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7 Quick Reminders That Will Help You Slow Down

Be More With Less - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 07:19

It’s time to slow down.

Trying to keep up with the fast paced world around us is a losing battle. Our constant attempts end in exhaustion, resentment and losing perspective on what really matters in our lives.

There is a better way. Less do, more be.

You might be thinking, “My life is so busy. How can I do less and slow down?” I used to feel the same way. Creating a slower paced life didn’t happen overnight, but there were some shifts that happened almost immediately. Here are three things you can do to opt out of the hustle and put busyness behind you.

1. Listen to this interview I recorded with Women Mean Business.

2. Change your measuring system. If you tend to try to prove who you are (to yourself or others) by what you do or accomplish, looking at a full calendar probably makes you feel good. Then, halfway through the week, you feel over committed and overwhelmed. Measure less by what’s on your calendar and more by what’s on your heart.

3. Create boundaries that you will honor and protect. There is a saying that goes something like, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” If you’ve been that busy person, chances are people are giving you their to-do lists. A good sign is if an email starts, “I know you are busy but …” Take a good look at your commitments, and what you really have time for. If you are overextended, or doing work that doesn’t support what matters to you, boundaries will help.

7 Quick Reminders That Will Help You Slow Down 1.

Time for nothing invites you to remember yourself. If you don’t build in a little margin and time for nothing, you won’t be able to listen to your heart or process ideas. After a day of non-stop input, you have to recover, shut down, or numb out. Instead schedule nothing if only to give yourself a minute to remember who you are, what you want, and how you want to live.


Let’s stop telling each other how busy we are. We have better things to talk about.


What if instead of giving 110%, you gave 90%? Would anyone but you even notice? Since over doing it isn’t working for any of us, maybe we could under-do it for a change.


Stop lying to yourself. You are still doing things one at a time but when you call it multitasking, you are scattered and distracted jumping from thing to thing to thing. Save your energy and enjoy what you do by working on one thing at a time.


Use your free time to be free.


Say yes less.


There are at least three things on your to-do list or calendar that don’t matter (or don’t matter more than what you wished you had time for). Let them go.

For other quick reminders on slowing down, reducing stress and living with less, join me here on Instagram.

The post 7 Quick Reminders That Will Help You Slow Down appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

Simple Tips for Travel and Packing

Be More With Less - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 11:22

I’m in Amsterdam!

On this trip to Amsterdam, I didn’t get a data/phone plan. Instead, I’m connecting to wifi from time to time and otherwise embracing an airplane mode vibe.

To prepare for a low-tech, slow travel trip, I …

  • set up an email auto responder with an in case of emergency alternative email. As you may have guessed, my inbox doesn’t have many emergencies.
  • decided to stay off almost all social media, but am sharing some travel pics on Instagram, mostly on Instagram Stories.
  • committed to posting something here weekly. I know you probably wouldn’t miss me if I skipped a week or two, but I’ve been posting weekly since the beginning (almost nine years ago) and I don’t want to break my streak.
  • am only reading fiction (nothing related to work or self-improvement).
  • leave my phone on airplane mode, and use it mostly as a camera.

Creating these boundaries in advance help me stay focused on the people and places around me.

Here are few more things to help with your upcoming travels. Simple travel and packing is possible and the following travel tips and articles will help.

Travel Tips …

Instead of packing your itinerary with back to back activities, build in time to rest, get lost, or simply to see where the day takes you.

Live like a local.
Instead of a pricy hotel, find an apartment through Airbnb. While I usually rent an entire home, I have done some house sharing too. I’ve always had a great experience and love having a kitchen, washing machine, and staying in a neighborhood I like. It feels more like a home away from home.

Leave your F.O.M.O. at home.
If you try to squeeze too much in, nothing you do will be enough. Leave your F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) at home so you can fully appreciate the moments you experience.

Bring Snacks.
Avoid hangriness (feeling angry/grumpy because you are hungry) by packing snacks and water.

Create a travel day uniform.
Assign one outfit for your travel days. Then you don’t have to think about what to wear on the plane, train or however you are traveling. No matter wear you are going, your travel uniform can be the same. I typically wear a black pair of leggings, short-sleeved shirt or tank, and black zip up sweatshirt with a scarf (on or in my tote bag). Even if I’m traveling to a warm destination, I know I’ll get cold on the plane.

Packing Tips

Challenge yourself to only pack for half of your trip.
If you are going to be away for a week, ask yourself what you need for three or four days. Because most of us lean towards over-packing, you’ll still have more than enough.

Make a packing list.
List everything you bring with you, and then cross each thing off when you use it. At the end of the trip you’ll know you can leave anything home that wasn’t crossed off. Keep your list handy with details about where you went and what time of year, so the next time you take a similar trip, you’ll know exactly what to pack.

