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Make Space for Grace in 2022

Science has linked lifestyle simplicity to satisfaction. To get more of what you want out of life, consider these ways to get rid of what no longer serves you.

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Emily Alvarez
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“Life is short, and it’s up to you to make it sweet,” said Sadie Delany, the elder of the celebrated Delany sisters, who passed away at 109.

Often as we get older, we sense that our productive and healthy years are limited. Meanwhile, our obligations, tasks and responsibilities have a way of mushrooming at midlife, don’t they? We’ve all heard a certain bit of wisdom that seems like common knowledge, yet few of us make it a common practice. It’s the discipline to continually think about the things in your life that you value most.

Focusing on the elements of life that bring us joy and reduce stress gives us the clarity and freedom to chuck the rest. According to a University of the Sciences study, narrowing one’s possessions, activities and thoughts plays a role in boosting mental and physical health.

That’s why I’m applying this mantra to all I do in 2022: Keep It Simple, Sister (KISS). Of course, the key to following through is letting go of guilt and setting healthy boundaries. Consider these ways to KISS time wasters goodbye as you open your life to greater contentment, deeper relationships and daily choices that support health and vitality.

Simplify your goals. Create a master list of your goals. Pick one to three goals each month and break them down into doable tasks to accomplish each day.
Create easy-to-do morning and evening routines. Without a routine, you’ll do things haphazardly and find at the end of the day that several things didn’t get done. (Trust me on this). But make your daily routine simple. Don’t take on too much at one time. If you’re like me, you’ll get overwhelmed and end up doing very little.
Save a.m. time. Place items that you always need to have with you (commuter rail or subway passes, house and car keys, sanitizers, masks) in a basket by the front door. Or pack your purse, backpack or briefcase the night before. Also set out your clothing for the next day at this time.
Plan a weekly menu and make one trip to the grocery store for ingredients. This will help you eat healthier and help reduce unplanned doctor visits and medications.
Simplify meals. Use a multicooker or slow cooker to cook dinner during the day. Make weekly meals and freeze for ready-to-eat meals.
Keep your exercise plan simple and fun. Attempting too much at once might be discouraging. To get moving, start with a daily walk or a fifteen-minute cardio routine.
Simplify beauty routines with multipurpose products, when possible.
Reduce time on social media and reading emails. Check and write emails at certain times of the day, for a specific amount of time. Act on them right away or them put into follow-up folders and specify a time or day to revisit them. Turn off social media notifications.
Encourage friends, family and associates to use brief text messages during the week, when appropriate, instead of lengthy calls. At other times, having a designated weekday to check in helps everyone on the call to be present for one another. Make plans to connect meaningfully on weekends.
Cut down on too much TV and Internet. I’ve taken to cleaning and doing filing while watching programs. (The only time when multitasking works.) Limit how often you check the news during the day.

Delete the excess

Eliminate the unnecessary things in your home. Take it from the Clutter Queen, too many possessions wastes time — looking for things, having to stop what you’re doing to clean when you need a home repair or have visitors. According to WebMD, clutter can have negative effects on physical and mental health, including stress.
Get rid of items first, then organize. Use the weekend to purge. Then remember to clean as you go. When you’re finished with something, put it back where it belongs.
Edit your wardrobe. Get rid of what you don’t wear, what doesn’t look good on you or doesn’t match other items. Don’t save damaged items unless you really plan to repair them — and do it right away.
Don’t make unnecessary purchases. Less stuff means less debt and less space taken up in your home.
Switch to audiobooks or e-books. Both will help you cut down on physical books. If you’d rather read an actual book (like me), be sure to donate them when you’re finished. Only keep the classics and true loves. Bonus: You can enjoy audiobooks while cleaning, exercising or preparing healthy meals.
Reduce files. There’s such a thing as being a digital packrat. Schedule time during the week to delete emails, texts and other unnecessary files that take up data or memory on your phone and computer.

“Life is short, and it’s up to you to make it sweet,”
Sadie Delany, the elder of the celebrated Delany sisters, who passed away at 109

Cancel magazine subscriptions and online newsletters (not this one!) and magazines that you rarely read.
Declutter your mind. Decluttering also means avoiding the toxic people in your life who take up emotional space in a negative way. Work to heal past wounds. Make amends. Work at limiting feelings of resentment, jealousy and anger. All of these things can take up space in your mind, taking up the precious time you have to enjoy your life. Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones.

Leave time for me time.

Don’t schedule every moment. Leave time for self-care and rest.
Reduce your commitments. Learn to say no to things you don’t have the time for or don’t want to do.
Live in the moment, instead of the past or the future. Worry can make you unable to live your life to its fullest. Cultivating mindfulness can be life-changing.