The reason I started this blog with the name, Simpler And Smarter, is because I’m always striving to make my life easier. With three kids, my own business and just life, it’s really hard not to end every day exhausted.
I’m always looking for ways to make our life simpler.
With this goal, I decided to reach out to some of my blogging friends and find out their best tips for living simpler and smarter – here they are!
#1 – Spend Time in with Nature
Stop spending so much of your time consuming. Shopping malls and supermarkets are places that were built to inspire excessive consumption. Use your time more consciously.
Instead, go outside and play in nature. Your lungs will thank you for the fresh air being provided and your mind will naturally be more still. Being close to rivers, trees, mountains or coastlines helps us to find balance and stillness. It sets the tone to help us connect within and connect with the world around us.
Living a simpler life is currently one of my main goals – and currently it feels a bit far off if I’m honest. Life is racing along at an incredible pace, but I’m scared to jump off, lest I break something – or myself! The irony is that living life at this pace is indeed going to break me in the end. I need to find more ways to slow down.
A realisation for me recently was how relaxing, and ultimately re-energising, time in nature is. To live a simpler life I need to prioritise spending time in places that reset and restore my soul.
An annual camping trip is one of the ways I manage to do this as our favourite campsite is out of signal range with no access to phone or laptop. Best yet I have no obligations to write about it (as a travel blogger this is HUGE!).
Now I just need to find a way to bring more of this into my everyday. Or at least my every week. A weekend walk on the beach or hike in the forest seems like a good place to start!
We moved into a small rental flat while we were building our new house. The process took way longer than we anticipated – 3 years in fact. We had put stuff in storage but then decided to just get rid of it.
We figured that if we didn’t even remember (or miss) any of the stuff in storage, then we really didn’t need it. We have never regretted that decision because we have so much less clutter in our new home!
We simplified our life by downsizing our house to a small 2 bedroom duplex when we were pregnant with our second child. After travelling overseas for an extended period, we knew two things – we didn’t need much stuff, and we definitely needed more travel.
Downsizing solved both those issues as we were forced to declutter and now have almost no storage so we can’t buy anything new. We almost halved our expenses as a result and have since paid off our smaller mortgage completely, leaving ample funds for travel.
We went full minimalist with the second baby, using what we had from Baby 1 or what we were gifted from others. But he’s a happy kid, with 12 countries under his belt at two years old, so we think we might be on to something.
Hanging on to the old complex worlds; of corporate, friends, family and possessions meant that our life was not simple.
We craved for more time, money, things, food, and holidays. We had very little time in that world and on our treadmill. We filled it up with more stuff but it was not living. We stopped and looked at what we were doing and how we could let go of the current world.
So when our adult sons left the nest we downsized our family home in the Northern Beaches Sydney to a 2-bedroom rental unit. Life became simpler when we downsized from our rental unit to a life on the road with an Osprey Carry On.
Finally, we let go of our corporate roles, we let go of all our possessions. We are in transition to retirement and live our life by our motto ‘chase time not money’. We have learnt it is cheaper to travel abroad than to sit on the sofa in our hometown. We are giving back to ourselves. We travel slowly and live life simpler with more time.
The best way for us to live a simpler life was to cut down on the number of things we had. It wasn’t easy and it was a very slow and gradual thing.
From having a house full of stuff that overflowed from every corner, we went to live out of a backpack for each person. We spend less money on things, less time on cleaning and tidying up, and we have so much more time to enjoy ourselves and the things we actually have!
We’re now in the process of returning to a ‘normal’ life but we’re a lot more conscious about each little purchase we make and it’s been great!
To live a simpler life, we sold our house, sold or gave away 95% of our belongings and packed the rest away into a tiny 1.5m x 1.5m storage shed before moving to Daejeon, South Korea with our then 3-year-old son.
Our life here is so much simpler and less expensive than it was in Melbourne and we’re getting ahead financially for the first time since our son was born and I quit full-time work.
My husband is Korean, so that helps in terms of the language barrier and a visa for me and access to government services like healthcare and daycare. We live in a compact 3-bedroom apartment in a small town. And the second drawer in my kitchen exactly has one pair of tongs, one spatula, one serving spoon, one soup ladle, a set of oven mitts and one spare kitchen towel.
A few years after my husband and I got married, we sold our two older cars and bought one brand new one. We assumed we’d buy a second car a few years down the road but we quickly discovered how much only having one car simplified our lives!
For the past 14 years, we’ve loved only having one insurance payment, saving money on gas, and only having to maintain one vehicle. When we bought our house we chose one that’s both on a bus line and biking distance to campus, just so we could stick to one car.
If my husband ever needs to drive somewhere during the workday he uses the campus car-share program, and since I work from home, I only use the car here and there. These days we typically only use our car on the weekends. We love it!
We have simplified our life by choosing to live a slower paced life in country Victoria, Australia. Living in Melbourne for 4 years was a fantastic time of my life but I often felt overwhelmed with the choices and hectic pace of a large city.