Create a travel capsule wardrobe.
Stick with similar colors, and instead of an aspirational wardrobe, pack clothes you will actually wear while traveling.

Pack lightly.
Only pack what you can carry and don’t bring any “just-in-case” items. Use The Minimalist’s 20/20 rule.

Simple Travel and Packing Articles …

How to Pack (my best minimalist packing tips and resources)

16 Essential Tips for Traveling with a Family (from Leo at Zen Habits)

The Be More with Less Guide to Simple Travel

Slow Travel, Fast Kids and Making Counter Cultural Decisions (podcast with Brooke McAlary)

How to Land Your Plane: 8 ways to help you feel more grounded

Minimalist Travel: What’s in my Suitcase (from Francine at Miss Minimalist)

A Gentle Warrior’s Guide to Healthy Travel

I hope you have a great trip! 

P.S. A new season of Project 333 just started. If you want to join me in wearing 33 items or less for the next 3 months, learn more here.

The post Simple Tips for Travel and Packing appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

Please Stop Wearing These 3 Things (at any age)

Be More With Less - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 06:05

I’ve learned so much from simplifying my closet and dressing with a small micro capsule wardrobe. While I’ve learned what best fits my body and my lifestyle, most of the lessons have nothing to do with clothing. Or, the lessons can be applied to clothes and life.

A simpler closet is the gateway to a simpler life.

I typically steer away from making recommendations on what you should wear, but feel strongly that none of us (at any age) need to wear these three things ever again.

Please Stop Wearing These 3 Things 1. Stop wearing the guilt of your past.

Guilt and regret about the past aren’t serving your present. In fact, because of that guilt, you aren’t fully enjoying your current life. Whether it is guilt about letting go of something in your closet that you spent too much on, or guilt about a past relationship or anything in between, you have paid enough. You’ve paid with your money, time, attention and emotion. You can stop paying now. Let go, apologize, forgive and choose to live free of guilt and regret.

2. Stop wearing the pressure to prove yourself.

I rarely bought clothes because I actually needed more clothes. I had plenty. Instead I purchased clothing to feel a certain way and to be perceived a certain way … to prove myself. I wanted to feel smart, beautiful and loved. I wanted other people to think I was those things too.

I tried to prove who I was by what I wore and by what I accomplished. The problem was that there was always more to prove and eventually I forgot who I was in the process.

If you have to prove yourself to people you love, that isn’t love. If you struggle to prove yourself at work, maybe you aren’t doing the right work. If you don’t believe me, just stop for a while. Stop pushing and proving and wishing that people would see you the way you think you need to be seen to succeed. Instead, let them see you for you.

Once you stop proving yourself, you can be yourself.

3. Stop wearing the weight of other people’s expectations and judgements. credit: @hellosunshine and Maura Quint

One of the most astounding realizations I made in the first three months of Project 333, dressing with 33 items or less, is that no one cared what I was wearing. No one even noticed! Why was I trying to please anyone with my clothing choices? Why was I trying to please anyone with my life choices?

Giving myself permission to let go of my need to meet other people’s expectations or to feel any kind of way based on judgements (good or bad) helps me to trust myself and allows me to love my life regardless of outside feedback. I’m not good or bad or right or wrong because of what anyone else thinks. I can’t control what they think and I’m not going to change myself trying.

It’s a relief to know that I can love you and not care what you think about me at the same time.

When you stop wearing the weight of other people’s expectations and judgements, you’ll be light.

Wearing these things is wearing you down. You can stop now. Please stop.

Wear the clothes you want to wear. Live the life you want live. Be you.

P.S. I love you.

The post Please Stop Wearing These 3 Things (at any age) appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

How to Simplify Money (+ Food and Busyness)

Be More With Less - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 06:05

If you are curious about how to simplify money, busyness or food, I’ve got some recommendations for you.

Simplify Money

How do I simplify my finances?
A shift in how I thought about my finances dramatically simplified them. I used to always struggle to make ends meet and then as I cut expenses, got rid of credit cards and started to chip away at my debt, I realized that I didn’t need to make ends meet. I needed fewer ends.

What can you cut? What can you live without (even if it’s temporary)? What are ways you can simplify your life and save money?

Can you recommend a simple budgeting plan?
I used Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover to get out of debt. I recommend a zero-based or sum-zero budgeting system where you spend every dollar on paper first.

You might also enjoy this 21-day guide to help you become debt-free.

I struggle with wanting to spend money on vacations since I know nothing is guaranteed in life. I don’t want to go into debt for them but I often do. We eventually pay it off but just in time to go on another vacation. I validate my feelings by telling myself experiences are important and that we’re making memories. Any advice?
Once I became debt free, I started putting money aside for things in advance. I cut back on vacations while I was becoming debt free and for a while afterwards. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money to make memories. I agree that experiences are more important than stuff, but overspending and going into debt steals some of the joy from the trip and adds a bunch of stress to your life.

