Do you ever feel like you just have too much? Too much going on, too many trinkets in your house, too many pairs of shoes. Lately, everything in my life has felt so hectic. The clutter tucked away in my closets seems to be cluttering my brain. I've been dealing with this urge to just get rid of everything and start fresh. That's not really feasible, but I'm starting to develop some strategies for simplifying all areas of my life. I think the key is to start with small changes, and tackle one thing at a time.
On simplifying your routine. I've struggled with inattentive ADHD my whole life, but was only diagnosed at age 18. This means that I get easily overwhelmed by my to do list, and have trouble prioritizing tasks. When I have too much to do, I sometimes just shut down, and can't accomplish much of anything. I've recently been doing a lot of research on productivity, and have learned a few ways to cope:
- Make a list. I start every day by making a list, because I'm a visual person, and if I don't write things down, I will probably forget them.
- Once you have your list, pick your top three. You're not going to finish everything on your list in one day. I pick the top three things I want to get done at work, around the house, and on the blog every day. If I can get past them to a few other items, great. If not, I try not to sweat it and get overwhelmed.
- Focus on one thing at a time. Don't try to multitask. I feel tremendous satisfaction in doing something from start to finish and crossing it off of my to-do list for good, instead of starting several projects and not finishing any of them.
- Buy a planner. I'm a chronic double-booker when it comes to plans. I hate saying no to people, and I tend to forget when I've committed to things too far in advance. At the beginning of every week, I write out everything. From what workouts I plan to do on what days, to errands I want to run, to dinner plans with friends. That way, I avoid overbooking myself.
- It's okay to say no. At work or at home, there are some things that I just can't get done. Either because I don't have time, or my brain doesn't work that way. It's also okay to say no to plans, for no other reason than you want to stay home with your dog and catch up on TV. You don't have to do it all.
On simplifying your closet. I'll admit it, I'm a hoarder. I love clothes, and I've spent a lot of money on them over the years. This means that I have a lot of things in my closet that I haven't worn in three years, but I can't bear to part with. But on my quest for simplification, I've started to rid myself of my extraneous possessions, starting with those in my closet. I take a look at everything, and if I haven't worn it in a year or if it brings back bad memories, it's time for it to go. I donate a good bit to Goodwill, but for those pricier items (designer clothes, shoes, and handbags), I've discovered a few ways to recoup my investments:
- ThredUp: I have mixed feelings about ThredUp, but if you're looking for a hassle-free, quick way to get paid for your clothes, this is definitely the service to use. You start by ordering a "Clean Out" bag, which is sent to you free of charge. From there, you review the brands that ThredUp accepts, and fill your bag with your castoffs. ThredUp takes a few weeks to review and process, and then pays you via PayPal. A few things to beware of: 1) ThredUp does not accept clothes more than five years old; 2) Make sure you read carefully about the brands accepted; 3) And finally, ThredUp has meticulous standards for what they will accept. If you're unsure that all of your items will be accepted, order the return assurance. It docks ~$12 off your commission, but that way, any items they don't accept will be returned to you.
- Material Wrld: I had high hopes for Material Wrld for some of my pricier items, but was ultimately disappointed. Material Wrld works much the same way as ThredUp – you order a bag, and fill it with your items. Material Wrld does at least give you an estimate first, and you're free to turn it down and have your items shipped back free of charge. The service is definitely convenient, but I was really disappointed in the payouts (like $16 for a Trina Turk dress), and unlike ThredUp, they pay you in a debit card which can only be used to shop at supported retailers. There are a lot of them (Nordstrom, ShopBop, etc.), but I do prefer getting paid in cash.
- Tradesy: Tradesy would definitely by my recommended choice for ridding yourself of excess couture. You have to be willing to be patient – unlike the services listed above, you hold onto your items and wait for someone to buy them – but you'll earn a lot more for your unwanted clothes, shoes, and bags. With Tradesy, you download an app, which walks you through the process of photographing and listing your items. You set your own prices (although Tradesy will suggest a range for you). Once your items sell and arrive to the buyers, you're typically paid within a few days. A few caveats: 1) Tradesy takes a commission of 9%; 2) If you choose to get paid via PayPal instead of using your funds to shop on the site, there's an additional 2-3% fee. Shop my Tradesy closet here.
On simplifying your diet. I feel so much better when I'm taking care of my body. And for me, that means eating simply. Complicated diets and meal plans don't work for me, and only stress me out. What if I get hungry and overeat? What if I have plans to go out to dinner with friends? Here are the simple ways I've found to stay on track:
- Follow the 80/20 rule. I try to live by the 80/20 rule – meaning that I do my best to make healthy choices 80 percent of the time, and cheat with some of my favorite, less nutritious foods the other 20 percent. Being allowed to indulge sometimes makes me less likely to freak out and binge.
- Eat real food. The simplest way to stay healthy is to eat real, unprocessed foods. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein. Processed foods are full of unhealthy fats and added sugars, leaving me cranky, feeling foggy, and unable to be as productive as possible.
Do you have any strategies for simplifying your life?
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