5 Tips to Create a Simple, Intentional Life

How to live a simple, intentional life.

Are you longing for a simple, intentional life? Many people - maybe even most people - long for a simpler life. If simple living is your goal, read on...

How to create a simple, intentional life you'll love

The older I get, the more I crave a quiet, simple life with less distraction and more satisfaction.

Less clutter, less frustration. More time, more energy.

Less stress.

Ah yes, stress. I think that's one of the top reasons people want to live a simpler life: to have less stress.

A simple life looks different to every person

People are different; the "simple life" will look different to you than it does to me. And what causes stress in one person might not create the same reaction in another. Regardless of the cause though, stress gets to us all.

If you're like me and want to lessen the stress in your life and live in a simpler, more intentional, purposeful way, let's make some changes.

Along the way, let's identify the situations that cause the most stress and the things that are the most important to us, so we can create that simple life we crave.

Step One: How to reduce stress in your life

Do you ever wake up at 4:00 in the morning with your head spinning? So many things to do and to remember! My solution to this is what's called a brain dump.

It's my #1 way to deal with stress, get things done, and identify what needs to change in my life. You might benefit from a brain dump too. You can do this as often as you need to or want to. It's easy (although you might have to get up in the dark and write by the light of a flashlight if you wake up at 4:00 am).

Find something to write on, and write on it. Don't try to categorize your thoughts, just write down everything in your head. Deadlines, worries, dreams, possibilities, things to do, things you want to do, things you don't want to do.

You might fill a whole page - or more than a page. Some of the items are mundane and others might be causing you major stress, but when you write them all down, they all have the same importance.

When your thoughts finally slow down and stop, sort the list into categories. Use a new piece of paper and write down a shopping list, a to-do list, a list of dates to write on your calendar, phone calls to make, and so on.

Now make a plan to get those things done! Write them on your calendar or in your planner. Make those phone calls, buy those things, make a plan to reach those goals.

There may be a few items left on your list that don't seem to fit anywhere, or that you can't do anything about. Maybe it's an emotion, a worry, a regret, a feeling of rejection.

Sometimes these items cause us more stress than an impending deadline. We might push it to the back of our mind, lock it away and try to ignore it, but eventually it can escape that lockbox and float to the forefront of our mind again.

Accepting the things we cannot change might be central to living a happy life. At least I think so. Acceptance and forgiveness can be difficult, but they are important, even when the person that needs to be forgiven is myself.

5 tips to create a simpler life.

Step Two: Create Margin

We all know that the margin of a printed page is the white space around the edges. It's the "extra," the buffer zone, the boundary between the printed words and the edge of the page. 

Imagine if the words and letters ran right to the edges of the paper. That would be confusing indeed, and very hard to read.

Our lives need margin too, extra "space" that makes life easier. A life without margin jumbles everything together. There are no clear boundaries around our money, our time, our activities, our relationships. Nothing is given more importance; it all runs together.

Instead, create margin in your life. Decide what's most important and what isn't important, and spend your time accordingly. Allow yourself some "white space."

  • Get up early so you're not rushed in the morning
  • Go to bed early so you get enough sleep
  • Decide what you'll wear the night before
  • Allow plenty of time to move from one activity to another
  • Don't overbook yourself; you can't be in two places at one time
  • Say no to things that aren't important
  • Make your relationships a priority

Create margin in your finances too.

While being debt-free is the ultimate goal of many who yearn for a simple life, we'll never be without bills. While they're not considered "debt," bills such as insurance, utilities and other recurring payments will always be with us.

Make a budget. Spend less than you make. Set money aside from every paycheck, even if it's just five dollars. Save up for things you really want - and for life's inevitable emergencies.

Five suggestions to help you live a simple life.

Step Three: Reduce the noise

Noise isn't just what we hear with our ears. Visual noise can be just as distracting and distressing as sound.

While I'm not a minimalist (and probably never will be), I try to keep the clutter in our home to a minimum.

Even if you love your stuff, if you find yourself more stressed than usual, try putting away the excess for a season and see if it helps calm your spirit to live in a less-cluttered space. You can always add your favorite items back to your decor later.

Turn off your smart phone notifications. You don't really need to know every time a new email hits your inbox. They'll wait until you're ready to read them and reply.

You can turn off notifications for each app you use, turn off the sound, or set your phone on "do not disturb." I love the DND function. Not only does it temporarily turn off notifications, my phone won't recognize calls or texts from numbers that aren't in my Contacts (like those obnoxious robo-calls).

Rest assured, calls and texts from your Contacts will still ring and ding when you're in Do Not Disturb mode.

Silence is good for us, even though some folks are more comfortable with it than others. Personally I crave a good dose of silence every day, and I'm happy with solitude too. If you're not, try spending just a few minutes a day in quiet reflection. It's so good for your soul. Which brings me to the next tip...

These five tips will help you live a more intentional, simple life.

Step Four: Be thankful

Gratitude is another cornerstone of a simple life. Be thankful for the roof over your head, enough food to eat, the people you share your life with. Gratitude helps you be content with what you have, which means you don't crave "more," which helps you stick with that new budget you made.

Be thankful for the dirty dishes that mean you have food to eat. Be thankful for laundry that means you have clothing to wear. Dog hair in the corners of your home? I bet you love that dog, right? Sweep it up and be thankful for your pet's love and companionship.

Spend a few minutes outside each day. Smell the roses. Watch the butterflies. Listen to the birds sing. Feel the wind on your face and smell the freshly-mowed grass.

There is always something to be grateful for.

Here's why I'm thankful for a simple life.

Each day write down one thing you're thankful for, something that made an impression on you, that made you smile or that tugged at your heart.

I truly think that the key to a happy, intentional, simple life is being thankful.

On Sundays I share some of the simple things I'm thankful for, that have made me smile in the past week. 

How to live a simple life.

Step Five: Allow yourself to be YOU

Don't underestimate creativity. Make time for a hobby: paint, craft, knit. Learn how to play an instrument, how to letter, how to quilt.

Think you're not creative? I think reading and listening to music are creative pursuits too. They restore your soul, and stretch your imagination. Go ahead, sing along with the music.

Accept an offer to do something fun, even if it means changing your house-cleaning day from Saturday to Monday. True, I suggested that you learn how to say no... but you also need to allow yourself to say yes to things that make you happy, with people you love.

Be flexible. Have fun. Make memories. Be spontaneous.

Be you!

How to live a simple, intentional life.

Create a simple, intentional life that makes you happy. 

Simple living isn't about self-denial. It isn't necessarily about minimalism, although if that's what makes you happy, go ahead! Simple living is about removing the distractions from your life, the things that prevent you from living your best life.

Then replace those distractions with the things that matter most to you.

Go ahead. Give it a try.

Create a simple life with these 5 tips!   #simpleliving #reducestress

Do you want to live a simple life? These six tips will help you create a simple, intentional life you love!

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