Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tips for Simple Living

I'm a big fan of simplifying. As my life is getting ready to kick into high gear (my second work-from-home coding job starts tomorrow), I'm again appreciating being organized, having a schedule, and a routine. As my dad says -make your plan and work your plan.

So tonight, after I'm done working, I'll be cleaning up, hopefully hanging out with a friend or going to the pool and relaxing before my life is absorbed mostly by my 2 jobs later this week.  (Ah - the cost of financial freedom.)

That said, I ran across a list of reminders for simple living. I'd say I live pretty simply, so I figured I'd tweak the list and share my tips:

1: Pay bills immediately.
As long as a bill is hanging out there in the unpaid category, it occupies mental space. If you can't pay it immediately, make a plan to pay it off and stick to the payment schedule. Budget this in so that you'll know how much play money and savings money you have.

2: Cook at home whenever possible.
Keep your life simple and bring food to work. Cook from home. Know what's in your food. When you do this, you'll feel better physicially, which will leave more mental space to make better choices in other aspects of your life.

3: Spend time outdoors EVERYDAY.
Whether it's sunny or overcast, step outside every day to reconnect with nature. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Just sit by the pool. Whatever. Just get outside and be reminded that there is a great big beautiful world out there. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you get in the tunnel vision of your own tiny piece of it.

4: Celebrate your victories.
One thing I am BIG on is celebrating. Celebrate with friends. Celebrate with loved ones. Find a reason to celebrate your accomplishments, big and small. Take in the view from the mountain top - whether that mountain top is getting through work without killing your co-workers, or something bigger like a graduation. Create occasions worth celebrating.

5: Pay in cash.
Identify a personal spending trouble spot and shift to a cash-only policy for toys. This keeps life very simple. If it's not in your wallet, you can't spend it. It's too easy to lose track of things when all you have to do is swipe a card and sign on the dotted line.

6: Save your "petty" change.
If you buy a bottle of wine for $9.19, pay with a $10 bill, then put the 81 cents change directly into your piggy bank or an old glass jar. You'd be surprised how quickly this adds up (and how handy it is when the chips are down). I've lived off my change jar more times than I care to admit - so it's really been a boon!

7: Empty your trash.
Staring into an overflowing waste basket makes you feel bloated, while an empty receptacle signals that your slate has been cleared, and you're ready to move forward. Odd, I know, but it works. Keep the clutter to a minimum and you'll really feel like you have more space (even if it's just a few more inches).

8: Turn on the ceiling fan. Open the windows!
Not only does this keep the heating/cooling bill down, but getting fresh air circulating is so much healthier than sitting in a stuffy, thermostate controlled room.

9: Daydream daily.
Whether it's before bed or on a lunch break, let yourself daydream. It's completely healthy. "My father believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - Alice in Wonderland.

10: Buy used.
It costs less, cuts down on packaging waste, and no one will know the difference. Second-hand or consignment shops are great places to find clothes, kitchen equipment and even furniture.

11: Disconnect AND reconnect.
Take time every day to disconnect from electronics. That means no TV, no Ipod, no computer screen, no cell phone. NOTHING. Even if it's just 15 minutes before bed. Pick up a book. (This and going outside go hand in hand sometimes). Prove that you're not part of the Matrix and can live unplugged. This will open the way for eye-to-eye contact and genuine engagement with other people.

12: Say hello. Make small talk.
Working at home, I don't see people (other than my roomate) on a regular basis. So I make a commitment to get our several times a day. Even if it's just to get a cup of tea, I try to engage and make small talk w/ people around me, or even the cashier. Even just a few minutes, there is a true art to conversation - and you never know when you'll make someone's day.

What are your simple living tips?

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