While technology is our friend (most of the time), the influx of social media, apps, digital ads, and more has made our lives quite complicated. It’s estimated that the average person sees thousands of ads a day! Add to that our need to be “always on” because we have a fear of missing out, and we are spending a lot of our time looking at a screen, often multi-tasking. Studies now tell us that multi-tasking is actually counter-productive and can reduce your attention, comprehension, and performance. This can culminate in burnout, depression, and anxiety.
On top of technology creating an “attention deficit bubble,” we are also inundated with more choices than ever before. It’s estimated that over 30,000 new brands launch every year. This can make a trip to the grocery store, just figuring out which bottled water to buy, a paralyzing dilemma. Psychologist Barry Schwartz’s book “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less” was written in 2004, but it’s even truer today.
So how do we get off of this hamster wheel and eliminate some complexity in our lives? Here are a few ideas.
Get Outside Regularly
Nature has been proven to help us reset, relax, and recharge. Just don’t take your phone on a nature hike unless it’s to take pictures. You don’t need to make it a day trip, even just a walk around your neighborhood, local park, or hiking trail will do the trick. If you have space for a garden, that’s also a great way to get outside and ensure you have high-quality vegetables (no pesticides). If you don’t have a green thumb, plant zucchini and mint, which will grow like crazy.
Practice Mindfulness Daily
Clearing your mind is a great way to start to embrace simplicity. Mindfulness helps you focus on the priorities that matter and eliminate things that don’t. Practicing mindfulness will bring a new level of awareness to how you spend your time and make it easier to focus and get high-value things done. Apps like Journify or Calm can help you get started. Just five minutes of meditation a day can improve your life—your mood, attitude, and even your relationships.
Most of us live in a state of constant consumption and collecting. It’s hard to simplify your life when you have lots of excess clutter around. Take a few hours and start with either your kitchen or bathroom—both usually big offenders. Get rid of anything expired (this goes for your beauty products too) and make a plan to use up what you have before buying more. Then tackle any excess furniture, files, or paperwork that’s bogging you down. There are some great sites that you can use to give away things you don’t need. I like Freecycle—it’s a grass roots non-profit that lets you post items in your community that people may need. You’ll be amazed at how much lighter you’ll feel when you don’t have so much stuff around.
Look for Products That Multi-Task
The beauty industry has done a good job of convincing us that we need a different moisturizer for our eyes, face, and body—not to mention serums, cleansers, mists, spot treatments, and more. The reality is there are some great products that provide multi-benefits, are simple to use, gender neutral (so the whole family can use them), and sustainable. My own product, MASAMI, was created to work for virtually everyone (because everyone needs hydration!), so you don’t need to choose between the right haircare products for color-treated hair, hydration, shine, volume, or other benefits—you should get them all. This is true not just in beauty, but also in cleaning products, supplements, food, and more. Just ask yourself next time you’re buying a “niche” product if it is really worth it.
Shop Your Values
I’ve started to focus my own buying on indie, female-owned, sustainable brands that share my values (and the values of my brands). Most of the brands I’ve discovered offer artisan, handmade, high-quality products that should last a long time, which helps you simplify too—buy quality over “disposable” goods. There are many marketplaces now that make this easy to do, and there are even some where you can select the values that are important to you and search for brands that meet them. With just a tiny bit of effort, you can support small businesses and find new high-quality products to love, minimizing your consumption along the way.
While there are times in your life where complexity is good, most of the time you’ll likely find it more satisfying to embrace a simpler approach to consumption and living. You’ll have a deeper sense of gratitude for what you have and an increased level of mindfulness around what (and why) you are consuming.