It seems like you are keeping up with the debt by paying it off prior to the next trip. If that’s the case, skip a trip or two and save the money instead. Based on what you describe, you can easily break the debt cycle and start saving for your trips in advance.

Less debt = more joy and less stress.

Simplify Busyness

I want to live slower and enjoy my life but I feel like if I don’t hurry up, then I won’t find time to do the things I want to do. What do you suggest?
At some point you have to decide if you want to spend your life doing it all, and fitting everything in or if you want to notice what’s happening and enjoy the way you spend your time. When everything is important, nothing is.

Make sure these things you want to do are important and meaningful to you, and not just things you want to check off a list. Since none of us are guaranteed time to do everything we want, we should at least enjoy the things we do. That requires not hurrying up, but slowing down so you have time to notice your life.

I’m struggling to simplify my goals. I used to be so good at managing my time, accomplishing my goals, and balancing my commitments. Now I find myself extremely sleep-deprived, depressed, and struggling to find time during the day to get everything done. I don’t know what I should be prioritizing, and I don’t know how to say no. Please help! I’m only twenty; I don’t want to be this world-weary already.
Prioritize your health first and foremost. Your mental and physical health come first. Otherwise, none of the other stuff is sustainable. Take a closer look at your goals. Are they goals you have for yourself, or goals you think other people have for you. Cross off any that aren’t yours.

Once you are sleeping better and feeling well (goal #1), look at the other things you’d like to accomplish. Pick one. Only work on that for as long as it takes and as long as you are interested. When it’s done, choose another. They don’t all have to happen today. P.S. Here’s how to say no.

Do you have tips on how to simplify daily household chores?
Yes. Give them to someone else. I’m kidding, sort of. Involve family members in the household chores even if they don’t do them the way you would. Let being done be enough. It doesn’t have to be done perfectly.

Another way to simplify daily household chores is to downsize. This doesn’t work for everyone, but cutting my living space in half, cut the cleaning in half too.

You won’t be surprised to know I recommend owning less. The less you own, the less there is to clean.

I highly recommend the Fly Lady’s 11 commandments too.

How do I simplify my day to carve out time for self-care?
You have to make self-care the priority. If you are trying to fit it in when you have free time, it won’t happen on a consistent basis. Schedule it. Wake up to it. I recommend starting with the morning routine effect.

How do I simplify a wedding, and wedding planning?
For starters, simplifying the wedding will simplify the planning. Think about what’s most important to you (not to your friends or family). Chat with your spouse to be and have a meaningful conversation about the wedding day and the marriage. What kind of wedding celebration will support your values? Go from there.

I often feel overwhelmed and stressed about preparing for the next work day and find it hard to wind down. What do you recommend for an evening routine?
Start by understanding if the stress and overwhelm is coming from the inside or the outside. If it’s coming from the outside because you hate your job, or would rather be doing something else, here are seven things to consider.

If it’s coming from the inside because you are naturally anxious, the best way to get this stuff off your mind, is to put it on paper. Write it all down before you try to go to sleep as a reminder to your mind that there’s nothing left to think about. After writing for a week, add something else that soothes you to your evening routine like reading, taking a bath or meditating.

How can I simplify my daily to-do list? I never finish it.
I quit daily to-do lists for the most part and focus instead on a weekly list. I used to overestimate how much I could get done in a day but it’s easier to be realistic if I focus on what I can accomplish over the course of a week.

When you schedule a weeks worth of things, you can see at a glance if it’s too much and begin to pull back.

Simplify Food

Sometimes I want to get creative in the kitchen and spend time cooking and creating beautiful meals. Other times, I don’t want to think about food at all. If I’m working on a big project or don’t want to put extra time and attention towards food, I simplify by eating whole foods and mostly eating the same meals over and over again.

For a more interesting approach, my friend Jules Clancy from The Stone Soup Blog is going to answer your questions on food simplicity below.

How can I simplify my eating and cooking? It seems overwhelming to keep it simple!
If it’s the nutrition side of things, my mantra is to follow author, Michael Pollan’s advice to “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.” Focus on eating lots of veggies with some fish, meat, dairy, eggs and healthy fats.

Avoiding processed food or anything in a packet or anything that contains sugar or flour is another great simple framework.

If you want to simplify cooking, use recipes that are simple to begin with.

How can I simplify my snacking habits?
The easiest way to simplify snacking is to decide to stop eating between meals. If that’s not an option, I’d recommend choosing one or two of your favorite snacks and only keeping the ingredients you need for those snacks at any one time.

You can always vary over the weeks and months if it gets boring. For me, I see snacks as fuel, rather than a source of pleasure (which I get from my other meals). So I have the same snack every day. I love Greek Yogurt with a tablespoon of linseeds (flax seeds) and a teaspoon or two of peanut butter.