We made a decision to enjoy a family life that included not sitting in gridlock traffic, access to smaller schools and a great community culture. We climb mountains on the weekend, roast marshmallows in our very own fire pit and have kangaroos and emus wandering around our backyard making it a lovely place to raise children.
The space that we enjoy would not be attainable if we lived in a large city as the prices are so expensive for land. Our simple life is not for everyone but suits us perfectly.
When are you going to get a bigger house? Isn’t it time you upgraded the old commodore?
These are things that are constantly said to us but they are not high priorities for us. We live in a small town in Gippsland Victoria and for us it is a brilliant base for our family.
We believe that not having a huge house with a huge mortgage not only helps us live a simpler life, it helps us save money to do more of what we love… travel. Our repayments are small as well as our bills. It does not cost an extraordinary amount to heat or cool the house, it also takes a minimal amount of time to clean!
Next door has just bought a 4WD big enough to use in front line combat. Three doors down the street have just spent $80k on a new verandah. Your friends have had their swimming pool extended. All this could make you succumb to peer pressure and splash out to keep up with the Joneses in some way.
Then again, you can avoid all this and stop comparing yourselves with others. We made a conscious choice to disregard the marketing of companies telling us we needed this or that to be happy. We actually need very little to be happy, and getting off the comparison treadmill has given us tremendous freedom and made life so much simpler.
Years ago, we did the “ultimate downsize” to one large suitcase and one carry on each in order to go nomadic for four years.
This kind of minimalism is a mindset we grew into, and grew to love. Then, when I had a medical emergency and needed to go back to the US, we had to abandon most of our luggage in Central America. So we arrived in the Minnesota snow with flip-flops and a carry-on suitcase of tropical clothing each. This is the epitome of starting from scratch.
Already, I am very nervous in “regular” American homes and look at all of the accumulation of stuff. It’s almost obscene. And it has been easy to get sucked in to a buying mindset with the abundance of retail just waiting to help me reacquire my wardrobe.
While we have yet to make a decision about reestablishing a base, if we do it will likely be a small house or one bedroom apartment. I just don’t want more.
Our family is used to having both parents working full-time but right now as we live overseas as expats, only my husband is working. This has completely simplified life for us with our three kids.
I actually feel like I have time to get everything done and don’t feel rushed nearly as much as I used to. Meal time is not a scramble anymore, I don’t have to choose between time at the gym and time with the kids and our house runs much smoother now.
I know it is a privilege to be able to live like this and it isn’t permanent, but I am enjoying it while I can.
This may sound crazy, but we’ve simplified our family’s life tremendously by going traveling for the year!
We only have what will fit into our travel backpacks so there’s much less to tidy and wash. Our schedule is our own every single day with rare outside commitments – sorry, youth sports and PTA meetings!
There are so many trappings of a traditional stationary life that made it very stressful for us and we’re thrilled to be rid of them. Now we can just focus on what’s important, which is spending quality time together.
I highly recommend a nomadic family gap year to (at least temporarily) simplify your family’s life!
After spending five years stressing about where our lives were going and feeling unhappy, my husband and I finally let go of our fears and decided to move our family from the UK to Australia. It meant letting go of jobs, houses and belongings, and saying goodbye to friends and family. We had to leave behind everything that made our lives safe and easy.
We found it so freeing to let go and move forward – even though it was scary and emotional. It felt as if so many things had been tying us down and making us feel stuck. In reality, we had chosen to stay trapped for so long. Moving abroad reminded us that the world was our oyster and we could do whatever we wanted to. The only things limiting ourselves was us!
Moving to another country allowed us to live simpler. In France, where we now live, life moves with the seasons. The French respect work/life balance a lot more, and family life takes centre-stage.
It can be somewhat frustrating at first, but it forces you to live at a slower pace and you soon come to respect the benefits. The move away from New Zealand also made us take the big step of quitting our jobs and working for ourselves – which means we can now mould our work around our lives and not the other way around!
Whilst this is still a work in progress for me, I have consciously made the decision to learn to say no to things that I simply don’t have time for. Whether that be helping out at school, going to events I have no interest in or anything else that I simply don’t have time for. I am not talking about work requests or things we just must do in life, but all those other requests that seem to come hand and hand with being a mother or just an all-round people pleaser.
I have learned that when asked to do something don’t just automatically respond with a yes or even a no. Take a day or two and consider whether you want to do it, whether you realistically have the time to do it and if doing it will cause you any unnecessary stress.
Of course the next tip is if you do say no, say that no with pride and don’t feel one bit guilty about it! Yep still working on that one!
So much of life today is lived in front of a screen be it a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop or a television. In an effort to simplify our lives and focus more on the most important parts we ditched our television!
Gone are the hours spent mindlessly staring at the screen. They’ve been replaced with family time, conversations, evening walks and time spent focusing on achieving our goals. Without the distraction and intrusion of the constant flow of information, our mindset and productivity have improved endlessly plus there’s also the added bonus of saving money.
It’s been a win/win situation for us and we’ve never looked back!