I've spent the majority of the last two years living on a boat. Life on a sailboat has required me to think about what I actually need to be happy in life.
I discovered that having less stuff, fewer obligations, and more time makes room for the most important things. I have more space in my life for people I love, things I appreciate, and opportunities I want to take.
And while living on a boat has lots of benefits, it definitely isn't for everyone. But no matter where you live or what you do, you can take steps to simplify your life.
Here's why simplifying your life is important—everything in your life takes up space. Whether it's mental space, physical space, or calendar space, you only have so much room.
Everything you own, everything you do, and everyone you spend time with costs you something. And when you have an abundance of stuff, it costs you a lot.
Simplifying your life will give you more time, space, and energy. The more space you have, the freer you'll be to truly enjoy everything. Here are five ways to simplify every area of your life.
1. Declutter your house.
Your environment affects how you feel physically and psychologically. Whether you waste time looking for misplaced items, or you grow overwhelmed every time you open your closet, having too much stuff wastes your resources.
A clean, organized space helps you feel more productive and energetic than when you're living among heaps of clothes, stacks of papers, and piles of dishes.
When you have fewer items to worry about, you'll feel lighter. You'll also have the energy to care for the items that you keep. Start decluttering one room at a time, and see for yourself how much better you feel when you get rid of things you don't need.
2. Get rid of bad mental habits.
Bad mental habits carry a lot of psychological weight. Feeling sorry for yourself, dwelling on the past, and giving away your power are just a few of the unhealthy habits that will drain your mental strength.
When you catch yourself engaging in toxic thinking habits, take a deep breath, remind yourself it's not helpful, and proactively conjure up a more realistic inner dialogue.
3. Cut out toxic people.
Whether you have a friend who finds a problem for every solution or a cousin who calls every day to complain about how unfair the world is, negative people can take up a lot of space in your life.
While you shouldn't cut people out of your life just because they're going through hard times, setting healthy boundaries is important.
Even if you don't spend much time together physically, the time you might invest into dreading a visit, combined with the time it takes to calm down after the visit, can take a toll.
Sometimes, the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for someone else is to say no or sever ties altogether. Cutting out toxic people frees up space for those who matter most in your life.
4. Take charge of your money.
It doesn't matter how much money you have. If you're not taking control of your financial situation, money will occupy too much space in your life.
Commit to taking charge of your money. Create a budget and establish clear goals, and your financial decisions will become much simpler.
You'll spend less time, effort, and energy thinking about money once you've taken control of your income. There's a sense of peace that comes with financial freedom.
5. Gain control of your time.
You can never earn more time. It's your most valuable resource. Yet, it's easy to waste time complaining, mindlessly scrolling through social media, or waiting for things to happen.
Don't go through life being busy and passing time. Stop doing things that are wasting your precious minutes. Schedule time to do the things that matter most.
But don't focus on doing—set aside some time for just being. Go for a walk, play with the kids, watch a sunset, and be in the moment.
Life is complicated sometimes, and simplifying things can feel overwhelming—which, of course, is exactly the opposite of what simplifying your life is all about. But you don't have to change everything at once.
Start subtracting one thing from your life every day. Get rid of some clutter, clear some mental space, carve an hour into your calendar—make some room somewhere so you can feel lighter and freer.
The less you own, the less you have, and the less time you invest into things you don't want to do, the simpler life becomes. And there's a lot to be said for fully enjoying life's simplest pleasures to their fullest.