How can I simplify dinner? I’ve been focusing on whole foods and cooking lots of vegetables. Even if I meal plan and chop veggies ahead, I feel like it’s a lot of time cooking and cleaning. Is there a simpler way?
That’s awesome you’ve been focusing on whole foods and cooking lots of vegetables! The way I keep my meals simple is to start with simple recipes. I limit the number of ingredients to six but you don’t need to be that extreme.

I will have a big bowl of broccoli one night and then lots of cabbage the next. I try to get variety over the weeks and months rather than stressing myself out trying to prep and serve five different vegetables at every meal.

If you’d like some simple recipes to help, get my free e-book of 5-Ingredient Dinners here.

How can I simplify my pantry and still cook a variety of foods from around the world? 
Yes cooking from a variety of cuisines can add complexity to your pantry! I love cooking from around the world as well. To keep my pantry simple, I like to focus on a different cuisine each month and try to use up the ingredients that are unique to that cuisine before I move on to a different country.

I also like to use substitutions wherever I can instead of buying another new ingredient. For example if I’m cooking Thai, I just use white sugar (or skip the sugar completely) instead of buying palm sugar. Sometimes this means the finished dish isn’t quite as authentic as it could be, but for me it’s worth it.

The other thing I do is have a pantry spring clean from time to time. I look for ingredients that need using up and put them in a prominent position so I remember to find a way to use them.

I struggle with meal planning. Can you help?
Keeping meal planning simple is all about finding or creating a good system. 

If you’re happy to do it yourself, I recommend  compiling a list of 10-20 of your go-to simple recipes. Then scheduling time each week to prepare your plan and shopping list. Just review your list and choose the ones you want to cook this week. Then compile your shopping list.

The other option is to let someone else do the planning for you! There are plenty of meal planning services out there. I actually have a done-for-you meal planning service called Simple Meal Plans which focuses on recipes that use 6-ingredients. Learn more about it here.

If you want to ask questions or share solutions, please comment below.

Visit this article to see answers to questions about simplifying paper and photos and this one about simplifying your clutter, mind and clothes.

The post How to Simplify Money (+ Food and Busyness) appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

Minimalist Closet Challenge: a spring cleaning solution

Be More With Less - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:55

This minimalist closet challenge might be your solution to spring cleaning. Instead of using spring cleaning to get organized or as an excuse to buy more stuff for your stuff, consider this alternative.

My Minimalist Closet Story

I don’t meet many people who are happy with their closet. I wasn’t happy with my closet either until I got rid of most of the stuff inside it. Before I simplified my closet, getting dressed was a chore. Each day, after opening my closet door, the inner chatter began.

“What am I going to wear today?”

“I should wear more color.”

“That hasn’t fit me in years.”

“Is this my style? Is this my style? Is this my style?”

“What’s my style?”

“Why did I spend so much money on that?”

“I should cut the tags off and try to wear that.”

“Does this look good on me?”

“I don’t have time for this.”

“Those shoes kill my feet but look great with that skirt.”

“I’m so bored with my wardrobe.”

“I need something new.”

The conversation inside my head varied from day to day, but I’d ultimately decide that the solution to my closet woes was buying something new. A new outfit, scarf, pair of shoes, or something to better organize my closet. That’s it! My stuff needed more stuff.

Maybe the solution to closet chaos isn’t more stuff.

In 2010, after decades of these hopeless conversations, decades of buying more and more and more to solve my problems, and finally admitting that my system wasn’t working, I decided to give myself a break. I didn’t know what the solution was, but I wanted to create a little space and time to think about it … or to not think about it.

Even though people called my time out extreme, severe and lots of other things, I didn’t escape to a deserted island or burn all of my clothes.

Instead, I promised myself and the internet that I’d dress with 33 items or less including clothing, jewelry, accessories and shoes for three months. I didn’t count underwear, sleep wear, in home lounge wear, workout clothes or my wedding ring.

I hid everything else.

I called the challenge Project 333.

For three months, I’d open my closet and see about twenty pieces of clothing hanging in my closet. Additionally, I had a few pairs of shoes, a winter hat, scarf and gloves, a purse and sunglasses and two pieces of jewelry. You can see my first Project 333 list here.

At first I thought I might not have enough or that people would notice I was wearing the same items over and over again. I was working full-time in advertising sales (oh, the irony) and visiting clients, attending in-office meetings and community events. What would people think?

Dressing with less became the solution.

After a week of better mornings, noticing a peaceful feeling when I opened my closet and more ease getting dressed, I let go of my fears. As the weeks went on, I didn’t just notice more time from not shopping or stressing about what to wear, and more space in my closet, but I felt lighter overall. I wasn’t as distracted or overwhelmed.

I didn’t need to use my newfound time or space to find the solution I was looking for either. Project 333 was the solution. The experiment I created to get a break from closet chaos became the solution. I didn’t need more. I needed less.

