everyone else. Why isn’t it easy for me?
But you know, it’s questioned that assumption. So really easy for everyone else? Are you really behind? Or do you just, are you just allowing yourself to think that some more questions? I don’t have time for that? Have you tried? Or if we’re thinking about decluttering, I might need that someday? What if you don’t, right? Just challenge those assumptions, those initial assumptions you have and you might just surprise yourself.
Okay, so onto the next tip. If you want to simplify your life, try creating documenting systems for anything that’s repeatable. Okay, so I’m going to be honest with you and admit that this is something you know, like I’ve heard about throughout the years, this isn’t an idea that I invented. I mean, I didn’t know if I invent anything, everything’s all ideas, or old ideas, aren’t they? But truthfully, it’s something that I felt a lot of resistance to implementing. But oh, my goodness, is it life changing? Okay.
So, to sum things up, long story short, anything that you need to do more than once, okay, especially if this length is not a habit, you know, like, kind of brushing your teeth, obviously. But if it’s something it’s causing you stress keep a written record that’s like a step by step of the instructions. Okay, so I don’t know if I explained that well but when I sort of said, like, documenting systems is just writing down everything that you need to do.
So, for example, a very, very simple system that I had when I was a new mom after my daughter was born, I used to find getting out the door so stressful. I don’t know if any other you no new parents can relate to that but I was like, always worried that I was forgetting things. And at the time, I was so physically and mentally exhausted, that just sort of thinking about like what I needed to do in order to leave the house had me so overwhelmed that I didn’t want to go anywhere.
So, what I did, right so bullets can be is simply wrote a list of everything I need to get out of the house and stuck it on the fridge. Alright, so you know, it’s like pack packing the nappy yet, packing the nappy bag, you know, spare clothes, nappies, wipes, all those really basic things. I’m not trying to pretend that this is a super a super detailed system. The fact is actually that it was simple, right? It was super easy but just by writing it down that mental load of getting ready was completely gone. Okay, I started to do it, I started to get everything together but I didn’t have to think I just followed my list and boom, I was ready to go.
And what this really makes me think about is all the times just like in general in life, that we have these things that we know aren’t really that complicated but it just feels so overwhelming. So completely overwhelming, because we have so many things to think about rather little pieces of the puzzle.
So, it’s things like planning a kid’s birthday, or, you know, packing for an overseas trip. The actual work isn’t that hard, there’s nothing to do there that you know you need to be a rocket scientist to figure out, but it’s the mental load, right. And I think that, obviously, not to generalize, but like, there’s a lot of talk about how, you know, women especially, we carry a lot more of the mental load, and it can really be soul crushing, there’s just all these things that we need to remember. And so, if you’re stressed out, you procrastinate and everything just feels 10 times harder than it needs to be. But, you know, if this is something that you’re going through, you can make so much of the stress go away by simply creating a system.
Okay, so for example, another example last time I went away with my kids, I wrote down everything that I packed, okay, because like with my kids they are still quite young. So, a lot of stuff I bring, it’s not just the clothes, which is for me pretty easy, but there’s like bottles, nightlights, blankies, all these little things that’s like a nightmare if we go away without them, right? And so yeah, these things change with time but I wrote it all down and now I’m working off this one list and I can update it with time, but just having something to work from makes it so much easier. It’s like, I trust that it’s written down and I trust that my like past self wrote an accurate list and so just some of that mental load is gone. I’ve got someone to share it with. Yeah, my, my previous self who wrote the list.
So now, as I said, I know this is kind of obvious but at the same time, I knew that a lot of people aren’t doing it, right? And one of the reasons for for that is what I mentioned earlier in this episode and it’s just that so many people are living in survival mode. Everyone is short on time, so we’re not thinking about how to make life simpler in the long term. We’re just trying to get through today. Okay. But I get it and I understand that it’s hard, but that’s why we have to be so intentional about stepping back. Okay, stepping back and looking at the big picture. You don’t have to be create perfect systems and, in all likelihood, you’re gonna have to refine things with time but your future self is going to thank you so much for for putting this effort in.
I know this actually. And it’s actually why I’ll tell you an example. It’s actually why I decided to include this tip in this podcast episode. Because I recently had an experience where I witnessed this firsthand. So, what happened is, I recently ran a promotion for one of my programs, it’s called the One Day closet cleanse, which is my closet decluttering program. So, depending on when you’re listening to this, I ran a sale a week or so ago and it’s something that I usually do a few times a year. Okay. And so, the first time I ever ran the sale, which was a few years ago, it was such a headache. Okay. And without boring you with all the details. There, you know, a little a million little tiny things that I have to do behind the scenes to make sure that everything runs smoothly. And so, the first time I did it, I think it took, I don’t know, like maybe two weeks to get everything prepped. And it wasn’t just like the two weeks of the prep work.
At the time, there was so much mental drama. Okay, I had a lot of those. These moments, I don’t know if they sound familiar too it’s like, I’m so busy. I’m so stressed. I have so much to do. But I have no idea of what to do next. Right? If you know what I mean, it was just paralyzing sometimes and just so draining energetically. So much, so that was like such a horrible experience that actually took me over a year to work up the energy to run another sale after that one. But eventually I did and then the next time I ran it, it still took me two weeks to prep more or less. But that time I had the foresight to record step by step, everything that I did. Okay, so then the next time I ran the sale, I used those notes to guide me and obviously it was so much better. I think at that time, it still took me I don’t know, like a week or so to get ready but it was less overwhelming and there was much I don’t think I had as many I should say fewer meltdowns, which was a bit of a miracle. Okay, so you can see how that saved me time. But I’ll tell you that I ran the sale two more times after that. And every time I would update my notes, right.
