Pursuing Simplicity Through Routines

Once the closets are cleared and the corners decluttered, it’s easy to let the pursuit of life with less come to a halt. The thing is, especially if you live in a culture that is full of fast fashion and thoughtless consumption, maintaining minimalism and applying those concepts to other things can require just as much effort (if not more) than the original decluttering process. Part of the reason for this is that decluttering is a checklist with a clear, achievable set of goals, whereas maintaining minimalism is more about daily choices to live a simpler life. One of the easiest, most helpful ways to do this (other than staying away from stores and ads) is by establishing daily and weekly routines.

Daily routines for simplicity (and to avoid wanting to pull your hair out)

I know there are already so many books and blogs and videos about why you need a morning routine, but seriously, it is magical. I’m not just talking about brushing your teeth and washing your face, I mean a morning routine that really sets you up for your day in the best possible way, and being able to take your time while doing this. My morning routine includes not only the traditional “getting ready for the day” items, such as brushing teeth and a little makeup, but also things that aid my mental health such as meditation, journaling, and of course, coffee. I also do a few fun learning things that help my brain get up, including a few games on the free Lumosity app for brain training and maintaining my Duolingo streak. The ideal morning routine should have:

  • Something that helps your mental health
  • Something that wakes your brain up
  • Something that you love to do
  • Something that makes you feel cared for
  • Anything you need to feel like you look your best

Feel free to tweak your morning routine each season, removing what isn’t serving you and adding something new! The focus is on what makes you feel centered, calm, and refreshed enough to take on whatever the day has in store.

Another easy place to create routine is each night. For me, night routines usually involve more cleaning that morning routines, because I prefer waking up to a clean house than ending the day with one. Each night I wipe down surfaces and do a quick pick-up of the apartment (if I have the spoons), and make sure any food I prepared is stored properly. I also make sure I do basic hygiene again like skincare and brushing teeth, and do some things to unwind from the day. My current finale to the day is meditation, but again, the focus is on what works for you! The goal of a night routine is to wrap your day up in a bow and make sure you are waking up as well-rested as possible.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about these routines is they are flexible, customizable to your life, and will not happen the same way each and every day. Some days, there will be a family member that needs help, your dog will pee on the floor mid-meditation, you’ll oversleep or fall asleep to early, or something else will happen that will make the routines unsustainable. That’s okay. These routines are not about being perfect or living the perfect life. They are abut cultivating simplicity, reducing decision fatigue, and trying to live your life in the most rest-filled and sustainable way you can. Don’t put the pressure of “perfect routines” on yourself. Do what works for you, when it works for you, and take a few deep breaths when it doesn’t quite go as planned. Part of simplicity is acknowledging that sometimes things will go awry, and its best to just roll with it when they do instead of overcomplicating or overthinking it.

Weekly routines for simplicity

Weekly routines are about so much more than work Monday through Friday and church on Sundays. It’s about making sure what needs to be done, gets done, before it absolutely has to be done whenever possible. My weekly routines are primarily about housework, reassessing my health, and making sure I pick up groceries so we don’t end up eating plain pasta for dinner. I also have certain weekly tasks for my work that I need to get done, and as I work remotely, I count these as part of my minimalist lifestyle and try to keep them as simple and efficient as possible.

Weekly routines to bring simplicity to your life may include:

  • Take-out for dinner each Friday, celebrating another workweek survived
  • Trips to the park each Saturday (free and fun!)
  • A trip to the library to return an old book and check out a new one
  • Listening to a new podcast
  • Grocery shopping
  • A family quick clean of your space
  • A nap
  • A deep condition of your hair or weekly skin treatment
  • A meal with extended family
  • Coffee with a friend

Don’t rush into weekly routines and try to do all of them at once! To start, try picking one to try this week. If you apply one new routine per month, you’ll have it all down pat within a year, and if nothing else, you will have a much better idea of what weekly routines work well for you and which ones you tried and didn’t find helpful. Try to avoid attaching moral judgements to any routines, so that you can freely release the ones that don’t work well for you or your family and embrace the ones that do.

Other great things to make routine

Other really helpful things to include in your routines are getting outside, a form of exercise that works well for you, any cleaning things that you need to do regularly but often forget, and setting aside an hour every so often to do all the important phone calls that we love to avoid (unless you’re a crazy person that loves being on the phone with Comcast and your dentist). The idea of routines is all about making the complicated things simple, and helping your life run smoother and happier. If one of your routines isn’t helping with either of those things, it may be time to re-evaluate what you’re doing routinely and why.

What is your favorite routine, and why?

3 thoughts on “Pursuing Simplicity Through Routines

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