Make Simplifying Pain-free with This Easy Trick

Crowd out the bad habits with good ones

Photo by Joy Real on Unsplash

Minimalism can be so negative: “Get rid of this. Cut out that. Say no, no no.”

The whole endeavor can breed cynicism about simplifying. People hear all the things they should do without, and it just sounds like preaching deprivation.

Rightfully, they wonder “Why? Why should I even bother? It doesn’t sound like the end result is worth the effort and heartache.”

But simplifying isn’t about all the things you should do without. Simplifying is about having space for what you love when you stop focusing on what you don’t.

The end result is definitely worth the effort, and the journey doesn’t have to be a negative one.

My aha! moment

My days are filled with so many “must-do” activities, and I wondered how others made time for the things they loved.

I was seriously baffled. How did they write and volunteer and create when all I was doing was the dishes and the laundry and commuting to and from work?

How on earth could they take their kids to soccer games and birthday parties and other fun things? I have been a single mom for a long time, and now I have a fiancé, but he’s in another town, so most of the childcare still falls to me. Even that didn’t make a difference to my other single-mom friends. They were able to do all this stuff too. What was I doing wrong?

It dawned on me after hearing Brooke over at Slow Your Home talk about this: People were doing the important stuff first. Like, the really important stuff. The stuff that matters.

You know when you hear something so simple and you wonder why you couldn’t figure it out yourself? Yeah, that happened.

We all know it can be hard work to cut things out, but as so many of our homes attest, it’s not so hard to fill up. So, instead of focusing on cutting out the negative, try filling up with the positive. It’s kind of like eating dessert first. And the good thing is, it’s so gradual, you won’t realize that all the good stuff has crowded out all the unnecessary stuff that you would have gotten rid of anyway. It’s virtually painless.

Putting it into practice

I decided to give it a shot with writing.

I got up earlier in the morning and dedicated that early time solely to writing. I put the phone away, didn’t check Facebook or Twitter, ignored the dishes, left the laundry, and just worked. I knew I only had an hour before having to get ready for work, so I made the most of it. And you know what?

It works!

Seriously. Who knew?

The house didn’t fall apart, and I felt better — more refreshed with having done what I love, and certainly not at all deprived. I had actually made time for what I love without “cutting out” anything, and it was pain-free. Well, except for getting up at 5:30 a.m.

You may not need to get up that early to do what you love — I just happen to work better in the morning. The trick is to find some place or some time to sneak your important work in, and then just let it grow and take over.

If you’re going to try filling your time and space first with what you love, you should think about what’s important to you.

Do you want to write? Paint? Spend more time with family? Where and when you work will depend on what you want to do. Once you’ve got that figured out, just reverse what you’ve been doing.

If you’ve been focusing on the little, busywork tasks and not on what you love, try shifting your focus. You’ll figure out what you can do without, and the meaningless will fall by the wayside. It might take a little practice at first, but when you get it, you’ll see how your life fills up almost miraculously with the good stuff.

And you won’t have to ask yourself anymore how other people do it.

How do you focus more on what you love than on busywork?


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A version of this post originally ran on SlowSimpleLife.com.