“I just don’t have time…”
Does this phrase sound familiar? I hear it all of the time from other moms who desire to pursue their passion or start a side business. I am even guilty of saying this phrase too many times as well.
In many cases, we do have the time, but we just don’t realize it because our lives are too complicated. Think about it. If you could simplify meal prep time, cleaning, exercise, and other must-do areas of your life, those saved minutes could add up and give you back your time. Here are my top 10 tips to simplify your life and find time to pursue your passion or side hustle.
1. Set Your Priorities
I talked about this last week, and I will talk about it again. It is crucial to define your priorities in life. I say that exercising and reading my Bible are important to me, but I don’t make the time to do them. It’s not that I don’t have time for them; it’s that I don’t view them as important as they are and don’t make time for them. Ouch! We tell the world what is important to us through how we spend our time.
Check my last post about the priorities pyramid. Make one, then make time for your priorities and push out the activities and time wasters that don’t fit in your priorities (I’m looking at you, pointless Youtube videos).
2. Become a Minimalist
The word “minimalist” is trendy, but I am not encouraging you to become one just out of vanity. I discovered minimalism in 2012 through reading posts and an ebook from The Minimalist Mom. That site and ebook encouraged me to sell and donate 60% of my wardrobe (all things that I did not fit in or look good in), kitchen utensils and dishes I didn’t use, books, baby items and toys I could live without and more.
Getting rid of so much stuff made life so much easier. I ended up doing less laundry, less cleaning and had less stress about my stuff. Even now, with two kids, I try to limit how much we have. Every so often, I look around and realize that the stuff has built up again from generous friends and family members, and I get us back to a simplified state.
The simplest way to get started in minimalizing your life is to go to each room or section of your house and ask yourself how many items do you need to get your job done. For example, I open the kitchen cabinets, “How many plates do we need?” I open the closet, “How many jeans do I need…how many boots do I need?” and so on.
When you are attached to your stuff, it is hard to let it go, but it is worth it. Try just filling up one trash bag a month of unwanted items. As you get rid of stuff, try your best not to let more stuff build up. That means no more Target fun trips!
3. The Three Golden Tasks
When my first daughter was born, I was overwhelmed all the time. I did not know how to manage my time, and I always had huge lists of things to do. Since I was so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I had to do, I got nothing done at all. It was a big, unproductive, stress cycle.
I realized that I just had to define the top three tasks that I needed to get done that day, and that if I just got those things done, I would have accomplished something. Simplifying my to-do list helped the stress melt away, and I started getting more done each day.
I used the same strategy when my second daughter was born. My three golden tasks each day for the first two weeks of newborn life were, “Get the dishes done, do one load of laundry, clean up the main living area”. I know that seems so simple, but this kept my house clean, and I truly enjoyed the first few weeks of being a mama of two.
4. Simplify Work
As a freelancer, work never ends. This is probably true for every career out there since there is always something to be done. If you simply try to knock off all the tasks on your to-do list, you’ll never get everything done, and worse yet, you’ll never get the important stuff done. Focus on the essential tasks and eliminate the rest.
I also like to establish clear work and off hours to eliminate mom guilt. My girls know that my work hours will come to an end and there will be plenty of time to play with them during the day. Designate certain times for checking email and social media accounts too to further avoid work life from blending into personal life.
5. Just Say No
I don’t know if it is just because moms feel like they have to balance it all or if it is because we are more prone to be people pleasers, but we take on way too much. One of the best books I read on this is The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. She says, “Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less.”
6. Simplify Meal Plans
Meal prep can cause so much stress in a family because it can take a lot of energy and financial resources. The key is to find something that works for you. I have used and loved several methods to simplify my meal prepping, including:
- Making freezer meals and crock pot meals
- Finding free shopping lists and plans online – Dinner Daily has free sample lists
- Using HelloFresh
- Rotating the same 10-15 meals
- Serving very simple meals for kids, i.e. fruit and veggie trays with yogurt
7. Wake Up Earlier
Waking up early is hard, especially if you have to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to make sure you are up before your kids. However, when you start the day on your terms rather than having your kids wake you up, you will be in a better mood and get more done. Even if I just wake up an hour before the kids to read my Bible, drink coffee and get ready, I tackle more tasks and am a more positive mommy those days.
8. Simplify Your Get-Ready Routine
With the help of several quick Youtube make-up routines and hair routines, I can pull myself together in less than 10 minutes. My hair is either a hit or miss because it is so kinky. I try to straighten and put big curls in it twice a week, using dry shampoo to extend the style several days.
Clothing is a huge problem for me. I don’t love my shape after two kids and don’t want to waste time trying on clothes each morning. I bought several comfortable black shirts and two pairs of dark jeans with a lot of Spandex built in. This has helped speed up the process, and I can throw on a patterned wrap or a sparkly necklace to change up my look. This might not be for fashionista mamas out there, but it has taken a chunk of stress out of my morning routine.
9. Streamline Your Housework
Housework never ends! One moment you think you are ahead and the next moment you are drowning. Getting rid of items and minimizing what was in our house helped a lot. Some other things that have helped me stay on top of housework include:
- Making my bed first thing in the morning
- Wiping down the bathrooms quickly each day
- Running the dishwasher at night and unloading in the morning
- Committing to one load of laundry a day, nothing less or more, even if the laundry is piled up
- Doing a power hour two to three times a week – I learned from StyleMomXO on Youtube
- Having the rule, if it takes more than five minutes to clean up an area, then there are too many things happening in that area. This means, putting some toys in storage or getting rid of clutter in an area.
- Using my Roomba – worth every penny! It keeps my carpet and tile floor in check
10. Simplify Your Budget
I am a finance writer, so I am expected to have some type of complicated budget system. I love budgets and planning, but I don’t love keeping meticulous detail of everything I spend. Instead, I use Jordan Page’s super simple budgeting technique. Basically, with Jordan’s advice, I commit to spending $100 each week on groceries and try to do a no-spend week each month. It is a challenge but so helpful.
I can’t help it. I just love when life is simple. Not live on a farm simple, but simple enough where money stresses, family drama and to-do lists don’t run my life.
How do you simplify your life?