So, I would refine things. So, if there was anything that I had to do no matter how small if it wasn’t already the list, I would just add it on there. Okay, so my, my system just got more and more detailed and the results are. So, if you think about it, the first time was two weeks with meltdowns. Second time was two weeks with some meltdowns still, first time. Then after that it was one week with almost no meltdowns. The next time after that, it only took me five hours to do prep work and then the most recent time, it took me less than two hours, and it was a breeze. Okay. And so, I went from two weeks of work with lots and lots of stress to less than two hours of my time. Okay. And so yeah, it took a bit of effort to set up in the first place and trust me, my brain was saying, you don’t have the time to do this but it has been so worth it.
So, I encourage you to think outside the box for how you can use systems just like this to make every aspect of your life simpler. Okay, so it doesn’t have to be complicated. Remember, I was saying, like I was packing the nappy bag, not a fancy, you know, work system, but it doesn’t matter. The point is that it’s really just about decreasing your mental load, anything that you can get out of your mind and onto paper, so that you don’t have to worry about it so much. Oh, my goodness, it’s just it’s always worth it, right? Because there’s so much stress, and there’s so much overwhelm in our lives and so, anything we can do to reduce it is worth doing. Okay.
So that’s good. I was getting pretty long now. Sorry, I always have a lot to say on the topic of simplifying but I’ve one more tip for you and here it is. Always learn from your clutter. Okay, so first, I just want to point out the clutter can be anything in our lives. So yeah, it could be something you know, like a sweater physical stuff is what we usually think of when we hear the word clutter but it could also be something like an activity like a meeting or club or just something that you do on a regular basis, or even even like a friendship or relationship. And obviously, I wouldn’t use the word clutter to refer to a person. But just like for the point of this discussion, just keep in mind that but I guess I’m talking about anything that you might need to let go of because it no longer has a place in your life. Okay.
So, building on that as we go through our lives, we’re going to let go of things, okay, you’re going to declutter a pair of shoes, you never wear, you’re going to leave a job for whatever reason and move on to a new one. Or, as I said, you’re going to end a relationship, right? Whether it’s romantic or a friendship, or whatever. The point is that we have these things that we let go off and what I’m suggesting is that we become more intentional about learning from these experiences.
Okay, so a really, really simple example, just to keep it as simple as simple as possible, right to get started is, let’s think about you decluttering, a pair of shoes. Before you let go. Ask yourself, why why are you decluttering the shoes? Is the heel too high? Does the color not go with anything you own was the brand of the shoe was at you know, poor quality and it fell apart or it was really uncomfortable. Realistically, there’s a million possibilities, right? And you could have more than one reason for wanting to let go and like this isn’t a school assignment, the point isn’t that you have to get all the answers, right. But if you can identify at least one reason why that shoe didn’t work for you like why you don’t want to keep it in your life then what happens? Well, you can create boundaries for the future. For example, you declutter the shoe, let’s say because it’s suede, and it gets damaged too easily. Right? I don’t actually know too much about slides. I’m just making this up. But let’s assume that that’s true. What happens is you can take that information and you can build on it and set no boundaries for yourself. So, in the future, you just don’t buy suede shoes. Right? Super, super simple, but powerful.
Okay, so think about how you can apply this over and over to everything in your life. I mean, this is just how you create healthy boundaries, right? It’s a really good method for creating boundaries, you learn what you can and can’t tolerate and then you set yourself up for success in the future. Yet, again, it’s obvious, right? But so often, we aren’t doing it because we’re just, I think we’re just so used to going through the motions. Okay, so going back to the idea with the shoes, perhaps we’ve just gotten used, and this is my personal experience, to be honest, is that we just kind of get used to the idea that it’s normal to buy things and then just get rid of them and then buy something else. Right. That’s just what we do. So, you know, it’s almost embarrassing to think this way, but like shopping was just such this throwaway activity for me. And so, I never really thought that I could be more intentional about it. Okay.
And really, if I’m digging deep here, you know, the same thing goes with relationships. When I was much, much younger, I went through a series of really, I would say not the best relationships. And while they weren’t, I don’t really want to go into all the details here, what I can say is that I got into the habit of making the same mistakes over and over again. Okay, so again, I was just sort of going through life one foot in front of the other, never really thinking about what I wanted just, you know, I think what it was and I think that this is really common. And so, we just sort of assumed that I gut will just know when I gut will just lead us through life.
But honestly, I think it’s just too much. I mean, we, we live in a world now, where there is information overload, right. So, there’s so many consumer options, so many, you know, mixed messages on everything. There’s blogs, there’s podcasts, or social media, that’s the news, etc, etc, right. And of course, in many ways, that’s a gift but at the same time, I think we need boundaries and structure to help us not to create unnecessary rules or restrictions, but to help tune out the noise. Okay. And I guess that’s what I mean, when I talk about simplifying your life there’s just so much coming at us from all angles, and it’s overwhelming.
But what I hope is that these tips, I’ll just recap them. So, it’s about challenging your assumptions, creating detailed written systems for any repeatable tasks and learning and reflecting on our clutter. Just learning from what we let go and how we can create boundaries in the future. These kinds of hacks I don’t know what to call them tips, I guess. If you practice them on a regular basis, what it does is it kind of helps you peel back some of that physical and mental load that might be weighing you down.
Okay, so that was a big one. Thank you for sticking with me. I know it was a bit heavy, but I appreciate you all. That’s all for today. You have a good one, and I’ll talk to you soon. Bye
Thank you for listening to The Simply and Fiercely Show. If you want to learn more, you can download my free mindful decluttering guide and learn all the secrets that helped me go from shopaholic to minimalist all you need to do is visit simplyfiercely.com/freeguide that’s all one word to get instant access. Until next time, thanks again.