Eventually I let go of most of the stuff I hid and I still dress with 33 items or less every three months. I buy things in between seasons if I want or need to add something to my wardrobe. Sometimes I don’t.

If you are starting to think about spring cleaning, before you buy stuff for your stuff, consider living with less stuff for a few months. Test it out. See how it feels.

If you’d like to join me April 1st for Project 333: 3 months of dressing with less, the following resources may be helpful.

Now instead of spending my time and energy on clothes and shopping, I can turn my attention to what really matters to me.

If you are wondering, no one noticed what I was wearing. I had enough and I am happier and more confident dressing with less from my minimalist closet. It never felt like a sacrifice. I didn’t get bored.

I’ll trade a full closet for more ease and less stress anytime.

P.S. Time sensitive announcement! The digital version (Kindle, Nook, etc.) of Soulful Simplicity is only $1.99 in US and Canada. Pricing is completely out of my control so I don’t know how long this markdown will last, but I’m excited it’s available at this price! If you are interested, go get it! 

The post Minimalist Closet Challenge: a spring cleaning solution appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

How to Simplify Paper and Photos

Be More With Less - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 10:33

We are diving back into your simplicity struggles with the biggest simplicity struggle of all … paper and photos. My method on how to simplify paper and photos is very straight forward and not for everyone. I share my version at the bottom of this article and asked a paper/photo expert to help with more specific recommendations.

Visit the original article to see how to simplify clutter, mind and clothes. I recommend starting with the category you struggle with the most. Once you simplify your life in that area, consider the others.

How to Simplify Paper and Photos

Based on your feedback, paper and photos win as the most popular simplicity struggle. My philosophy here is less is more. Only keep what you need and enjoy. For more nuts and bolts solutions, Simple Living Coach, Lisa Luken from Simple Joy Living helps simplify paper and photos by addressing the following simplicity struggles.

Simplify Paper

I am drowning in paperwork. Where do I start?
First, remember that it didn’t get this way overnight so it will take some time to declutter. Start by scheduling 30 minutes in your calendar when you’ll be alert and focused. Your goal during this time will be to make quick sorting decisions without getting hung up reading through every document. Take a deep breath before you start and think about how much better you’ll feel after you’ve cleared the piles. Work in short blocks of 30 minutes so the project doesn’t become overwhelming.

The goal of your first sort is to simply choose between keep and toss. For items you choose to toss, shred papers with personal and financial information. Keep items that you need to act on (RSVPs, bills, appointments) and important financial documents (ask your accountant for guidelines). For items you’re tempted to keep for reference later, ask these two questions:

1.  Will I really go back to this?

2. Can I get the information elsewhere later?

Schedule additional sorting sessions as needed. After you’ve gone through everything, decide if you want to maintain paper files for the “keep” items or if you want to go paperless, scan them and maintain an organized digital file system instead. This quick guide will help you decide what to toss or keep and give you ideas for file categories for either paper or digital systems.

How do I simplify the steady stream of school work and child art that flows into my home?
Get in the habit of going through the papers each day after school with your children. Have your children unload the papers from their backpacks, review them together, ask questions and simply listen as they share their work and creations. Be present and savor the experience. Afterwards, immediately throw out or recycle worksheets and items you no longer need. Handle permission slips and information about upcoming events. I suggest entering important dates into a shared digital calendar and keep the actual papers on a family command center-magnetic board with clips. Keep art and papers that you and your child LOVE in a designated folder or bin. 

Depending on the size of the bin and how quickly it fills, review the stack at least monthly, tossing anything that no longer seems important. You’ll find that as time goes by, the extra special pieces will stand out and it will be easier to throw away the less important pieces. You can always take pictures of pieces before you toss them and create digital albums. At the end of the school year, review the entire pile again with your children and choose a few pieces that best portray their creativity and achievements for the year. Including your children in each step of this process teaches them that they can’t keep everything and provides opportunities to practice making decisions about what deserves space in their home and life. A simple, curated collection is more easily enjoyed than several boxes full of everything they’ve ever created.

How do I simplify the mail I get?
A few proactive steps can help reduce the inflow. First, be sure to opt out of all solicitations when you sign up for anything that requires you to share your address, including online orders. Second, sign up with to clean up what gets sent to you. And finally, get in the habit of reviewing your mail every day. Just like brushing your teeth, investing a few minutes is time well spent. Designate an area in your home near where you bring in the mail each day. Set up a shredder, recycle bin and “action needed” tray in this area. Each day, all incoming mail should end up in one of these locations. You’ll be left with only the items that you truly need in the “action needed” tray, which you’ll want to handle weekly at a minimum.

