To say we live in a culture of excess is an understatement — and something that's probably abundantly clear to anyone reading this piece. But society's obsession for "more" goes much deeper than just an urge to collect stuff. We're pressured to have excessive houses far too large for us packed with stuff we don't really need, obtain excessively "perfect" bodies, and maintain excessively busy lifestyles. The problem with all of this excess is that ultimately, we're left craving more — feeling burnt out and under-appreciated in spite of our unrelenting efforts.
Part of the beauty of simple living is that it touches all areas of life, not just the amount of stuff you allow yourself to accumulate. It applies to your relationships, your mindset, your diet, your social life. Everything. And while there's much to be said about all of those things, one of the hardest for so many of us to change is our (seemingly) innate glorification of staying busy.
Don't get me wrong, minimalism isn't about sitting on your couch doing nothing in your empty house all day long. It's not about saying no to things you enjoy doing or being "bored" all the time. It is, however, about being mindful with the way you spend your time and if the way you're spending your time isn't really consistent with your "less is more" philosophy, then maybe it's time to downsize your social schedule too.
When your time is filled with endless meetings, play dates, after school activities, extracurriculars, errands, and chores there's no room to simply be. There's no room for self-evaluation, elimination, re-focusing, or simple self care.
Sometimes your job may require you to have a full schedule, or your kids may be filling your calendar with birthday parties, soccer games and field trips, or maybe you're just addicted to being busy, always saying yes and never saying no.
But the danger lies in believing your life is more fulfilled when it's filled to the brim with to-do's. And I believe the heart behind a simple life is one that knows when to say no and just take time to be.
And by "be" I don't mean sitting in a room and meditating instead of going out for coffee with a friend. I mean learning the difference between over-booked and fulfilled.
Here are four ways I've learned to narrow down my "schedule" so that I can focus on the things that I love:
1. Does this event/outing/party bring me joy?
While there are certainly events that are "musts" — like family events, paying bills, business meetings and such. But others are totally optional. Weighing your choices based on the level of happiness vs stress it will bring can be a great way to pick and choose what you do. For example, as an introvert, certain social events put more stress on me than they would someone who is more extraverted. When you do have a choice, make the one that brings less stress to your life, not more.
2. Have I Practiced Self-Care Today?
No matter how packed your schedule is, it's vital that you make time to care for yourself. Be it a hot bath at the end of the day, a trip to a coffee shop to read a good book, or an all out spa day, doing something just for you each day will ensure that the things you do decide to do aren't adding to your exhaustion.
3. Am I Going For The Sake Of Someone Else?
Oftentimes we do something because we're scared of how someone else will react if we don't (or vise versa). Worrying about the opinion of others (whose opinion truly doesn't matter to you) is not only unneeded stress, but it adds complications to your life.
4. If it's a "must do", how can I simplify elsewhere to ensure I'm not over-booked?
Making sure to carve in some downtime in your day, no matter how busy, will help you from getting too busy.
Is being constantly busy something you struggle with? What's something you can do to bring more simplicity to your schedule?