The Joy of Simplifying and Letting Go

Do you feel like there is too much to do, and not enough time to do it? Do you feel overwhelmed, like you don’t have enough time or space in your life?

Maybe you need to simplify. Maybe you need to let go.
A shaping principle of my life is this: identify the “main things,” and put those in first. In other words, determine what is most important to you. Your family relationships? Your faith? Your job? A particular project? Learning a new skill? Put those main things into your life, and fit the smaller, less important things around those. 
There may be things that are on your To Do List that you may need to let go. Because guess what? We don’t have unlimited time and energy. We have particular units of time (days, weeks, months), and therefore have to choose how we spend that time. 
Last week I did a thorough overhaul of my clothes closet and dresser. I emptied both out completely, and began a process of deciding what to keep and what to let go. I kept only what gave me a sense of joy – clothes that I actually wear, clothes that I truly enjoy. In the end, I had two garbage bags filled with stuff that I gave away. The result was a closet and dresser that were simplified, decluttered, and only contained things worth keeping. 

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.” – Marie Kondo

I believe that same process can be helpful as we think about our tasks and responsibilities. Let’s be thoughtful about what we make time for.

There are all sorts of obligations and errands to do. There is an endless barrage of information, articles, TV shows, and emails that could fill our time. If we’re not mindful, those things could completely overwhelm us and rob us of tending to what really matters.

Each day I have the capacity to do a particular amount of tasks. Today, for instance, my main things are: make a big batch of chili, do 30 minutes of yoga, do work email, write a blog post.

Those are on my To Do List. There are other things that I hope I can do, but may need to let them go (at least for now). For those items, I put them on a Maybe To Do List or a Do Not Do List. These two lists only exist in my mind, but perhaps I really should write them down as a practice of mindfulness. In any case, I need to let go of things that won’t realistically fit into my day. These include take a nap (Maybe To Do…it sounds lovely), read all the articles in Feedly (Do Not Do. In fact, I’d love to declutter Feedly by unsubscribing from a bunch of things), clean the fridge (Maybe To Do…because really, who cares?).

For me, simplifying and letting go is a necessary practice. It allows me to be truly present to what is most important, to experience life with joy and freedom, and to be a good steward of my time and energy.

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