Simplify Photos and Digital Files

How do I simplify photo organization/creating photo albums/memory books?
Most importantly, make sure photos from your phone are being automatically backed up through a cloud service (iCloud, Dropbox, etc.). After big events, download photos taken with a camera and check to make sure the backup service on your computer is running smoothly. This will give you peace of mind knowing that your photos are safely stored in more than one location. I recommend keeping them in three locations including:

1. computer

2. backup service or external hard drive

3. cloud storage

To organize your photos, start by spending 15-30 minutes deleting bad, blurry and duplicate photos. Short sessions like this each week will help keep your collection organized. For albums, think long-term about how you want to enjoy and share your photos (i.e. prints in albums and frames, digital printed albums, or albums viewable and shareable online only). 

Make a date with yourself to review your pictures and create albums at least 2-4 times per year. Often, you’ll have a harder time culling pictures right after an event than you do after some time passes. As you get further away from the event, your favorite photos will stand out, making it easier to choose which ones are album worthy. It can be helpful to think of the time and money you invest organizing photos as a gift to future generations. Knowing you are preserving memories by documenting meaningful experiences can make it easier to commit to spending time organizing.

Here are a few album companies and digital services to consider:

How do I simplify my digital files?
Choose a central “hub” to store your digital files either on a computer or in a cloud storage location (Dropbox, Google Docs, etc.). Store digital files in folders like you would paper files, using the file categories in this document as a guide. After setting up new folders in your hub, go through your existing files, choosing to delete or keep each file and moving the “keep” files into the appropriate new folders. Move batches of similar files together to speed up the process. Take screen breaks as needed to give your eyes and mind a rest. Make appointments with yourself to regularly work on this project and be sure to celebrate your successes along the way.

I’m grateful Lisa shared her expertise on how to simplify paper and photos because I know my method of barely keep anything doesn’t work for everyone. Your methods will change based on the stage of life you are in and how much time you want to devote to taking care of paper and photos. You can find more from Lisa on her blog and on Instagram.

Quick rundown of how I keep paper and photos simple.

I don’t spend as much time organizing because that’s not how I want to spend my time. Instead …

  • I open mail before I bring it inside and recycle the junk. It’s mostly junk.
  • I sort paper between a small “working” pile and “keep” pile. The working file includes documents that require my action within a couple of weeks. The keep pile includes papers I think I need to save. Once I’m done working on something from the working pile, I get rid of it. I review my keep pile every two to three months and discard what I don’t need to keep.
  • Digital files are trickier because they are invisible. I’m more tempted to save it all. Then I remember that I access the majority of my digital files as frequently as I accessed the thousands of papers I used to keep in two filing cabinets … next to never.
  • I save things in Dropbox, and review and delete files quarterly. I don’t use external hard drives anymore because guess how many times I accessed those files … next to never.
  • I’ve saved some of my pre-digital photos. I share photos on Instagram, here on the blog and with friends and family.
  • Occasionally, I print and frame photos here.
  • Every few months, after insuring they’ve been backed up, I delete all photos from my phone.
  • About seven years ago, I got rid of my filing cabinets and papers I’d been saving for many years. There hasn’t been one time since that I’ve missed something or wished I’d saved something from my neatly labeled folders. That’s giving me the confidence to save much less.

If you love creating photo albums and organizing paperwork use the great recommendations Lisa shared. If you want to spend less time organizing, sorting, and stressing about your paper and photos, save less. You may find that somewhere in between works well for you too.

The best way is the one that works best for you.

In the next edition of simplicity struggles, we’ll cover food (with Jules Clancy), money and busyness.

If you want to ask questions or share solutions, please comment below.

The post How to Simplify Paper and Photos appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

12 Things to Remember When You are Feeling Overwhelmed

Be More With Less - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 05:33

Even on a good day, life can be overwhelming. Buzzing phones, work obligations, family needs, to-do lists, email overload, expectations, illness, invitations and the list goes on for the things that occupy our time. On top of that we have food choices, clothing choices, money worries, and mental and physical health issues that can weigh us down.

12 Things to Remember When You are Feeling Overwhelmed

So what do we do? How can move through life with less stress and overwhelm? How can we enjoy our lives in the midst of the chaos? I discovered after years of experimenting and eliminating things like clutter, debt, and busyness that it is possible to create a more peaceful environment.

It does take time to change your environment though. It’s worth doing no matter how long it takes, but for some immediate relief when you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and consider these reminders (whichever ones are helpful for your situation).


Worry never works. Let your worry go. It won’t be easy, but do it anyway. Write it down, walk it off, shift your thoughts and keep letting it go. And then do that again and again and again.


If you honor every request with a yes, you will compromise your health, family, peace of mind, and the joy of living your life.


Instead of downplaying or dismissing your feelings when things are heavy or you are overwhelmed, trust them. {Quote from @theminimalists}


Please stop apologizing for who you are. You deserve better and we desperately need you to be unapologetically you. If you are feeling overwhelmed because the people around you don’t support you and lift you up, find new people. 


