This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?
One essential part of creating a simple life is Space.
You need white space, empty space, your own space.
You need spaces that act as nothing more than a buffer, an empty spot for your eyes to rest, a safety net, an escape from the constancy of daily life.
The opposite of space and the enemy of simplicity is cramming. You cram when you try to fit:
- another commitment into your diary
- a new book onto the shelf
- one more t-shirt into the drawer
- a new after-school activity into the kids’ schedules
- an extra responsibility into your work day
- a new ambition into your long-term goals
- another knick-knack onto the shelf
- another box of stuff into the garage
5 Areas of Your Life That Need Space
Highlight the things you want to celebrate by surrounding them with white space. A painting on an otherwise bare wall. A photo of a cherished day. A lamp on a side table. What better way to communicate the importance of the item, the person who gave it to you or the memory it evokes than give it space to be appreciated?
Use white space on your:
- dining table
- kitchen bench
- bedside table
Most people I know are mentally overwhelmed. There is too much going on – too many responsibilities, too many people, too many requests, too many social commitments, too much to remember.
And yet, when given some precious downtime, so many of us can be found with our noses in a smartphone, flicking through Pinterest, mindlessly browsing Facebook, updating feeds to see what other people are up to.
But to truly simplify, you need to give yourself mental space.
You need quiet time – where you can meditate, pray, rest, read (a real book!), ponder or do absolutely nothing with that beautiful brain of yours.
And to find true quiet time, you need to unplug. Get off the phone, close the laptop, turn off the television, cut the ties of constant connection with the online world and give your brain some space.
Space in Your Days
We schedule the hell out of our days. Between work, train timetables, coffee dates, meetings, school pick ups, kids activities, social events, friends, family, visitors, birthdays, sporting events and exercise, there are huge spans of time that stretch ahead of us, booked out weeks in advance. How exhausting.
You need space in your days.
Space for flexibility and – even more fun – space for spontaneity. Space for an unplanned trip to the beach, or a movie afternoon complete with blanket fort and popcorn. Space for drop-in visitors. Space for hobbies. Space for exploring your neighbourhood.
The key to space in your days is to not overcommit. Which is easier said than done, but absolutely worth trying.
Space in Your Budget
It’s a fact that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Unexpected bills, medical emergencies, car and home repairs all have the uncanny knack of arriving when you are least prepared.
So while I am a big proponent of creating and sticking with a household budget, you do need space in your weekly expenses. For those things you weren’t expecting.
Ideally, you want an emergency fund to help with any surprise costs, as well as an additional amount every pay period that can go towards regular savings.
Space in Your Long-Term Plans
Having plans and goals is wonderful. Sparky and I have plans for this year, next year and five years time. Having an idea of where you’re headed gives you something to look forward to and something to work towards. It’s exciting and motivational.
On the flip side though, it’s important you don’t lock the details in too early.
You need to leave space in your long-term plans for:
- changes in circumstance
- opportunities that arise
- shift in direction
- changing priorities
Leaving this space doesn’t make you indecisive. It means you’re open to life and all of its possibility.
At some stage, yes, you have to lock it in, bite the bullet and commit. But when you’re still looking at long-term goals and plans, remain open. You avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety, and your imagination will flourish in the space you’ve gifted it with.