6 Ways to Live Simpler

06/26/2015 11:12 am ET | Updated Jun 26, 2016
Marco Maccarini via Getty Images

My Monday went like this.

I mapped out an entire day of writing and editing, planning and getting a project completed. It was going to be a busy day, and I was at my desk at 6 a.m. getting the first tasks completed. The morning zoomed by and I took a break for lunch. And as I was putting my dishes away, the phone rang. My sister called and wanted to talk. Two and a half hours later, we said our goodbyes.

The old me would have stressed. "Yikes, now I'll be working late into the evening trying to get my plans completed."

The new me had a different attitude. "I'm so happy I got to spend time with my sister." I checked email for burning issues, turned off my computer and closed up for the day.

Frankly, I like the new me a whole lot better.

I remember the days of feeling like I had more to do than could ever get done. I remember scheduling far more for my days than I realistically could complete in a week. And I remember the stress that came with it. So I slowed down. I live simpler. And it's made all the difference.

A simpler life doesn't mean one with less in it. It means giving yourself more space to get to what truly matters. It means living without the noise that comes along with putting yourself in overdrive. It means finding joy with every thing you do, not just with the thought of large wins.

How did I do it?

Live with less, appreciate more
We all have too much stuff. It comes with living in a consumer-based world. Three years ago when my husband and I sold off our suburban home and got rid of two-thirds of our stuff, we no longer looked at stuff in the same manner. It felt good to get rid of stuff. But it did something else. It made me question every purchase I make. And it's allowed me to enjoy the things I do have in a new way. I make do. I find hacks for the things that need to get done. And if I currently have something in my possession, I use it on a regular basis. I appreciate what impact it has in my life.

Live deliberately
What is the best use of your time? What should you be doing right now? Are you living on autopilot, or do you consciously live each day doing what is best for you? It's easy to fall into the autopilot routine. But autopilot doesn't allow you to discover who you really are, nor does it give you the space to do what is best for you. If you don't know what is the best use of your time for today, maybe it's time to sit down and determine what is.

Live in the moment
A few months ago, we had a family dinner at a local restaurant. I'm talking about a large, extended family dinner, with people of all ages. There was a lot of talking, sharing, laughing, and moving around as we spent a couple of hours in each other's company. At the table next to us sat a mom and a daughter, each with a cell phone in hand. They sat down, ordered, consumed their meal and left, all without speaking a word to one another. My daughter noticed; she said, "how sad." I agree. When you live in the moment, you enjoy what is happening without escaping to an outside place. You stay focused in the present to enjoy the beauty of what is around you, in the presence of who you are with.

Live by standing still
Have you ever spent time with a person that over-commits to activities and experiences? It's a draining experience as you run from one place to another, often late because there is very little time to spare. Unfortunately for many people, that becomes a way of life. Not only can over-committing to activities leave you drained emotionally, it can drain your energy as well. There's a Zen proverb that says, "Everyone should meditate 20 minutes per day. If you're too busy, you should sit for an hour." Standing still teaches us to be calm with ourselves, to relax, and to enjoy just being. Make sure you have standing still time every day.

Live with meaningful relationships
People bring different things into our lives. We're born within a family. We develop friendships over time. And while each relationship has the potential to help build us into who we are meant to be, it can just as easily prevent us from doing all we can. Strive to spend time with those that turn you into your greatest self. Create your space to include people that motivate you, not hold you back. Be willing to let go of relationships that don't push you to be the best you can be, and spend the time carefully nurturing those closest to you.

Live with what you love
What do you love? What brings you joy? Is your life filled with love and joy? It's not about the big things; it's in the details. And when you carefully plan out the details you enjoy most, they can add up to living your best life. A great cup of tea, a walk with your dog, 30 minutes writing on your novel, flowers on your desk, lunch with a best friend, reading a romance novel, a candlelit dinner -- all of this will have more meaning and be more enjoyable when you implement it into your day.

Remember, life doesn't change all at once; it changes one moment at a time. One change becomes two; two becomes four. Eventually even the things you "have" to do become more enjoyable, all because they are a deliberate part of your life.