Holding the weight of other people’s expectations is overwhelming but it’s not your responsibility. Isn’t it time to live the life you dreamed about instead of the one others expect of you?


Take care of you. Your health comes first. {Quote from @thehumblepoet}


It’s always a good time to be grateful and that means expressing thanks even when you aren’t feeling your best, or when you are feeling overwhelmed. Even in the dark times, there are things to be thankful for. It may be more challenging to feel or express your gratitude, but then it’s even more important to do it. Join the 30-day Bring Gratitude Challenge for more fun and accountability. 


What if you stopped keeping score? Imagine the heart space you could create if you stopped holding on to who emptied the dishwasher or took out the trash last? Maybe it doesn’t matter who called who last. Call if you want to connect. And think about how much more you’d enjoy spending time with your friends if you didn’t have to remember who paid for coffee or lunch last time? Things don’t have to be even to be good.


Unplug. Back Off. Let go. Refresh. Restore. {Quote from @annelamott}


What people think of you has nothing to do with you. If they tell you something you that isn’t helpful, simply smile and say, “thanks so much for your feedback.” and move on.


I always say no to ignoring my heart. She knows things.


Be picky about what gets your energy and attention. When everything is important, nothing is.

Pay attention to how you are feeling.

Feeling overwhelmed is a sign. It’s a signal to shift something from your mindset to your schedule. You have the power to cancel something or to say no thank you. You are brave enough to make a small change that will ease your overwhelm. You have the option of deciding what matters to you and making room for whatever that is.

I know it’s not easy (the good stuff usually isn’t), but it’s worth it. Notice when you are feeling overwhelmed and choose to pause and remind yourself that you can turn things around — inch by inch, step by step, and thought by thought.

Now, it’s your turn…

Before you go, let us know:

  • Which “reminder” above resonates with you the most right now and why?

Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign-up for the free newsletter to receive new articles like this in your inbox each week.


The post 12 Things to Remember When You are Feeling Overwhelmed appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

Solutions to Simplify Your Life (for clutter, mind and clothes)

Be More With Less - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 13:37

I recently invited you to send me your simplicity struggles. With far more responses than anticipated, instead of individually responding, I’m going to answer your questions in a series of articles.

This article will help the struggle to simplify clutter, mind and clothes. In a future article, we’ll address busyness, food, paper (the biggest struggle of all according to your feedback) and money.

There were many common struggles, so you may not see your exact question, but I’ve framed them in a way so you’ll find the answer you are looking for. Scroll through, find what you struggle with the most and start there. You are welcome to search the archive for answers too.


I struggle to let go of my books.
If you love books as much as I do, remember why. It’s the experience of reading that connects with our hearts. We don’t need shelves full of books to be moved by beautiful words. If you want to find the real joy from reading, let go of your books.

What about hobbies?
Keep the things that support the hobbies you love and enjoy. Let go of the stuff that supports the hobbies you used to do or aspire to do.

Can you be too focused on decluttering?
Here are 5 signs that you should stop decluttering.

How do you simplify things like nails, tools, paper clips, and the little extras?
Even though they are small things, treat them as intentionally as you treat the big stuff. Do you really need 100 nails or paperclips? Keep what you will realistically use and let go of the rest.

It’s hard for me to let go of things because I want to save them for people. 
It sounds like you want to make sure each thing goes to a good place. I understand why you’d want to do that, but zoom out and look at the time and energy you are spending on each thing. Wouldn’t it be freeing to put it all in a box and donate it? Then you can move on with your life and give in bigger and better ways.

I struggle with decluttering toys.
I recommend hiding all but the favorite toys. Like adults, children have their favorite things too. Let them enjoy a few things instead of having to manage all the things. Experiment and see how your children are with fewer toys. If they enjoy it, let them help you donate the hidden items. Here are a few reasons why fewer toys will actually benefit your kids.

How do I simplify my crafting/art supplies?
I recommend keeping the supplies out that you need for your current project and get the rest out of sight. When your project is complete, take out what you need for the next project and hide everything else. After a few projects, notice what you never use and let it go.

How do I get my spouse/partner/parents/friends on board with simplicity?
You can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do. They have to find the inspiration. One of the best ways to encourage that inspiration is to let them hear it from someone else.

Instead of you pushing or nagging, watch this documentary together, or share a book, or have a conversation with friends who are simplifying.

What about skin care and cosmetics?
Less is more. The best things for skin care are water, nourishing food and sleep.

What do I do about well-meaning friends and family who won’t stop buying stuff for my children?
If a gentle conversation doesn’t help, donate the items or return/exchange for something you need.


I’m struggling to simplify my thought life.
Read this and start a morning routine.

What about the pressure of other people’s expectations (parents, siblings, friends)?
Their expectations were never yours to meet. You don’t get to decide or manage what other people expect, or how they feel or deal with things. That’s not your job. You can stop now.

How do I manage my thoughts and the emotional baggage that comes along with lack of self-care?
Stop trying to manage your thoughts and take better care of yourself. Taking action is going to help you move forward and focus on something besides the guilt. I assume emotional baggage means guilt here. Start with this challenge that will only take you five minutes a day.

How do you suggest simplifying the gossip or negativity clutter when it is simply unavoidable?
Walk away.

I’m struggling to let go of comparing myself to others and what they have going on in their lives.
This might help and take a break from social media if that’s part of the problem.

How do I protect my time and energy without being rude?
Ask yourself if you are being rude or if you are just afraid other people will be offended? We often think of boundaries as harsh or mean, but they are kind. Boundaries aren’t designed to shut others out, but instead, when you set a boundary, you are giving yourself permission to take care of yourself.

How can I simplify my thoughts, when I’m feeling like it’s just craziness in my head?
Here are 10 ways to quit the crazy.

I struggle to let go of the past. 
How is it serving you to hold on to the past? If there is something you can fix, fix it. It you can’t, write it down and give yourself permission to finally be free.

How do I simplify big decisions?
Eliminate the small ones. Often, big decisions are so challenging because our minds are simply tired of making decisions. Look at the tiny decisions you make on a daily basis and streamline or eliminate them.


I am struggling with letting go of the clothes I like and would love to wear, but never do.
Try minimalist fashion challenge Project 333.

I keep several sizes in my closet because of weight fluctuations.
Only keep the clothes that fit you today in your closet. Seeing clothes that don’t fit on a daily basis is stressful. Hide the rest.

Paying debt is a priority so I don’t have the funds to replace or purchase clothing for a capsule wardrobe. Would you still reduce to 33 items and then when you can, slowly replace some of those 33 items? 
Yes. Even if you had the funds, I wouldn’t recommend buying new items until you spend three months with a small capsule wardrobe. You’ll better understand what you want and need in your wardrobe if you dress with less for a while.

I struggle to let go of things I paid so much for.
A common excuse for holding on to clothing is “I paid so much for that” but holding on to something because you paid for it once will only ensure that you keep paying. If you don’t let go, you will pay again and again.

You will pay with your money and time and you will pay with your heart. This is the worst payment of all. You pay with your heart and emotions by holding onto the past, and punishing yourself for old habits. You pay with guilt, anger, shame and indecision.

You’ve paid enough.

Of course, this is only what I’d do if I were in your situation. Take the advice that works for you and leave the rest behind. If you’ve found a helpful solution to any of these struggles that may help others, please comment here.

The post Solutions to Simplify Your Life (for clutter, mind and clothes) appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

Setting Boundaries and What to Do If You Feel Guilty About Saying No

Be More With Less - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:17

Why does setting up boundaries and protecting what we need most for ourselves sometimes make us feel guilty?

Setting boundaries and what to do if you feel bad or guilty about saying no.

If you feel guilty about setting boundaries, instead of dismissing the practice altogether, explore the guilt.

When I feel bad or guilty about something, I write it down. I write all my thoughts and feelings on paper so I can really examine what’s going on instead of letting my mind get carried away. In other words, I don’t believe every thought that crosses my mind.

Write it down and ask the following questions:

  • Why do I feel guilty for taking care of myself?
  • Is this really guilt or is it something else?
  • Why don’t I trust people enough to let them know what I need?
  • If a friend needed to create boundaries for their own wellbeing, would I fault them for it or support them?

Once you explore the guilt, you may discover it’s not guilt at all.

What you are feeling is likely discomfort which is very common if you aren’t used to creating and honoring your boundaries.

If you aren’t willing to experience the discomfort though, you might be resentful of yourself or others for not giving you what you need. I don’t know about you, but if I have to choose, I’d rather feel uncomfortable instead of resentful.

Discomfort fades more quickly and it’s not steeped in anger and animosity like resentment is.

If it’s fear of disappointing others that holds you back from setting boundaries, start with boundaries only you have to honor. It’s a good way to practice.

Most of the boundaries I set are ones only I have to honor. For instance … 

  • No email or social media before I’ve meditated, moved, written and read.
  • Show up ten minutes early for every appointment.
  • Dress with 33 items or less.

We often think of boundaries as harsh or mean, but they are kind. Boundaries aren’t designed to shut others out, but instead, when you set a boundary, you are giving yourself permission to take care of yourself.

When you set and honor your boundaries, you are saying …

I am important to me.

I am important to my loved ones.

Taking care of myself matters.

You can’t please everyone. You just can’t.

You may have noticed that when you try to make everyone happy all the time, the only result is burnout and even more disappointment.

If you need to set boundaries for your own mental and/or physical wellbeing, do it. Don’t worry about who you might upset. That part isn’t up to you.

Eventually, everyone will benefit from you taking really good care of yourself.

The post Setting Boundaries and What to Do If You Feel Guilty About Saying No appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

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